The China syndrome

This is a full reprint of John Hinderaker’s post today at Powerline: THE CHINA MYTH EXPOSED. It’s not the Chinese that is the problem but the country. Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore are Chinese and free, the latter two having been colonies of England. They have both freedom and prosperity. China has neither, and never will.

From early in our nation’s history, America’s intellectuals have mostly looked down on their own country and yearned for it to be like someplace else–someplace more sophisticated, and more in tune with “modern” intellectual currents, whatever they might be at the moment. That is a long history, which I will skip over. In our own time, American intellectuals have claimed that Soviet Russia, Germany and Japan were harbingers of the future that the U.S. needed to imitate. In each case, the point was that we had to shed our archaic freedoms and enter the brave new world of central planning under the control–benign, of course!–of intellectuals and bureaucrats. Strangely, however, American free enterprise has managed to outlast and surpass all of those supposedly more advanced challengers.

Most recently, China has been the favored nation of the future. It has the advantage over Germany and Japan of being straightforwardly authoritarian (if no longer exactly Communist), which endeared it to anti-democratic liberals like Tom Friedman. Thus, liberals have eagerly calculated the future time when China’s GDP–or alleged GDP, as dictatorships have always been better at producing statistics than goods and services–would surpass ours. Given that China has three times our population, that would not seem to be a signal accomplishment. Nevertheless, liberals looked forward to it.

There was always something a little half-hearted about China adulation, however. When I was a kid, China was synonymous with poverty. Mothers really did say: “Eat your brussels sprouts! There are lots of starving children in China who would love to have them.” In 1979, China opened itself to foreign investment, and thousands of American companies built factories there over the succeeding decades, drawn mainly by the lure of cheap labor.

Cheap labor, of course, wasn’t always effective labor. One of the major cases of the later stage of my career as a lawyer arose out of the construction of a professional sports facility in the Midwest. A Japanese company won the contract to fabricate and erect the stadium’s roof, and in order to save money, subcontracted the fabrication to a Chinese factory that, in later testimony, was described as “medieval.” The result was a disaster. The quality of the fabrication was so poor that the Japanese company eventually spent more money correcting fabrication errors in the U.S.–for a while, you couldn’t find a welder in the Midwestern states who wasn’t working on the repair project–than it had paid for the fabrication in the first place. But there was no recourse, as China essentially did not have a legal system.

Then, too, Americans who visited China did not report that it was an incipient paradise. (Unlike liberals who visited the Soviet Union in the 1930s.) For one thing, in most of the country there was no such thing as what we call a bathroom. That made the environment a little hard to romanticize.

Still, China was viewed as a major geopolitical player, and American administrations kowtowed to it. The Chinese engaged in wholesale theft of American and European intellectual property, without compunction. The country’s trade practices were denounced as illegal and unfair, but nothing came of it. Only when Donald Trump became president did our country begin to assert its rights and interests against the Chinese dictatorship.

Which brings us to the current coronavirus outbreak. Once again, China is the source of a rather bizarre viral illness. It arose, apparently, in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The source of the virus is believed to be either bats or snakes that were bought for consumption in the Wuhan market in a “warm” state–that is, freshly slaughtered. The virus apparently mutated and jumped from bats or snakes to humans.

In China, not only snakes and bats, but also rats and bugs–e.g., scorpions–are frequently eaten. Being no cultural relativist, I assume that no one eats snakes, bats, rats or scorpions if he or she has a better alternative. In Venezuela, for instance, no one dreamed of hunting rats for food until that country’s socialist government destroyed Venezuela’s economy and reduced the citizenry to penury. So China’s continuing poverty has now created a world-wide public health problem.

I could be wrong; it has happened once or twice. But I suspect that the current public health crisis spells the end of China envy among American intellectuals. The context, of course, is the Trump administration’s standing up to China’s dictators. Like Toto, Trump has pulled back the curtain on the Chinese fraud. To coin a phrase, one might say that China’s economic “juggernaut” is in fact a paper tiger.

Someday, China may be a free country with a free economy. Until that day comes, the only lesson we can learn from the Chinese government is what to avoid.

Australia in the news

From Trump Rids Major U.S. Container Port of Chinese Communist Control:

It all started with a 40-year container terminal lease between the Port of Long Beach in southern California and Hong Kong. The Obama administration proudly signed the agreement in 2012 giving China control of America’s second-largest container port behind the nearby Port of Los Angeles. One of the Trump administration’s first big moves was to get the Communists out of the Port of Long Beach. After a national security review and federal intervention, the Long Beach terminal business, which handles millions of containers annually, is finally being sold to an Australian company called Macquarie Infrastructure Partners. That essentially kills China’s decades-long contract with the Obama administration.

The stupidest man in American politics

As if where you put the plants inside China matters to global levels of CO2.

Meanwhile, at almost the same level of idiocy, we have this: China says developed countries lack ‘political will’ on climate goals.

Mr Zhao called for developed countries to honour financial commitments including providing US$100 billion to poorer states harmed by climate change.

The US$100 billion – which China has said it is entitled to part of – was a non-binding accompaniment to the Paris Agreement, and was the annual amount that rich countries pledged to muster by 2020.

They wouldn’t say it unless they thought there were people who would take it seriously. And there are!

We are living in a new Age

This is the editorial in The Age today: China revelations a major wake-up call. This is how it ends, and I agree with every word:

Australia finds itself in new territory, grappling with a relationship based on shared economic interests but, as China brandishes its meddling authoritarian ways, at ideological odds. The latest revelations are a major wake-up call for Australia to ensure it protects itself, and its way of life.

These are the lead stories on The Age Online website. Preservation of our way of life you would hope is more important than foreign trade.

China tried to plant its candidate in Federal Parliament, authorities believe

Bo "Nick" Zhao and Brian Chen, who he alleged was trying to get him into Federal parliament.

Bo ‘Nick’ Zhao was in trouble financially when he said he was approached with a million-dollar offer to become China’s man in Federal Parliament. ASIO released an extraordinary statement late on Sunday about the latest revelations.

‘Worse than I thought’: Liberal MP says Chinese interference a serious threat

Senator James Paterson says China's interference in Australia was worse than he thought.

The Morrison government has assured Australians the nation’s domestic spy agency is investigating claims from a potential Chinese defector that China tried to get a spy elected to Federal Parliament.

Hong Kong voters deliver pro-democracy message in ‘de facto referendum’

Local residents celebrate as Junius Ho Kwan-yiu loses in District Council Elections, outside a polling station in Hong Kong,

The election was seen as a test of community support for protests that continue after five months, with establishment figures campaigning on the need to restore stability.

Defections are messy and we may never know the full story

Beware or be next

Thumbnail

It’s communism one needs to worry about. But as communism is evolving, it is rule by an elite who steal everything and allow the rest to scramble for a living by being employed in the enterprises that the elites already own or control.

One system; many nations, including our own. The picture is from the comments here.

China has been waging war on the US for decades

This is from Bazza McKenzie, discussing PDT’s policy on China. He is replying to John Hinderaker at Powerline.

John apparently does not realize China has been waging war on the US for decades, with the intention of displacing the US as the world’s dominant nation, and doing it with the aid of a congress of traitors and Wall Street. PDJT is fighting back on behalf of the US and succeeding.

PDJT does not want or expect a deal. Any honest deal (end their mercantilist trade policy, state owned industry, IP theft and forcible IP transfer, opioid shipments to US), enforceable against China, would implode their economy. Thus they will not do it voluntarily.

PDJT is gradually imposing it on them anyway, but he is doing it at a pace which allows US supply chains to adjust without massive disruption to the US economy. Thus he goes through the motions of seeking a deal and imposing tariffs gradually but continuously. It has taken the Chinese some time to realize what he is doing because they are so used to dealing with traitorous,, self-serving politicians happy to sell out their countrymen.

At the same time PDJT is educating the public to the threat posed by China. He has already achieved strong public recognition of that and by 2020 the recognition will be stronger and China’s commiecrat candidate will be pilloried in public by PDJT for working on behalf of the enemy.

The number of people I hear mention tariffs as a major count against Trump is stunning. Managing the economy is only one part of a President’s job. Foreign policy and national defence is another, and a much much bigger part as well.

Meanwhile:

Trade wars are better than real wars

Via Instapundit, but look who it’s from:

Salvatore Babones is an adjunct scholar at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney, Australia, and an associate professor at the University of Sydney. He is also the author of The New Authoritarianism: Trump, Populism, and the Tyranny of Experts, available now from Amazon.

This is what it’s about: Trump Doubles Down On The China Trade War.

President Donald Trump is threatening another round of China tariffs, this time 10 percent on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese goods that are not yet subject to punitive tariffs. The new tariffs should go into effect on September 1, barring a change of heart on the part of the president or some real action on the part of the Chinese.

Trump’s aggressive push on tariffs has thrown the country’s expert class into a tizzy, with pundits predicting a severe shock to the American economy, blaming the trade war for every blip in stock prices, and warning of the potential for runaway inflation as consumers pay the price for Trump’s tariffs.

Meanwhile the economy is employing record numbers of people, inflation is running well below the Fed’s target rate, and stock markets are slightly up since the beginning of the “trade war” in April. The data simply refuses to satisfy the pundits’ appetite for economic carnage….

Everyone in the trade war debate seems to be forgetting that America had a deal: back in April, before the trade war turned from cold to hot, the United States and China reached abroad agreement on “forced technology transfer and cyber theft, intellectual property rights, services, currency, agriculture and non-tariff barriers to trade.” China apparently agreed to the deal, but refused to agree to any enforcement mechanisms. That’s what happens when China’s leaders try to “save face”: they agree to a deal that is, in reality, no deal at all.

Trump’s tariffs are intended to bring China back to the negotiating table. If he fails, then China will suffer. That’s not in China’s national interest, but China is run by a self-appointed clique that routinely puts its own interests ahead of the country’s interests. What Trump should pursue is the American national interest, and that means doubling down on the trade war. If 1989 was the historical moment to squeeze the Soviet Union, then 2019 is the historical moment to squeeze China. Trump is right not to let that moment pass without a deal.

A trade war is better than a real war, but it’s real enough and just maybe we’re winning.

PLUS THIS: Also from Instapundit.

LARRY KUDLOW: The Chinese Economy Is Crumbling Under Weight Of Tariffs.

Related: “Chinese companies circulating at least $200b of IOUs as real payments dry up. The Chinese property developers are going to detonate.” 228

 

Me old china plate

Two stories, separate but thematically linked. The first about Chinese foreign policy starts with this.

Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon has warned that Australia will become “a tributary state” to China unless the Morrison government joins the US in forcefully challenging Chinese hegemony in the region.

And then this: from the Herald Sun.

Premier Daniel Andrews has made a big deal out of talking up the Australian content in Victoria’s huge $45 billion investment in infrastructure projects.

Local content should be a priority and, indeed, the government needs to keep construction unions inside the tent to contain costs and keep industrial peace.

Mr Andrews had pledged a minimum 92 per cent of Australian steel would be used in the $6.7 billion West Gate Tunnel project.

But as revealed Thursday by our state political editor Matt Johnston, contractors for the project have ordered a 33,000-tonne shipment of steel from the Chinese government-owned firm ZPMC.

There are serious questions about what agreements were touted by Mr Andrews to foreign investors during his trip to China last month. Mr Andrews, the only Premier to have signed on to China’s controversial Belt and Road Initiative, has previously said he would work to attract Chinese investment in Victoria’s infrastructure program.

No doubt imported Chinese steel would be a lot cheaper than Australian steel. But the decision may yet cost Mr Andrews much more in union fury and public faith.

The title, btw, is a bit of rhyming slang I learned when I first reached these shores those many years ago. Seems quite appropriate in the present context. And while I’m on it, if one is interested in free trade, this might be of interest: How does China cheat on trade? Let us count the ways.

China cheats by protecting its home market from American imports with high tariffs, tricky non-tariff barriers, and costly, constantly changing regulations.

China cheats by subsidizing the exports of government-owned “national champions” to crush its free market competitors and dominate global markets.

China cheats by preying on weak counties, locking up their natural resources with “debt traps” in an obvious effort to gain a global stranglehold on key resources like bauxite, copper, nickel, and rare earths. These monopolies are not only being used to fuel China’s industrial machine, but to punish those countries who would oppose its predatory policies.

China cheats by subsidizing manufacturing with cheap loans and cheap energy, and also by turning a blind eye to environment, health and safety standards. Because of its cheating, it already dominates industries ranging from ship production and refrigerators, to color TV sets, air conditioners, and computers.

Above all, China cheats by stealing key technologies and intellectual property from the United States and other countries. These activities range from cyberespionage and forced technology transfer down to massive open-source collection and plain-old physical theft.

Economics is and has always been a subset of politics. No economics text can ever tell you what ought to be done, only what the consequences of different decisions might turn out to be. And a modern text doesn’t even do that.

War zones

This is the minor story of the moment at Drudge.

White House reviews military plans against Iran...
'Deploy 120,000 troops'...
SAUDI: OIL PIPELINE ATTACKED BY DRONES...
Mystery shrouds 'sabotage' of tankers...

This is the major story.

CHINA STRIKES BACK
DUMP TREASURIES?
FARMERS FEEL PAIN 
APPLE IN CROSSHAIRS

With the media, it’s hard to tell if it’s World War III, or a day in which there was nothing else about Mueller to beat up. But for me, if a tariff war with China is more newsworthy than a potential hot war in the Middle East, there really isn’t much going on.

China, China, China

David Archibald has been pointing towards a coming confrontation with China for quite a long time, and it seems that his concerns are reflected at the very top in the United States. Never mind what I or David say, this is what the new Acting American Secretary of Defence says.

Now that he is acting secretary of defense, the civilian Shanahan now has only one layer of command to defer to and can be his own man, it seems. For the first words from his mouth on taking command were “China, China, China” — no agonising over terrorists whose faith will not be named, no handwringing over global warming, no apologia for allies who shirk paying for their defense, and no histrionics on the subject of the impoverished kleptocracy that is Russia.  The Mattis era is over.

And if you go to the link in the para above, this is what you come to:
‘China, China, China’: Trump’s new Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan sets US defence priorities
. The article begins:

Patrick Shanahan, the acting US defence secretary, singled out China as a key priority in a “great power competition” on his first full day in his new role at the Pentagon on Wednesday, continuing a course set by his predecessor.

“While we are focused on ongoing operations, Acting Secretary Shanahan told the team to remember China, China, China,” an anonymous defence official was quoted as saying….

Shanahan provided his view of long-term competition with China and Russia while speaking at an Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association event last February.

“We all hear about how our competitiveness has eroded,” Shanahan said. “Our strategy is about how to sharpen and strengthen our competitiveness.”

He told the audience that “there are no such things as fair competitions – there’s just competition”.

If this really is the real thing, worrying about deployment of a couple thousand in Syria is an absolute nothing.

Meanwhile, China is becoming more centre stage. These are minor items at Drudge today, but the issues are becoming more visible.

Xi Orders Military to ‘Enhance Combat Readiness’…
Tests its own ‘Mother of All Bombs’…
Chinese agents knock on doors, demand users delete tweets…

We certainly do live in interesting times.