No Minister

Posts Tagged ‘President Xi Jinping

China and its problems – two videos

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We hear the phrase about the 21st century being the Chinese Century that it can come as a bit of shock when this is not just questioned but attacked on it’s fundamental premises.

There are some negative projections of the nation that have not aged well, of which my well-thumbed copy of Gordon Chang’s, The Coming Collapse of China, published in 2001, is one. Like The Great Depression of 1990, Chang nailed a lot of China’s problems but extrapolated them too far. However, there have been many more books pushing equally silly boosterisms of China and they’re not looking too good either.

The current negative takes are not a shock to me because I’ve adhered to the phrase first coined by Mark Steyn (who takes a great interest in demographics) around 2005 that, “China will get old before it gets rich”.

However, there are always new surprises coming out about this and they’re explored in the following video from geopolitical analyst Peter Zeihan. You can find a bullet point synopsis of it at the Battleswarm blog, of which the following three points are worth quoting:

  • They were going shrink in half by 2100. “Then they realized that they had been overcounting people for some time.” Then new data moved the date moved up to 2070. And now they’re saying it will be 2050. “For that to be true, the Chinese would have overcounted the population by 100 million.” And all of those missing people are of childbearing age. Their population actually peaked 15 years ago.
  • Xi’s instituted a cult of personality, and silenced anyone capable of independent thought. “He knows that the country’s current economic model has failed. And he knows he can’t guarantee economic growth, and he knows he can’t keep the lights on, and he knows he can’t win a war with the Americans.”
  • Xi’s solution? “Naked, blatant, ultra nationalism. Ethnocentric ultranationalism of the Nazi style.”

I don’t agree with all his points (I’ve always thought Stratfor, his former employer, is over-rated) but they’re interesting, and the increasingly extreme nationalism has been noted by everybody.

This second video focuses on that nationalism, especially in how China’s approach to the outside world has changed so dramatically from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Gamers to today. One of the strangest aspects has been Chinese diplomats the world over, hurling insults at their host countries, from Brazil, Canada, France, India and (of course) the USA. This is the exact opposite of what diplomats are supposed to do.

The video thinks it knows why and it’s summed up in three words, “Wolf Warrior Diplomacy”, designed to stir up nationalism as a way to control internal security problems. At the end it refers to the demographic problem – but also makes references to two other problems I was not aware of:

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UPDATE

Based on comments, and as a balance to the above there’s also this book mentioned in the latter video, China: The bubble that never pops.

The Chinese economy appears destined for failure, the financial bubble forever in peril of popping, the real estate sector doomed to collapse, the factories fated for bankruptcy.

Banks drowning in bad loans. An urban landscape littered with ghost towns of empty property. Industrial zones stalked by zombie firms. Trade tariffs blocking the path to global markets.

And yet, against the odds and against expectations, growth continues, wealth rises, international influence expands. The coming collapse of China is always coming, never arriving.

There’s also an interview with him on this subject:

Written by Tom Hunter

April 21, 2022 at 6:39 pm

“There is providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children, and the United States of America”

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That famous quote is from the creator of the German nation, Bismarck, and it was uttered back in the 19th century.

Since then there have been more than a few situations which have proved that the USA does seem like a lucky country.

The disasters that have hit the nation in the last twenty years, starting with the 9/11 attacks, passing through the GFC and now the Covid mess, have certainly been damaging to the fabric of America. But perhaps worse has been the incredible decline in the quality of education at all levels, with the metastatic spread of hideous ideas like Critical Theory (and all its mutations) into the non-academic world: even sport has been politicised as the 1960’s Counter Culture New Left’s motto of “everything is political” has become an everyday truth.

As Abraham Lincoln once opined:

“From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia…could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years.

No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide.”

Leaving aside that last point for another post and looking instead at the “approach of danger” from the outside world the obvious threat is the rising power of China. A decade ago it was an economic threat, but China’s behaviour in the last few years has turned it into a geo-political / military one. There has also been increased trumpeting by the Chinese themselves about “The Chinese 21st Century” and so forth. Clearly they’re feeling their oats.

This feeling in China was much bolstered by Biden’s recent rout in Afghanistan. Former WSJ Brett Stephens (and committed Never-Trumper) summed it up well in a superb essay, The Post-Pax-Americana World:

Our incompetence matched our fecklessness, and our fecklessness matched our untrustworthiness. To say this is how great powers fall would be an insult to the great powers of the past, which fell under greater strain, for weightier reasons

First, our Afghan fiasco is forcing traditional American allies to reassess the wisdom of their reliance on Washington. This is not just a matter of our tattered credibility (more about which below). It’s also one of capability and competence. It’s difficult to think of any aspect of the Afghan withdrawal, beginning with Biden’s judgment, predictions, and execution, that might inspire a geopolitical opponent to respect, much less fear, the American president as a canny global statesman.

Second, the fiasco is an invitation to our adversaries to view the remainder of the Biden administration as neither a nuisance nor a threat, but rather as a possibly unique three-year window of strategic opportunity. . . .

The real goal is to dislodge America, firmly and for good, as the dominant power in global affairs.

Others were more harsh, with Mark Steyn headlining one column as Dead Superpower Walking. Again, there are internal US issues that may play a larger role than the foreign policy issues that Stephens and others are writing about.

Even before recent events the USA had – typical of its history – been slow to respond to China. President Obama talked of a “pivot” to the Pacific but it never amounted to much. President Trump went active on things like military posture and readiness with a peer in mind, plus pressure on economic, diplomatic and other pressure points:

In late 2020, then-President Donald Trump signed a law that bans the trading of securities in foreign companies whose audit working papers can’t be inspected by U.S. regulators for three years in a row. 

U.S. securities regulators have started a countdown that will force many Chinese companies to leave American stock exchanges, after a long impasse between Washington and Beijing over access to the companies’ audit records.

The action will accelerate the decoupling of the world’s two largest economies and affect investors that own securities in more than 200 U.S.-listed Chinese companies with a combined market value of roughly $2 trillion.

Under President Biden there has been the dramatic announcement of the new AUKUS pact, complete with Australia getting nuclear submarines as part of the deal.

But there have also been a series of recent events inside China that give hope to those of us who prefer a Pax Americana in the 21st century, and unlike the hopes and dreams of the last thirty years, these changes have decidedly not been in a more liberal direction. It began with large companies and their CEO’s:

With market-trembling new rules and investigations, Beijing’s crackdown on its most prominent companies has seeped into nearly every aspect of modern life, wiping billions of dollars from Chinese and Hong Kong-listed stocks and bamboozling investment sages.

From after-school tutoring to music streaming apps, and shopping to bike-sharing, stellar firms have been hit as Beijing tightens the leash on corporations, citing national security and antitrust concerns.

In 2020 Jake Ma, the founder and multi-billionaire founder of online trading giant Alibaba, was basically sent to a golfing gulag, forced out of public life. At the same time the CCP suspended the blockbuster IPO of China’s Ant Group ($36 billion wiped). But this has also begun to spread into other aspects of Chinese life, with the once famous actress Zhao Wei (also a director and billionaire businesswoman) basically wiped from the Chinese Internet, just one of a number of crackdowns to bring the entertainment industry in check and curb the influence of celebrities and the ‘fandom culture’”.

But it was this news reported by the China Media Project (H/T Instapundit), that really caught my attention. A random Red Chinese blogging peon, Li Guangman, put up his reaction to all this:

This change will wash away all the dust, and the capital market will no longer be a paradise for capitalists to grow rich overnight,” he writes. “The cultural market will no longer be a paradise for effeminate stars, and the press will no longer be a place for the worship of Western culture.” The author’s next line reeks of Maoist nostalgia: “The red has returned, the heroes have returned, and the grit and valor have returned.”

Well big whoop you might say. In itself, the “intellectual” orgasms of an obscure Maoist diehard blogger mean nothing more than a blazing-eyed Chris Trotter eruption or a over-vigorous Martyn Bradbury wank here in NZ. Even in China, a Maoist dickhead like Li is in the minority. We’ve got them here in the West as well.

What does mean something is how the Xi regime reacted to this little blog, which suddenly went viral:

But this post, though attributed to Li’s own public account, “Li Guangman Freezing Point Commentary”, was shared on the websites of eight major Party-state media on August 29, and on scores of commercial sites, all with the same headline: “Everyone Can Sense That a Profound Change is Underway!”

In the social media comment sections this week, the concern has been palpable. “A movement has begun,” one user commented underneath a Weibo post on the Li Guangman article. “They’re blowing a wind to see what fish they can stir up,” said another. A third comment was more portentous: “History is being repeated,” it said

It certainly is. One of the critical triggers of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution was the publication of dazibao (“big character poster”) on May 25, 1966, by Nie Yuanzi, a student at Beijing University. The poster denounced professors, administrators and others for their supposed embrace of Western bourgeois values and lack of revolutionary spirit. The actual revolution was started by Mao just three months later.

The last few years of Xi Jinping’s rule have shown increasingly Maoist tendencies across a range of areas, of which all this is merely the latest. Welcome to Xi’s Cultural Revolution 2.0.

Now – Thucydides Trap’s aside – this is actually good news for the USA and the West in general. If the Chinese Communist imbeciles want to reverse the flow of history back to the good old days of Mao, that actually means a reversal of prosperity and eventually economic power, followed by military power. Not to mention the loss of free-thinking minds in all areas of Chinese life, which may result in a military that looks a lot like the Japanese circa 1931-1945; powerful, dangerous, but ultimately doomed.

America may once again luck out, thanks – once again – to the fanatical stupidity of its enemies.

Written by Tom Hunter

October 3, 2021 at 1:24 pm

Extraordinary times – President Xi has an ally

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One of the features of our constitutional democracy is a simple concept called “Separation of Powers”. It allows checks and balances across our legal system, from the making of the laws, to the enforcement of them, and then their interpretation in the courts. It’s a simple system, but it works.

One of the things that has got me really agitated during this current government, particularly illustrated through the Covid lockdowns, is its absolute disregard of these branches of government. It really has a very autocratic look about it. A friend commented to me that unusual times require unusual action, and my twofold response to that was 1) politicians should never waste a crisis to fulfill their agenda, and 2) a dictator is fine as long as it’s your dictator in charge.

The first lockdown was ill-conceived, poorly thought out, and ultimately held to be illegal. There’s Strike 1 from the “lawmaking” part of the structure.

Then, when the laws being proposed by the government needed scrutiny, they tried to shut down parliament to avoid debate. Strike 2.

But the worst part of all of this is the enforcement and interpretation aspect of the lockdown orders.

I am flabbergasted that the prime minister stands at the podium at 1pm and tells the nation what the law is, that her government passed, without scrutiny and opposition! Think about that for a moment.

Here, she essentially explains that swimming in a lagoon is “not swimming”. Sure, this quote is from Dr Bloomfield, but they were supported by Ardern.

“I’ve had a message from Siouxsie who described what happened. From what she told me, it didn’t sound like protocols were breached, and I don’t think that the person who went into the water what they did could be described as a swim,” he said earlier.

First, the “suspect” called the prime minister’s chief adviser to explain her version of evens, and then the prime minister tells the country that no laws were broken!! Why is this acceptable?! It’s not the role of the prime minister to interpret and rule on the laws she passed, without scrutiny – that’s the role of judges.

I’m legally trained, and so the other thing that disappoints me is the absolute silence from the legal profession over this. Where is the President of the Law Society when you need her, and boy, do we need her now.

Written by Nick K

September 12, 2021 at 8:03 pm