No Minister

Posts Tagged ‘Taiwan (ROC)

This is why Generals don’t do Foreign Policy

The other day I did a post on General Milley’s breach of the US military chain of command and interference in US foreign policy in the waning days of the Trump Administration, Seven Days in January: why General Milley must resign.

Because of the incredibly toxic politicisation of every aspect of life in the USA, this breach has been condemned only by retired military officers and the Republican Party. The Democrats apparently see no problem with something that they have always supposedly been in terror of for decades – the military ignoring or going outside the civilian chain of command.

President “Softserve” Biden apparently has no issue with Milley, presumably because he can’t imagine a situation where a Milley might pull the same stunt on him. Biden is completely fine with his constitutional powers being usurped. If Milley sought to substitute his judgment for that of Trump, what stops him from doing the same thing with Biden? Yet, Biden professes not to care, which shows Biden’s incompetence, yet again.

But aside from the seriously bad constitutional problems raised by all this inside the USA, there’s also the fact that Milley’s intervention may be having unintentional consequences in foreign policy, even aside from the weakness that Biden has exhibited with the Afghanistan rout.

First of all, here’s Milley’s telephone counterpart in those now-infamous calls, senior General Li Zuocheng, making himself very clear back in May of this year:

Li Zuocheng, chief of the Joint Staff Department and member of the Central Military Commission told Beijing’s Great Hall of the People: ‘If the possibility for peaceful reunification is lost, the people’s armed forces will, with the whole nation, including the people of Taiwan, take all necessary steps to resolutely smash any separatist plots or actions.’

Then on September 9 came this from the editor of China’s state-run media Global Times:

The latest came just the other day from a senior Chinese government official.

Milley’s phonecall should be put into the perspective of this speech he made in 2015:

Perhaps in 2015 I would have agreed with Milley, but they obviously view themselves as the enemy of the USA, otherwise we would not be seeing flexing shit like this. “Friends” don’t address each other the way they are talking to other nations and threatening them, including obviously now the USA.

The theory of deterrence applies not just in the realm of nuclear warfare, but to conventional warfare. Right now, between Biden and his incompetent and deluded Administration, including obviously the senior levels of the Pentagon and intelligence services, China is not being deterred.

They might well fail in a military adventure against Taiwan or in the South China Sea. But stopping them from trying in the first place is perhaps more important, and simply announcing something like the new AUKUS pact, which will not become practicable for perhaps five years, is not be enough.

On that note I did appreciate this pushback. Nice to see there are still Navy boys with a spine.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 19, 2021 at 6:00 am

Posted in China, Military, US Politics, USA

Tagged with

No Chips, no motion

A couple of weeks ago in The Veteran’s post on Taiwan, I included a graph showing the degree to which the world relies on Taiwan for silicon chips.

I also made the point that the world would likely not even be able to feed itself if there was a major, lengthy disruption to the production of silicon chips, given the degree to which tractors and other farm equipment depend on them to work nowadays.

Here’s the latest evidence, from The Truth About Cars:

Have you heard the one about the dead cars? No, not the ones we find in junkyards, but the ones that haven’t had life yet, thanks to the chip shortage.

These so-called “dead” cars are vehicles that have rolled off the assembly line, otherwise ready for sale, sitting in fields or on lots near the factories that produced them, just waiting for chips.

… that number is set to grow, as GM announced that plants in Indiana, Michigan, and Mexico that produce the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra will halt next week, thanks to, you guessed it, the chip shortage.

GM had so far avoided chip-related shutdowns by skipping some features, and by … building some trucks and adding the chips in later

Written by Tom Hunter

July 24, 2021 at 11:55 am

WHAT WOULD BE THE REACTION IF CHINA MOVED TO ‘LIBERATE’ TAIWAN?

Adolf’s post on MAD/Flexible response (call it what you will) referenced Taiwan. Got me thinking. What would be the reaction of the ‘West’ should China move to ‘liberate’ Taiwan by force … something China has never ruled out doing. One suspects the days when the US 7th fleet acted as a trip-wire and shield against possible Chinese aggression have long gone. The rapid expansion of the Chinese Navy has put paid to that and then you need to factor into the equation that, in the United States, both major parties have become more isolationist in thinking and less inclined to act as the ‘worlds policemen’ as was their wont up until not so long ago.

Just look what happened when China moved to stamp out democratic protest in Hongkong … lotsa disapproving noises but not much more and right now Taiwan is increasingly isolated. The ROC government is recognised by only fifteen countries … the majority of them enjoying ‘tin-pot’ status of the likes of Haiti, Eswatini (never heard of it), Tuvalu, Nauru, Saint Lucia; Marshall Islands and Palau and, while a number of countries (including New Zealand) have trade or cultural links with Taiwan, the vast majority of the world (119 countries) recognise Beijing and have no representation in Taiwan (including non-political, non-diplomatic and non-intergovernmental representation).

The reality is that for all the bluster and rhetoric the US/China relationship is important to both countries and one suspects there is a growing body of opinion that would have it that the China/Taiwan question is an internal problem for China to sort out and, while the use of force is to be abhorred, there would be no repeat of what occurred in Korea when the North Koreans invaded the south … couldn’t happen anyway … in the UN China exercises the veto as a permanent member of the Security Council. Certainly Taiwan does not appear now to enjoy ‘line in the sand’ status with the United States as say Israel does.

No, all that would occur would be a certain ritual gnashing of teeth by the West. China will do what it has always said it was going to do at a time of its own choosing and that time may be closer than we think.

Pity the Taiwanese.

Written by The Veteran

July 18, 2021 at 1:50 pm

Posted in China, General Politics, USA

Tagged with

RATCHETING UP THE RHETORIC

While the New Zealand government chides our cousins from across the ditch for their hard-line stance on China that country ratchets up the rhetoric warning Taiwan that any attempt to seek independence means ‘war’. China sees democratic Taiwan as a breakaway province while Taiwan sees itself as a sovereign state with its own constitution, military and elected leaders.

The warning comes after President Biden reaffirmed his commitment to an independent Taiwan.

Analysts say Beijing is becoming increasingly concerned that Taiwan’s government is moving the island towards a formal declaration of independence and it wants to warn President Tsai Ing-wen against taking steps in that direction.

President Tsai, however, has repeatedly said that Taiwan is already a independent state, making any formal declaration unnecessary.

A statement from China’s Defence Ministry said “We warn those ‘Taiwan independence’ elements – those who play with fire will burn themselves, and Taiwan independence means war.”

One suspects any response from New Zealand will be muted indeed. Bit like Labour’s response to the 1951 General Strike where they famously sat on the fence and declared themselves neither for nor against the strikers. A values based assessment indeed.

Written by The Veteran

January 30, 2021 at 3:03 pm

“The Gathering Storm”

Thus was named the first of Churchill’s twelve volumes documenting the immediate lead up to and progress of the second world war. Of particular but by no means exclusive note were the aggressive militarism of Japan and the duplicitous rearming of Germany.

Some years ago Adolf began noticing similarities between the actions of 1930s Japan and Germany and those of today’s China. I see these similarities are now receiving long overdue attention in the press with Australia and the USA today reported to be declaring China’s ‘occupation’ of fake islands in the South China Sea to be illegal.

Woody Island in the South China Sea. Picture: Google Earth

Are these islands the Sudetenland of the twenty-first century? Will Taiwan be today’s Poland?

Sadly, I think it will, as China makes the same mistakes made eighty years ago by Japan.

Adolf is thankful he has never been required to kill another human being. Unfortunately the likelihood of his grand children enjoying the same privilege is remote.

Written by adolffinkensen

July 25, 2020 at 1:17 pm

Posted in Australia, China

Tagged with

Trump was right about China

Over a month ago, when criticism of China began to rise over how it has handled the Wuhan Flu as a global citizen, there were two immediate responses.

First the Chinese Communist Party went on a global propaganda tear, firing off all sorts of accusations, particularly at the USA.

Second, the usual suspects began to jump up and down about how this was all just the Trump administration trying to deflect attention from American dead and dying. I note that the Chinese propaganda apparat is cleverer than the clunking old Soviets and they have eagerly taken up this angle as well so that the one side reinforces the other.

But in fact Trump has been hammering the idea that the USA is too dependent upon China since the start of his campaign in 2015. I admit I rolled my eyes at this because he was saying the same thing about Japan back in the late 1980’s, and we know how that turned out. What most people have missed however is that Japan never had the sort of global geopolitical goals that the Chinese Communist Party has, nor did it ever appear to turn its economic links into international political leverage as the CCP has, with its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative being the most obvious.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
China’s IP (intellectual property) theft, according to an investigation led by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, is costing the U.S. “between $225 billion and $600 billion annually.” As far back as November 2015 The Office of the Director of National Intelligence reported that China’s hacking was costing U.S. companies $360 billion per year.
 
But the Bush and Obama administrations decided to overlook China’s duplicity in this area and others for the sake of appeasing both the Chinese government and U.S. business organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, whose members didn’t want to lose access to China’s “fast-growing consumer market or to the country’s cheap labor.
 
But with the Wuhan Flu and their propaganda campaign around it, plus the threats they’ve made, they appear to have pushed it too far and the US blowback is bipartisan:

A Harris poll released on April 6 found that 77 percent of the US population believes China is to blame for the pandemic.

Threats? Well try this on. On March 4 an article titled “Be Bold: The World Owes China a Thank You”, was published in China’s state-run Xinhua news service and amidst all the usual propaganda tropes it noted that China has leverage over the U.S. and Europe because it can restrict the supply of medicines that have been outsourced to China. Specifically the USA could be “plunged into the mighty sea of coronavirus.”
 
Frankly I thought this was just the usual boasting bullshit one expects from Communists, but it turns out to be true:

Eighty percent of America’s “active pharmaceutical ingredients” comes from abroad, primarily from China (and India); 45% of the penicillin used in the country is Chinese-made; as is nearly 100% of the ibuprofen. Rosemary Gibson, author of “China Rx,” testified last year to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission about this critical dependence . 

“We can’t make penicillin anymore,” said Gibson. “The last penicillin plant in the United States closed in 2004.”

Other generic drugs whose key ingredients are manufactured in China include medicines for blood pressure medicine, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy and depression.

“And they have a plan”

Basically we’ve outsourced our entire industry to China,” retired Brig. Gen. John Adams told NBC News. “That is a strategic vulnerability.”  

Adams, who during a 30-year career served as a military intelligence officer, a military attache in South Korea and deputy U.S. military representative to NATO, added that he believes China understood the implications as it was building a drug ingredients industry. 

“I think they know exactly what they’re doing and they’re incredibly good strategists. They’re doing this, they select their industries for the future and they’ve got a plan.”

I doubt many people in the USA had any idea that China had such control.
 
So as a result of all these revelations, there has been some serious re-thinking about China going on. Here’s NeverTrumper, Andrew Sullivan, with this article, It’s Time for Conscious Uncoupling With China:

I’m not excusing Trump for his delusions, denial, and dithering — he is very much at fault — but the core source of the destruction was and is Beijing.

For both Europe and America, the delusions that sustained the 21st-century engagement with China have begun to crack. We still don’t know how this virus emerged — and China hasn’t given any serious explanation of its origins. What we do know is that the regime punished and silenced those who wanted to sound the alarm as early as last December, and hid the true extent of the crisis from the rest of the world.

The Chinese dictatorship is, in fact, through recklessness and cover-up, responsible for a global plague and tipping the entire world into a deep depression. It has also corrupted the World Health Organization, which was so desperate for China’s cooperation it swallowed Xi’s coronavirus lies and regurgitated them.

Sullivan gets to the heart of what a great many people, including me, have believed over the last twenty years. There were reservations, but to paraphrase Leo McGarry from The West Wing, was not engagement with China better than Cold War II?

I remember the old debate from the 1990s about how to engage China, and the persuasiveness of those who believed that economic prosperity would lead to greater democracy. COVID-19 is the final reminder of how wrong they actually were.

Bringing a totalitarian country, which is herding its Muslim inhabitants into concentration camps, into the heart of the Western world was, in retrospect, a gamble that has not paid off.

Integrating a communist dictatorship into a democratic world economy is a mug’s game. From now on, conscious decoupling is the order of the day
.

From the moderate right is Michael Auslin, a fellow at the Hoover Institution:

Xi and the Communist Party care about dominating the propaganda war because the Wuhan virus has stood their nation on a razor’s edge. Xi’s own legitimacy is not merely at stake. His government is ferociously fighting to divert blame and attention, fearing that the world rightfully may utterly reassess modern China, from its technocratic prowess to its safety. Decades of a carefully curated global image may crumble if nations around the globe start paying attention to China’s lax public health care, incompetent and intrusive government, and generally less developed domestic conditions. 

Xi’s fears are well founded, as a global reconsideration of China is long overdue. Legitimate criticisms and doubts about China’s governance and growth model were long suppressed by Chinese pressure and the willingness of many to buy into the Communist Party’s public line. Public shaming of foreign corporations, global influence operations, and “elite capture” — all are policies Beijing has deployed to maintain China’s public image. That carefully tended image is now cracked.

Elite capture? Sounds like New Zealand.

 

The idea that free trade would lead to a free society in China turned out to be wrong. Their Chinese Communist leadership simply used the wealth to build a 21st century military and security state the East German Stasi could only dream of.

The growing opposition to China is not just coming from the USA and Trump.

 
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be furious with China as he recovers from the coronavirus that nearly killed him. Not only is his government moving to permanently shut out China’s state-controlled electronic firm, Huawei, from the UK’s 5G networks, he has promised that there will be other consequences for China’s failure to share accurate and timely data on the deadly virus.

 

 

Meanwhile Japan’s government got the ball rolling in early April, announcing that it will start paying its companies to relocate out of China. If that surprises you then you probably haven’t paid much attention to the anti-Japanese propaganda campaign the CCP has whipped up over the last decade inside China, plus the power-play it pulled back in 2010, when it blocked the export of rare-earth minerals to Japan over territorial disputes in the East China Sea, although that’s just one of many.

Even Iran was not happy with China, with a Health spokesman saying that China’s statistics were “a bitter joke“, adding that, if Beijing said it got the coronavirus epidemic under control within two months of its outbreak, “one should really wonder [if it is true].” although Iranian leaders did their best to paper over the cracks.

 

Then there was Italy, one of the hardest hit nations in the EU, with the Northern regions of Lombardy and Tuscany showing the worst infection rates and death tolls. To the outside world this was a bit of a mystery at first, until it turned out that they were the two regions that had the most intimate contact with China. Tens of thousands of Chinese citizens worked in the areas and constantly flew between the two nations. It enabled things like Italy’s traditional shoe industry to survive the decline in the number of skilled Italian workers, control costs, and retain the precious “Made In Italy” stamp.

No wonder all the shoes and boots I looked at during our 2019 trip looked the same.

Italy had been warned about this by other EU members when it signed up to OBOR in 2019, the only G7 nation to do so. They probably felt they had no choice:

Italy’s economy has been struggling for two decades. It has seen three recessions in 10 years. Its unemployment rate stood at 10.3 percent, and its youth unemployment rate was 33 percent as of 2018. According to Marco Annunziata of Forbes, the living standards in Italy today are roughly the same as they were 20 years ago because very little growth has occurred.

As part of the deal, Italy opened an array of sectors to Chinese investment, from infrastructure to transportation, including letting Chinese state-owned companies hold a stake in four major Italian ports. The deal gave communist China a foothold in the heart of Europe, but [Prime Minister] Conte downplayed it as “no big deal at all.

And how happy to do you think the governments of Spain, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands are after they recalled Chinese masks and testing kits when large batches were found to be defective? French President Emmanuel Macron has said the West’s acquiescence to China’s approach is “naïve” and in a visit to Beijing earlier this year said the new Silk Road China is anxious to rebuild “cannot be one-way.” France is also one of the EU nations hardest hit by the Wuhan Flu.

 
Not that the EU will be much use on this. A couple of weeks ago they were all set to release a report on the coronavirus pandemic.

 

An early draft of the report cited several key actions by communist China, including its slow initial cover-up and response, and its ongoing disinformation campaign to create confusion over its role and try blaming others including the United States.

It cited Beijing’s efforts to curtail mentions of the virus’s origins in China, in part by blaming the United States for spreading the disease internationally. It noted that Beijing had criticized France as slow to respond to the pandemic and had pushed false accusations that French politicians used racist slurs against the head of the World Health Organization. The report also highlighted Russian efforts to promote false health information and sow distrust in Western institutions. 

Russia eh? Something tells me we won’t be hearing much about that from the Russia Collusion screamers.

“The Chinese are already threatening with reactions if the report comes out,” Lutz Güllner, a European Union diplomat, wrote to colleagues on Tuesday in an email seen by The Times.

The NYT reports that once China found out about the report, it made a few calls to see if Europe would delay and airbrush on Beijing’s behalf or not. This was a test of the EU’s resolve, as one European official noted. Would Europe stick to the facts, or would it wilt in the face of harsh words from foreign dictatorship?

I’ll take “fetal position” for €10, Alex. And so it came to be:

 

Worried about the repercussions, European officials first delayed and then rewrote the document in ways that diluted the focus on China, a vital trading partner — taking a very different approach than the confrontational stance adopted by the Trump administration.

The sentence about China’s “global disinformation” campaign was removed, as was any mention of the dispute between China and France. Other language was toned down. And other facts got dropped into footnotes and appendices.

Turns out that one Ester Osorio, a senior aide to the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell, was the person who ordered the report delayed and altered. According to the report, Osorio also tried to cover her own tracks and although some EU officials are unhappy with the move…

“Such appeasement will set a terrible precedent and encourage similar coercion in the future,” an analyst, Monika Richter, wrote to her colleagues and supervisors in an email seen by The Times. She said that European Union diplomats were “self-censoring to appease the Chinese Communist Party.” She also wrote that it was a lie to claim that the document had not been scheduled for release.

… the fact is that the report is out there now, ready for use in China’s propaganda efforts.

European appeasement. This is my shocked face.

The trouble is that actually uncoupling from China in any way at all is going to be tough. It’s going to mean nations sucking up increased costs for re-establishing strategic industries – such as the production of  basic pharmaceuticals: ordinary little things never thought of as strategic before. And we’re not talking about the same challenge as facing the clapped-out Soviets:

 

Soviet Communists told their most talented scientists, “Invent something new, and we’ll give you a medal, and maybe a dacha.” China says, “Invent something new, launch an Initial Public Offering, and become a billionaire.” By the end of 2019 there were 285 billionaires in China—including Alibaba’s Jack Ma, who, like many of his fellow billionaires, is a Communist Party member. 

There are more Marxists in Cambridge, Massachusetts, than in all of China. I met a professed Marxist over dinner in Beijing a couple of years ago—a pleasant fellow who taught Marxist-Leninist doctrine at the Communist Party’s cadre school. His daughter had just graduated from a top American university; he asked if I could help her get a job on Wall Street.

I love that story. But still, as I have often pointed out, Marxism is merely used as a rationale for maintaining exactly the same type of centralised, bureaucratic, technocratic empire that has arisen in China repeatedly over the last 5000 years, with its “Mandate From Heaven“.

We aren’t facing drunken, corrupt Soviet bureaucrats, but a Mandarin elite cherry-picked from the brightest university graduates of the world’s largest country. America confronts something far more daunting than moth-eaten Marxism: a 5,000-year-old empire that is pragmatic, curious, adaptive, ruthless—and hungry. China’s current regime is cruel, but no crueler than the Qin dynasty that buried a million conscript laborers in the Great Wall. China was, and remains, utterly ruthless.

But the rest of the world still has considerable leverage since the links go both ways. On April 17, Chinese officials said their country’s economy shrank by 6.8 percent from January to March 2020, compared with one year ago. The business problems were already obvious, as outlined in this article last year.

This is the first economic contraction since Mao’s death in 1976 and a double blow for a nation that expects and needs 6%+ per annum growth. Things are likely to have got worse since then. There are numerous business reports detailing that even as businesses have re-started in China their order books are down drastically. How long that can go on before unemployment and general social unrest follow? China may think it can simply follow history and crush internal dissent, and it may well be able to, but that’s short-term; it has to have economic growth, so it may be more amenable to various Western demands now than before the virus.

And there is now no doubt that those demands are going to be made and those supply chain uncouplings are going to happen. The USA and EU nations are not going to allow themselves to be exposed like this again.

Where this leaves New Zealand is a tough question. Thanks to the FTA signed with China twenty years ago we are well plugged-in to that nation for both exports and imports. And we can expect no support from aging Lefties still stuck on their anti-US grudges. Although it has been pointed out that our export exposure to them is not so great that we can’t push back on them.

Still, China has already issued threats to Australia that it would stop importing things like beef and wine from them if they continue to push for an inquiry into the origin of the global coronavirus outbreak. We can expect the same treatment, although I doubt we’ll be pushing China for anything at all as both Labour and National seem to be part of that “elite capture” mentioned earlier, which is always the key to control of a colony. For all our bold talk of standing tall in the 1980’s and breaking free of Britain and the USA the fact is that we still have a colonial mindset, and China is the new empire.

Come On Hollywood. Put Taiwan & Japan back
on Maverick’s Jacket for Top Gun II 

One suggestion: join with Australia in pushing for Taiwan’s entry into international bodies like the WHO, the UN and so forth. They’re a good democracy in a greater sense than just voting; having proved that they have institutions, including law and order, that are solidly based on democracy.

And they were more help to other nations in this crisis than China. China will explode with fury but nobody should believe their one country, two systems bullshit any longer, having seen what happened to Hong Kong, and I don’t see why the 1949 split should mean that China still has a claim on Taiwan.

Sadly, I don’t think New Zealand has the guts to do that, but if Adern decides to do so, she’ll have my vote.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 6, 2020 at 12:01 pm

Supermodels, Dangerous Curves and Experts – Part 2

Starting at the end, the polling site 538 has done an excellent job in applying some probability – which is their area of expertise – to these wide ranges of predictions by epidemiological experts.

So let’s look at what four experts in infectious disease have to say specifically about the models upon which we’re making such huge political and economic decisions.

  1. Dr. Deborah Birx, Clinical Immunology, US Army
  2. Dr. Paul Auwaerter, Clinical Director, Infectious Diseases, Johns Hopkins
  3. Dr Eran Bendavid and Dr Jay Bhattacharya, Standford professors of medicine
  4. John P.A. Ioannidis — Stanford professor of epidemiology and population health

================
1, Because it’s worth showing Dr Birx again as she talks about the Imperial College model.

 
  • So in the model, to get the numbers of infected people predicted, from which other projections of hospitalisations and death tolls are derived, you have to have either:
    • A large group of asymptomatic people who have never presented for any test. That’s possible but to determine that in fact, much testing is going on, Yet – “In no country have we seen an attack rate of more than one in a thousand.
    • Or a transmission rate that’s very different from what is being seen on the ground.
  • But the predictions of such models don’t match the reality of what they’re seeing on the ground in Italy, South Korea and China.
  • If you did the divisions according to the models, Italy should have 400,000 deaths. They’re not even close to that.
  • “Models are models. There’s enough data now of the real experience with the coronavirus on the ground to make these predictions much more sound.”
  • When people start talking about 20 percent of a population getting infected, it is very scary but we don’t have data that matches that based on the experience.
  • There’s no reality on the ground where we can see that 60 to 70 percent of Americans are going to get infected in the next eight to 12 weeks“.

================
2.  Dr. Paul Auwaerter talks about the infection / transmission rate

If you have a COVID-19 patient in your household, your risk of developing the infection is about 10%….If you were casually exposed to the virus in the workplace (e.g., you were not locked up in conference room for six hours with someone who was infected [like a hospital]), your chance of infection is about 0.5%

===============
3. Dr Eran Bendavid and Dr Jay Bhattacharya

a) Testing vs infected population

“…First, the test used to identify cases doesn’t catch people who were infected and recovered. Second, testing rates were woefully low for a long time and typically reserved for the severely ill. Together, these facts imply that the confirmed cases are likely orders of magnitude less than the true number of infections. Epidemiological modelers haven’t adequately adapted their estimates to account for these factors.

b)  The number of US people infected and the US mortality rate

The epidemic started in China sometime in November or December. The first confirmed U.S. cases included a person who traveled from Wuhan on Jan. 15, and it is likely that the virus entered before that: Tens of thousands of people traveled from Wuhan to the U.S. in December. Existing evidence suggests that the virus is highly transmissible and that the number of infections doubles roughly every three days.

An epidemic seed on Jan. 1 implies that by March 9 about six million people in the U.S. would have been infected. As of March 23, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 499 Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. If our surmise of six million cases is accurate, that’s a mortality rate of 0.01%, assuming a two week lag between infection and death. This is one-tenth of the flu mortality rate of 0.1%…”

This point is crucial and is much debated. One of the Trump taskforce has argued in the NEJM that the final mortality rate is likely to be between 0.1 and 1.0% – but has also said that the virus could be ten times more deadly than the flu, if it approaches the upper bound of his estimate. Both his arguments could be correct. It should also be noted here that Dr Birx above does not see – from the actual evidence to date – that there could be 6 million infected people in the US as of March 9)

c) The Italian and Chinese actual mortality rates.

“…Fear of Covid-19 is based on its high estimated case fatality rate – 2% to 4% of people with confirmed Covid-19 have died, according to the World Health Organization and others. So if 100 million Americans ultimately get the disease, two million to four million could die. We believe that estimate is deeply flawed. The true fatality rate is the portion of those infected who die, not the deaths from identified positive cases

“…On or around Jan. 31, several countries sent planes to evacuate citizens from Wuhan, China. When those planes landed, the passengers were tested for Covid-19 and quarantined. After 14 days, the percentage who tested positive was 0.9%. If this was the prevalence in the greater Wuhan area on Jan. 31, then, with a population of about 20 million, greater Wuhan had 178,000 infections, about 30-fold more than the number of reported cases. The fatality rate, then, would be at least 10-fold lower than estimates based on reported cases.

Next, the northeastern Italian town of Vò, near the provincial capital of Padua. On March 6, all 3,300 people of Vò were tested, and 90 were positive, a prevalence of 2.7%. Applying that prevalence to the whole province (population 955,000), which had 198 reported cases, suggests there were actually 26,000 infections at that time. That’s more than 130-fold the number of actual reported cases. Since Italy’s case fatality rate of 8% is estimated using the confirmed cases, the real fatality rate could in fact be closer to 0.06%…”

====================================
4. John P.A. Ioannidis

This was written on March 17 and while testing in many countries has ramped up massively since then his point still stands:

The data collected so far on how many people are infected and how the epidemic is evolving are utterly unreliable. Given the limited testing to date, some deaths and probably the vast majority of infections due to SARS-CoV-2 are being missed. We don’t know if we are failing to capture infections by a factor of three or 300.

This evidence fiasco creates tremendous uncertainty about the risk of dying from Covid-19. Reported case fatality rates, like the official 3.4% rate from the World Health Organization, cause horror — and are meaningless. Patients who have been tested for SARS-CoV-2 are disproportionately those with severe symptoms and bad outcomes. As most health systems have limited testing capacity, selection bias may even worsen in the near future.

It’s quite obvious that whatever decision governments make are going to be rolling the dice. South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore threw resources at testing and tracking which is risky but seems to have worked. Holland has gone for the herd immunity approach: given their enthusiasm for euthanasia that should not come as a surprise. Sweden also seems to be taking a relaxed approach. Given its Federal nature the USA has different approaches being taken by different states. New Zealand and other nations have gone for a fairly hardline lockdown that may burn to the ground a substantial part of the economy.

“Draconian countermeasures have been adopted in many countries. If the pandemic dissipates — either on its own or because of these measures — short-term extreme social distancing and lockdowns may be bearable,”

“How long, though, should measures like these be continued if the pandemic churns across the globe unabated? How can policymakers tell if they are doing more good than harm?”

Well the answer is that they can’t. They may never even be able to point to the number of lives saved, and even if they do there will be lives lost because of the lockdown. The phrase “Excess Deaths”, calculated at the end of 2020, may be the best measurement.
 
See Also
 

Written by Tom Hunter

March 31, 2020 at 11:31 pm

Democracy dies in Darkness

So in June we’ve had the 75th anniversaries of The Battle of Midway and the more-widely acknowledged D-Day, plus the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests.

The last event should be made to grow in importance as an anniversary, for two reasons. First because it’s important to show the Chinese Communist government that the old Memory Hole trick won’t work outside of China. Secondly because it’s a pointer to a rather ugly future, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

Several years ago, a retired U.S. Navy Captain, James Fanell, the former director of Intelligence and Information operations for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, gave testimony to the US House Committee on Intelligence Operations, in which he mapped out where he thinks China is going with all this over the next few decades. It’s 48 pages long but worth your time to read.
He talks about the slow, steady buildup of the Chinese military but more importantly about the reasons for it. His argument is that China is focusing on the year 2049, the 100th anniversary of the Communist takeover of China, and the desire to have Taiwan “reunified” by then, preferably without firing a shot.
And the strategy is based on what happened in Tiananmen Square and after:

For the last five years I have postulated a new theory entitled the “Decade of Concern”. Central to the theory is the belief that China has calculated a timeline for when they could use military force at the latest possible moment AND still be able to conduct a grand ceremony commemorating their national restoration in 2049.

I believe China’s leaders have a template for calculating that date and it is the time period from Tiananmen Square to the 2008 Olympics.

As you recall in 1989, the international community largely condemned Beijing’s actions of slaughtering its own citizens at Tiananmen Square. Yet, just 19 years later the world’s leaders flocked to Beijing to attend the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Remember the scene on August 8th 2008 at the Bird’s Nest stadium?

There were tens of thousands of people in the seats watching one of the most impressive Olympic opening ceremonies in history. There at the top of the stadium, in a cool, air-conditioned skybox were the nine members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo (PBCS), looking down over the masses of humanity. At the center of the PBSC was President Hu Jintao, wearing his black Mao suit. President Hu was cool, calm, and collected and what did he see down in those seats, in the 95-degree temperature and 95% humidity?

Why, it was the President of the United States, with big sweat stains under his armpits, who later went on to describe the event as being “spectacular and successful”.

What was the strategic message from this event? I believe it reinforced a belief among China’s leadership that the West has a short-attention span regarding issues such as crimes against humanity and vicious misuse of military force.

In short, Beijing believes the West can be counted on to forget even the most barbarous actions after about a 20- year time span.

In other words, the Chinese Communist leadership have to make Taiwan part of a unified China by 2029.

One quibble I have with the analysis is that the leaders of the West didn’t even wait a few months, let alone twenty years, to begin ignoring and forgetting the Tiananmen Square massacre. Bush 41 quietly dispatched two top aides to assure Xiaoping that it was business as usual. The rest of the West followed the same path. Admittedly nobody saw the Warsaw pact collapsing less than six months later; Cold War rules still applied.

Bill Clinton condemned Bush for “coddling dictators” but as soon as he was President in 1993 he hailed China as a “strategic partner” and specifically announced that human rights would be “de-linked” from trade, and that continued with Bush 43. Chinese dissidents begged Obama to speak up about Xi Jinping’s ruthless crackdown on them, but the Obama administration just wasn’t focused on China. And while Trump has gleefully got into a trade war with them, he has shown the same lack of interest in their internal oppression as his predecessors did.

Whatever develops I doubt New Zealand will have much to say about it or “our friends in Beijing

National MP Jian Yang lied about his Chinese Communist Party past when entering the country, admitting that he did so on instructions from Beijing, and worked for the PLA’s Military Intelligence unit. Yet he is apparently a valued member who raises tons of money for National, speaks only to the Chinese media  in NZ and has never said a word against the PRC..

The Labour MP, Raymond Huo, follows a similar path. Chairing Parliament’s Justice Committee hearings on foreign interference, he initially opposed any public submissions, claiming government departments could say all there was to be said. How very Xi of him. He’s recused himself now, but, exactly like Yang, has solid ties to the PRC Embassy here, to various regime-affiliated United Front bodies, is on record about the opportunity being an MP gave him to champion PRC perspectives on issues like Tibet, and – again exactly like Yang – has never once in his years in Parliament been heard to utter a word critical of the PRC.

Is it any wonder that Bridges and Adern have virtually nothing to say about China’s moves. At least they’re in good political company locally and internationally.

But it’s not just the politicians. The title of this article is the slogan adopted by The Washington Post in the Age of OrangeManBad, and it’s the usual pretentious puffery you’d expect the MSM to apply to themselves – along with the word “brave”. The picture immediately below the title means the slogan is also a bad joke, as a recent article from the Human Events website, showing what has happened to that “respected” organ of the MSM, explains:

“Recently the Washington Post has started carrying China Daily‘s US edition as a physically separate advertising supplement to the printed paper, as described here. Fine: it’s clearly labeled, and we’ve all gotta stay in business. But now the Post is doing the same thing on its website. Look at this part of the “Washington Post“‘s site as it appears just now, and tell me how obvious it is that you’re seeing a paid presentation of official Chinese government propaganda perspective…”

As Federalist contributor Mark Hemingway said:

“Can someone tell me why a newspaper owned by literally the richest man in the world needs to take money from people running concentration camps?”

To be fair the WaPo’s crap reporting on China was strongly criticized by the paper’s own ombudsman in its own pages. But nothing changed. Aside from Human Events, the articles I’ve linked to come from the Croaking Cassandra blog and exceed in detail and relentless coverage anything you’ll find in the local reporting of the NZ MSM.

I did get a bonus black comedy laugh out of another WaPo-China Daily page that Human Events showed:

Whether it’s politicians or the MSM, China knows how to spend its money effectively to gain influence in foreign circles and create a soft propaganda wall of defence in the West against attacks on its military and foreign policy plans and objectives – whether their brutal suppression of the Uighur minorities, with Tibet as the template, the slow strangulation of Hong Kong, the bullshit China is pulling on Vietnam and the Phillipines in the-here-and-now, or with Taiwan in the coming ten year timeframe that so worries Captain Fanell.

I have no doubt what the veterans of Midway and D-Day would have said about how democracy dies, but they would be appalled at who is killing it, how it is being done, and that the anniversary of one of the worst examples of it is largely ignored by Western leaders at the same time that they make paens to those long-ago victories.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 25, 2019 at 8:50 pm

The Gathering Storm *

Have the Chinese read Mein Kampf?

In the wake of US vice president Pence’s recent speech on China, Adolf considered the remarkable similarities between Germany is 1938 and China in 2018.  They are instructive and full of foreboding.

  • Both countries have leaders who have taken for themselves the role of dictator for life.
  • Both countries have clearly signalled expansionist strategies.  (Ask Sri Lanka how it’s getting on with it’s Chinese loan which is rapidly turning into a Chinese naval base.)
  • Both countries have forcibly annexed a neighbour state and subjugated it’s people. (Tibet and Sudetenland)
  • Both countries seek further annexations (Austria and Taiwan)
  • Both countries are spending increasingly large sums on increasing their military power.
  • Both countries have recently brought their populations out of poverty and into prosperity.
  • Both prevent political opposition by imprisoning or executing dissidents.
  • Both countries are totalitarian – communist China and fascist Germany.
  • Both countries have insufficient oil or gas reserves of their own.

The last two years have seen China take possession of a vast swathe of the South China Sea, building islands where none existed and fortifying them.

Image result for south china sea dispute

The region just happens to be rich in oil and gas reserves and also happens to be very close to Malaysia and the Philippines and a hell of a long way from China.

Image result for south china sea dispute

I think we will see within ten years (1) an attempt to take over Taiwan and (2) an attempt to exploit the oil reserves of the south China Sea.

What to do?

Were I an American businessman manufacturing in China, the first thing I would do is quietly wind down my operation there and relocate to low cost India where the curry is hotter and the political climate cooler.  China will not be safe place for Americans or Australians.

From there I would encourage my country and its western allies to smash the Chinese Navy.  Without a deep water navy, China ain’t going nowhere.

I’m sure General Mattis will have a plan.

* Churchill’s account of the politics leading up to World War Two.

Written by adolffinkensen

October 9, 2018 at 12:00 am