Articles that touch on some of the complexities of China. Of course China is a complex country, with rich culture and over 1B people. So there are few truisms or observations that apply to everywhere and everywhen.
China : 9 items
TikTok is a Chinese-owned (ByteDance) version of VideoTwitter -- where you can upload short videos (3-60 looping videos). Since the App is highly popular, and created with Chinese Government sponsorship and regulatory rules, it has been called a "national security threat to the West", especially amongst armed services personnel because it can convey location, image and biometric data to its Chinese parent company, which is legally unable to refuse to share that data to the Chinese government.
Tank man is the story of a protestor that stood in place the day after the Chinese government's violent crackdown on the Tiananmen protests (June 5, 1989). He stood directly in the path of a column of approaching Type 59 tanks. After repeatedly attempting to go around rather than crush the man, the lead tank stopped its engines, and the armored vehicles behind it seemed to follow suit. There was a short pause with the man and the tanks having reached a quiet, still impasse. And for many in the west, that's where the story ends: a noble protestor stopped the violent oppression of the government. Unfortunately, that's not the whole story. It was a noble, feeble and unsuccessful attempt at non-violent protest. A few minutes later, two figures ushered the guy away, never to be seen from again, the tanks continued on their way, and violent suppression of the protests continued unhindered.
Milton Friedman goes to China
There’s a famous economics fable of Milton Friedman going to China or India, and what happens is another way to explain The Broken Window Fallacy
, in a more Socratic way. Some refer to this as Shovels vs. Spoons. The story predates Milton, but he did tell variants of it and popularized it.
Mao's Great Leap Forward
- In Socialist circles "Forward" often means eliminating those holding you back. Mao's Great Leap Forward
means the death of 45 million over four years... and that's not counting the oppression and re-education camps. This is partly why Obama's leftist symbology from posters to terms like "Forward" raises eyebrows and fed the "he's not from around here
" attitudes (with the help of the Hillary campaign). It was a signal (whether intentional or incompetence) on who he sympathized with. After all, Socialism led to a third of all homes in China being destroyed to produce fertilizer and then the nation descended into famine and starvation, driven by the state. Resulting in something 20x worse than what Pol Pot's genocide (in deaths, not in percentage of the population, obviously).
It would be great if Keynesianism worked, governments could manipulate economies, and our lives would be better. But history shows us the opposite: it has failed every time it has been tried. Examples: the new deal, the new new deal, after WWII (Keynesians predicted a depression cutting all those military jobs, instead we had huge growth), 1970's Stagflation broke their models completely, Japan's lost decades (Abenomics) all went the opposite of Keynes predictions. Every country that converted from centralized planning and communism to free'er economies (Russia, China, Vietnam, East Germany, etc), should have had a depression, instead of massive growth. The history of central planned economies like North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, should have all outgrown places like South Korea, Brazil or Hong Kong: but the opposite happened. Heck, if it would have worked, then Obamanomics would have given us the highest labor participation rates in our history, instead of the lowest since the Great Depression. So what did we learn? Keynesians learned nothing because reality doesn't fit their desires. But the rest of us learned that Keynes was wrong.
Hillary Clinton: Chinagate (1996)
The Clinton-Gore campaign in 1996 allegedly took bribes from Chinese banks and their government (to help their dwindling poll numbers). The Chinese embassy siphon funds into the DNC with the help of Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown (died in a plane crash), and at Hillary’s instruction, reportedly sold seats on department trade missions to China. The Democrats and DOJ "willfully impeded" the investigation according to the FBI Director and other agents who later testified before Congress.
In the end, since the Clintons were never fully prosecuted or excoriated by the Press/Public, this idea of selling foreign favors for money, was scaled up, converted into a charity and became the Clinton Foundation,.
There was an economics battle between Keynes and Hayek fought generations ago. But History proved Hayek the winner: things he predicted came true. Keynes scored a few microeconomic points, but history broke his macroeconomics models: the boom economy after WWI, stagflation in the 1970's, Japan's lost decades and the failure of Abenomics, China and Russia's growth after abandoning command economies, all proved Keynes wrong. And Hayek won the noble prize for explaining why: Dispersed Knowledge. If the leaders don't know more than everyone else combined, then the more decisions you make from the top, the less efficient those decisions will be, and planned economics will underperform ones where the decisions can be made closer to the problem.
China Trade & Intellectual Property
There are a few areas of friction with China. A few of them are around their stealing of our trade secrets, not protecting our intellectual property in their country, and their predatory practices wrt trade (and creating trade deficits). As well as their currency manipulation. Basically, when you deal with China the rule is "win". Whatever they do to win, doesn't matter. If your country doesn't have protections in place to stop them from exploiting your systems, then that's your fault. (Or that's how they play it).
China doesn't believe that individuals matter: they care about the collective. That means that individual privacy is not something they even fathom. Why wouldn't you spy on your neighbor? If the state's objective is to protect the state, than places that don't use the Internet to protect the state are stupid and going to be darwin'ed out of the gene pool someday. And China is patient.
China isn't all bad. In fact there's a ton of good things about it that I like (some mentioned). But I'm not going to exclude the stories where they aren't all good and their reputation is earned either.