Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

Monday, May 1, 2023

What does it mean when India overtakes China? There is more to becoming a world power than sheer numbers

First posted on Asia Times. As India is about to overtake China to become the most populous in the world, The New York Times promises a future series of articles speculating on how India might change the world as China has in the last 40-plus years. I am certain that India being the largest democracy in the world will be mentioned ad nauseam, but other considerations might be overlooked. I would like to provide a broader framework in the interest of a comprehensive discussion. As my teacher and good friend Martin Jacques has repeatedly argued, China is a civilization state unlike any nation as defined by the West. India can also be considered a civilization state, but with major differences. In the 3rd century BCE, China had a brutal and cruel leader with a vision that united all seven warring states. Qin Shi Huang became China’s first emperor. He standardized the spoken and written language, the currency, the weight and other measures and even the width of the wagon axles on the roads. He wanted to live forever, but at least his legacy survived. A national identity Most important, the first emperor established a national identity for all the ethnic peoples living in China. In time, these people responded to the Chinese culture and assimilated into the Chinese way of life, gradually discarding their own original heritage. Today, we say China is made up of nearly 92% ethnic Han, the remainder being 50-some other identifiable minorities. Actually, the Han Chinese are made up of a mixed gene pool of many other tribes that have faded into history. There is no “purebred Chinese” per se. Missing in India’s history is that one strong unifying figure to rally the disparate groups of people and establish a national identify. India still recognizes 16 official languages along with other unofficial ones, and people many cannot communicate with another. Contrary to popular impression, only 10% of the population can speak English. The closest to a national identity is the one imposed by the British rule on the Indian subcontinent for nearly 100 years between the 19th and 20th centuries. The Brits, of course, were not there to construct an Indian identity. They were there to exploit, colonize and enslave the indigenous people. Consequently, Indians today have a much weaker sense of who they are as compared with the Chinese. It’s harder for them to know their ethnicity, other than the idea of attaining the mythical stature of a white Aryan as nirvana. India continues to be hobbled by the caste system, a legacy of its culture. This means that by virtue of their parentage, more than 300 million Indians will be socially stigmatized and economically marginalized with no hope of realizing their potential. Their children and grandchildren suffer the same fate. Caste system is India’s worst obstacle Another reflection from the mindset of the caste system is that India’s elite schools are reserved for the privileged few. Quality of the non-elite universities is not high. Most, especially women, cannot get into India’s better schools for lack of seats. China has about four times as many universities as India, and some have been placed among the world’s top 100 institutions of higher learning. Functional literacy is over 90% in China and about 60% in India. In Chinese culture, education is life’s highest priority. The difference in the two countries’ systems of government is one the West loves to extol. India is the world’s largest democracy, while China is not a (Western style) democracy. What is that supposed to mean? From my perspective, India is constrained by all the limitations of a Western democracy. The government talks a lot but does not get much done. Corruption is rife at every level. The poor are condemned to stay poor. Come to think of it, it reminds me of another democracy, the United States. However, given its huge population, India can boast about its relatively small group of brilliant and talented people, those who are fortunate enough to have realized their full potential. One obvious example is the corps of business executives originally from India who are dominating corporate America. For India to realize its full potential as a nation, it needs to stop seeing itself as an Anglo-Saxon country, and join the Global South to contribute to the wealth and well-being of the coalition of people of color. India needs to raise the quality of higher education and open access to every citizen. Only by allowing every person the opportunity to realize his or her full potential can India become another emerging pillar of technology and industry. To create jobs for the growing body of educated youth, India needs to attract foreign investment. This means less red tape and a total absence of corruption, and, of course, prompt completion of infrastructure projects. Lessons from China Contrary to the Western idea that conflict is the way to peace, India should proactively approach China to resolve their border dispute. So silly to argue over a Line of Control drawn by a Brit more than a century ago (the McMahon Line). For India truly to overtake China and become a new emerging world leader, it would need to learn two essential lessons from China. One lesson, relatively easy to do, is to greatly improve the quality of education and boost the quantity of the workforce. The government then would have to eliminate corruption at every level and bureaucratic red tape to make foreign direct investment easy and attractive. FDI creates jobs and raises GDP. The second lesson, much more challenging, is to launch a cultural revolution on a scale that surpasses even the one in China, but with a constructive end-point rather than a destructive one. The objective of an Indian revolution is to truly eliminate caste, liberate women, and give all the opportunity to realize their potential.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

China's version of democracy

As told by mayors of four cities in China. Hi All, My friend and colleague, K.J. Noh has introduced us to how China governs vs. the US system. The program from China interviewed mayors of 4 cities located in central China, coastal city in south China, northeast of China and Tibet. I have added an annotation for each city. I am passing this around because our government is spending millions of dollars to spread false information on China for no other reason than to justify making an enemy out of China. Please share this bi-lingual YouTube program to your circle of friends and neighbors. We can do our little bit to reverse the anti-China sentiment. Best, George On Tue, Apr 4, 2023 at 11:38 PM kiji noh wrote: This fascinating, inspiring documentary about Chinese mayors gives us insight into Chinese governance, public policy, accountability and what it means to "serve the people". (1:46:00) Watch this film and you can see why China is constantly getting better. Why the Government has 90+% popularity. It's the quality of its leadership and the mechanisms for making it better. The documentary takes us to 4 different cities/prefectures: Hefei, Yanbian, Zhangzhou, Nagqu, and then has a synoptic discussion about China's whole process democracy. Along the way, we see people, policies, economies, as well as the beautiful nature and the distinct indigenous cultures of each region (At 35:20 you can see the sacrifices) If you prefer to watch in shorter episodes: Ep1: Hefei City, Anhui: Innovation, Environment, Employment (19:26) The city invests in innovation and the environment for the betterment of the peoples' livelihood. The political leaders dispenses fund to help the city and do not need to collect funds for their political campaigns. Ep2: Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin: Soccer, Farming, Farmer's dance (14:30) This city promotes local sports participation, people vote for officials that have done the most for the people, Ethnic Korean mayor took a salary cut to enter local politics and he actively promotes preservation of Korean culture and dance Ep3: Zhangzhou City, Fujian: Buildings, Business, Beaches (25:35) Mayor helps residents preserve and restore world heritage & famous roundhouses; 87 year old Taiwanese owner of major tea company won't retire, being successful is too much fun, facilitated by the mayor ensuring that the Taiwanese investors are pleased to be in Zhangzhou. (A majority of Taiwanese ancestors originated from Zhangzhou.) Ep4: Nagqu, Tibet Autonomous Region: Caring for Vulnerable Nature & People (25:57) Young Tibetan mayor modestly admits he's very much learning on the job. Ep5: Chinese Democracy vs. American Democracy: "promises vs performance" (12:32) This episode is pretty much self explanatory. As one mayor explained, we are products of democracy every step along the way, who has ever heard of someone getting elected to a high level office without showing any proven experience at every lower level of office? Promotion is based on past performances. In every city in China,12345 is the direct line to the mayor's office. Ep6: Delivering Democracy: people oriented democracy (4:34) Trailer:

Contrasting styles of global leadership

A shorter version of this commentary was first posted in Asia Times. Early this January, I opined in Asia Times that “2023 bodes poorly for US international relations” under US President Joe Biden. I based my conclusion on China’s impressive success in making new friends vs. the Biden administration’s inability to make any. In less than three months since then, developments around the world have been seismic and spectacular and have made a prophet out of me, if I do say so myself. In January, I reported that China President Xi Jinping received the red-carpet treatment from Saudi Arabia, concluded a $25 billion deal for oil and met with the six Middle East nations that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council. Hosted by Saudi, they talked about China buying energy and helping them build their infrastructure. Two years earlier, China entered a 25-year strategic cooperation agreement with Iran. Thus, China has become friends of both major sects of Islam that have been historically bitter rivals. (To be honest, I did not expect anything earthshaking out of all this.) Then earlier this March, China announced that after four days of meeting and discussion in Beijing, Saudi Arabia and Iran have agree to resume diplomatic relations. A peace deal for the ages This was a big deal and caught the world by surprise. Heretofore, Saudi representing the Sunnis while Iran the Shiites have been bitter sectarian foes for centuries. Yet, China was able to play the role of an honest broker and brought the two sides together. China has the right set of credentials to be a mediator for peace. China is the second strongest global power, but does not try to bully any lesser countries and seeks to get along with everyone. China emphasizes three principles in their international relations: respect the national sovereignty of the other, does not interfere with the internal affairs of the other, and seek joint development based on common interests and mutual benefits. A few days later, Xi called on his “good friend,” Russia President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and brought with him a 12-point peace plan to resolve the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. The west promptly labeled the peace plan as vague, ambiguous and did not include terms that would revert Russian occupied territories back to Ukraine. But the west missed the point that was clear to everybody else in the world. Namely, a true mediation for peace does not begin by stipulating what the outcome should look like. That is up to the outcome of negotiations by the two principals. Zelensky would like China to step in But as pointed out in Asia Times, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky may find China’s peace proposal an acceptable starting point. He is facing western allies getting weary of supporting the war. Without such support, Zelensky knows his goose is cooked. While Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida was visiting Kiev acting as Washington’s envoy to encourage keeping the war going, Zelensky publicly welcomed China’s participation to broker a peace deal. He obviously found comfort in China’s ability to bring peace between Saudi Arabia and Iran. While Xi Jinping is enhancing his stature as a world leader that is proactive for peace, what has happened to Joe Biden during the same period? History will show that blowback from two of Biden’s worst decisions ever made has come to haunt him in the first quarter of 2023. In 2022, Biden imposed economic sanctions and confiscated all the Russian dollar holdings held in the US in an attempt to bring Russia to its knees. But it didn’t work. Russia’s economy turned out to be far more resilient than Washington expected. Weaponizing the dollar is a big blunder Barred from trade with the EU and others in the west, Russia turned to trade with China, India, East Asia and global south. Trade with China will surpass $200 billion this year and Russia has agreed to accept China’s renminbi to settle their transactions. As Russia earn a bounty of yuan from energy sales to China, other countries see the advantage of accepting the yuan from Russia for their trade, thus avoiding the extra cost of having to convert their own currency into dollars. Since China is likely to be their most important trading partner, yuan from Russia can simply be used when they do business with China. Brazil is the latest major trading nation to announce acceptance of the yuan to settle their accounts with China. These developments are not sufficient to dislodge the dollar as the global reserve currency but do indicate that other nations are eager to by-pass the dollar. By weaponizing the dollar, Biden has succeeded in planting the idea in other central banks that the dollar is no longer a reliable reserve currency. Recently, ASEAN countries held a meeting to discuss ways to avoid using the dollar, euro or yen to settle their trade accounts. If not those, what then? Probably China’s yuan and their own currencies. Indeed, China and even Japan have been reducing their dollar holdings. In recent months, China and Russia have been the major buyers of gold, no doubt with the dollars they held. The recent collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank is an indicator that the US economy is caught between the rock and a hard place. To tamp down inflation, the Fed has to raise the interest rate. Rising interest rate means a decreasing value of the long-term treasury bonds that the bank bought that pay lower interest rates. Thus, the decline in the value of the collateral asset owned by SVB made the bank vulnerable to a bank run. Most American banks operated in much the same way as SVB but were more fortunate because the Treasury department quickly stepped in and injected liquidity to reassure depositors that their banks won’t go the way of SVB. American economy needs China’s help To use a Chinese expression, Treasure Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo have been acting like ants running around a hot griddle, wanting and waiting for an invitation to visit Beijing. Why? Because Yellen wants to urge China to continue buying American IOUs and Raimondo would like to raise the level of bilateral trade, which would help keep the US economy going. Somehow, these Biden cabinet officers do not know how to ask nicely nor diplomatically. They seem to assume that a public announcement of their wish is good enough for Beijing to express mail an invitation to their offices. It has not occurred to them that Beijing needs to know what’s in it for China to meet with them. The Biden administration has the arrogance to presume that they can pick and choose the economic sectors that they can decouple from China and which to select for collaboration with China. Apparently, Biden does not understand that China does not see itself as a vassal state but has its own priorities. Decouple is a two-way street. Both Testa and Ford have asked Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. to build a battery plant in the US. CATL is the world leader in lithium battery technology and dominant supplier to makers of electric vehicles. China may well deny CATL an export license to locate a plant in the US for fear that the US would commandeer its world leading, proprietary technology, just as Biden has done in shipping advanced fab belonging to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing from Taiwan to Arizona. Obviously there exists a huge deficit of trust between the US and China. Nothing Biden has done is in the direction of healing the rift. Blowing up Nord Stream is the other blunder The revelation by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Seymour Hersh that Biden ordered the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines has further emphasized that Biden is an unethical and ruthless national leader that cannot be trusted. Biden has shown that he has no qualms in committing a war crime by severing the key economic linkage between Russia and the EU. Cutting off cheap energy from Russia has wreaked economic turmoil on his European allies. That Biden would do this to his own allies will shake EU allies’ trust and confidence in the US for years to come. As matters stand now, Xi Jinping represents a proactive world leader that will use his influence and prestige to work for world peace. Despite all the slander heaped on him and the blackening of China by Washington and the western media, a long queue of world leaders are jostling to meet with him in Beijing to discuss economic cooperation and collaboration on world peace. At the other end of the world is Joe Biden, a world leader that is dishonest and unethical and has earned the wary distrust of virtually every national leader in the world. He gives lip service to peace while creating conflict and intimidating smaller countries to join the US military alliance and prepare to “volunteer” in Washington’s proxy wars. Even his closest ally has to watch its back lest it’s abruptly discarded when it no longer figures in the US national interest. If, nay when the world majority chooses peace over war, then there would be no need for any country to depend on American military protection for security—a protection often promised but seldom delivered.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

My comment on role of China as a world peacemaker

George Koo on the Historic Significance of the Xi-Putin Summit & impact on changing New World Order Video cast on Activist News Network.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Fatal flaws with the idea of decoupling

A shorter version of this post first appeared in Asia times. Recent issue of Bloomberg/Businessweek said, “Despite the heated national security rhetoric in Washington and talk of “decoupling” in policy circles, the world’s top two economies remain firmly intertwined.” The article goes on the say that the bilateral trade for year ending 2022 is likely to be the highest ever recorded. The failure to decouple is likely good news for China but even better news for the American public. However, anyone with a dollop of common sense would realize that the talk about decoupling was just so much balderdash. For the sake of introducing clarity to what and how decoupling might actually mean, let us recruit a team of Indians to address the many facets of this “elephant” in the room. Decouple would mean the opposite of economic integration. Each would have nothing to do with the other. This means Americans would have to stop buying manufactured goods from China. But this is contrary to actual bilateral trade data, wherein despite the added import tariff to the retail price, the American public can’t buy enough products Made in China. That’s the reality to date. In order for the US not to buy from China, we would have to make these products in America. Former President Donald Trump struck on the brilliant idea of bringing manufacturing back to America. He ordered, cajoled and dangled sweet deals to entice American companies back to the US. Americans don’t know how anymore The idea basically flopped for a host of reasons. The making of widgets left the U.S. decades ago, first to the four tigers such as Taiwan and Hongkong and then to mainland China. The basic skill sets needed on the production line hasn’t been seen in America for many decades and could not be replaced overnight on demand. Some lament that Washington is at fault for not having the vision to craft an industrial policy that would encourage retention of the manufacturing of run of the mill products, such as toys, television, personal computers or mobile phones. Our political leaders, busy getting elected, did not envisiage that making widgets was a necessary precursor step to making increasingly higher valued goods, as China has done. Actually, most the blame belongs to America’s abiding faith in Capitalism as executed by Wall Street. Not for nothing that Corporate America are known as “multinationals.” Multinationals (MNCs) go to where the production costs are the lowest and sell to where the profit is highest. “National interest” does not figure in their board room discussions. As Trump’s successor, President Joe Biden lacked the courage to remove the tariffs on imports from China, which could have only benefitted the American consumer. Washington along with the compliant mainstream media has so thoroughly demonized China in the minds of American public that Biden dare not risk even an appearance of apparently acting soft on China. However, Biden apparently understands that bringing manufacturing back is not quite as simple as a Trumpian clarion call. For one thing, the American wage scale would raise the cost of production, perhaps by as much as 50% according to Morris Chang, founder of Taiwan Semiconductor, for semiconductors. In the case of highend products, production also needs a complete supply chain of parts and components, which would also need to be transplanted from somewhere. Biden wins at the expense of Europeans So, instead of counting on American MNCs to make America great again, Biden is dangling subsidies to appeal to foreign MNCs, any company except from China, to move their plants to the US. European companies find the prospects tempting. Their economy at home faces shortages and inflation thanks to the Ukrainian war and they find America’s stability and market appealing. Just like their American counterparts, European companies owe their allegiance to their shareholders. But enticing European MNCs to the US means taking jobs away from their home country, which is making the European leaders very unhappy, hardly a way to treat America’s allies. Biden’s another approach is to outright hijack Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) plant from Taiwan and transplant it to Phoenix Arizona. The first group of TSMC staff came willingly and accompanied the equipment disassembled from Taiwan. They were convinced by their own government that invasion from China was imminent and this was the opportunity to get out. Mere weeks later, some troubling signs are developing. The staff from Taiwan are used to working 10-12 hour shifts and they were promised that they do not have to work night shifts. Well, their American colleagues don’t want to work night shifts either and 8 hours per day is their normal stint. The difference between the Taiwan based wage scale and the US based also creates tension and resentment. Presumably, the difference would eventually be harmonized but the manufacturing cost would go up. The question will be whether the TSMC customers, such as Apple et al., would pay for this higher price chips for the sake of national interest or just keep buying from the TSMC plant remaining in Taiwan. Want to hazard a guess? When the Soviet Union sent aloft the first manmade satellite in 1957, America woke up in shock, and promptly rallied national energy and resources to respond. Twelve years later we sent man to the moon. That was America’s first Sputnik moment. When China showed that they have caught up or even surpassed the US in certain critical 21st century technogies, that was another Sputnik moment. Demonize easier than compete But this time, our leaders in Washington must have decided that rather than compete head on, it was cheaper to allocate a few hundreds of million dollars to the media and ask them to continue to mislead the American public and demonize China as a human rights violator incapable of innovation and technological advances. Of course, Pentagon has yet to explain how an undersea mountain “ran” into the nose of our most advanced nuclear submarine off southern China coast in 2021 and forcing the sub to surface and run to safety. That’s a juicy mystery still waiting for the mainstream media to investigate and report. Unconfirmed rumor is that a Chinese drone sub wreaked havoc on the USS Connecticut. When the US has been going around the world promoting armed conflicts in the name of imposing “rule based, international order,” death and destruction inevitably followed. The world witnessed the repeated scenario in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen to name a few hot spots set ablazed by Uncle Sam. Rather than feeling secured under the American military umbrella, the rest of the world fear and distrust American rhetoric and intentions. In the meantime, China makes the rounds offering Belt and Road Initiative to underdeveloped and developing countries. The basics of BRI is that the host country will consult with China and select the infrastructure projects that need China’s assistance and financing. Infrastructure projects, such as port, rail, highway, airport, power and others, upon completion would give the host an economic shot in the arm. Raising the gross domestic product could come from increase in export and participation of global trade, improved yield on the farm based on Chinese technical assistance and creation of new jobs in the cities. BRI becomes a form of incoming tide that raises all boats. Over 150 countries around the world have signed BRI deals with China. Over time, we can expect to see increasing number of countries grow in economical strength. As more countries manage to keep their own people employed at home, the world will see fewer refugees and migrants, an overall benefit you will not hear reported by the western media. China has friends, the US fear and loathing The success of BRI has raised alarm from the western media and American diplomats are going around Africa and Latin America warning them of China’s “debt-trap diplomacy.” China’s BRI financing is normally around half of the going rate, sometimes even at zero interest, and some loans were outright forgiven. These third world countries should be offended that the West believes they are too stupid to tell the difference between centuries of colonial exploitation they suffered in the hands of the western imperial powers and China’s straightforward business propositions. If the much talked about decoupling were to suddenly occur tomorrow, the US would pay a much dearer price than would China. China would continue to be the most important trading partner to every country except for perhaps the US. China has long term, yuan based, energy contracts with Saudi, Iran, Qatar and other Gulf states along with Russia. Furthermore, thanks to the US aggressive actions pushing China and Russia into tighter collaboration, they can roll up their sleeves and concentrate on developing and realizing the vast potential of Siberia. On the other hand, the US is suffering from a deep deficit of trust by allies and rest of the world alike. The world has seen American unilateralism at work as the US confiscated the foreign reserve of the Taliban government in Afghanistan and later the Russian holdings, national and personal. The threat of sanctions and actual sanctions imposed has been the US favorite tool of diplomacy. As many have observed, sanctions have unanticipated consequences and blowback. As one recent article concluded, “Western sanctions led Russia to greatly increase trade with Asia, while devastating Europe’s economy. The US tech war against China is damaging its own industry.” Washington can act arbitrarily, capriciously and unilaterally. That’s why Japan, even as an ally, and China being the two largest foreign holders of US debt are in a rush to divest their holdings as quickly as possible. In the case of China, they face the challenge of trade surplus accumulating faster than they can divest their dollars. Indeed, friend and foe alike, most countries’ reserve now include increasing portion of China’s yuan while lessening the portion in dollars. Russia has even announced the ultimate goal of holding 60% renminbi and 40% gold as their foreign exchange reserve. Ironically, in middle of last month, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen flew to Europe just to intercept China’s vice premier Liu He as he was on his way to the Davos summit. Apparently, the gist of their three-hour meeting was for Yellen to pitch the importance of China holding onto the dollars and continuing to buy US debt as vital to supporting the American economy. Most likely decoupling was not part of their conversation.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Comments by Professor Ling-chi Wang on contrasting styles of diplomacy

My friend, Prof Ling-chi Wang wrote a thoughtful response to my op-ed that I would like to share on my blog. BTW, he and I grew up on Gulangyu, the same tiny islet in the Xiamen harbor, and went to the same elementary school at the same time but we did not actually meet until many years later in San Francisco. ============================================== Thanks, again, for your insightful piece! What a contrast in leadership styles and management of diplomacy! Xi Jinping has been a masterful strategist in handling both domestic and foreign affairs. The ideologically driven Western media, commentators, and politicians have been completely wrong in criticizing Xi for his alleged assertiveness in dealing dealing with the West since day one of his presidency without basis, calling him a “Chinese Emperor” (On the cover of The Economist) and a ruthless dictator, suppressing dissidents and slaming China’s door to eager foreign investors and businesses in China since 2013. (Evidence points to the opposite). I think Xi has been quite low-key and patient in handling affairs at home and abroad in the last ten years, adhering to the precept of Deng Xiaoping, 韬光养晦, until the historic meeting between Yang Jiechi and Tony Blinken on March 18, 2021 in Alaska and now, in full display in the first two weeks of December 2022. Sparing no effort in saving lives in China, he mobilized the nation and the people in a war against the pandemic in the last three years, even as he quietly, steadily, and methodically lay the foundation of his policies, based on his vision of China's dream and renaissance and his Belt and Road Initiative in international relations he put forward since the beginning of his presidency. Eliminating abject poverty being one of his most successful goal. Your article offers the starkest contrast between the leadership of Xi Jinping and the leadership of Barach Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, even though the three U.S. presidents have very different styles in running the U.S. They actually have more important similarities among them than differences. Among the similarities is the commitment to maintain U.S. global hegemony at all costs at home and abroad by any means necessary. Even if the government is dysfunctional and totally paralyzed by mean-spirted division, what is keeping the government and the U.S. economy from collapsing is the shared interest in keeping the U.S. on top of the world and making sure the rest of the world, including our European allies, stay in line and remain subservient to American needs and interests. We absolutely refuse to look critically into ourselves, our system of government, our ideology and values. Instead, we only want to use foreign government, China, as a scapegoat and use it to unite the nation to blaming China for other our own failures. We declared China as an existential threat to our security, interests and prosperity without empirical basis. China is Branded as our No. 1 Enemy, just like what we declared in the 1950s and 1960s to justify our total embargo of China and we entered the Wars in Korea and In Vietnam to stop Chinese expansionism and against our own so-called values, we provided military and financial aids, at the expense of our own needs at home, for military dictators or our compliant regimes who were willing to sacrifice the needs of their people for our interests. Let me pose this question: If we blame and hate China and the Chinese people so much, why don’t we try to throw out everything within our households that are “Made in China” and see how long we can survive each day without them. We need China for "our daily bread!” just like what we say each time we say “The Lord’s Prayer.” The sad truth is we don’t even want to acknowledge that every American needs China for everything we need for our daily living. What we witnessed during the first two weeks of December 2022 is an impressive display of President Xi's orchestration of China's diplomacy without using military, economic, and political threat. What he has accomplished in diplomacy in the last two weeks is a game-changer and historic. But, mark my words, his diplomacy will soon be branded as Xi’s new assertiveness in international relations. This is diplomacy as it should be: he is very confident, thoughtful, polite, and strategic against the backdrop of a risky new phase of China’s handling of not just the pandemic now in its fourth year but also a national mobilization to address the economic slow down and people’s well beings since 2020. He engaged leaders of countries in ASEAN, G-20, Saudi Arabia, six Gulf states, and more than a dozen of Arab states in Asia and across north Africa under very friendly and cordial atmosphere without coercion or threat, the style came to be closely associated with President Biden. Even his European allies find it offensive and selfish.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

G20 to showcase China’s high-speed rail - Jakarta and Beijing plan to demonstrate their partnership in making transportation more efficient

First posted in Asia Times. More than 1,300 journalists have already registered to cover the Group of Twenty summit to be held on November 15 and 16 in Bali. The pre-summit buzz seems to be focusing on such questions as: Will US President Joe Biden attend? If he does, will he meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin? If they meet, will Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky be invited to sit in? If so, will there be any substantive outcome? So on and so forth. The Western media missed mentioning an unprecedented event that will take place at the G20. Indonesian President Joko Widodo, widely known as Jokowi, will be taking his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for a ride on Indonesia’s first bullet train. Taking Xi for a ride The short ride around Bandung in West Java will be a test run at a more leisurely pace than the train’s designed speed of 350km/h. Full commercial operation after the shakedown of the high-speed railway (HSR) is expected to begin in June 2023. By then, the travel time from Jakarta, the national capital, to Bandung, the capital of West Java, will shorten from more than three hours to 40 minutes. The 142.5-kilometer linkage is the first phase. The second phase at a distance of 520km will extend the HSR from Bandung to Surabaya and will begin later in 2023. When completed, the HSR will in essence run the length of Java, the most populated island of Indonesia. Kereta Cepat Indonesia China will own and operate the HSR. KCIC is a joint venture, 60% owned by Indonesia and 40% by China. In 2008, Japan first proposed the high-speed rail project connecting Jakarta to Surabaya. After a lot of back-and-forth wrestling over the required financial investment, Indonesia finally decided to take a serious look at the project in 2015. To Japan’s surprise, out of the blue, China submitted the winning bid. Since the global financial crisis of 2008, China had been busy investing in infrastructure. By 2015, China had become the owner of the world’s largest network of high-speed railways. China used its experience and, ahem, track record to qualify for the Indonesia bid. Widodo went to Japan and China to compare the two HSR systems for himself. Not only has China’s system exceeded Japan’s Shinkansen in performance, but China’s proposal included technology transfer and willingness to assume of cost overruns. Japan would not commit to either. China ready to build HSR anywhere Taiwan-based commentator Lai Yueqian (赖岳谦) has explained why this G20 showcasing is a highly significant development. The test ride is Beijing’s way of announcing to the world that China is ready to market and build HSR anywhere in the world and Indonesia is China’s partner in this venture. Lai has advanced degrees in international relations from France. He foresees that the KCIC-owned HSR could extend north from Jakarta to Singapore, through Malaysia and Thailand into China and link up with China’s own HSR to become part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to Central Asia and beyond. G20 members account for 85% of the world’s gross domestic product, 75% of international trade and two-thirds of the world’s population. There is no more ideal venue than the leaders’ summit for the host country, Indonesia, and China to unveil their intentions to contribute to global trade by building transportation infrastructure around the world. When China first began to consider building an HSR network to cover its vast territory, it approached Japan and France and proposed a 50/50 joint venture that would include their technical assistance. Those two countries had been up to then the only sources of HSR technology. Both refused the deal that would include technology transfer and both assumed that China could not go it alone. Instead, China has since built HSR through mountains, deserts, over open waters, high altitudes and permafrost and proves that it can go anywhere. The railcars are being supplied by China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) in adherence to their specifications for the Fuxing railcars; Fuxing represents China’s highest level of HSR technology. China to share HSR technology These cars feature advanced smart technology, safety protocols, and strong environmental adaptability. Called electric multiple units (EMUs), the cars are equipped with 2,500 monitoring points for timely detection, early warning and diagnoses of all key systems. As reported by Straits Times, “The Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway will enrich the development of infrastructure facilities and generate fresh growth points in both the services sector and trade in services in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.” The Biden administration and cohorts in Washington favoring confrontation with China are likely to be oblivious to the implications of China’s success in HSR. Earlier this month, I suggested that sanctions on sales of semiconductor devices and equipment to China is rule-based disorder. Since then, Biden has doubled down and imposed virtually a total ban on semiconductor trade with China. Speculations are rife in Taiwan that should China decide to invade the island in response to the American chokehold, the US military has contingency plans to hustle key technical and management staff of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) on to a plane and fly them out to Arizona. Mind you, this is based on American assumptions, not on any evidence of China’s actual intentions. In effect, Biden’s chip ban will disrupt and damage a safe, secure and booming global semiconductor industry and turn it into tatters and pieces. American producers from process equipment to design software systems to advanced devices will all suffer drastic reduction in revenue and potentially fatal loss of funds to develop the next generation of advances. As with HSR, China will eventually succeed in circumventing America’s ban on semiconductor trade. Then Washington will experience a “see I told you so,” self-fulfilling confirmation that China poses a threat to America’s security. In the meantime, Saudi Arabia has told Biden to “get lost” by cutting oil production instead of increasing output as he requested. Biden’s diplomatic response is to decide which cudgel to use on the Saudis. Talk about how to lose friends and piss off people. The United Arab Emirates has also followed Saudi Arabia’s footsteps by becoming China’s second-largest (after Saudi) economic partner in the Middle East. China’s COSCO Shipping has chosen Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi as the base of its Middle East operations. Everybody in the world, except the Americans, seems to understand that bilateral trade builds and strengthens bilateral relations. Disrupt trade and those relations start to drift. Missed opportunity CRRC is the company, I reported more than three years ago, that set up assembly facilities outside of Chicago and Boston to replace outdated subway cars with new, state-of-the-art cars at a cost 20% lower than competitive bids and containing more than 60% made-in-America content. The first delivery was met with rave reviews and praise as an outstanding case of win-win success. Thus encouraged, the Chinese company started to make plans to study the feasibility of replacing the subway cars in New York and Washington, DC. That was when the wise old folks in Congress, such as the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, put a kibosh on the process. Senator Schumer raised the alarm that subway cars are perfect for Beijing to use for spying on the American commuters. Thus, today New Yorkers continue to ride on the noisy, dilapidated, rocking and rolling, more than century-old subway cars, secure in knowing that no one is going to spy on them. By golly. At this point, all Washington seems to know is to take cheap shots at China, denigrate beneficial projects around the world, and obstruct China’s progress wherever possible. The rest of the world is increasingly skeptical and unsure that following the US is in their best interest.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Biden’s policy toward China is a road to self-destruction

This was first posted in Asia Times. President Joe Biden’s administration appears determined to project the image that United States remains the world’s hegemon regardless of cost or consequences and despite overwhelming developments around the globe that are contrary to such misguided hubris. The American leadership has always rested on the carrot-and-stick approach to rally countries around a unipolar world headed by the US. The carrot is in the form of foreign aid Uncle Sam dangles before a country as reward for joining the American camp. The stick is the threat of economic disengagement and sanctions and the withholding of military protection, thus stripping away that nation’s sense of security. Since the financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent quantitative easing by printing billions of dollars to keep the US economy afloat, the economic might and stability of the American monetary system is not what it used to be in the minds of many nations. When the Biden White House unilaterally confiscates foreign reserves owned by other countries but held in the US, such as in the cases of Afghanistan and Russia, the reputation of the US as a fiduciary is in doubt. The full faith in and credit of the US government cease to mean very much to the world. Thus the carrot has dried and withered, and after the 20-year war and debacle in Afghanistan, the stick Uncle Sam carries appears to have shriveled and is not so intimidating. Sending arms but no troops to Ukraine merely confirms America’s preference for war by proxy with little appetite for direct engagement. Bully on the block Yet the Biden team seems oblivious to the erosion of the US stature as the world leader but insists on going around the world approaching each country and demanding that it choose sides and align with the American geopolitical positions. The US has elected to designate China as its adversary for the foreseeable future. For allies and would-be allies to side with the US means they must also regard China as their adversary as well. The American demand places these countries in a dilemma, because regarding China as an adversary is in conflict with their own national interests. China is most likely their most important trading partner and a potential major investor and major supporter in the building infrastructure under the Belt and Road Initiative. China has expressed no interest in displacing the US to become the world hegemon and places no demand or expectation that countries choose sides. Friendship with China does not discourage or preclude friendship with the US. Beijing’s style of international diplomacy makes it easy for countries to get along with China and with the US while demurring from being a fully committed formal member of the American alliance. The Summit of the Americas held in Los Angeles this month hosted by President Biden is just the latest indication. Many Latin American countries including Mexico found reasons not to attend. Nothing like throwing a party that used to be a must-show event that nations now decide to bypass. Russia proposes New Group of Eight The Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin suggested recently that the G7 nations – once considered the world’s leading economies – are continuing “to crack under the weight of sanctions imposed against Russia,” obviously referring to the sacrifice of their economic self-interest in order to meet the demands of the US. Most other nations will have nothing to do with the American-imposed sanctions against Russia. From the non-compliant group of nations, Volodin proposes the formation of a “New Group of Eight” as counterweight to the G7. He selects Russia, China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Iran and Turkey as members of NG8. Volodin reasons that this group of eight countries with a combined GDP (measured in purchasing power parity – PPP) is 24.4% larger than that of the G7 nations. Furthermore, the NG8 contains about half of the world’s population and is much more representative of world opinion and interests. Ironically, Russia left the G7 group in 2014 and is now the promoter of NG8. This development can only be attributed to American insistence on remaining on top of a unipolar world, a unipolar world vaporizing Star Trek-style as we speak. The Biden White House seems to think it has succeeded in getting Ukraine to go into war with Russia and is willing to send another $40 billion worth of weapons to Kiev to enable it to fight to the last Ukrainian. They now think that they can persuade Taiwan to do the same, namely, provoke China into conflict. To provoke war with China, the Taipei government would have to declare independence. Washington has been encouraging the ruling Democratic Progressive Party to inch toward that red line, selling the party leaders the idea that the US is ready to go to war with Taiwan. However, a majority of people in Taiwan do not find American assurances credible, do not believe Taiwan can win a proxy war against China, and cannot justify the death and destruction it would entail just to make Washington happy. The people in Taiwan also find it inconceivable that the Chinese would actually attack their own people on Taiwan. China ready to go to war over Taiwan In the meantime, Beijing has invoked the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and declared that the waters of the Taiwan Strait are within the territorial waters of China. Henceforth, any vessels belonging to foreign countries that sail between the mainland and Taiwan and challenge the sovereignty of China will be subject to attack without notice. China is a signatory of UNCLOS while the US is not. Beijing has drawn the red line based on international law. Continued provocation by American officials in Taiwan will put US vessels in the Taiwan Strait in jeopardy. The Beijing expression of its intentions is as stark and unequivocal as it can be. The next move will be up to the Pentagon to see if it is willing to test China’s resolve. There can be no question that China would rather fire on the US Navy than threaten Taiwan with missiles. Heretofore, Biden has depended on creating more money out of thin air to keep the American economy going. Printing money has been so easy that sending $40 billion to Ukraine seems pain-free. Conflict over Taiwan and waters around there, however, would surely lead to a meltdown of the Fed printing press.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

What do you think about China? By an Egyptian writer

Updated July 4, 2021 Alright, listen up. I'm going to give you a summary of my entire impression of China as an Egyptian observer. I've been studying the country intensely for the past year — its government, society, history, and transformation — and over the past 3 months I've spoken to hundreds of Chinese and China-haters on this site and heard everything they had to say. By now I’ve learned roughly as much about China as anyone can learn without knowing the language or living in the country, and I've reached my conclusion. You might think I'm crazy. That's OK with me. I've seen the facts and my opinion of the truth has become rock-solid. And China attracts a lot of haters, know-nothings and armchair experts. The truth is that China is the greatest country on the face of the earth. It makes all other countries look insignificant and contemptible. It is the most brilliant, most industrious, most ambitious, most educated, meritocratic and technocratic, most modern, sophisticated, and civilized, and best-governed country in the world of our time, by far. It is the first nonwhite, non-Western country to reach this status since the 1600s. The determination of this country is indescribable. Supernatural. There is no force that can stop it from accomplishing anything it wants to do. It can set a goal that seems completely outlandish, drug-induced, hallucinatory — and it can make it happen. That's precisely what it's been doing. Forty years ago a flush toilet in China was a luxury. Today it has its own indigenously built Chinese Space Station. Believe me when I tell you that that is a tiny example of China's capabilities. I am a patriotic Egyptian and Middle Easterner. Yet I freely admit that compared to the Chinese, we are simply monkeys. A race of dumb animals. It doesn't matter who we are. Egyptians, Syrians, Pakistanis, Indians, Africans, even Americans. Next to the Chinese, we are pathetic. We can't do what they do. We would have a mountain, an Everest of changes to make, and we would whine and bicker and fail at every one of them. China's story since the 1980s has been one of an almost divine metamorphosis. Next to China the entire Western world from Alaska to New Zealand has stagnated. Next to China the entire developing world from Brazil to Madagascar has progressed only at a crawl. China, my friends, is the mother of all gargantuan bullet trains. Every day it manages to create something new and astonishing. And unlike the United States, unlike the British Empire, unlike the French, Dutch, Germans, Spanish, Portuguese or any other Western nation that had its turn at being a superpower in the past four centuries, China doesn't need to run anybody over or take something from somebody else, to rise majestically. China is also standing up to the Western world all by herself. The West hates and fears that China is shooting up to the top. They can't believe their four-hundred-year-old global supremacy is being challenged. They hoped that the more China developed, the more it would submit to their influence, interests, and leadership. That didn't happen. So now they will do anything possible, short of a nuclear war, to make China end. Their goal is to destroy this country. That's why, although the United States has killed several million people and turned several regions of the earth into hellscapes in the past thirty years, your TV, newspapers, Google newsfeed, and social media are all cursing, condemning and pandering panic and hatred of China 24 / 7. China is the worst fear of our planet's Western masters. They want you to despise and dread a country that's done nothing to you, that hasn't invaded anyone, bombed or sanctioned anyone, that hasn't overthrown any foreign government, or used its military on anything since 1979. You'll hate China and pray for its collapse, so that the West can continue to do what it's done since the age of Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro — rape and pillage the earth from Latin America to Southeast Asia, and disguise its blood-spattered imperialism in the soft power and propaganda of “Western civilization" and world leadership. China is the only major country in the nonwhite developing world, to stand up to the West. To look it in the eye when challenged or threatened, and say, No, I'm not afraid of you. Do your worst. I'm just as big as you are. All other countries in the Global South are simply Western puppets who submitted long ago. Even the most powerful ones. Saudi Arabia, Brazil, India — their leaders are busy listening to the United States, pen and paper in hand, writing down all its demands and going, Yes sir, Mr. Yankee sir. Let me get on that right away for you. The 1500s—1000s BC were Egypt's time. Antiquity belonged to the Greeks and Romans. The 1700s belonged to France, and the 1800s to Britain. From 1945 to the present, the world has been under American overlordship. And they call it the Pax Americana but believe me, there isn't much Pax in it. There's plenty of Pax if you're in Europe or Australia. But the Middle East? Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran and Yemen in the past 20 years. Latin America? They've destroyed that part of the world beyond any hope of recovery. Africa? It's only been spared because of disinterest. The US sees Africa as nothing. The whole West does. But in the twenty-first century, we are witnessing the rise of China. We are decades away from China becoming the greatest power on earth. This will be China's time, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Attack China all you want, curse her and monger rumours and hysteria — but the truth is that none of your accusations are backed up by evidence, because you are a stooge of the Western press which is under the thumb of Western governments that want to stay on top of the world for all eternity. And the truth is that China is not affected by the noise and maneuvers of her enemies. What's going on now, this stupid new Cold War, is nothing. For her first thirty years, from 1949 to 1979, China was basically blockaded and isolated economically and politically by the West. It didn't even have a seat in the UN General Assembly. And it was dirt-poor in those days, barely a speck of the global economy, a tiny fraction of Japan's or Germany's GDP — not even able to prevent famine. And it still didn't submit to pressure or take any orders. Why on earth would it do that now? China will be the next global power. There's nothing that can be done about that. The first stage is that its economy only needs to grow at 4.7 percent per year to become the world's largest by 2035. That means the usual, historical bare-minimum of 6 percent is already overkill. The US can build as many bases as it wants, slap as many sanctions as it wants, recognize whatever bogus genocides it wants. That's what it's been doing all along. Has any of it made a difference? China can adapt to any situation. It took China a mere ten years to go from being barred by the US Congress from participating in the “International" Space Station, to building its own Space Station from the zero. See, the US has an $800-billion war budget, 800 military bases, 13,000 aircraft, 500 warships, 6,000 nukes — but it doesn't have what China has: invincible national resolve. It takes the US about 5 years to renovate a bridge, and it takes China 43 hours. There's simply no competing with that. China doesn't need to be a military superpower or empire. That was never part of the plan. US troops, God bless their souls, will continue sitting in their bases, scratching their balls, costing their government $800 billion a year to do nothing. Meanwhile, China will continue to actually develop. That's the part of the equation that America totally missed, because it has barely developed since Reagan's day. China is a better place to live today than at any time in its previous 5,000 years; Americans saw their highest standard of living in the 1960s and those days will never come back. So yes, China will be the next global power, and the Chinese are vastly superior to us in every way. This is a fact that everyone can attack but that nobody can change, like the theory of evolution. The difference between me and other people is that I ask, Why is this a problem? Why is this something to be afraid of? Why doesn't it mean — that the world will finally get better? Look at you silly buggers, talking about China like it's going to be the next Nazi Germany. Even many Middle Easterners I know fit in this foolish category. Did you notice when the US invaded or overthrew the governments of 20 countries in the past 32 years (my lifetime)? Did you even know? You think just because you're ready to forget all that because of Beyoncé and Game of Thrones and Snapchat and other US cultural exports, it didn't happen and isn't still happening? But but, I’m scared! China's big and bad! Because the US is feeding me terror-bytes about Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, Tiananmen Square, Great Leap Forward! I don't see any dead bodies, I can't show you one invasion or one example of Chinese regime change, I can't even find Hong Kong on a map or tell you one factual detail about Tiananmen Square, but the US State Department and all its media are telling me CHINA BAD! Wa, wa! Even in the nonwhite non-West, so many millions people have no real knowledge of any kind about the Western terror-bytes that have given them such an apprehensive feeling about China. So imagine how blank the typical Westerner is. Blankness doesn't stop prejudice and gullibility. That’s what most China-haters are. As gullible as children getting told about the boogeyman to procure their obedience. Aren't you at least curious to see what a world with a nonwhite, non-Western leader might look like, after 400 years? Because God knows that leader won't be us. It won't be Brazil or Africa, or the Middle East or India or Indonesia or Nigeria or Pakistan. We're a mess. China was a mess too. But we remain a mess many decades after we achieved independence, and the Chinese went their own way, disentangled their mess and created their destiny. We’re not made of what the Chinese are made of. We might be one day, if we stop taking orders and cozying up to Western puppet-masters. I'm not holding my breath for that to happen. Where's your concept of innocent until proven guilty? You turn a blind eye to the country that gave you dozens of destroyed nations and millions of corpses to see as proof of its brutality, because it also gave you some amazing sitcoms! While a country you don't have the slightest objective knowledge of, is already Nazi Germany to you because its adversaries, who are also your historical and present-day oppressors, tell you so? Come on. Let's wait to see one dead body, one invasion, one regime-change operation from the Chinese, before we fly into rage and hysterics about them! Is that so crazy? We've seen centuries of horror from the US and we're still giving 'Murica the benefit of the doubt, even when the brutal truth is crystal-clear. For myself, I see China as hope. Hope that a colonized, brutalized, primitive and humiliated country, can rise above its past — refuse to be weak any longer — rebuild itself from nothing, with iron resolve, and become too strong to be overrun by the West again! Hope that a nonwhite, non-Western country can look deep within itself and find its own solutions to its problems — proving that (foolishly) trusting the West to guide us isn't necessary! Proof that if we can do what the Chinese did, there will be no limits for us. Imagine a world where the US, France, Britain, Australia, are no more important than Uzbekistan or Paraguay. A world where the World Court might be headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, the World Bank in New Delhi, the United Nations in Jakarta, the IMF in Cairo. A world liberated from the US banking system and the dollar as its reserve currency, so that Washington can no longer tell 200 other countries who they can and can't trade with. A world where an American can be tried for war crimes at the Hague, not just an Iraqi or Liberian or Serb. A world where we don't hear about a non-Western-made vaccine and grunt to ourselves, Oh, it must be poison. A world where we don't have to immigrate to the same countries that turned ours into hellholes, to work as sales clerks or taxi drivers, or even if we're brilliantly employed — to drain our brains from our homelands in the best of cases, and use them to reinforce Western riches and supremacy in exchange for a fat paycheck, instead of using them to make our own countries semi-habitable. When I hear that China has built its own Space Station, landed a rover on Mars, ended extreme poverty, built the Earth's biggest city, dam, telescope, 5G network, highway, air purifier, or whatever the heck it is that will come tomorrow — I feel the same pride as if I were Chinese. It's not happening for all of us, but it's happening for one of us and that's a start. There's got to be such a thing as developing-country nationalism — a common nationalism for all the countries that were colonized and plundered, and remain economically and politically captured by their ex-rulers. A nationalism for the Global South. We are too divided, too brainwashed, too fooled and weak — most of us still worship the countries that destroyed us, are non-Western on the outside and Western on the inside, are hating and fearing and buying all the lies about the only one of us that's made it, and are leaving our countries in droves to let them burn while we “make a better life for ourselves" in the West. Do you want to live on a Western-dominated Earth for another 400 years? If you do, keep doing what you're doing. But I don't! You know what'll happen for all of us if America's sick wishes come true and its global thuggery does make China collapse? Nothing. Eternal repetition of the status quo. More enslavement, hijacking of our resources and weak corrupt governments, neo-colonialism, invasion, regime change, sanctions, MISERY. Haven't we already seen this? Libya, Cuba, Venezuela, Yugoslavia, Belarus, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, the Soviet Union. Rest in peace. Even FRANCE and JAPAN for God's sake. What does the United States do when any other country says NO, or simply becomes too powerful, too good at honest competition? IT CRUSHES IT LIKE A BUG. Japan was a Western-style democracy crawling with US troops, with a US-authored pacifist constitution and almost no military and an extremely pro-US government and populace, and it STILL got crushed when it looked like it would become the #1 economy in the 80s. Do Indians really believe that if China goes down, India will be allowed to become a great power? Do they not see that a strong or wealthy India would immediately fall victim to the same despicable US tactics? Don't make me laugh. I remember 10–15 years ago when China was still relatively poor and impotent, and Bush and Obama would talk about China as sweetly as swans. Obama happily had dinner with Xi Jinping in late 2015, called China a crucial partner of the United States, and said the US welcomed China's rise; it was all horseshit. Today Biden, who was there with Obama in late 2015 as Vice-President, angrily rebukes a reporter who merely said that Biden and Xi were old friends. America has taken off its mask. China made it, it wasn't supposed to make it, so now it must die. What a difference 5 years can make. China went from “crucial partner" to “number one threat.” We should be helping and supporting China to keep climbing to the top, and giving her some serious solidarity as she withstands the new Cold War of Western imperialism. It’s been a long 400 years. China is the first non-Western country to even come close to reaching a status of ultimate global importance. She is akin to the the first member of an impoverished family to go to university. That is our family of nations. And when China gets to the top, believe me, it won't be a repeat of the French, British, or American Empire. Not a single developing country will be worse-off because of China becoming #1. There will be something good in this for all of us, so let's wake up and let's go!

Lessons from Meng Wanzhou case for Joe Biden - The US president should now see the folly of following his predecessor Trump's footsteps on China policy

This was first posted in Asia Times and a Chinese translation appeared in SingTao USA. The sudden release of Meng Wanzhou caught many people by surprise, and a flurry of analysis and speculations has followed since her uneventful arrival in Shenzhen, China. For residents of Sleepy Hollow and others who might wonder what the excitement was all about, it’s time for a refresher review. Shenzhen is the home base for Huawei, China’s and the world’s leading telecommunications company. Meng is the chief financial officer of this giant company and she also happens to be the daughter of Ren Zhengfei, the founder and chairman of Huawei. More than thousand days ago, Meng was detained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police while in transit at the international airport of Vancouver, British Columbia. The arrest was made at the request of the US Department of Justice, when Donald Trump was president of the United States. The US alleged that Meng had misrepresented Huawei’s business dealings with Iran to HSBC, thus causing the bank to violate US sanctions imposed on Iran. In 2015, the five members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, UK and US) plus Germany had struck a long-term deal with Iran on its nuclear program. The deal was created after much effort by all parties to ensure stability in the Middle East. When Trump became president, he flatly opposed anything Barack Obama, his predecessor, had stood for. Thus he unilaterally reneged on the agreement known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and imposed sanctions on Iran on the pretext that he could get a better deal than the JCPOA. Trump, of course, did not bother to consult with the other five nations that had co-signed the original agreement with Iran. Meng detained on flimsy charges As I summarized the Meng affair nearly a year ago, Washington cobbled together a flimsy set of charges to justify her arrest. Basically, a Chinese citizen doing business with a British bank was accused of violating American sanctions on Iran that neither China nor the UK had anything to do with. Subsequent examination revealed that even those accusations were on shaky grounds. Trump had conned Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, into caving into Washington’s wishes to make the arrest. By taking Ren’s daughter hostage, Trump had hoped to blackmail Ren in some way that only Trump could have dreamed up. Two years after the arrest, it became increasingly obvious that America’s long arm of extraterritorial reach was becoming a source of embarrassment for Washington and Ottawa. The US DOJ then resorted to its usual trick and offered to release Meng if she would plead guilty to a lesser charge. She stood fast and refused. Historically, the American scale of justice has always been tilted in favor of the government. Even when the DOJ is clearly in the wrong, as it was in the case of Wen Ho Lee, he had to plead guilty to computer downloading in violation of laboratory rules in exchange for time served, which was a harsh 10 months of solitary confinement. Recent history is replete with examples of miscarriages of justice meted out by the DOJ against Chinese-Americans. The US government has virtually infinite resources to wear down the hapless accused. But it didn’t work against Meng because she was not American and she had the resources of Huawei and China to back her stance. Biden missed doing the right thing Then Joe Biden became the US president. He could have immediately ordered dropping the American request to extradite Meng and get Trudeau off the hook, and Canada from being the country caught awkwardly in the middle. But Biden did not. He was under the influence of his China team. Whether it was China’s first meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Anchorage, Alaska, or subsequently with visiting Deputy State Secretary Wendy Sherman or with special envoy John Kerry, Beijing’s message remained the same: China would not let the US pick and choose which issues to cooperate on and which issues to compete and confront China on. From Beijing’s point of view, the Biden administration cannot go around the world lying about China’s conduct and recruiting allies to oppose China as if engaged in another cold war, and still expect collaboration on selected global issues. Without mutual respect, there will be no trust nor confidence in each other on doing the right thing. Beijing handed each visiting American envoy a list of demands to be met if Washington wished to repair bilateral relations. Interestingly, as the South China Morning Post reported, John Thornton was a visitor in China for six weeks shortly before the release of Meng. Thornton has a deep China background. He is a professor at Tsinghua University and the chairman of the board of trustees at the Brookings Institution, where the China Center is named after him. Unlike the official envoys from Washington who were not invited to visit Beijing, Thornton met with Vice-Premier Han Zheng in the national capital. They discussed what it would take to resume bilateral talks, and then Thornton was allowed to visit Xinjiang for a week. It’s hard to know the exact role Thornton played in triggering the release of Meng and whether the release represents a real first step toward normalizing relations and the abandonment of Trump’s confrontation with China. The face-saving deal that allowed the DOJ to cancel the extradition request and secure Meng’s release was a device called a deferred prosecution agreement. The agreement did not require any admission of guilt by Meng. Within an hour of Meng’s final release by the Canadian court, she got on a Chinese airliner and flew home to Shenzhen. As a show of the lack of trust and to avoid unpleasant surprises (in case Washington suffered seller’s remorse), the airliner skirted around Alaska airspace when it flew over the Arctic circle. Since Washington insisted on designating China as an adversary, only the Biden White House can decide when and if China should no longer be considered an adversary but a powerful collaborator that the US could work with to resolve all the challenges facing the world. Perhaps a trusted intermediary like Thornton could help persuade Biden that following Trump on China policy has been a road to disaster.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

America has much to learn from China

Two recent stories hardly mentioned in the mainstream western media illustrate the major differences between China’s way of doing things versus the American way and suggest that the U.S. has much to gain by learning from China. The first story has to be with evacuation from Kabul at the end of the forever war in Afghanistan. China’s embassy notified their citizens in latter part of June to prepare to evacuate from Afghanistan. In mid-July, a charter plane from China picked up over 200 of their citizens and flew them to Wuhan. These passengers disembarked and were held in quarantine for two weeks for observation before being allowed to depart for their final destination. Thus, Chinese citizens living in Afghanistan avoided the chaotic, panic driven departure that the world witnessed at the end of August. True, China has much fewer people to evacuate than the U.S. but the orderly way China managed the evacuation raises a critical question. China anticipated Taliban’s takeover How was it possible that China could anticipate the Taliban’s return to power and control while the US failed to do so? The Americans had advisors working with the Afghan government, thousands of troops on the ground and a network of intelligence gatherers and informers. Yet, the US did not see the impending chaos and if an orderly exit was planned, it was incompetently implemented. One possible explanation, though not necessarily the only explanation, is that China was not in the country as an occupier but as a friendly potential investor. The Chinese did not order anyone around and they tried to get along with everyone. They talked to the local Afghans as peers. In so doing, they understood the local conditions much better than the occupying forces of the western powers. It’s difficult for the West to understand that China does not have a history of resorting to conquest and occupation to have their way. In the early 15th century, China’s naval fleet was the mightiest in the world. Led by Admiral Zheng He, his flotilla of several hundred ships docked and interacted with over 40 rulers and states from present day Indonesia to India to the east coast of Africa. Each of the seven voyages took over two years to make a round trip as the Chinese sailors had to rest on land and wait for favorable seasonal winds before they can resume sailing. The sailors would settle on shore and live among the local people in peace and exchanged knowhow in farming techniques and crops to plant that would be useful for their journey onwards. The Chinese traded goods with the people everywhere they landed. Even though Admiral Zheng’s armada carried a formidable fighting force, they did not seek conflict but extended diplomacy and friendship on behalf of the Emperor from Beijing. Some local royalty went on board at Zheng’s invitation and embarked on the journey to visit the imperial court in Beijing. Throughout China’s history, the middle kingdom was recognized as a great civilization and the seat of culture. People far and wide came to China to study and learn. Every so often, parts or all of China were overrun and occupied by martial nomadic people such as the Xiangbeis, Khitans, Mongols and the Manchus. In every case, the invaders soon adopted the Chinese language, values and traditions. Within a few generations, they were assimilated and lost traces of their own ethnic origin. To assume the inevitability of the so-called Thucydides trap between a rising China and the reigning America is to fail to appreciate that China is not derived from the foundation of western civilization, a civilization that depended on conquest and enslaving its neighbors. From its history, China has learned the value of peace and harmony over war and conflict and avoid zero sum outcomes. Another story not reported is how Laos has so far avoided the Covid epidemic. Laos being among the economically least developed nations has no access to vaccines. What they have is deep respect and belief in traditional Chinese medicine, TCM. Laos saved from Covid by Chinese medicine Laos invited a noted TCM authority, Professor Duan Guangping from China to lead the effort to develop a protocol to prevent the spread of Covid and a treatment for those that become ill from the coronavirus. Duan and his team of Laotian TCM experts studied the 3000 herbal plants indigenous to Laos. Drawing from twelve ancient Chinese recipes for anti-epidemic and for treatment of serious illness, Duan’s team selected likely potions of herbs that would do the job. Within one month, Duan’s team had finalized the recipe that proved 100% effective in preventing the patient from contracting Covid. Thus, the Laotian government called the formulation the “Chinese vaccine.” The government launched a massive effort to search and collect the necessary herbs, and a factory was built to manufacture billions of doses of the herbal vaccine. From the beginning of research to production took three months. The Laotian population was quickly given the herbal medication and rendered safe from the virus. Foreigners entering Laos were also given the medication as a preventive measure. A handful of foreigners entered Laos with Covid symptoms and were treated with the Chinese herbal medication. Their fever was down in 24 hours and all the symptoms gone in three days. Since the herbal formulation was based on locally available plants, that were widely available and inexpensive, Laos was saved from the ravages of Covid at very little cost. The country also did not experience any interruption of normal economic activities associated with the Covid epidemic. A grateful Laos president Bounnhang thanked China for sending Dr. Duan and declared that one expert in Chinese medicine drawing on the unique efficacy of TCM had saved the entire country. Dr. Duan has given the honorific title as the Sun of Laos. In recent days US president Joe Biden is reported to have called China’s president Xi Jinping and proposed a face-to-face summit meeting. Xi’s reply was “no,” at which point the White House denied that the telephone conversation ever took place. Biden does not understand China That Biden called Xi is a clear indication that Biden is beginning to realize that his decision to follow the strategy to confront China established by his predecessor Donald Trump is not working to the US advantage, but he still does not understand China. Whether it was China’s first meeting with Secretary Antony Blinken in Anchorage or subsequently with visiting Deputy State Secretary Wendy Sherman or with Special envoy John Kerry, Beijing’s message remained the same. Namely, China will not let the US pick and choose the issues to cooperate and other issues to compete and confront with China. The Biden administration cannot go around the world blackening China’s reputation and recruiting allies to counter China’s influence as if in another cold war and expect collaboration on other global issues. Without mutual respect, there would be no trust and no point of any summit conference because nothing productive can come forth from such a meeting. Since Washington insist on designating China an adversary, only the Biden White House can decide when and if China should no longer be considered an adversary but a powerful collaborator to resolve all the challenges the world has to face together.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Biden’s China obsession could be the undoing of America - Collaboration with China has been good for the US and its people in the past, and should be again

First posted in Asia Times. Abbreviated version in Putonghua can be found on YouTube and here. A translated version was posted in the Sing Tao Daily. It’s hard to tell if US President Joe Biden’s position on China is his true conviction or he’s just going along with the heavy anti-China sentiment in Washington, but his China team has made it official now: no more engagement with China, just competition from here on. The nature of competition the Biden team has in mind, mind you, is not your gentlemanly sort of sporting contest where my one-upping you will incentivize your one-upping me, and we both in the end are better for competing. No, all indications point to all-out, below-the-belt, eye-gouging, anything-goes tactics to attack the other party, namely China. Two ongoing developments point to this conclusion. Winding its way through the US Congress is the so-called Strategic Competition Act of 2021. It has not been enacted as yet, so we don’t quite know all the provisions. My understanding is that as much as $300 million has been allocated to blacken China’s image around the world. In this era of fake news, assassination of one’s character (or a country’s reputation) via innuendo, exaggeration and even outright lies is easy to do. August members of the US mainstream media, such as The New York Times or The Washington Post, are not above purveying or contributing misinformation, sometimes with malice of aforethought and sometimes simply being too lazy to authenticate questionable sources. Consistent with all this is Biden’s recent call to reopen an investigation into whether the virus that causes Covid-19 could have originated in a research lab in Wuhan, China. The task force was given 90 days to report its findings. Biden to revisit origin of Covid A definitive investigation leading to conclusive understanding of the origin of Covid-19 is a good thing, important to protecting the future health of the world. Provided, of course, that the work is above-board, science-based and conducted by a scientifically qualified team of people of impeccable honesty and integrity. A team of investigators that includes the likes of a Peter Navarro or Mike Pompeo would not pass the smell test. Furthermore, to be completely comprehensive, some of the other speculations besides the Wuhan lab theory deserve to be included in the investigation. For instance, the biological laboratories at Fort Detrick in Maryland were shut down by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for violations of safe practices more than six months before the outbreak in Wuhan. Around that time there were unexplained deaths caused by respiratory failures. A full account was never made public, but the issue was swept under the carpet by blaming the fatalities on excessive vaping, that is, inhalation of fruit-flavored smoke. There were also reports in cyberspace that there was evidence of the coronavirus being found in European sewage systems, again months before the Wuhan outbreak. What happened to all those rumors? If the Biden task force is not just for the purpose of pinning the blame on China, but to perform a thorough and credible investigation, 90 days may not be enough. Secretary of State Tony Blinken’s approach to competing with China is to recruit and reorganize former allies to band together against China. These former allies were offended and turned off by former president Donald Trump and his go-it-alone approach. But what does Blinken have to offer to entice the allies to join the fray? A recent tally indicates that 165 countries now consider China their No 1 trading partner, as compared with 13 countries that regard the US as their No 1 trading partner. More than 100 countries are participants of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in more than 2,600 projects with a total value of US$3.7 trillion. As his only counter, Blinken goes around the world warning the countries to beware of debt traps. Obviously, the US does not have the ability to compete with China when it comes to doing business via trade or provide assistance in erecting infrastructure. Countries are asked to choose sides with no clear idea of the benefits of aligning with the US. The only alternative is to slander China and turn world opinion against Beijing. The US as ‘model of democracy’ Thus Blinken has to trot out the usual tropes, that China is not democratic, has no human rights etc, ad nauseam. All of the prospective allies are urged to be freedom-loving democracies like America. So how does the US stack up as a “model” democracy? Let’s count the ways. The losing candidate of the last presidential election, Donald Trump, still claims to have won. Members of his political party, the Republicans, have gone to great lengths to shield him from going to jail, even for violating the statutes of the US constitution. As part of the debacle, the Republican Party at the state level is busy devising ways to deny certain citizens the right to vote. In its view, democracy is not for everybody in America and winning by hook or crook is everything. Mass shootings in America have become a nearly daily occurrence. In America, the right to carry an assault weapon is an human right more important than a human life. The US with just 4.4% of the world’s population has 22% of world’s prison population, far and away the most of any country. China with about 4.5 times the US population has fewer people incarcerated, and yet we Americans accuse China of abusing human rights. Furthermore, the US prisons house a disproportionate share of black and brown people. Young children torn away from their refugee parents at the southern border, and still unaccounted for, is yet another blot on our human-rights record. Because of concerted efforts by the central and local governments, China has lifted all of its people out of poverty. In America, conditions in the ghettos have not changed much and they are still mostly populated by black and brown people. One out of eight Americans lives below the poverty line. Government officials in China are given rotating assignments and graded on their performance. They get promoted if they show they are capable of taking on increasing responsibility. In the US, the most important requirement for those aspiring to public office is to be able to raise a lot of money, or be already wealthy. By any objective measure, would any potential allies find the US a worthy model of democracy to follow? Blinken has a tough sell ahead of him. The Biden administration is also planning to compete with China by investing in and subsidizing the development of new technologies. The Endless Frontier Act, surprisingly enough, has bipartisan support for dedicating $120 billion to focus on artificial intelligence, superconductors and robotics. Biden bets $52 billion on semiconductors Supposedly, Biden will throw $52 billion at the American semiconductor industry to build new manufacturing facilities in the US, known as fabs. I am doubtful that this will work. The US used to be the world’s leading maker of semiconductor chips. But as the design of the chips became more complex, the cost of the fabs increased geometrically, and soon Silicon Valley companies gave up manufacturing and just concentrated on designing proprietary chips, relying largely on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation to make them. Today, Intel is the only US company that still owns fabs, and it has publicly admitted that they are two to three generations behind TSMC’s. Morris Chang, founding chairman of TSMC, has openly questioned whether US companies would still have engineers with the experience and skills needed to run a state-of-the-art fab. China also does not own state-of-the-art fabs because the US will not allow the sale of advanced manufacturing equipment to China. Therefore, regardless of whether the $52 billion will be well spent, China will not catch up for some time. But if Beijing needs skilled engineers to run an advanced fab, it can always recruit from Taiwan to supplement its own staff. Many are already working in China. To attain the most advanced fab, China will need to buy lithographic machines from ASML, based in Netherlands. Already, Peter Wennink, chief executive of ASML, is fretting that the US export control measures will prevent his company from selling the most advanced machines to China, each with a $1 billion+ price tag. The loss of the China market would mean the loss of more than one-third of ASML’s revenue, and therefore funds for further research and development, necessary in order to maintain the company’s technological lead. Wennink is worried that the export restriction will force China to develop its own technology and soon not only ASML will lose a major customer but will face a new competitor. You’d have to wonder how long the European company will go along with the Washington ban on exports to China. Another aspect of disengaging China is to discourage the enrollment of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates from that country in US universities. US Senator Tom Cotton, for one, thinks Chinese students are here just to steal American knowhow. But without the infusion of the best and brightest international students – and students from China make up more than one-third of them – elite schools such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) would wither and shrivel if they had only America’s own graduates, trained by a faltering K-12 system, to draw from. One anecdotal story will illustrate my point. At a recent international math competition among high-school students, the US team beat the team from China for first place. But the “upset” win can be attributed to the fact that every member of the US team was ethnic Chinese, students whose parents had immigrated to the US from China. The quality of China’s universities is improving; many are already among the world’s top 50 schools. China’s elite schools may not yet on par with their US counterparts but Beijing believes in investing in human capital. If its graduate students can’t come to the US, they can go elsewhere, or simply stay home and learn from the best professors recruited from around the world. The loser in the long run would be the US. Engagement has been good for America All along, we Americans have been acting like the 40+ years of engagement has been a one-way boon for China at our expense. That’s hardly the case. Collaboration enabled Apple to “design in California and assemble in China,” a strategy so successful that the company is now worth more than $2 trillion. Had Apple designed and assembled in the US, the high costs would have limited its sales and stunted the profitability and growth of the company. With much fanfare, Trump announced that Foxconn, which had been the principal assembler of Apple products, would build a big plant in Wisconsin. He chalked that win up to his “persuasive” personality. Yet the plant has not materialized because the labor rates of China are just too far apart from those of the US. Even Trump can’t wring water out of a rock. And that was at the high end. On the low end of the economy, low-cost imports filled the shelves of Walmart and American consumers continued to enjoy their standard of living and not face rising prices. As much as 60% of China’s trade surplus with the US was due to goods made by American companies in China. Because China’s economy grew at a remarkable rate, doubling every eight to 10 years, American companies that initially went there to source their products began to expand their investments in order to participate in the Asian country’s growing middle class as the size of China’s market became comparable to their home market. America’s leading technology companies soon saw the wisdom of designing in China for the world. They set up R&D centers to take advantage of the technical talents in China, which produces eight times the number of STEM university graduates as the US. Sadly, our leaders in Washington only know that might makes right and we have the strongest military in the world. They are banking on the premise that we can outcompete with China on the basis that we can wreak more death and destruction. Otherwise, disengaging and competing with China will be at best a mutually diminishing outcome. It won’t help Washington solve our deteriorating infrastructure, failing school system, deaths by random shootings, and widening gap in income between the super-rich and the have-nots. We need leaders with the vision and political courage to see and tell the American people what’s good for America and that competing with China is not the way. In fact, as we continue on the Biden trajectory, we could be on a downward spiral that spells the end of the American empire.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Will the U.S. learn from history to avoid catastrophe?

This post first appeared in Asia Times. On a recent visit to the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Honolulu, I was struck by a statement on the museum wall. It read: “Conflict is brewing in Asia. The old world order is changing. Two new powers, the United States and Japan, are rising to take leading roles on the world stage. Both seek to further their own national interests. Both hope to avoid war. Both have embarked on courses of action that will collide at Pearl Harbor.” The wall was referring to the collision that culminated in the surprise attack by waves of Japanese warplanes on December 7, 1941. The statement caught my attention because by exchanging “China” for “Japan,” it could easily apply to the bilateral tension that’s simmering today between the US and China. Sadly, we Americans seem to be heading for another collision, having learned nothing from history. After World War II, the Chinese fought the Americans to a draw in Korea despite owning vastly inferior weapons and firepower compared with those available to our troops and other UN forces. Next, we made up a bogus Gulf of Tonkin incident to justify charging into Vietnam. Despite wanton use of napalm, Agent Orange, cluster bombs and other innovations to deadly effect, we lost the war and had to get out in disgrace. Then for one brief brilliant moment in recent history, our Cold War adversary, the former Soviet Union, imploded. For the first time, we won a war without having to fire a shot. We became the only shining kingdom on top of the hill. We began to hope that a peace dividend would make possible the realization of the American dream. But that flicker of optimism was quashed by a group in the Washington establishment who called themselves neoconservatives. They began to agitate and promote the idea that the opportunity was nigh for the US to become the sole surviving superpower and seize the mantle to rule the world. To show pointed disdain, I proposed calling the proponents of these ideas neoconservative nincompoops, abbreviated as “neoconpoops.” I was disappointed that the handle did not gain popularity. To add insult to injury, these diehard neoconpoops moved from the fringe to the center of power when George W Bush was elected president of the United States. 9/11 became a sad legacy Then came September 11, 2001. With the help of his neoconpoop advisers, W promptly launched a Global War on Terror (GWOT). We invaded Afghanistan because Osama bin Laden was supposed to be hiding there. We did not find him in Afghanistan, but our troops are still there more than two decades later. We got at twofer by invading Iraq at about the same time. The pretext was to accuse Saddam Hussein of owning weapons of mass destruction. We did not find any WMD but we “shocked and awed” the Iraqis, found Saddam and lynched him. And, by the way, our troops are still in Iraq. With our heavy presence in the Middle East, we assumed that we could influence many admiring countries in the region to emulate what we called democracy. The Arab Spring that ensued seemed to justify our expectation that authoritarian leaders would be toppled. But except for possibly Tunisia, the movement did not succeed other than causing death and destruction. With the help of our military, the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was defeated and torn to pieces by a street mob. For sure Gaddafi was not a supporter of democracy, but his rule provided education, health care and housing for the Libyan people and raised per capita income to more than US$11,000. What has happened to Libya since Gaddafi? Just a constant state of civil war and misery for civilians. Safe to say that democratic reform and free elections are far from the minds of the people hoping just to survive another day. Somehow, we got away cheap on this one. We got rid of the bad guy and lost just one ambassador and three other American casualties, and then we got out. We didn’t get our hands on Libyan oil but we didn’t leave any boots on the ground, either. We also got smarter at fighting proxy wars and not putting our soldiers at risk. Under president Barack Obama, we started to use killer drones to rub out presumed al-Qaeda bad guys. Civilians who got killed were simply treated as collateral damage without so much as an expression of regret – such as, sorry you got in the way. President Donald Trump elevated the use of drones to another level by assassinating Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian war hero and second only to Iran’s Supreme Leader in prominence. He was killed at Baghdad airport along with other Iraqis and some Iranian nationals. The mission was carried out remotely and did not put any American at risk. We haven’t even mentioned the disturbances in Syria, Yemen, Egypt and other countries in that part of the world. Suffice to say that wherever we go, we have been very good at creating instability and causing mayhem. Our intentions were always lofty, to promote democracy, but the consequences invariably took a toll on innocent lives – and worldwide refugee crises. It’s true that a decade after 9/11 we finally found bin Laden hiding in Pakistan and killed him. However, he had the satisfaction of seeing our over-the-top response and self-inflicted cost of lives and property exceed his wildest expectations. This has been a long but I feel necessary review of recent history to bring into context the current status of international relations with China under President Joe Biden’s administration. Trend set by Anchorage summit The first summit meeting of the Biden administration’s top diplomats with those of China held in Anchorage, Alaska, last month was a strong indicator that nothing has changed in the way we Americans think about China. It’s almost as if our secretary of state, Tony Blinken, retrieved some notes from the trashcan discarded by outgoing secretary Mike Pompeo and carried on from there. Our Mr Blinken dispensed with the customary diplomatic niceties and proceeded straight to accusing China of human-rights offenses in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, cyberattacks and economic coercion among other offenses. Yang Jiechi, China’s leading foreign-policy official and a member of the Politburo, replied in kind. Yang said the US was not in a position to criticize China. America has a history of genocide from the eradication of native Americans to the persecution and lynching of black Americans. When he mentioned the Black Lives Matter movement, we were reminded of the white police officer slowly squeezing the life out of George Floyd with his knee on Floyd’s neck. We have to admit that Yang had a valid point. Since China began its economic reform, it has been working steadily on poverty alleviation regardless of the ethnicity of the people being helped. The only government “bias” was to assist the most accessible first and the more remote ones later when roads and the Internet were put in place. Today, China proudly claims that it has no one living below the poverty line. Many developing countries envy China’s success and are seeking to emulate its model of helping their rural poor and raising their standard of living. So far as I know, we haven’t alleviated poverty for anyone in the US. The top 1% have improved their lot and grown wealthier, but the bottom 50% have suffered reduced circumstances. Since most people in the ghettos are people of color, America’s economic divide has made them a lot worse off. More than 90% of the people in China approve of their government, support its policies and express optimism for their future. The surveys backing this are done by reputable third parties, such as Pew Research, and are not paid for or coerced by an authoritarian government. In the US, any time the sitting federal government gets 50% popular approval it is considered to be doing well. Our model of democracy says the right to carry a gun, to wear a mask in public places or to receive vaccinations against Covid-19 are important political issues and not matters of public health. Further, the most urgent issue at hand right now is how legally to deny certain Americans the right to vote. Biden’s China team seems oblivious to the fact that much has changed between the US and China since the financial crisis of 2008 caused by fraudulent financing of mortgage swaps by Wall Street. China’s disenchantment began in 2008 China’s disappointment in the US and loss of confidence in Wall Street have meant a loss of faith in the American dollar. In lieu of quantitative easing American-style, China invested heavily in its infrastructure, resulting in superhighways and the world’s largest network of high-speed rail. China then applied its experience and expertise in building infrastructure to a world-girding Belt and Road Initiative. At last count, China has started 2,800 projects in about 100 countries helping them build and improve their infrastructure. Given the total estimated investment value of $3.7 trillion, the participating nations could not hope to see new roads, railways, ports or airports without China’s help in financing and project-management expertise. The best we in the US can do in response is to warn these countries to beware that China is promoting debt traps. Along with economic cooperation on infrastructure projects, China has also promoted open global trade. Before Biden was sworn in to the White House, China concluded the biggest free-trade agreement with the ASEAN+5 (China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand) bloc, and a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment with the European Union. As I said in my January Asia Times commentary, “The community of nations has moved on while, thanks to Trump, the US has been left at the station. It’s unrealistic to expect that the US under the new Biden administration can simply pick up from where the US was before the Trump debacle.” Unfortunately, the Biden administration seems to think that all we need to do is to rally our old allies to counter China’s rise. To justify our continuing attacks on China, it’s not beneath our officials, abetted by our mainstream media, to resort to lies and fabrications – another Gulf of Tonkin in the making. The most popular topic recently is to accuse China of committing genocide against Uighurs in Xinjiang, despite the fact that the population of Uighurs in China has been increasing and not declining. However, it is a fact that economically Uighurs have done poorly as an ethnic group. Part of the effort to help them out of poverty was for the Chinese government to offer vocational training and to encourage young women from large multiple-sibling families to accept factory jobs elsewhere in China. The idea was to broaden a woman’s view of the world and raise her life expectations, in addition to earning a better income. The prospect of leaving her family for some faraway city is likely a wrenching and traumatic experience for a young girl whose culture indoctrinates her from birth to prepare for marrying young, having babies and toiling on the family farm for the rest of her life. Often, the factory recruiter would bring along an older Uighur woman who could describe her experiences in a factory and how her savings enabled her to help her parents enjoy better lives and even move into a Chinese city to live with her. Chinese documentary becomes a BBC exposé Beijing-based broadcaster CGTN made a documentary on the process of recruiting Uighur women for factory jobs elsewhere in China. By judiciously omitting certain parts of the video footage, the British Broadcasting Corporation transformed the documentary into an exposé of China forcing young Uighur women into slave labor. Thanks to “Numuves,” who produced a YouTube video comparing the original Chinese version and the adulterated BBC version, we can see the BBC’s adroit skill in misrepresenting the truth. Readers can view both versions and see how the BBC can shamelessly stoop to distort and fabricate in order to demonize China. Unfortunately, the BBC is hardly the only member of mainstream media to help the Western governments blacken China’s reputation and enhance our superior-than-thou stance. YouTube is replete with accusations of The New York Times and other “reputable” members of the media being guilty of slanting reports to reinforce the anti-China bias. Thus Biden, with bipartisan support and the coordinated distortion from the mainstream media, can confidently declare that China’s rise to become a world superpower will not happen on his watch. In reality, China’s rise to becoming the most powerful economy is inexorable and only a matter of time. Whether it will happen during Biden’s watch really depends on how long he expects to be the US president. We hardly have a knee on China’s neck. The day after the frosty and contentious meeting in Anchorage, Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Guilin, China. They expressed solidarity in their views and oppose the “unilateral bullying” by Washington. Wang Yi then went on to Tehran to sign a 25-year agreement with Iran worth $400 billion. China’s cash infusion to Iran will relieve the pressure of American sanctions and in exchange, oil from Iran will enhance China’s energy security. The China-Russia-Iran alliance certainly should give us pause. We gave up trying to beat the Taliban in Afghanistan after 20 years, and that certainly shouldn’t give us confidence to take on the triumvirate. Nevertheless, the Biden team seems determined to follow Trump’s script for confrontation with China. No issue is as sensitive and fraught with danger as Taiwan. Yet we seem determined to raise the tension over the waters around Taiwan and dare China to step over the red line. God help us if we succeed in triggering a collision with China. Most of us won’t likely be around to see how the collision ends. Hear my discussion of this piece on national podcast commencing at about 28 minute mark,