Showing posts with label U.S. China relations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label U.S. China relations. Show all posts

Monday, September 4, 2023

Raimondo given a Bronx cheer in China

A shorter version was posted in Asia Times. While US Commerce Secretary, Gina Raimondo, was visiting Beijing, she witnessed a spontaneous celebration among the Chinese people. The gleeful outburst had nothing to do with her meetings with the Chinese leaders, but was a raucous cheer for the reemergence of Huawei’s smart phone business. By disclosing the availability of a new smart phone, Mate 60 pro, on the company website, Huawei quietly let their customers in China know that Huawei has re-entered the mobile phone business. Word on Mate 60 pro spread like wild fire on China’s social media. Even though Huawei provided virtually no background information on their new phone, the initial allotment was sold out on the first day. Visitors to the website can see that Huawei’s smart phone is priced slightly less than Apple iPhone 14 with functionality similar to the 14. The one notable difference is that the speed of Huawei’s phone is faster and meets the specification of a 5G able smart phone. Third parties immediately took apart the Mate 60 pro and reported that there was no evidence of any US technology inside the phone. The phone is driven by Kirin 9000S chip, a chip designed and made in China and uses Harmony OS, Huawei’s own operating system. There are many other fine technical differences between Huawei’s latest smart phone and its competitors. The essential point to me is that Huawei is back after three years in the wilderness. Since 2019, the US began to levy a series of sanctions on the company denying it access to advanced chip designs and the availability of Taiwan Semiconductor to make the chips for them. Each successive restriction was designed to strangle Huawei out of the smart phone business. Bronx cheer for Raimondo In a way, Huawei’s action did have to do with Raimondo. The company moved up the unveiling of Mate 60 pro to coincide with her visit. To most of China’s netizens, it was Huawei’s way for calling her and the Biden’s administration’s attention that no obstruction imposed by the US will keep Huawei down for long. They have not disclosed how they achieve the necessary technological advances, but one thing is clear. The company could not have made all the advances without partners in China and without creating a domestic supply chain, from design software, semiconductor fabrication to essential chemicals and materials. What Huawei has accomplished will ripple through China’s semiconductor industry. Huawei’s experience will facilitate and encourage others to follow. China’s self-sufficiency in semiconductors will only increase. Heretofore, China represents almost one-third of the world’s market for semiconductors. Before the US mounted the trade war, it was more convenient for China to buy than to make their own. Now that they are forced to go on their own, China is, consequently, not importing as much, and total import is declining by double digits annually. American’s shortsighted strategy to de-couple from China will devastate the revenue of leading US providers of advance chips such as Nvidia and Qualcomm and chip making equipment companies such as Applied Material and Lam Research. These companies will see their comparative advantages dry up on the vine. In the near term, they are not allowed to sell to China. In the long term, China will not need to buy from them. Washington’s policy makers failed to appreciate that China is no technological slouch. When pushed against a wall, China will back their national interest with the needed funds and talent to overcome any obstacle. In October 1964, China detonated its first atomic bomb and less than three years later the hydrogen bomb, a faster sequence of milestones than any other country. These efforts were led by an all-Chinese team of scientists, some were returnees trained in the west but otherwise received no input from the US or USSR, the only members of the nuclear club at the time. More recently in 2020, China launched an unmanned spacecraft to Mars, and became the first nation to carry out an orbiting, landing and sending a rover to the Martian surface in the same mission; success on its first try. That’s an impressive demonstration of their confidence and their competence. Technical leapfrog is another way China also resorts to a strategy of making advances by technological leapfrog. For example, China has been hopelessly behind the West in automobiles based on gasoline fired combustion engine. Therefore, more than 10 years ago, China set a stepwise national target for adopting the electric vehicles. Now, they are the world’s leading maker and exporter of EVs and batteries for the EV as well. Same could happen in semiconductors. China is investing heavily in research and development of alternate, non-silicon substrate material for semiconductors. When they succeed, they will assume the leadership of the next generation of semiconductor chips. It is understood that China’s navy is closing the gap with the US navy. Their shipbuilding capacity is many times larger than the US (more than 200 times according to US Navy) and they are building successive generations of warships in tandem and not in sequence. In other words, even before the current ship has been launched, the shipyard is already building the next model, each with higher displacement and more firepower than the last. Apparently, they don’t need sea trials and shakedown cruises to know they are doing the right thing. China has successfully test fired their hypersonic missiles at speeds more than ten times the speed of sound, while the US has not. When these missiles are installed in their ships, their deadly range will vastly exceed the US. It's time for Washington to realize and accept the fact that efforts to suppressing China is a waste of our national priority and damaging to our national interest. We will rue the day when our insistence on making China our adversary become a reality.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Biden’s contrasting styles and priorities - The Biden administration has concentrated virtually all its efforts on keeping China from rising, to no avail

I celebrated my 85th birthday by writing this piece for Asia Times. For weeks, US President Joe Biden publicly demanded that the issue of raising the debt ceiling was a done deal and not negotiable. As the prospects of national default loomed, the Biden White House quietly began negotiations with Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and arrived at a compromise in the nick of time so as to avert default. It seems Biden understood, after all, that avoiding the disaster of a default and the mortal pain on the American economy was more important than sticking by his guns. However, he apparently does not understand that the outcome of his negotiations with China is equally crucial to America’s future; his approach has been steadily unyielding, unfriendly and unhelpful. Biden’s China team has adopted a strategy of saying one thing and then doing just the opposite. Every one of his cabinet officers would declare that he or she wishes to meet with their Chinese counterparts to discuss cooperation and collaboration – but always on the US terms, meaning that the US reserves the right to discuss the issues it wants to discuss, but will continue to criticize, attack and sanction China on others. This is the way an imperious hegemonic power acts toward a subordinate country and expects obeisance and compliance. Except China no longer sees itself as a lesser power to the US. China has simply ignored the many White House requests. The latest example came at the Shangri-La security forum in Singapore. The US had asked for a meeting between Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his counterpart Li Shangfu on the sidelines of the forum. China refused. The US promptly accused China of irresponsible behavior endangering the bilateral relations by not keeping the lines of communication open. US wants to meet with China for what purpose? Of course, communicating and agreeing to face-to-face meetings are two separate matters. China expects prospects of a useful outcome to justify arranging in-person meetings. For possible constructive results, China wants to see serious and sincere gestures from the US. All too frequently in previous meetings, the American officials viewed them as opportunities to crow about China giving in to American demands, whether actually true or not. That Biden did not even bother to lift the personal sanction imposed on Li Shangfu during Donald Trump’s administration and still expects to have a summit meeting of military leaders seems stupid and arrogant. Mind you, Li was sanctioned for purchasing fighter jets from Russia on behalf of China as part of his duty at the time in charge of procurement for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). What right does the US have to sanction an official of another country for doing his job? India buys arms from Russia; Turkey buys arms from Russia, apparently with no sanctions. This is just one example of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s “rules-based international order.” That order is arbitrary and is whatever the US says it is. Blinken was hankering for an invitation to meet in Beijing. Then the wandering weather balloon from China gave him the excuse to cancel the visit on an invitation that never came. Not only that, he reaped a PR dividend by blaming China for the debacle. Examples of hypocrisy and deception abound. Biden warmly embraced Xi Jinping in Bali and swore by the one-China principle and that Taiwan is part of China. Then he openly sells arms to Taiwan and impose complete sanctions of export semiconductor technology to China. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen goes out of her way to ask China for support of the US treasury debt and then goes to Africa to warn African nations to beware of China’s debt-trap diplomacy. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo asked for a meeting with her counterpart to discuss increasing bilateral trade. What she actually meant was she wanted China to buy more but did absolutely nothing to reduce the tariffs imposed on Chinese imports by the Trump administration that might actually raise the volume of bilateral trade. US on the path of self-destruction Decoupling from China is not his intention, Biden claims, but then every action by his team is just the opposite. Every prospective bilateral outcome has to be on US terms, or else. What the Biden White House does not appreciate is that it has embarked on a path of self-destruction for America. The damaging blowback from Biden’s China policy may not be as obvious as not raising the debt ceiling, but there is a strong element of cutting off Uncle Sam’s nose to spite his face that the leaders in Washington seem oblivious to. Just a few examples follow. When Biden first came to office, if he had intended to resume a constructive relationship with China, he could have eliminated the tariffs levied by Trump on Chinese imports. Instead, he retained the tariffs despite hurting the American consumer much more severely than China’s manufacturers. The desire to inflict pain on China far outweighed protecting Americans from even greater pain. Whether it’s assembling new subway cars with Chinese components, installing the world’s most cost-effective port-handling cranes, or surveillance cameras made in China, Washington let its paranoia run wild and turned away the cost savings from buying superior products from China. The sanction of Huawei is an extreme case. Huawei has developed the world’s most advanced fifth-generation (5G) telecommunication system, which has received acceptance around the world. Because of US fear of being spied upon, Washington not only has refused to buy from Huawei but pressured many of its allies to rip out billions of dollars’ worth of Huawei equipment already installed. After enduring the US sanctions for three years, Huawei has just announced the complete replacement of operating software based on Western technology. It will now sell to the world without any constraints, while the United States’ allies suffer hundreds of billions of dollars from the teardown of already installed Huawei equipment and the huge opportunity costs 0f not having a state-of-the-art telecommunication system. China has also surpassed the US in EVs Of course, telecom is not the only technology where China has surpassed the US. Among others, China’s emergence as the world’s leading producer of electric vehicles and owner of leading technology for the batteries that go into the EVs has taken the West by surprise. China has become the No 1 exporter of EVs around the world. Ford and Tesla, among many automakers in the West, would like CATL to build an advanced battery plant next to their EV plants in the US. (CATL is abbreviation for Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd headquartered in Ningde, China, and is an acknowledged leader in EV battery technology.) The potential deals raise interesting questions. Will Beijing forbid CATL’s transfer of battery technology to the US along the same logic as Washington’s semiconductor sanction on China? Or will some senator, such as a Marco Rubio, raise the specter of Chinese batteries in EVs forming a terrifying network for spying on America? Biden thought he had cleverly jumpstarted the US semiconductor industry by snatching a leading-edge operation from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co to Phoenix, Arizona. Now the TSMC management has discovered that they are not able to hire enough people from an American workforce that are qualified and/or willing to work in the rigors of a Taiwanese operation. In the meantime, the people of Taiwan are feeling increasing betrayed by America’s ham-fisted ways. This is a classic lose-lose outcome in the making. Another is Defense Secretary Austin’s insistence on playing the “freedom of navigation” game in waters around China and flying surveillance planes off coastal China. Since Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei last year, China has emphasized its territorial claim over Taiwan and has been increasingly aggressive in responding to American intrusions in Beijing’s back yard. Just last Saturday, a US destroyer along with a trailing Canadian frigate attempted to sail through the Taiwan Strait, which China regards as its territorial waters. In response to this provocation, a Chinese destroyer intercepted the American warship and forced it to change course. Obviously, the PLA is increasingly willing for a showdown over whether China’s territorial waters can continue to be treated as America’s international waters. The firepower and technology of the PLA warships have surpassed the Americans’, and the Chinese appear confident and ready to put it to a test. If the US Navy should succeed in provoking the PLA into a firefight, it is certain that both parties would be losers. China has more friends than US has allies Geopolitically, the US continues to count on the Group of Seven and a handful of other countries to be its allies. Biden’s stipulation is to insist on strict compliance of his foreign policy even at the expense of each ally’s own national interest. Consequently, France is becoming a doubting Thomas about the wisdom of going along with the US, South Korea is trying to wriggle out of not losing China’s sales, as is ASML of the Netherlands. Germany and Australia in their own ways are holding on to their trade relations with China. In sum, the American alliance is increasingly questioning the shakiness of US leadership. Concurrent to American hectoring over its version of “rule-based” order, 19 countries have expressed interest in joining BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) purely for the economic advantages of being a body that requires no military allegiance. Saudi Arabia along with other oil-producing countries becoming members of BRICS+ will change the global alignment. The body will be far more populous and economically powerful than the US-aligned G7+. And, by the way, a top agenda item for the new BRICS is to discuss a plan to introduce a new currency to replace the need to settle trade accounts in US dollars. This move is in direct response to Biden weaponizing the dollar and denying dollar access to countries he doesn’t like, such as Russia. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has just come into full force. Members of the partnership consist of the 10 ASEAN countries plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. They will enjoy booming, tariff-free trade among themselves. The US is on the outside looking in. Since China initiated the Belt and Road Initiative 10 years ago, around 150 countries have become beneficiaries of projects and investments through BRI. At reasonable financing terms, China supplies their expertise to build infrastructure such as ports, railroad, highways, bridges, airports and many others to enhance the economic development of the recipient country. By far, BRI has been China’s most effective tool for making friends around the world. The US? It stands impotently on the sidelines and watches with envy, and occasionally throws stones by calling these BRI projects debt traps. Despite Washington’s mighty effort to suppress and obstruct China’s rise, China has become relatively impervious to American sanctions and restrictions. Just like Huawei, China’s semiconductor industry will find ways around the ban. At the same time, China has become the foremost trading partner to virtually every country in the world. China’s economy remains strong and technological innovations will continue, hardly affected by actions from Washington. The Biden administration has concentrated virtually all its efforts on keeping China from rising, to no avail. At the same time, the administration has not done anything concrete to lift the competitiveness of the American economy. In a long line of mediocre leadership, Biden may prove the be the worst.

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.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Trust deficit of US has been self-inflicted

First published in China Daily. In the United States, we have a popular saying: "You can't have your cake and eat it too", which is another way of saying that you cannot have it both ways. Yet this is exactly what President Joe Biden's administration is trying to do with China. It treats China like a bitter adversary. The Biden administration even has hundreds of millions of dollars allocated to encourage Western media to blacken China's reputation at every opportunity, even resorting to distortion and fabrication to achieve their objective. Yet when they need China's help, Biden expects Beijing to comply and act as a willing supporter. Some recent examples come to mind. At the G20 Summit in Bali in October, Biden reaffirmed the one-China principle and said he would do nothing to interfere with Taiwan as part of China. Of course, right after he left Bali, he ordered advanced weapons for Taiwan and commandeered part of Taiwan Semiconductor Co from the island's city of Hsinchu to the US state of Arizona. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen flew to Switzerland specifically to intercept China's then vice-premier Liu He on his way to Davos. She asked for China's support for the dollar by continuing to buy US Treasury IOUs. She then flew on to Africa to warn African nations of China's so-called debt-trap diplomacy — without any evidence whatsoever. On the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in February, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Chinese senior diplomat Wang Yi, boasting later that he gave a stern warning that China must not give weapons to Russia, or it would face dire consequences. Wang, who is now a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, let it be known that the shooting down by the US of a weather balloon that wandered into US airspace was a hysterical response. Hysteria and paranoid logic run wild in Washington. Kits for new subway cars provided by China and assembled in the US were feared to be a vehicle for spying. The ubiquitous TikTok may be thrown out of the US because it is owned by a Chinese entrepreneur. The US has concluded that the best way to deal with its rotting infrastructure, proliferating number of homeless people, drug overdoses and mass shootings is to kick the can down the road and let the next round of politicians face the challenges. In the meantime, rather than confronting the real challenges at home, they work on blaming everything on China. At the beginning of his administration, Biden could have reset relations with China, but he doubled down instead. Blinken and others have gone around promising positive relations with every country, only to stab them in the back. This has been especially true with their dealings with China. Right now, Biden desperately needs to meet with President Xi Jinping to get China's support for the US debt, but he thinks he can get that support while trashing China and freezing China from access to semiconductor technology. Under his leadership, the US has become a nation that inflicts self-harm by a thousand cuts. By unilaterally destroying Iraq and Libya, the US instilled fear in others. By unilaterally confiscating foreign reserves belonging to Afghanistan and Russia, Biden behaved like the mafia. All the world can now see that holding on to the dollar and keeping it in the US is fraught with danger. Under these circumstances, why would China want to buy more Treasury bills? That would only enable the Federal Reserve to print more dollars and run up the deficit. In fact, China is converting extra dollars into gold and spending the remainder as rapidly as possible. China is also working with Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing states to accept the renminbi instead of the petrodollar. More than 100 countries that trade with China are already willing to hold renminbi as part of their reserve currency. All are motivated to avoid owning dollars. The US under Biden's leadership now suffers a huge credibility gap and trust deficit with the rest of the world. The US economy and therefore American taxpayers will pay dearly from the debt trap of Biden's own making. The author, a US citizen of Chinese ancestry and a retired international business adviser, wrote this commentary especially for China Daily.

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, January 19, 2023

2023 bodes poorly for US international relations

First posted On Asia Times. America’s top diplomat Antony Blinken’s most important task for the new year is to secure a summit meeting between US President Joe Biden and China’s leader, Xi Jinping. The odds of Blinken coming up empty and failing to arrange this meeting are exceedingly high. The reason is that China is growing weary of repeated cycles of Biden saying one thing and doing just the opposite. As Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is alleged to have said in a telephone conversation with Blinken, “This business of warmly embracing while getting stabbed in the back is getting tiresome.” As reported by Asia Times from Bali, Biden committed not to interfere with China’s governing structure, not to wage a new cold war with China, not to recruit allies to align against China, and not to promote or support Taiwan independence, nor reject the principle of one China. He also pledged that the US does not intend to initiate military conflict, wage economic warfare, decouple the two economies or hinder China’s economic development. Any unbiased observer could be forgiven for thinking that after the warm and fuzzy three-hour meeting, Biden would seize the opportunity to take steps to relax the bilateral tension. He could have rescinded the foolish tariff war initiated by former president Donald Trump and carried on by his own administration. The trade war has worked against American interests, as the trade deficit has continued to grow in China’s favor while tariff-added prices on Chinese imports increased inflationary pressure for the American consumer. But Biden did not. He could have backed off on the draconian semiconductor embargo he imposed on China, as a gesture of goodwill. He did not. Biden didn’t mean what he said Instead, Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included $10 billion in military aid to Taiwan. This aid is actually in the form of a loan. At $2 billion per year, Biden has placed orders on behalf of Taiwan with America’s weapons makers and has already sent the bill for the interest charges to the Taipei government. Typical of Washington chicanery, Taipei pays first for a possible future delivery of advanced weapons. Based on past records, Taipei holding an empty bag is not beyond the realm. After the new year dawned, Washington is also said to be ready to send “observers” to sit in offices inside the Taiwanese government for a stint of up to two years. Of course, observers have a way of becoming advisers and eventually becoming a take-charge shadow government, turning President Tsai Ing-wen’s government into zombies. Biden has also sent word to Taipei that the period of four-month active duty for conscripted soldiers is too short. President Tsai dutifully ordered a revision of the statute to 12 months commencing in 2024. Critics in Taiwan jeered at this alleged toughening of military preparedness. They opined that the 12-month training will qualify the young soldiers to carry and fire a rifle but stand no chance in face of advanced firepower, if the People’s Liberation Army were to invade. Getting these young people killed in action, however, would satisfy Washington in getting Taiwan to stand as proxy versus China, just like Ukraine in the proxy war with Russia. Of course, all the developments related to Taiwan directly contradict the solemn pledges Biden made at the Group of Twenty summit in Bali. There are two takeaways for the world. One is that what American leaders say can’t be trusted; their promises do not equate obligations. Second, the US will act only in itss own self-interest and care not a whit about its allies. Treating Taiwan as a pathetic vassal is just one example. America’s European allies have already seen the cost of joining the US in supporting the proxy war in Ukraine. While Ukrainians and Russians were expected to be the big losers in the conflict, the Europeans did not expect to become victims of runaway inflation. The rise of inflation was due to the American sanctions on Russia, which retaliated by stopping the flow of gas and oil to the European Union. The pain of being an American ally As French President Emmanuel Macron bitterly observed, the Europeans were offered relief with liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US, but at four times the domestic American prices. Thus while the EU paid through the nose for their energy, the Americans reaped obscene profit. Hardly an ethical or honorable way to treat an ally. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also saw through the American duplicity and he quickly organized an 11-hour visit to Beijing to meet with Xi Jinping in early November, before the G20. He took along a delegation of senior CEOs to reaffirm and cement the bilateral economic relationship with Germany’s largest trading partner – especially crucial as Europe has to confront rampant, ongoing inflation. Macron also sees the urgency of building France’s economic ties with China and is busily arranging for a visit by him to be formally added to Xi’s official calendar. It’s hard to know where he is in the queue. Heads of state of Italy, Australia and New Zealand are also jockeying to meet with Xi. They all see economic tie-ups with China in one form or another as a top-priority item on their national agendas. However, the first to meet Xi in the new year is Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. He arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for a three-day visit. As Asia Times reports, the Philippines is in desperate need for foreign capital investment and just the kind of help with infrastructure building that China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is known for. Unqualified success of BRI First proposed by Xi in 2013, the BRI has become China’s signature tool of diplomacy. Close to 150 countries had signed up to become members of the BRI by the end of 2022. Many of the BRI projects involved building transportation corridors via trains or highways and ports and harbors. Such infrastructure projects enabled the host country to join or expand its participation in world trade. Other projects involved hospitals, libraries and schools. All were designed to help the economy of the host country. The projects are financed by China at below-market interest rates and even at zero interest in some cases. Chinese companies provide the leadership, management and technology to implement each project. In the early years, China bore the slings and arrows of criticism from the Western media and from Washington politicians. Now, with hundreds of projects going on around the world, the BRI has become well accepted in much of the developing world. Any Westerner still warning about China’s “debt trap” diplomacy is treated with derision and contempt. China’s message is easy to understand. It is in favor of open trade and mutually beneficial collaboration. It does not require geopolitical pledges of allegiance or alignment. And it does not wish to argue over who has the correct definition of human rights or democracy, or insist on who is right. After the 25th People’s Congress in late October, Xi began to meet with other national leaders. Vietnam’s Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong became the first foreign leader to visit Beijing, quickly followed by Germany’s Scholz. World leaders eager to meet with Xi Xi then left Beijing for the G20 summit in Bali and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Thailand. Leaders lined up to meet with Xi on the sidelines of both summits, eager to re-establish bilateral relations and explore economic cooperation with the world’s largest trading nation. President Xi later went on a three-day state visit to Saudi Arabia. In Riyadh, China concluded a US$25 billion deal for oil. The Saudis also hosted an inaugural China-Arab states summit during Xi’s visit, and a meeting with the Gulf Cooperation Council, which comprises Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. On top of China’s 25-year strategic partnership with Iran, China can now claim to being friends with 1.8 billion people of the Islamic world, be they Sunnis or Shiites. Before the end of calendar year 2022, China also entered a free-trade deal with Ecuador, the fourth such deal in America’s back yard, in addition to Chile, Costa Rica and Peru. Contrary to what the wise old men of the West are telling Washington, world trade and globalization are far from dead but more popular than ever with the countries that are not members of Group of Seven. For the year of 2023, there are two earth-shaking developments that might catch the US by surprise. One is the possible routine use of the petro-renminbi as means of payment for energy from the Middle East. The internationalization of the yuan has been a gradual process and Washington could easily be caught off guard, like a frog in a steamer. The total replacement of the petrodollar is not likely in 2023 but the renminbi inroad could give Washington a real nightmare to worry about. A grand collaboration in Siberia A doozy of a deal in the offing is the ongoing discussion between Russia and China for a grand collaboration involving Siberia. As discussed in Asia Times, American sanctions and pressure on Russia have forced President Vladimir Putin to deepen his alliance and dependence on China. Historically, Russia has always been leery of opening Siberia for Chinese investment for fear of losing control of the territory owing to the potential of an overflowing Chinese population that could flood the frozen tundra region. Now Putin is in desperate need to realize the full potential of 40% of the landmass currently in permafrost hibernation. According to Russia media, the deal on the table would involve China investing $160 billion on 79 projects. The projects would not just include extracting oil, gas and minerals but would also cover infrastructure, agriculture, automotive, machinery and communications. China has the money, technology, know-how and most crucially, the hardy and hard-working people to make it happen. Russia needs the economic development that comes from industries. Now, figuratively speaking, while Blinken is sitting in the reception room waiting to be summoned to discuss another Biden-Xi summit, he has to be prepared to answer two likely questions from Qin Gang, the newly appointed Chinese foreign minister. What’s the point of another summit? What is there to talk about? Virtually all national leaders have been invited to meet with Xi in Beijing. A subtle snub would be for Xi to offer to meet with Biden in Xiamen. Other than not being Beijing, Xiamen has a lot of subtle symbolism. From Xiamen, one can see Kinmen, an island that belongs to the Taipei government. Xiamen is warm and scenic and maybe Biden won’t care. He might think he has been transported to the Caribbean. Of course, Biden could also return the compliment and offer to host the return summit in Taipei. After all, the US already owns that city and the government there. Critical_Hour_1142_seg_3.mp3

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.

World sees contrasting styles in diplomacy

First posted on Asia Times. After the US midterm election last month, I suggested that voters have yet to pass judgment on the current administration’s dismal foreign policy. Recent developments indicate that President Joe Biden’s policy will continue to assert the rights that belong to the hegemon of the world. After the election, Biden met with Chinese president Xi Jinping on the sidelines of Group of Twenty summit in Bali, a major international event. There the two leaders enjoyed a more than three-hour heart-to-heart chat and exchange of views. The Chinese side took careful minutes of the meeting and posted a summary of what Biden had said. The American side weren’t such careful note-takers but posted no disagreements to the Chinese summary. Biden basically doubled down on the US commitment not to interfere with China’s governing structure, not to wage a new cold war with China, not to recruit allies to align against China, not to promote or support Taiwan independence, nor reject the principle of one China. In addition, he said, the US does not intend to initiate military conflict, wage economic warfare, decouple the two economies or hinder China’s economic development. Spirit of Bali did not last long Xi expressed satisfaction with the American position, with the added hope that Biden’s lieutenants would act in accordance and consistent with the commitments expressed at this meeting by President Biden. Alas, the white man again spoke with a forked tongue. No sooner had Biden hurried back to attend his granddaughter’s White House wedding that his team began anew to tear China down. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, albeit not a white man, is a recent example picking up the cudgel to bash China. His plea to Congress to justify mega-billion-dollar allocations for defense is that such massive spending was needed to mount effective deterrence to China. Deterrence for what? China does not have military bases around the world like Uncle Sam has. China does not have naval flotillas sailing around every sea and ocean; Uncle Sam has. China does have a marine fighting force, but about one-hundredth the size of Uncle Sam’s. Who’s threatening whom, anyway? An example of the upside-down logic is Austin’s quote the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “war is not the result of NATO expansion, it is the cause of NATO expansion.” Most readers know well, as should the American people, that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has been pushing eastward toward Russia for decades, and Russia’s Ukrainian invasion only began in February. By way of the same (il)logic, the US must deter the threat of China because we Americans have decided that China is a threat. How dare China develop countermeasures to our advance weaponry and deprive our right to shock and awe? Their action is a threat to our security. Our only alternative is to keep ramping up our defense budget. Consequentially, the bipartisan House of Representaives just enacted an allocation of $858 billion for the military. That’s $45 billion more than Biden even asked for. What’s a few more billions here and there? Washington wants to make sure that America feels secure enough to sleep at night. World lines up to be China’s friends In the meantime, the rest of the world has been watching Biden’s fumbling diplomacy and concluded that when the Americans draw a line in the sand, it doesn’t mean anything. But if Biden can profess to make nice with China, as he did in Bali, so can the rest of the world. Thus Qatar has just entered a 27-year contract to supply liquefied natural gas to China, which means that from now on Qatar can only offer occasional spot-market sales, if any, to the energy-hungry European Union. Xi Jinping has just concluded a full-scale, three-day state visit to Saudi Arabia. He was accorded all the pomp and circumstance heretofore reserved for Riyadh’s most important ally, the US. But when Biden flew all the way to Saudi recently, he was greeted with a cursory fist bump. More important, Biden was humiliated when OPEC+, led by Saudi, ignored his request to increase oil output in order to cut the price of oil and ease inflationary pressure in the US. Instead, Saudi did just the opposite and cut production. Saudi provides China energy security While in Riyadh, Xi concluded a comprehensive strategic partnership cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia. Part of the agreement included reaffirmation that Taiwan is part of China and that both parties pledge non-interference in the domestic affairs of the other. These provisions were for the benefit of the US watching on the sidelines. Bilateral trade, in rough balance between China and Saudi Arabia, was worth $87.3 billion in 2021, nearly 34% up from the previous year. Xi noted that China’s Belt and Road Initiative is a perfect complement to help the Saudis realize their Vision 2030 goals. One immediate effect is Saudi’s engagement with Huawei to help build a smart city. Xi also finalized a $25 billion deal for oil, and suggested the replacement of the petrodollar with the renminbi for payment. The demotion of the dollar would be explosive news, and both Beijing and Riyadh may have elected to keep quiet on what would be the beginning of the end of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. The best face The Wall Street Journal could put on the Riyadh summit was to say, “China hasn’t yet demonstrated interest or ability in supplanting the US’s broad role in the Middle East, and the Saudis don’t really want to replace the US as their main security guarantor, analysts say.” I would say that’s a classic attempt to put lipstick on the pig. Riyadh also hosted a summit meeting of the Gulf state leaders, with Xi on expanding cooperation on not just energy but trade and infrastructure building. As the World Cup in Qatar has amply shown, the world-class venues for that soccer tournament and supporting infrastructure were built by Chinese companies. The Arab Gulf states have plenty of money but need the infrastructure to help them turn to other avenues of economic development and diversify from oil. China is more than happy to supply that need. And China does not require geopolitical allegiances nor demand access to military bases. In addition to the Gulf states, leaders of Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria and others were at the Riyadh summit. Coupled with China’s existing 25-year strategic partnership agreement with Iran, China can count on the 1.8 billion people of the Islamic world as friends. The West alleging debt traps from Belt and Road financing by China is increasingly ringing hollow and is ignored by most of the world longing for the mutually beneficial relationships that China offers. Aligned with China through BRICS, SCO Other large countries that than Group of Seven allies of the US are lining up to join BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). All it takes to join is an invitation, and there are no dues for membership. BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The purpose of the organization is to promote peace, security, development and cooperation. A long list of nations has express interest in joining or have formally applied to become members. Among them, Saudi Arabia sees the group as important customers for its oil. Turkey, as a member of NATO, sees BRICS as a geopolitical hedge between the West and the rest of the world while addinc another tie with China. The SCO was organized to counter the West. Its membership included China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Later, India and Pakistan were added. Iran has become the latest member. Neither the SCO nor BRICS encompass military alliances but are in solidarity against hegemony and unilateralism – meaning the US. The fact that adversarial states, such as India and Pakistan and Iran and Saudi, can share common ground and belong to the same organizations is a hopeful vector for world peace. Much of the world outside the West does not see any benefit from being aligned with the US, just living with the fear that goes with sleeping with a tiger. Even some allies are seeing the downside of having to face the whims of American hegemony. Unilateralism and Biden ASML, based in the Netherlands, is openly challenging the White House sanction against selling photolithographic machines to China. ASML is the world’s leading maker of the multimillion-dollar etching machines necessary for making semiconductor chips. China is its most important customer, and not selling to China is to commit corporate suicide. Samsung has invested heavily on semiconductor plants in China making chips for customers inside China. Samsung, possibly with the help of the South Korean government, is also trying find some dispensation to wriggle out from under Washington’s ban. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is the most hapless victim of the undeclared chips war. It is known to have the most advanced fabrication process and is recognized as the leader in making the most advanced chips for the world. For this reason, Washington considers TSMC being located in Taiwan as a risk to US national security. Consequently, TSMC has been coerced into disassembling its fab processing line from Taiwan and shipping it to Arizona along with a technical and management team. In addition, if Taiwan should face imminent invasion by the mainland’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the US with the tacit acceptance of the Taipei government would likely plant explosives to destroy the TSMC facilities remaining in Taiwan. Overlooked in this revelation are several noteworthy conclusions. The US government does not own any part of TSMC but has no compunction about blowing its facilities into smithereens in the name of guarding national security – of America, of course. Moving to Arizona and planning the destruction of TSMC properties remaining in Taiwan is to admit that the US cannot defend Taiwan against the PLA. Obviously, the fate of 24 million people living in Taiwan is of no concern to Washington. Furthermore, moving technicians and management lock, stock and barrel from Taiwan is admission that the US no longer has the skillset and capability to run state-of-the-art semiconductor fabs. Morris Chang, the retired founder of TSMC, was mostly on the mark on another occasion when he said that production costs in the US would be at least 50% higher than in Taiwan. Certainly not good news for tamping down inflationary pressure. But at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in Arizona to mark the arrival of TSMC equipment, Chang backed off somewhat by saying the 50%-higher operating cost was when TSMC first tried to operate a fab in Oregon more than 20 years ago. Oregon never became an economically appealing base to expand the company’s presence in the US. Now, he seemed to imply, Phoenix will be different because of past lessons learned. Biden celebrates return of US manufacturing Biden spoke at the ceremony and declared the “return of American manufacturing.” Perhaps he was thinking of Chang being an American citizen, or he was thinking of the first group of 300 from Taiwan who will be given instant green cards (permanent resident certificants) and become bona fide Americans. Or, maybe he was simply delighted with the success of the “grab and go” caper. And consistent with Biden’s claim, somebody had better brief the Federal Bureau of Imvestigation in full, so as not to trigger arrests of suspicious-looking Asian faces walking around Phoenix. These are newly arrived “Americans” and not spies from China. Joining the celebration were other luminaries such as Apple chief executive officer Robin Cook, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang and AMD CEO Lisa Su. To the surprise of no one, they all gushed about the prospects of having a first-class fab as their supplier in their back yard. Time will tell if the transformation of TSMC into “USSMC” will become a real success or simply be another lip gloss on the pig. We can see that Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is no Volodymyr Zelensky. The president of Ukraine constantly asks Biden for more billions to stay in the fight against Russia. Tsai doesn’t ask for any funds, she just lies down and willingly gives away Taiwan’s crown jewel to please her American master. China builds friendship around the world. The US gets along by strong-arming those considered to be its allies on the unilateral principle that it’s all for the good of America. To no one’s surprise, the number of friends is dwindling. Perhaps it’s time that the Biden administration listens to a commentator at The Harvard Crimson who is no fan of China: “It’s time Americans stop throwing pity parties and give up on trying to regain bygone dominance. Instead, we should chart a new course of bilateral cooperation between the US and China, one founded on cultural exchange and the free flow of information.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Biden’s next two years look bleak - The Democratic Party has survived, but the White House remains mired in a failed foreign policy

First posted on Asia Times. Despite going into the midterm elections with under 40% popular approval, US President Joe Biden appears to have survived the outcome, avoiding the mortal wound historically associated with a lame duck in the White House. Bill Clinton, a rare US president who presided over a budget surplus, once embraced an adviser’s mantra “It’s the economy, stupid.” Biden does not seem be graded by his grasp of the economy. Fortunately for Biden, foreign policy does not normally figure in American voters’ thinking. The Biden team has run around the world busily trying to shore up the American position as the hegemon of the world. Drawing from the lessons of the ignominious retreat from Afghanistan after a 20-year debacle, Biden’s new strategy was to assert authority by initiating proxy wars – in other words, getting somebody else to do the fighting. He was successful in provoking Russia into invading Ukraine and supplying more than $40 billion worth of arms to Kiev to fight to the last Ukrainian standing. Uncle Sam’s EU allies dutifully supported Washington and castigated Russian President Vladimir Putin for his aggression. EU suffers as Russia sanctions backfired Initially, the European Union supported the sanctions imposed by the Biden administration. Then Putin changed the rules of the game by demanding payment in rubles for Russia’s oil and natural gas. The net effect was a ruble that strengthened against the euro and dollar. And the EU countries got to pay through the nose for their energy. Then the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines from Russia were “mysteriously” blown up by a blatant act of sabotage. Severing the pipelines supplying Russian gas to Germany and others in Europe erases any basis of reconciliation with Russia, so Washington thought. Rather than letting European allies face a freezing winter, the US rushed to the rescue by selling Texas crude and liquefied natural gas (LNG) at high prices. Yes, very profitable for the US but not so good for the Europeans, feeding their mounting resentment toward Uncle Sam. Leaders of Germany and France are beginning to question the wisdom of blindly following Washington. They are beginning to see that the so-called “rule-based international order” is nothing more than rules for placing orders for American oil. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz quickly led a delegation to Beijing shortly after the adjournment of the 20th People’s Congress. One significant outcome of his one-day visit was a joint declaration with President Xi Jinping that the two countries will promote a multipolar world and disavow any attempt at decoupling – a clear rejection of Biden’s foreign policy. Scholz was also handed a $17 billion order for Airbus passenger jets and acceptance of BioNTech Covid vaccines for use in China. The business leaders in the German delegation also announced intentions to increase their investments in China. These are clear indications that both countries recognize the importance of their economic partnership. Germany is just the latest American ally to realize that dutifully lining up behind Uncle Sam merely exposes them to a full dose of flatulence and not much else. Saudi Arabia says get lost To help tamp down inflation, Biden asked Saudi Arabia to increase oil output so as to reduce the prices at America’s gasoline pumps and lessen the pain of taxpayers. Saudi promptly did the opposite by cutting oil production. In less polite circles, we would call that a middle-finger salute. In fact, Saudi Arabia shows no fealty to the US but is applying to join BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), in both of which China plays a leading role. Riyadh is also finalizing arrangements to sell oil to China for yuan instead of petrodollars. Iran along with India and Pakistan are already members of the SCO. Others including Turkey, Belarus and Egypt are waiting to join. The organization promotes cooperation and collaboration for mutual benefit and geopolitical tension and rivalry is left outside the door. Military alliances and confrontations are specifically excluded in the charter of the organization. That India and Pakistan can belong in the same organization is proof. That Saudi Arabia would join with Iran perhaps presages a more amicable future between those two states. Unlike being aligned with the US, collaborating with China has no downside. No need to host bases for the American troops, and the resultant indignities that, for example, civilians in South Korea and Okinawa have to endure. Turning his attention to China, Biden has his double-talk down pat. According to the one-China principle, Taiwan is part of China, and the US stands by that. On the other hand, it will train the Taiwanese people how to fight, give them more and better weapons and a promise to send American troops to defend Taiwan. For now, let us defer the ramifications of this issue for another day. Biden turns to China In the meantime, despite protestations that the US and China can collaborate in important issues, Biden has gone all-in to wage a full-blown chips war against China. His edicts are intended to effect a total shutdown of trade, exchanges and any sort of transactions involving semiconductor products and technology between the West and China. The desired outcome is to kneecap China’s semiconductor development. However, the Silicon Valley giants such as Applied Materials and Lam Research are among the first companies to be kneecapped. More than 30% their sales go to China only 8% in the US. Their American employees in China are put on hold and layoffs are beginning in the US. Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) can no longer sell their most advanced chips to China for artificial-intelligence development. These advanced chips represent these companies’ most important comparative advantage and will mean lost sales in the hundreds of millions. Lost sales are opportunity costs that do not return. The total drop in market cap for the entire industry worldwide is around US$1.5 trillion. ASML of the Netherlands has virtually a world monopoly on lithographic machines necessary to transfer chip design into actual chips. The company is struggling with not being able to sell not only the most advanced generation but even the older-generation machines to China. These machines go for hundreds of million dollars, and the Biden White House is asking the Dutch company to sit on its hands. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), Korean companies and Japanese companies are similarly requested by Biden to kneecap themselves for the greater good of keeping China’s chip industry stunted. Apparently, American companies are forced to comply by law, but the non-American companies are stalling in their compliance. As Asia Times has pointed out, “the [US] Commerce Department’s specifications show ignorance about the technologies involved and confusion – if not duplicity – about the ban’s implications for China’s military. The experts’ group concluded that the new policy was rushed into effect in panic mode, without weighing its civilian or military implications.” In other words, the embargo order was hastily and sloppily written and leaves plenty of holes and ambiguity for further arguments and negotiations for exceptions. The chips clampdown is supposedly based on security grounds, but American commercial interests will take a major hit as a consequence. The semiconductor embargo has forced China to work around the American chokeholds. Contrary to Washington’s perception, the Chinese won’t catch up by just copying and replicating silicon-based American technology. For example, they have been working on gallium arsenide as the substrate for photonic chips that will operate 1,000 times as fast at 1% of the power consumption – which is important for military uses and does not rely on economies of scale essential in commercial applications. What will be the eventual outcome? Companies in the West will be crippled by the decoupling and play in a market smaller than the formerly globalized market. New companies in China will dominate in a market centered on China. The sum of both markets is likely to be less than the total market today. This is a classic lose-lose outcome. The joke is on Washington It is hard for us Americans to know if our political leaders are just joshing or are seriously misinformed about China. Washington seems to see China as a mere copycat that depends on intellectual-property (IP) theft to compete with America. In certain technologies, China has at least caught up to the US, if not already surpassing it. To name a few: fifth generation to 6G in telecommunications, superior accuracy of Beidou over America’s Global Positioning System (GPS), exploration missions to Mars and the dark side of the moon, Tiangong soon to be the only space station circling Earth, quantum computing and hypersonic glide missiles. And oh yes, China has a network of thousands of kilometers of high-speed rail. The US? Zero. Readers might be amused to know that former US congressman Frank Wolf, who had control of annual funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), specifically demanded the exclusion of China from participating in the International Space Station that was jointly operated with the Soviet Union. Now the US is complaining that all the writing in Tiangong is in Chinese, even though NASA has yet to be invited to visit. According a recent joint report from Harvard, Princeton and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), at least 1,400 US-based ethnic Chinese scientists and academicians have left the US in direct response to the notorious “China Initiative,” and the departures continue to increase. They have been intimidated and terrorized by random arrests and prosecution that leaves them traumatized, reputation destroyed and financially ruined. Our Department of (in)Justice does not apologize for wrongful prosecution nor offer compensation for damages. This self-inflicted injury will be America’s loss and China’s gain. The good news is that some Chinese are coming to the US. According to Bloomberg News, Tesla is sending production personnel, automation and control engineers from China to its plant in Fremont, California, in order to “reproduce the success of the Tesla factory in Shanghai.” Another way of saying “be careful of what you wish for” is to quote Rafael Reif, outgoing president of MIT: “If all we do in response to China’s ambition is to try to double-lock all our doors, I believe we will lock ourselves into mediocrity.”

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.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

US pushes ‘rule-based disorder’ Latest set of sanctions targeting the chip industry will do no one any good, certainly not the US itself

First posted in Asia Times. Upon becoming president of the United States, Joe Biden immediately set forth to promote “rule-based international order,” ostensibly for the world community, but the message was really intended for China. The “world order,” according to Biden, was for Beijing to conduct its foreign affairs in line with Washington’s expectations. Now into the second year of his regime, it has become increasingly clear that Biden’s idea of order is actually disorder and is causing chaos not only in the world but especially to the American economy. The latest example is the most recent series of sanctions and embargoes forbidding sales of semiconductor chips and manufacturing equipment to China. Up to now, China has been far and away the largest buyer for semiconductor processing equipment and is the major market for advanced chips designed by such Silicon Valley companies as Nvidia and made by such foundries as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). The ban seeks all the members of the semiconductor industry, foreign and domestic, to go cold turkey and stop doing business with China. Heretofore, the industry has been a prime example of a virtuous circle created by globalization. In simplified terms, we can say that innovations in chip designs for new uses are created in Silicon Valley, fabricated by foundries in Taiwan and South Korea, and then shipped to China to assemble into devices and final products, which are then sold around the world. Companies engaged in making fabrication and processing equipment kept pushing the boundaries of their technology and collaborated with the foundries to produce the next generation of advanced chips. The equipment companies were not just in the US but also in Japan and the Netherlands. Everyone wins in a virtuous circle In a virtuous circle, everybody does what he does best and contributes to a supply chain at the most cost-effective efficiency. Everybody wins in such a circle. By breaking up the circle, everybody loses. South Korean foundries such as Samsung sell 40% of their output to China, including foundries they operate inside China. China represents around 30% of sales for semiconductor fabrication equipment from American companies such as Applied Materials and Lam Research. China is also the most important market for ASML, the Netherlands-based company that is in essence the only maker of advanced lithographic machines. Despite the just-imposed ban, the company has continued to increase its local hire in China to support its sales and technical services. Every member of the circle now faces a perplexing dilemma: Do they obey the Washington edict at the expense of their financial interests and companies’ futures? Or do they pay a lot of money to lawyers and lobbyists to plead on their behalf and secure certain dispensations that would allow their continuing to do business with China, perhaps at a more subdued level? Or do they find questionable routes and intermediaries to continue their sales to China? Or can they flat out defy Washington? In theory, their lost sales to China would be replaced by the expansion of a new and growing US market, as foreign companies such as TSMC and Samsung are enticed or coerced into building new fabs in the US. The challenge is whether other members of the circle can survive long enough while waiting for the new capacities in America to make up the immediate shortfall around the world. Furthermore, there are serious concerns and doubts as to whether new fabs could actually happen in the US. The cost of defying Washington’s order will be high, but the industry can already see that the cost of yielding to Biden’s sanctions makes no sense given the devastating consequences. TSMC obediently gave up on serving Huawei, its most important customer, under orders from Donald Trump’s White House more than two years ago. Now it apparently has given up on the rest of the China market in exchange for locating fabs in the US. Since then, the market capitalization of the company has declined by half from its peak. Washington offers losing propositions Washington doesn’t offer any incentives or rewards, just threats and intimidation if they are not obeyed. This is what a hegemon does, but increasingly the world is disenchanted and not convinced South Korea is the latest to feel the sting that goes with being a loyal American ally. Washington expected the Koreans to give up their huge markets in China, and the reward was for their president to face a rude and very public brushoff when he greeted Biden at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York recently. According to K J Noh, who understands the Korean language, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol cursed in the foulest terms at the way he was treated. Hard to blame him though. Biden is asking his country commit economic seppuku but acted like Yoon was some Asian scumbag – another gaffe that the White House staff will have to repair. The European Union has also learned that there is no upside in being a groupie of American foreign policy. By joining the US in supporting the Ukrainians and sanctioning Russia in the Ukrainian war, the EU is facing a bleak cold winter with a shortfall of fuel to heat homes and fire the boilers that the German industries will need to keep operating. Facing record-breaking inflation, the people in the EU are becoming restless and beginning to agitate and question the reasons for antagonizing Russia and bringing economic misery on to themselves. Shortly before the UNGA, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization concluded its annual conference, held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Under China’s leadership, the SCO welcomed Iran and Belarus as new members, with a long list of other nations applying to join, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others. The SCO now accounts for half of the world’s population and more than 25% of global GDP. Non-aligned countries find the SCO increasingly attractive as an antidote to American unilateralism. Geopolitical rivals such as India and Pakistan or Saudi Arabia and Iran can leave their contentions outside and join the organization to work on trade and economic cooperation, and collaborate on combating terrorism. Unlike the American led groups of nations, political or military alliances are specifically excluded within the SCO. There are, by the way, no nations waiting to join the US alliance to contain China. As I observed in June, the US approach to recruiting others to join in an alliance to contain China is a faltering strategy that will lead to America’s self-destruction. Biden’s insistence on decoupling China from the semiconductor supply chain is another step in that direction. Another step to self-destruction Washington seems not to have anticipated China’s likely response to the latest sanctions. Its semiconductor industry is redoubling its efforts and investments to develop technical advances that would replace the chips and fab equipment that have been cut off by the American sanctions. China has the raw technical manpower graduating from their colleges and universities every year and has recruited senior engineers and fabrication technologists – Asia Times called them godfathers – from Taiwan, Japan and South Korea to advise on the technical and management direction. News from China already indicates that they are making breakthroughs getting around the American embargoes. Even American analysts say that the trade barriers are doomed to fail. In the long run, the Biden sanctions will help China create its own independent semiconductor industry and leave the currently established providers out in the cold. When and if China decides to retaliate in full, it has the wherewithal to inflict pain in kind. China’s CATL is the world’s largest producer of lithium batteries for electric vehicles. The company has announced plans to build a US$7 billion plant in Hungary to serve European automakers. Its plans for North America are on hold since Nancy Pelosi’s jaunt to Taipei. China also has a virtual stranglehold on the world supply of rare earth minerals, some crucial in strategic military applications, and can elect to restrict sales to the US. Most recently, the Pentagon was aghast to find that the engine of the F-35 fighter depends on rare-earth magnets made in China. This latest “discovery” shows the deep integration of the two major economies and the difficulty of disentangling and decoupling the two. It also can show the destructive power of paranoia in Washington. The wise old gnomes in the bowels of the Pentagon probably wouldn’t suggest tearing apart all the existing F-35s to remove the magnets from China, but could certainly see this matter as another “urgent” reason to increase the defense budget greatly in order to develop a domestic replacement. The hostile drumbeats from Washington reverberate within the echo chamber for the benefit of the handful of allies sitting inside, seemingly unaware of the ongoing peaceful cooperation between China and the rest of the world. It’s hard to know when the American people will say enough is enough and vote for a thorough reform of how Washington makes friends instead of enemies.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

My confession seems to have struck a responsive chord

I also had a conversation with Cyrus Janssen on his YouTube channel. I have received many more reader responses than usual on my essay on Asia Times. I have decided to post selected inputs from my readers. Ifay Chang Tue, Aug 23, 9:17 AM (1 day ago) I echo with you as a Republican, seeing the hypocritic bipartisan bickering that is degrading the U.S.. Ifay Bob Dickerson Tue, Aug 23, 9:29 AM (1 day ago) Wonderful, George. Very moving and so honest. Peace and love to you. If you need me, I’ll be there for you. Peter Li Tue, Aug 23, 9:42 AM (1 day ago) Thanks George. You have said exactly what’s in my heart and a sense of frustration and exasperation. America has changed so much since we first came in the 40s and 50s. Alas… Peter William Fuller Tue, Aug 23, 9:51 AM (1 day ago) Hi George, From one 84 year old to another, well done! Like you, I could not be more worried about our country, its relations with China, and the risks to our democracy. With best wishes, Bill Ivy Chang Tue, Aug 23, 9:58 AM (1 day ago) George, I'm an immigrant, like you, and agree with your writing. You make the Chinese in the U.S. proud. Lillian Sing Tue, Aug 23, 10:39 AM (1 day ago) George, I tilt my hat to you over and over again. Once again, your writing touched my heart and soul. 很佩服你! You share the same experience as so many of us, CA, who came to the US with hope and aspiration. Yes, US has been good to us. I became a judge when there were no female AA women judges in No. CA . It was a dream come true. But, alas, I see over and over again, how US has missed opportunities to be the great country and now has taken steps that will endanger all of us. CA is no longer welcome here. We are viewed with suspicious and the entire CA community is accused of posing a "whole of society threat against the US." Like you, I feel betrayed, disappointed and the necessity to speak out. Lillian Nancy M. Lee Tue, Aug 23, 10:47 AM (1 day ago) George: I could not have agreed with you more. It echoes precisely my feeling. When I came to this country in 1960, America was at its best. It has since come down and deteriorated year by year. Instead of using the tax money to build our country, it has spent the money around the globe to start wars. Thank you for writing this excellent article. I am sending your article to all my non-asian friends. Best, Nancy Anthony Ng Aug 23, 2022, 11:14 AM (1 day ago) Dear George: Thank you for sharing. Profound analysis! I resonated so much with what you wrote and got to know you better. Indeed, honesty is such a lonely word in politics. What could we do as part of the solution? I would love to hear more from you. Could we chat at your convenience? Blessings, Anthony C. Ng Robert Kapp Tue, Aug 23, 1:12 PM (1 day ago) I knew we had things in common: I ran "Americans Abroad for McCarthy" in London in 1968, when I was a graduate student just out of nine months of Ph.D. research in Chiang Kai-shek's Taiwan. But not Laurelhurst: the first thing someone at the UW said to me when we moved to Seattle in 1973 and I joined the UW faculty was, "Of course you'll live in Laurelhurst...." Uh-uh. We bought a houseboat for $12k instead. I never did quite meld with the Laurelhurstians on campus. Best wishes. B. Phil Cunningham Tue, Aug 23, 1:26 PM (1 day ago) Hi George, I liked reading your personal story, helps put your pieces in perspective. You have a lot of wisdom, hard-earn lessons and longitude in your views on things. Funny on the Shakespeare thing. Cornell Press asked me to read a thesis and book proposal by a Chinese scholar about Shakespeare in China; it was quite good! I've got a piece coming out in SCMP this week about decline in number of Chinese students, using Cornell as example. Next piece is about the almost complete zeroing out of US students in China. Phil Maeley Tom Aug 23, 2022, 1:57 PM (1 day ago) Your article was nothing short of "outstanding" and distributing it to my network. Thank you George Tue, Aug 23, 2:50 PM (1 day ago) George Your disclosure of personal experience is deeply appreciated by myself And this is a very acceptable article to share with all My friends disregard their political outlook nor their “ distorted “ ( a big majority of them , unfortunately Views or perception of China These are fir those who lived in the west ( US Canada England Australia or even Hong Kong and yes HK and Taiwan) Your personal experience is indisputable including your criticism and disappointment with US politicians ! Money talk it’s not like one would like to think Democracy is Peoples Talk ( we are all damaged by the Western Politician Talk ) leaving many of us feeling so helpless and hopeless 😩 Miranda Hsiung Fei Lee Tue, Aug 23, 2:54 PM (1 day ago) Dear George: Very well said. Your article of "Confessions of a Disgruntled Chinese American" resonances with me very much. I first came to the US in 1961. The America in the early 60's was different from how or what it is today. Many of the things you mentioned were not on the surface back then. The military and defense industry complex brings misery to the people around the world as well as Americans at home. It is hard to reverse the ' one-dollar-one-vote system' we have today back to the ' one-man-one-vote system' it is supposed to be. But it is the only chance that America will survive another two hundreds years without collapsing. There has to be a way to turn the American policy from outward expansionism to paying attention of domestic issues. Washington needs to look after the well being of the 99% instead of what happens in Ukraine or Taiwan Strait. Most Americans do not understand international politics. Hopefully, they know what it means to have food on the table and the roof over their head. H. F. L. Ling-Chi WANG Tue, Aug 23, 3:48 PM (1 day ago) Hi, George: What an inspiring confession! There are so many striking similarities between your experience and mine, from being born in the same year and raised on the same tiny island of beautiful Gulangyu (鼓浪屿), 3 sq. Km., to coming to America for education and opportunity to becoming engaged in American civic life, and finally, to becoming disillusioned and disgruntled in our sunset years. Reading your confession is like reading my own memoir except you write, as usual, with such flair and eloquence, I could not possibly match. It is quite incredible that we should finally, in a fortunate stroke of serendipity, meet in San Francisco a few years ago when we were active in the fight to win freedom and justice for Dr. Wen Ho Lee. Dr. Wen Ho Lee won his freedom on September 13, 2000. Sadly and outrageously, 22 years later, we, Chinese Americans today, have all become Wen Ho Lee because of American ignorance, racial prejudice, and hostility. Thanks for sharing your experience. Keep writing because the U.S. needs your perspective and voice! Ling-chi Aug 23, 2022, 3:58 PM (1 day ago) With great grandiloquence, par excellence. Henry Richard King Tue, Aug 23, 4:40 PM (1 day ago) Dear George: Thank you for sharing your story with me. We are the same age. But I came when I was already 14. I did well in school but not at your level. While my math was fine I still struggled with my English and therefore did not get into Bronx Science. Instead I attended Lincoln Park Honor School. I wanted to go to Cornell but did not have the money. I worked at a Jewish resort and managed to save $ 1,100, a nice sum but it was short of the $ 2,000 needed. If I knew then what I know now, I could have borrowed, got a scholarship or worked at a frat house for my room and board. I went to CCNY which was known as poorman's Harvard. At that time more than 90% of the students were Jewish. I hated it. Ironically, my son Bentley would one day go to and graduate from Cornell. Of course he did not have to work a single day to pay for his tuition. But isn't that what we all work for: To give a better life for our kids? Since there were few of us then, there was not the hysteria of Asian, namely Chinese, students taking over the top colleges. Affirmative actions were then not that evident. These days I don't know what it would take for our kids and grandchildren to get into an Ivy or MIT? China was then Red China and for the most part not on the radar screen. Even as recent as the late 70s and early 80s it was Japan that was the threat. Japan bashing was in full swing. Japan folded and has never recovered. China is a different and more tough nut to crack. As you pointed out, the head of the FBI shamelessly bragged about targeting ethnic Chinese. I worked in the defense industry, something I would not do today. I wonder what would happen if all ethnic Chinese were to boycott the defense industry. It would collapse. With China's rising, we Chinese-Americans will increasingly face tough times ahead. Richard James Hsue Tue, Aug 23, 5:34 PM (1 day ago) Thank you George for the personal experience spoken from the heart. It is an experience that is probably widely shared amongst not only Chinese Americans but also amongst Chinese canadians, Chinese Australians etc. I am really happy to see it being told. I sent it out to my HK highschool classmates, many of whom emigrated to the U.S., Canada and the U.K. James Shirley Kinoshita 6:51 AM (16 hours ago) George Interesting op-ed. I also served on the Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission and has experienced a lot of opportunities and rewards as an American. In my case, I’ve had the added blessing of being born in US Territory of Hawaiii, see my home state become a state. I’m surprised you use the term “Heaven..” since I believe you are not a believer in this concept. Shirley