Archive for May, 2018

Opinion | Think Military Strikes Could Stop North Korea? Try It and See. – By MARK FITZPATRICK – NYT

“United States-North Korean relations have been a rollercoaster in recent months. Escalating missile tests from Pyongyang and taunting tweets from the White House in 2017 were followed by a period of seeming rapprochement as President Trump and North Korea’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, agreed to meet for a summit to discuss “denuclarization.” And now things seem to be taking another turn for the worse.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump, in a fiery letter to Mr. Kim, called off the summit, following North Korea’s clarifications that it would not immediately give up its nuclear weapons. The Trump administration, led by the hawkish national security adviser John Bolton, seems to once again be contemplating military options. In his letter to Mr. Kim, Mr. Trump wrote, “You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”

The results of any American military action against North Korea could be disastrous. To truly understand the consequences of what such a strike would mean, click through the options presented below.

This is an exercise based on what we know about American policy, North Korea’s military and the strategic calculus of Northeast Asia. It isn’t a sure thing, but it should make clear pretty quickly that the outcome of war on North Korea will be bad, worse or much, much worse.”

Source: Opinion | Think Military Strikes Could Stop North Korea? Try It and See. – The New York Times

David Lindsay:  To science based, law respecting environmentalists like myself, Donald Trump is an embarrassment and a disaster.  This war game set of scenarios by points out many of the serious problems of going to war with North Korea. Sun Tzu would laugh himself into another life, if he could witness such foolishness. His disciples in China must be smiling, while his disciples in Vietnam are probably crying.

Posted in: David Lindsay, Korea - North and South Korea, Military Affairs and Espionage

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Opinion | Why a Trade War With China Isn’t ‘Easy to Win’ (Slightly Wonkish) – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“At this point, it’s looking as if Trump’s tough talk on China trade will turn out to be as empty as his tough talk on, say drug prices. Faced with the prospect of actually going toe to toe with powerful interests – as opposed to doing harm to desperate immigrants, poor people who need health care, etc. – Trump keeps backing down, ignominiously. But what happened to all that bluster about trade wars being “good, and easy to win”?

I can think of four reasons Trump ran away:

1. Someone actually managed to explain the economics to him, and he realized that the trade war wasn’t actually a good idea

2. He just lost his nerve, as he consistently does when confronting people who aren’t powerless

3. He was bribed, with China offering sweet deals to his personal business interests

4. The Chinese also have some kind of tape

It tells you a lot about the state of American leadership that (1) is highly implausible, while 2-4 all seem quite possible. And this means that what I’m about to say may amount to overthinking the issue.”

Source: Opinion | Why a Trade War With China Isn’t ‘Easy to Win’ (Slightly Wonkish) – The New York Times

David Lindsay:  Yes, thank you Paul Krugman.  I agree with this piece. Here are two NYT comments which I recommended.

hen3ry
Westchester, NY

Unlike Europeans Americans don’t travel often to other countries. We don’t speak the languages of the countries around us because we’re so large. We don’t have much incentive to visit France, Great Britain, Spain, Greece, Germany, the Baltic countries. We haven’t had our entire economy and infrastructure ruined by repeated wars. We are a very isolationist nation and ignorant of how other nations solve their social problems. We don’t even want to admit that other nations might do better at solving certain problems than we.

We are a very superstitious nation. We are not especially tolerant of others whether or not they are immigrants. We talk a good line about how sacred life is yet the only life we truly support is prenatal, the rich, and those who are celebrities. The average American is totally disregarded when it comes to most things. We treat our pets better than we treat people.

We’re exceptional all right: in the degree of our cruelty, our willingness to execute innocent people and guilty people, our disinterest in creating and continuing programs that can truly help people when they need it.

America is no longer a middle class country. It’s a country run by and for the uber rich.

Tom Jeff commented 3 hours ago

Tom Jeff
Wilmington DE

Prof. K. writes: “China would be hurt worse than the U.S. in an all-out trade war.”

For 20+ years China has been moving throughout the world buying up resources, outbidding Western post-colonial interests in doing so, and lending money to 3rd world countries. Thus China breaks its dependence on foreign raw materials. Likewise, they are now flooding those markets with good, cheap products, not just those we buy at Walmart and Amazon, but appliances, all-Chinese smartphones & computers, and lots of things we taught them how to make. Thus they break their dependence on foreign profiting on Chinese manufacture (Prof. K’s Apple example) and their dependence on US/Euro markets.

Maybe someone explained to Trump that this trade war IS easy to win – if you are China. So we tariff-boycott Chinese goods? OK, they lose the US market while we suffer a self-induced inflation. But China continues to sell to the rest of the world at even deeper discounts while Apple et al. try to figure out where to build new plants. Thus they lock in new markets, while we, Through the Looking Glass, run as fast as we can just to stay in place.

We need China and her Asian neighbors more than they need us.

 

Posted in: Uncategorized

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Opinion | China Has a Vast Influence Machine- and You Don’t Even Know It – By Yi-Zheng Lian – NYT

By Yi-Zheng Lian

Mr. Lian, a native of Hong Kong, is a former lead writer and chief editor of the Hong Kong Economic Journal. May 21, 2018 Image CreditMatt Chase

“Amid all the hoopla about Russia’s covert attempts to manipulate the 2016 American presidential election, one state has been conspicuously quiet: China. Yet its leaders may well be sneering at the Russians’ heavy hand. Since the project masterminded from Moscow largely relied on social media in the United States, American techies were bound to find out about it soon enough. Likewise with the baldfaced poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in Britain, which has also been pegged to Moscow. Too crude, too traceable, these operations could only generate a backlash.

China, too, can be a bully, especially with Asian governments in its immediate sphere of influence — imposing economic sanctions on South Korea for deploying defensive missiles or orchestrating the kidnapping of book publishers from Hong Kong and Thailand. But it doesn’t usually set out to openly hurt or antagonize stronger opponents like the United States; instead, it tries to quietly gain an edge for the long haul.

Rather than coercing, China manipulates, preferring to act in moral and legal gray areas. It masks its political motives behind laudable human-interest or cultural projects, blurring the battle line with its adversaries. When the job is done, the other side may not realize it was gamed, or that a strategic game was even going on.”

Source: Opinion | China Has a Vast Influence Machine, and You Don’t Even Know It – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Intelligence

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Opinion | What Really Happens in China’s ‘Re-education’ Camps – By Rian Thum – NYT

“What does it take to intern half a million members of one ethnic group in just a year? Enormous resources and elaborate organization, but the Chinese authorities aren’t stingy. Vast swathes of the Uighur population in China’s western region of Xinjiang — as well as Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and other ethnic minorities — are being detained to undergo what the state calls “transformation through education.” Many tens of thousands of them have been locked up in new thought-control camps with barbed wire, bombproof surfaces, reinforced doors and guard rooms.

The Chinese authorities are cagey and evasive, if not downright dismissive, about reports concerning such camps. But now they will have to explain away their own eloquent trail of evidence: an online public bidding system set up by the government inviting tenders from contractors to help build and run the camps.

Uighurs have more in common, culturally and linguistically, with Turks than Han Chinese, and many Uighurs are Muslim. Resentful of China’s heavy-handed rule in the region, some have resisted it, usually through peaceful means, but on occasion violently, by attacking government officials and, exceptionally, civilians. The state, for its part, fuels Islamophobia by labeling ordinary Muslim traditions as the manifestation of religious “extremism.””

Source: Opinion | What Really Happens in China’s ‘Re-education’ Camps – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, China

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Opinion | The Promise of Malaysia’s Old-New Leader – The New York Times

“An autocratic politician emerges from retirement at age 92 to defeat his handpicked but appallingly corrupt successor, and to clear the way for a former deputy he had imprisoned on trumped-up charges. It’s an unlikely plot for a political thriller, but that’s what is happening in Malaysia. And if things play out according to Mahathir Mohamad’s plan, the situation could represent a rare, if curious, victory for democracy in a part of the world where the trend has been in the opposite direction.

Mr. Mahathir, the nonagenarian, dominated Malaysian politics as prime minister from 1981 to 2003, guiding the country through rapid modernization and economic expansion. He also ran the nation with an iron fist, and among his victims was his charismatic protégé, deputy and presumed heir, Anwar Ibrahim, who was imprisoned in 1998 on sham charges of sodomy and corruption. Instead, Mr. Mahathir was followed in office by two handpicked successors.

The second of these, Najib Razak, stands accused of staggering corruption. The American Justice Department, which has been investigating the theft of Malaysian public funds because they were laundered through the United States, says at least $3.5 billion was stolen under Mr. Najib, with $731 million ending up in his personal account.”

Source: Opinion | The Promise of Malaysia’s Old-New Leader – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, Malasia

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Opinion | The U.S. and China Are Finally Having It Out – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

“The assumption was that as China grew, and the W.T.O. moved to a new regime, China would quickly cut its tariffs — like its 25 percent tax on car imports, compared with the 2.5 percent tariff imposed by the U.S. But the W.T.O. still has not completed a new trade round and China has refused to voluntarily lower its tariffs.

Moreover, China developed an industrial policy that often bent W.T.O. rules. The government gave away cheap land, and state-guided banks granted cheap loans for new industries, but foreign companies that wanted access to China’s market were forced to pay to play — to have a Chinese partner and be willing to transfer their advanced technology to them.

As a result, over time, Beijing was able to force multinationals to shift more and more of their supply chains to China, and grow Chinese competitors to Western companies in its protected market, and then, once they were big enough, unleash them on the world as giants.

Even when the U.S. protested to the W.T.O. — as in the case of how China unfairly kept U.S. credit card companies out, then lost the arbitration case at the W.T.O. — China still dragged its feet before following through on promises made 17 years earlier to open up. By then, Chinese companies, like UnionPay, so dominated China’s credit card market that U.S. companies, like Visa, were left with the crumbs.

Meanwhile, Chinese government-guided companies and investment funds went abroad and began to buy up strategic industries to bring their technology back to China — like Germany’s biggest and best robotics company, Kuka.”

Source: Opinion | The U.S. and China Are Finally Having It Out – The New York Times

Thank you Thomas Friedman. Yes. And here are some of the top comments at the NYT I recommended.

allan slipher
port townsend washington
Times Pick

“..there is a trade imbalance today because we’ve been investing in our future and you Americans have been eating yours.”

Spot on. Wake up call, America.

Our choice is self indulgent consumerism, cheap political theatrics, empty celebrity worship, and self absorbed rants, or redirecting ourselves and doubling down on basic research, education, infrastructure, well paid work, investment in the well being of our children and grandchildren and upholding the rule of law.

Bruce Rozenblit commented May 1

Bruce Rozenblit
Kansas City, MO
Times Pick

China employs state run capitalism. The US employs market capitalism. China views government as an asset. The US views government as an enemy. China pays to have its brightest students educated in the worlds greatest universities. In the US, we question why we even have universities, let alone want to pay for them. China follows decade long economic plans. The US is ruled by quarterly profits. China cheats. We don’t tax the billionaire class. In China, civil rights are forfeit. In the US, money has more rights than people. China is destroying the environment for quick growth. In the US, we want to destroy the environment for feeble growth. China pursues multi-national trade and investment policies. In the US, we used to and now want to pursue only unilateral policies.

So who wins? China will win. Trump did have the right idea about China getting away with murder. Many of our largest corporations made a fortune off of cheap Chinese goods, so we went along with it for years.

Until and unless we straighten out our twisted and self defeating ways, we cannot out compete China. The first step is to stop demonizing the government and allow government to participate in business. The ExIm bank is a good example. Big business in the rest of the industrialized world has government involvement. It’s about time we joined the club. We call it redistribution. They call it public investment.

Cap’n Dan Mathews commented May 1

Cap’n Dan Mathews
Northern California

So everything you wrote is pertinent, Friedman. What you fail to mention is that China did not engage in expeditions in search of missions, including the Iraq war which you enthusiastically supported, thus saving untold trillions of yuan which they used to do much of what you mention regarding enhancing their position.

Golflaw commented May 2

Golflaw
Columbus, Ohio
Times Pick

Tom, nothing new here regardless of your 3 part play. Some of us dumb intellectual property lawyers wondered 30 years ago why our US Fortune 100 clients had us draft joint venture agreements with Chinese companies that licensed US high end intellectual property to those ventures. We were told it was worth it to have access to a market of more than a billion people. Never happened but the Chinese got US technology and
US companies got rid of US factories and employees for higher profits of Chinese “stuff” exported to the US and sold at WalMart.

Christy commented May 2

Christy
Times Pick

If this is a battle for the future we are not only late getting out of the starting block but racing to the past. While China invests in infrastructure and education we have allowed our infrastructure to crumble and stifled education spending. As a result, we have fallen far behind the rest of the world in STEM graduates. While Xi focuses on next-generation industries like artificial intelligence, renewable energy, biotech and aerospace, Trump wants to reopen coal mines, keep us dependent on fossil fuels and restore a nostalgic but hopelessly out of date manufacturing base. While the rest of the world embraces science and accepts the challenge of climate change, we have a political party in charge of government that denies science and dismantles the environmental protections enacted by prior administrations. And we have a president intent on tearing up all the treaties and alliances that help preserve our national security.

Posted in: China, Thomas Friedman

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Opinion | China Has Donald Trump Just Where It Wants Him – by Roger Cohen – NYT

November 11, 2017

“There could scarcely be a more explicit offer of China as an alternative, single-party, authoritarian model to the liberal democratic system of the United States (of which Trump has been such a feeble advocate). China is now “actively pursuing almost an ideological competition with the United States,” said Yun Sun, a senior associate at the Stimson Center. Xi’s speech was “a declaration of the Chinese saying that we have won this game, we are winning this game.”

They are, for now. The Chinese gambit — in the past, China has been reticent about offering itself as a global paradigm — comes at a moment of American democratic fracture. It’s a good moment for Beijing to talk of arriving “center stage.” Trump does not really have ideas. He has impulses (like his dangerous infatuation with Saudi Arabia).

On his Asian swing, the president spoke of pursuing a “free and open Indo-Pacific region” built around democracies including India, Japan and Australia. This was the right thing to say to counter China. Hundreds of millions of Asians outside China don’t want to find themselves obliged to study Xi Jinping Thought. They prefer liberalism to Leninism.

Xi Jinping Thought calls for building the Chinese military into “world-class forces that obey the party’s command, can fight and win.” It portrays the leadership of the Communist Party as “the defining feature” of Chinese society.”

Source: Opinion | China Has Donald Trump Just Where It Wants Him – The New York Times

Posted in: China

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Xi Jinping and China’s New Era of Glory – By Ian Johnson – NYT

“BEIJING — Two weeks after taking China’s top office in November 2012, Xi Jinping took part in what seemed like a throwaway photo op. He took his top lieutenants to the newly renovated National Museum of China, a vast hall stuffed with relics of China’s glorious past: terra-cotta soldiers from Xi’an, glazed statues from the Tang dynasty and rare bronzes from the distant Shang dynasty.

But Mr. Xi chose as his backdrop a darker exhibition: “The Road of Rejuvenation.” It tells the story of how China was laid low by foreign countries in the 19th and 20th centuries but is now on the path back to glory. There, in front of images of China’s subjugation, Mr. Xi announced that his dream was to complete this sacred task. This soon became the “China Dream” and has shaped his rule ever since.

With Mr. Xi about to be reappointed to another five-year term in a Communist Party conference that begins on Wednesday, it’s worth remembering this visit. Many of Mr. Xi’s accomplishments and his likely plans for the future are underpinned by an idealistic view that China’s 200-year eclipse is ending now, and it is his mission to lead a rigidly controlled China back to the center of the world stage.

For foreigners, this means getting used to a China that is stronger and more assertive — but possibly more brittle — than in the past. If Mr. Xi is successful, his China could become a model for digitally driven authoritarianism around the world, while failure could force a reconsideration of the wisdom of trying to force-march a country to modernity.

China’s new role is hard to miss in foreign affairs. For decades, Washington has been urging China to get more involved in the world. Usually this meant asking China to help solve international crises — to become a “stakeholder,” in foreign policy jargon. But to many people’s surprise, after years of playing a mostly passive role in world affairs, China has taken a forceful approach.”

Source: Xi Jinping and China’s New Era of Glory – The New York Times

Posted in: China

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Opinion | The U.S. and China: More Alike Than We’d Like? – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

“It is impossible to visit China these days and not compare and contrast the drama playing out in Beijing politics with the drama playing out in Washington politics. While the differences are many, I am sorry to report that some of the parallels are getting too close for comfort.

Let’s start with the fact that the anti-corruption crackdown by President Xi Jinping has created a climate of fear in China these days — whether about interacting with foreigners or saying the wrong thing or behaving too extravagantly so as to attract the state “anti-corruption” detectives.

But because “corruption” has not been clearly defined — and can be used to get rid of anyone for any reason — people don’t know where the line is, so they’re extra cautious. That’s why during a week in Beijing the most frequent expression I heard was, “You’re not quoting me on this, right?”

But if the Chinese are afraid to talk to one another, in America we’ve forgotten how to talk to one another.”

Source: Opinion | The U.S. and China: More Alike Than We’d Like? – The New York Times

 

Thank you Thomas Friedman, for another good op-ed.

I found very intersting the following. All in the first paragraph was news to me.

“On this I often pushed back on my Chinese interlocutors to be humbler and warier of what the future may hold. Their one-party, one-man decision-making system can make big decisions fast. But it can also make big wrong decisions fast. For instance, Bloomberg News reported in February: “In 2008, China’s total debt was about 141 percent of its gross domestic product. By mid-2017 that number had risen to 256 percent. Countries that take on such a large amount of debt in such a short period typically face a hard landing.”

But Xi and the Chinese Communist Party at least stimulated their economy in order to avoid a real economic crisis — for themselves and the world. Trump and his Republican Party just added $1.5 trillion to America’s debt to pay for tax cuts for businesses and individuals at a time when our economy was already on the rise. Trump did so knowing that he would be here to take credit for any boom — and be long gone when we have to do the belt-tightening necessary so that interest on the debt doesn’t devour all nondefense spending and lead to a bust.”

Here are some of the comments I particularly liked:

Brian Bailey
Vancouver, Canada

OK – where to begin. I’m a Canadian who lives and works in China. I teach a high school prep program for students who want to study in North America. These are bright students and some of them will be future leaders in China. Last week one did an excellent presentation on why gay marriage should be legalized in China. Another student did one on the big problem of air pollution in China and he pulled no punches. Like I said, these students are bright and opinionated and aren’t afraid to express themselves. There is an adoration for foreign products here. Half the cars on the street are foreign imports with many Buicks as they have a factory in my Chinese province.People here are getting rich and they can literally see improvement from year to year. This is a GREAT thing for the world, not a bad thing. When people have more money they can start to think about other things, like cleaning up the environment or improving human rights – just like my students sentiments in their presentations.There is no sense amongst many Chinese that the US is their enemy, unlike in the US where many Americans think exactly that. Here, education is highly valued and teachers are respected. Sorry America, you are behind the 8 ball on that one. China will kick you in the rear if you don’t start spending more on public education. The China that I experience and live in bears little resemblance to what gets portrayed in western media. I’d be much more worried about Putin’s Russia.

John Brews ..✅✅ commented May 9

John Brews ..✅✅
Reno NV
Times Pick

Some parallels between China and Trump’s USA have been mentioned. But there is one big difference: China has a long-term plan for advancing its influence and is pursuing it. Trump has no ability to plan and wouldn’t know if it was being followed if there were one.

Possibly the Mercers and Kochs and Wilks etc have a plan and are using Trump as their puppet. But whatever they think of the narrow-minded “Christian” Theocracy they favor, it ain’t gonna make America great again.

Posted in: China, Thomas Friedman

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Opinion | #MeToo Goes Global – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

She was an 8-year-old girl with thick brown hair, large brown eyes, a purple dress and a fondness for running through the fields in northern India where she tended horses.

Then a man called her into the nearby forest, grabbed her by the neck and forced her to take sleeping pills, according to police accounts. The man dragged the girl, Asifa Bano, to a Hindu temple, where he and other men raped her repeatedly over three days, before murdering her — after one man insisted on raping her one last time. Asifa’s body was left in the forest.

Murder and rape happen in all societies, but this girl’s body was a battleground: Hindu extremists were trying to terrorize and drive out the Muslim community that Asifa belonged to. The killing triggered a huge controversy in India, with some Hindu lawyers and housewives protesting against prosecution of the murder suspects and Prime Minister Narendra Modi keeping shamefully silent for too long. To their credit, many middle-class Indians, including Hindus, mobilized to demand justice for Asifa.

Source: Opinion | #MeToo Goes Global – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval at the NYT Comments.
So much pain, suffering and humiliation. I applaud Nicholas Kristof. He writes about things that are hard to read and difficult to comprehend. The comments are also excellent. While I will consider supporting organizations that help women and the poor around the world, I will continue to stay focused on driving out of the US Congress men and women who oppose family planning and population control, and attempts to stop the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change, including ocean acidification and global warming with the expected sea level rise. Replacing these anti-science ideologues with representatives that respect science and environmental issues and data-based truth will make a big difference in ameliorating some of the suffering that Kristof describes. And, if we don’t curb out of control population control, while causing sea level rise, the suffering ahead will make the misery index today look look very low.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, David Lindsay, India, Nicholas Kristof

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