Shopping in China
“Early in the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” a Chinese-Singaporean father admonishes his young kids to finish their dinner, saying, “Think of all the starving children in America.” I’m sure that everyone of my generation in the theater laughed at that joke. After all, we’d all been raised on the line: “Finish your dinner. Think of all the starving children in China.”
That little line contained within it many messages: The first, which any regular traveler to China’s biggest urban areas can tell you, is that rich China today — its luxury homes, cars, restaurants and hotels — is really rich, rich like most Americans can’t imagine.
The second is that this moment was destined to be a test of who will set the key rules of the global order in the 21st century: the world’s long-dominant economic and military superpower, America, or its rising rival, China. And this test is playing out with a blossoming full-scale trade war.
What does such a test of wills sound like? It sounds like a senior Chinese official telling me at a seminar at Tsinghua University in April that it’s just “too late” for America to tell China what to do anymore on issues like trade, because China is now too big and powerful. And it sounds like President Trump, in effect, telling China: “Says who? Show me what you got, baby!” Or as Trump actually tweeted last week: “We are under no pressure to make a deal with China, they are under pressure to make a deal with us. … If we meet, we meet.” “
Archive for China
“President Xi Jinping has imposed China’s most sweeping internment program since Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution of 1966-76, when more than one million people were killed and millions of others were imprisoned, tortured and humiliated.
Citing credible reports, a United Nations panel last month said up to one million Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim minority, are being held in detention camps without benefit of any formal legal process. The repression is severe enough to have raised concerns even within the Trump administration — not known for a preoccupation with human rights abroad — and the administration is weighing possible sanctions against the regime, a step that justice clearly demands.
Mr. Xi is China’s most powerful modern leader, and he is turning his country into an economic and political powerhouse. But his achievements are deeply tainted by human rights abuses, including the repression of the Uighurs, the largest of the Muslim ethnic groups in the Xinjiang region of northwestern China.”
David Lindsay: I support this editorial, but not holding my breath.
Here are some good comments which I endorsed:
Europe and Asia Move to Bolster Global Systems That Trump Has Attacked – By Steven Erlanger and Jane Perlez – NYT
July 18, 2018 134 查看本文简体中文版查看本文繁體中文版
BRUSSELS — From trade to regulation to security, America’s traditional allies are accelerating their efforts to buttress a global system that President Trump has seemed prepared to tear down.
After months of stunned indecision, they have undertaken a flurry of efforts intended to preserve the rules-based order the United States created after World War II and championed ever since.
The most obvious example came on Monday, the same day a stunned world watched Mr. Trump praise President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia as a competitor after having dismissed Europe as an economic “foe.” A few thousand miles away, in Beijing, the leaders of the European Union and China held a long-scheduled meeting of their own.
In the past, expectations for such meetings were low, given the conflicts on trade and human rights between the Europeans and the Chinese. But while those differences remain, this summit meeting produced an unusual joint declaration and a common commitment to keep the global system strong.
The next day, the Europeans traveled to Japan and signed the biggest free-trade agreement in history, just the sort of deal the Trump administration has criticized.
And on Wednesday, Europe’s top regulator announced a $5.1 billion fine against Google, another strong indication that Brussels is not just fighting to maintain the rules-based trading order, but is also positioning itself as the watchdog of that system.
XIAOWUSILI, China — For all its economic might, China hasn’t been able to solve a crucial problem.
Soybeans. It just can’t grow enough of them.
That could blunt the impact of one of the biggest weapons the country wields in a trade fight with the United States.
Beijing placed a 25 percent tariff on American soybeans last week in retaliation for the Trump administration’s levies on Chinese-made goods. Last year, soy growers in the United States sold nearly one-third of their harvest to China. In dollar terms, only airplanes are a more significant American export to China, the world’s second-largest economy.
David Lindsay: Maybe. Here are the three most recommended comments, that doubt some of what this article says:
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.”
“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.””
“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.”
Thank you Thomas Friedman. Yes. And here are some of the top comments at the NYT I recommended.
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.”
“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.”