“In 2001, Gordon Chang, an American lawyer who had spent many years in Hong Kong and Shanghai, published a book forebodingly titled “The Coming Collapse of China.” At the time, the thesis seemed improbable, if not preposterous.
It looks a great deal less improbable now.
China — or, rather, the Chinese regime — is in trouble. Tuesday’s gigantic parade in Beijing to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic looked like something out of the late Brezhnev era: endless military pomp and gray old men. Hong Kong is in its fourth straight month of protests, marked and stained by this week’s shooting of an unarmed teenage demonstrator. The Chinese economy is growing at its slowest rate in 27 years, even when going by the overstated official figures.
Meantime, capital is fleeing China — an estimated $1.2 trillion in the past decade — while foreign investors sour on Chinese markets. Beijing’s loudly touted Belt-and-Road initiative looks increasingly like a swamp of corruption, malinvestment and bad debt. Its retaliatory options in the face of Donald Trump’s trade war are bad and few. And General Secretary Xi Jinping has created a cult-of-personality dictatorship in a style unseen since Mao Zedong, China’s last disastrous emperor.
Remember the “Chinese Dream” — Xi’s vision of China as a modern, powerful, and “moderately well-off” state? Forget it. The current task for Chinese leadership is to avoid a full-blown nightmare of international isolation, economic decline, and domestic revolt.”
Archive for David Lindsay
“WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is considering limits to a Chinese video surveillance giant’s ability to buy American technology, people familiar with the matter said, the latest attempt to counter Beijing’s global economic ambitions.
The move would effectively place the company, Hikvision, on a United States blacklist. It also would mark the first time the Trump administration punished a Chinese company for its role in the surveillance and mass detention of Uighurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic minority.”
Trump Undermines Top Trade Adviser as He Pushes for China Deal – By Ana Swanson – The New York Times
WASHINGTON — President Trump has signaled that he is moving toward peace with China in a trade standoff that has rattled markets and businesses globally. But as he backs off his threat to impose higher tariffs, the president’s relationship with his own trade negotiator is now showing signs of strain.
The situation has left Mr. Trump’s trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, who is both an ardent supporter of the president and a longtime China critic, in an uncomfortable bind. While broad tariffs on Chinese imports brought Beijing to the negotiating table, Mr. Trump has grown impatient with the talks, and a consensus is growing in Washington that Mr. Trump will ultimately accept a weak deal.
And despite the lack of a transformative arrangement he once promised, the president has begun dangling the idea of a “signing summit” with President Xi Jinping of China at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s Florida resort. As a result, the president is undermining Mr. Lighthizer as he tries to pressure China to make big concessions.
“Trump is certainly doing his negotiating team no favors by undercutting them in public,” said Eswar Prasad, a trade expert and the former head of the China division of the International Monetary Fund. The president’s actions, he said, “weakens rather than fortifies Lighthizer’s leverage.””
“In 2009, The Economist wrote about an up-and-coming global power: Brazil. Its economy, the magazine suggested, would soon overtake that of France or the U.K. as the world’s fifth largest. São Paulo would be the world’s fifth-richest city. Vast new reserves of offshore oil would provide an added boost, complemented by the country’s robust and sophisticated manufacturing sector.
To illustrate the point, the magazine’s cover featured a picture of Rio de Janeiro’s “Christ the Redeemer” statue taking off from its mountaintop as if it were a rocket.
The rocket never reached orbit. Brazil’s economy is now limping its way out of the worst recession in its history. The murder rate — 175 people per day in 2017 — is at a record high. One former president is in jail, another was impeached. The incoming president is an admirer of the country’s old military dictatorship, only he thinks it should have killed the people it tortured.
Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first tout as countries of the future.
I thought about The Economist story while reading a deeply reported and thought-provoking series in The Times about another country of the future: China. The phrase “rise of China” has now become so commonplace that we treat it more as a fact of nature than as a prediction of a very familiar sort — one made erroneously about the Soviet Union in the 1950s and ’60s; about Japan in the ’70s and ’80s; and about the European Union in the ’90s and ’00s.”
Bret Stephens, as my father liked to say, you’re not as dumb as you look. Thank you for another terrific, mind-bending piece.
I hope your are right, but fear you are wrong. The Chinese appear to be preparing for the future, fighting for our lives and the lives of our grand children against climate change, better than the United States, which is deeply troubling. You do not appear to understand that climate change is rapidly becoming a crisis. Humans are putting 110 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every What.
Take a guess. Every year, month, week, day or hour. Take a guess.
Unfortunately the answer is daily. No wonder the coral and the shellfish are dying all over the oceans. Scientist who study the sixth extinction predict gloomily, that not only are we humans the cause of the sixth extinction, but we will be one of the myriad species that fails during it.
David Lindsay Jr. has written and performs a folk music concert and sing-a-long about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.
Filipinos fled their homes in Marikina, part of the Metropolitan Manila region, during a flash flood in August. CreditCreditFrancis R Malasig/EPA, via Shutterstock from NYT
“Torrential rainfall lashed Japan in July. A cloudburst in August submerged entire villages in south India. In September, Hurricane Florence burst dams and lagoons, with coal ash and pig waste spilling into the waterways of North Carolina. On the other side of the planet, a typhoon walloped the Philippines and ravaged the country’s staple crop, rice.
Climate scientists can’t say where or when the next big storm will hit, but all the evidence points to this: Global warming is bringing the planet into an era of wilder, more dangerous rains with ruinous and long-lasting consequences.
“Where it rains, it’s raining heavier,” said Raghu Murtugudde, a professor of Earth systems science at the University of Maryland who edited a recent book on extreme weather in the tropics. “It’s the classic loaded-dice analogy.”
The dice, he said, are “throwing up some numbers more often” in the form of extreme weather. How? The greenhouse gases humans have already injected into the atmosphere have heated up the planet and now pack so much moisture into the air that they heighten the risk of more extreme precipitation.”
David Lindsay: Bravo Somini Sengupta. Based on her article above, please join environmentalists like myself in funding a Blue wave to clean the Augean Stables, which in now represented by the Republican controlled U S Congress and Presidency. The easiest way to support science based progressives is to donate to the DSCC.org, the DCCC.org, or political funding groups like Emily’s List.
“PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — It’s election season in Cambodia, and the fireflies are out.
Cambodians use that term — “ampil ampik,” in the Khmer language — to refer to little-known political parties that flash onto the scene shortly before an election, then fade back into obscurity.
Twenty parties, some just a few months old, will be on the ballot when national elections are held this month. But most voters will have heard of only one: the Cambodian People’s Party, led by Hun Sen, the authoritarian prime minister.
Mr. Hun Sen has had no viable opposition since November, when the Cambodia National Rescue Party — which almost won the 2013 election — was dissolved by a court packed with his loyalists. The United Nations special rapporteur on Cambodia, Rhona Smith, and numerous rights groups have said the July 29 vote will not be legitimate.
In response, the government points to such obscure entities as the Dharmacracy Party, the Khmer Will Party and the New Light Party (whose platform is to promote “Cambodia’s natural, linguistic and alphabetical wonders”).
“If you have only one political party, you cannot say ‘multiparty,’ but we have 20 political parties,” said Dim Sovannarom, a spokesman for the National Election Committee.
Mr. Hun Sen, who has been in power since 1985, is clearly concerned that Cambodians will see it differently. In May, he warned against using the terms “fireflies” or “disembodied ghosts,” another figure of speech sometimes applied to minor parties.”
In September 2015, Dr. Filardi and a team of researchers from the museum and the University of the South Pacific ascended the rugged Chupukama Ridge, on Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands, which he described in his field journal as “a sky island filled with scientific mystery.” The goal of the mission was not only to study Guadalcanal’s ecosystems, but to make the case for preserving them at a time when the Solomon Islands are under pressure to open more land up to logging and mining.
On the third morning, the sound of “kokoko-kiew” pulsed through the forest. The call was unmistakably a forest kingfisher’s. Dr. Filardi’s heart raced. For 20 years, he’d been searching for the mustached kingfisher, known as a “ghost” bird. Only three individuals, all female, had been discovered by scientists over the past century. There were no male specimens in any of the world’s museums; not even a photo of one was known to exist. He got a glimpse of the bird, just a flash of blue and gold, before it vanished.
Days later, when the team captured a male in a mist net, Dr. Filardi gasped. “One of the most poorly known birds in the world was there, in front of me, like a creature of myth come to life,” he wrote in a dispatch to the museum.
While the expedition was still underway, the museum released the first photographs of the bird, which seemed to be mugging for the camera. The mustached kingfisher became a viral celebrity, under headlines like “ridiculously gorgeous.”
It wasn’t until the public realized that Dr. Filardi had “collected” the bird — killing it for the museum’s research collection — that the adulation turned to venom.”
David Lindsay: Horrible story, well reported, good comments. PETA and the bullies who have hounded this great scientist into hiding should be taken to court. I don’t know how, but they are acting like a pack of hyenas. Edward O Wilson of Harvard has written in his great short book “Half Earth,” that we desperately need more naturalists to go out and catalog and map the ecosystems of myriad species that we know so little about.
It sure looks as if President Trump was hoodwinked in Singapore.
Trump made a huge concession — the suspension of military exercises with South Korea. That’s on top of the broader concession of the summit meeting itself, security guarantees he gave North Korea and the legitimacy that the summit provides his counterpart, Kim Jong-un.
Within North Korea, the “very special bond” that Trump claimed to have formed with Kim will be portrayed this way: Kim forced the American president, through his nuclear and missile tests, to accept North Korea as a nuclear equal, to provide security guarantees to North Korea, and to cancel war games with South Korea that the North has protested for decades.
In exchange for these concessions, Trump seems to have won astonishingly little. In a joint statement, Kim merely “reaffirmed” the same commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula that North Korea has repeatedly made since 1992.
“They were willing to de-nuke,” Trump crowed at his news conference after his meetings with Kim. Trump seemed to believe he had achieved some remarkable agreement, but the concessions were all his own.
This writer loves Nicholas Kristof, and this is another thoughtful piece by him. However, I have more to add to it. I agree with the NYT commenter, that it was nothing to Trump to give up the war games with South Korea, this was one of his promises to his base. I’m not sure he lost anything he cares about, since what he actually won, was the taking over and dominating of the American and world press. He successfully made himself the center of attention. That he shredded our relations with our NATO allies, and praised won of the most brutal dictators in the world, is a small price to pay for so much attention.
I do like another comment, that this is just a tempest in a teapot. We are not out of danger, if Trump gets wind that he has been perceived as the weaker negotiator, in front of the whole world, he might get belligerent. Kudos to the president of South Korea for bringing this thawing about.
An expert on NPR made the astute comment, that North Korea is subtly re-balancing their position in East Asia, moving slightly towards the west, and making themselves less reliant on China, the hungry elephant in the room. Or is China a Chimera: “(in Greek mythology) a fire-breathing female monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail.”
It is also important that Kim Jung-un has declared, his nuclear deterrent is in place, and he promises to his people he will improve the North Korean economy. So as long as we are patient, there is opportunity for peaceful improvement.
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
“Shock! Horror! President Trump is actually doing something right.
Sadly, Democrats in Congress are responding in a quite Trumpian way: They seem more concerned with undermining him than supporting a peace process with North Korea. They are on the same side as National Security Adviser John Bolton, quietly subverting attempts to pursue peace.
While international security is complicated, here’s a rule of thumb: When you find yourself on the same side as Bolton, go back and re-examine your position.
Sure, we all wish that Trump treated Justin Trudeau or Angela Merkel with the respect that he now shows Kim Jong-un. Yes, it seems that Trump has been played by Kim. Yet another way of putting it is that Trump is finally investing in the kind of diplomatic engagement that he used to denounce, and that we should all applaud.
Trump’s newfound pragmatism is infinitely preferable to the threat of nuclear war that used to hang over all of us, so it’s mystifying to see Democrats carping about any possible North Korea deal.”
“. . . . . Now a similar partisan petulance seems to be turning some Democrats into spoilers. Trump’s engagement with North Korea has been chaotic and should have begun with working-level talks, but it’s still better for leaders to exchange handshakes than missiles.
Granted, there’s plenty of reason to be nervous about Trump’s deal making with North Korea, and plans can still collapse. How will Trump manage Kim when he can’t even manage a summit with the Philadelphia Eagles?
Still, even if North Korea won’t hand over nuclear weapons in the next few years, I can imagine it committing in coming months to a sustained moratorium on nuclear tests and long-range missile tests, on production of plutonium and uranium fuel, on transfer of nuclear technology to other countries, such as Syria. North Korea might also destroy an ICBM or two and accept inspectors at its nuclear sites in Yongbyon. Trump and Kim might agree to exchange liaison offices and to declare peace on the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea might well cheat, and these are half-steps, not rapid denuclearization. But half-steps toward peace are better than full strides toward war.”
Great writing, thank you Nicholas Kristof. The comments are mostly so negative. As my father liked to say, Don’t let the bastards get you down.
It is ethnocentric to expect North Korea to denuclearize now, but not naive, to think that peace would serve both Koreas and the world. Trump really needs to be contained, since he is so untrustworthy. The real work of peace will be by North and South Korea and their real neighbors.
Here is a comment that I found pleasantly optimistic and could recommend:
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.”
David Lindsay: To science based, law respecting environmentalists like myself, Donald Trump is an embarrassment and a disaster. This war game set of scenarios bypoints 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.