“. . . What stands out now is just how brazen Beijing has become. Take one detail from Wray’s speech: “We have now reached the point where the F.B.I. is opening a new China-related counterintelligence case about every 10 hours,” he said. In one case, a single scientist, Hongjin Tan, pleaded guilty to stealing an estimated $1 billion in trade secrets from an Oklahoma-based energy company.
But this brings us to the second blunt fact. U.S. power in East Asia is waning. Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership — the single best hedge the U.S. had against Chinese economic dominance of the region — may, in hindsight, prove to be his single worst policy mistake. He has tried to shake down both South Korea and Japan to pay more for basing U.S. forces: penny ante politics that only raise doubts about America’s reliability as an ally.
And then there’s the degraded state of the U.S. Navy, epitomized by the fire on the Bonhomme Richard (itself the latest in a string of corruption, leadership, cost over-run and competency scandals to bedevil the service). Trump came to office with grand plans to build a 355-ship Navy, up from the current 300. The Pentagon all but admits it has no hope of reaching that goal. Meanwhile, the Chinese Navy — which isn’t stretched around the world — has 335 ships, a 55 percent increase in 15 years,
If the U.S. and the People’s Republic were to come to blows after some incident over some atoll in the South China Sea, are we confident we’d prevail?
When (fingers crossed) Joe Biden is president, he needn’t ask his cabinet members to deliver philippics against Beijing. But, as George Kennan once wrote about another regime, he must be prepared to confront China with “unalterable counter force at every point where they show signs of encroaching upon the interests of a peaceful and stable world.” “
Posts Tagged By Bret Stephens
“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.”
“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.