Sunday, December 11, 2005

The ten-foot tall midget

Consider stories like these from San Francisco, which talk about starting projects in the Chinese city where protesters were just shot:

"SAN FRANCISCO -- Entrepreneurs from China's Guangdong Province presented more than 150 business projects to potential American investors yesterday at the 2005 Hong Kong-Guangdong Business Conference in the U.S. ... The hotel was packed with 300 Chinese officials, including the Guangdong governor and mayors of all of the cities, and 600 business executives from America. ... Twenty-two officials from Shanwei attended the conference, including the mayor. ...

Huang brought pamphlets, video discs, and a thick business project book to introduce Shanwei city and its business opportunities. In the book were 180 business projects advertising foreign investment. The investment amounts for each project ranged from $ 100,000 to $50 million."

The growth is so fast and furious that there's effectively a Chinese government push to expand industrial sites from the city centers into the cheaper outlying areas. 

Guangdong will soon introduce a new policy to facilitate the relocation of factories to lower-cost regions within the province in view of rising land and labour costs in the Pearl River Delta ... Hong Kong-invested factories will benefit from this new policy as they can look for less expensive yet suitable locations within Guangdong to continue their operations.

An article from People's Daily describes how the hunger for electrical power is driving China to build any source of power it can imagine including large wind farms in Guangdong, in places like Shanwei. The Standard describes the scale of the effort. "Shanwei already has a large wind farm on an offshore island, with 25 turbines. Another 24 are slated for construction." The incentive to take land from farmers in exchange for pittances is hard to resist in a command society. News Release Wire Com says:

Construction of a U.S.$743 million power station in China’s booming southern province of Guangdong has been stalled for weeks amid a dispute with local residents over compensation.

Residents of Dongzhou village, near Shanwei city in the eastern part of the province, rejected government proposals to pay them 600,000 yuan (U.S.$74,000) a year in compensation for land taken up by the power plant.

"Dongzhou has a population of around 30,000 people, so that works out at between 10 and 15 yuan per person per month," a local representative surnamed Huang told RFA’s Mandarin service.

'Toilet paper'

"To put it bluntly, that’s not even enough to buy toilet paper. We villagers think that this is unreasonable."

Unreasonable, maybe. But not everyone may be aware of how the common folk feel. Consider this World Bank environmental review summary of possibly the very coal fired power plant that the Shanwei fishermen were complaining would end their livelihood.

Guangdong Shanwei Power Plant Project (coal-fired, 8 units x 600MW, planned start of operation for initial 2 units 2006-2007, located in Shanwei City, Guangdong Province):

GDIH owns 25% of the project. The project is being developed in two phases (Phase I 4 units x 600MW, and Phase II 4 units x 600MW). The Phase I plant is designed to adopt supercritical steam technology, more energy efficient than conventional subcritical steam technology. In addition to FGD, Electrostatic Precipitator, Low NOx burners, and 240m stacks, the project will also have an indoor coal storage facility to minimize fugitive dust and to protect coal pile from typhoons. The Environmental Impact Review Report concluded that proposed once-through cooling system will have limited impacts on marine environment. The plant is under construction on land largely reclaimed from the sea. The project covers a total area of 230 ha, relocated 10 to 20 households, affected some 200-300 people who lost some portion of their cultivated land. Ash from the project is planned to be comprehensively reused. However, a backup ash disposal site will be developed at an inland location about 6km from the plant. This may need to relocate about 60 family grave plots. GDIH is working with other Shanwei Power Plant Project sponsors to improve environmental and social performance targeting to

  • minimize risks,
  • achieve compliance with the World Bank Group policies and guidelines and
  • enhance sustainability.

Shanwei, unfortunately for the Chinese authorities, also turns out to be home to pirates -- with potential Muslim connections, who are not used to be shot at without shooting back. One wonders how many of these the World Bank environmental review team spoke to.

China executed 13 Chinese and Indonesian pirates in South China's Guangdong Province ... the executions of Weng Siliang, Indonesian citizen Soni Wee and the other 11 who committed the crimes on China's territorial waters in the South China Sea were enforced in Shanwei City of Guangdong.

Jamestown.Org has a special article entitled The Costs of China's Modernization by Harbin-born Wenran Jiang.  Excerpt:

According to a recently People's Daily online special, over 5 million "public accidents" occurred in 2004 alone, causing the death of 210,000 people, injuring another 1.75 million, and resulting in the immediate economic loss of over USD $57 billion (455 billion Chinese yuan). It is estimated that the direct annual cost of such disasters for China is more than USD $81 billion (650 billion yuan) on average, equal to six percent of the country’s annual GDP.


The article, written before the shooting incidents in Shanwei, describes the 'costs' resulting from uneven growth when parts of a society are allowed to grow while related aspects, such as its legal and political system are artificially stunted. The Frankenstein-like freak that emerges from this process is one in which economic disputes are resolved in fights between PLA bullets and pirate bombs rather than in courts of law, a procedure which cannot continue indefinitely without something snapping.

Yet some Western institutions, for reasons they prefer to think altruistic, continue to encourage this process of distorted growth, as men two centuries ago desired women's bound feet, mistaking the twisted for the beautiful. The Kyoto climate conferences, for example, consciously exempted China from any Greenhouse Gas generation restrictions thereby encouraging further distortions; though they mean well of course. Nor are human rights organizations particularly strict with China, 210 thousand fatal accidents a year notwithstanding. They are accidents after all. With private sector companies driving the economic engine upward while political correctness simultaneously stunts civic expectations the world will get -- not the complete man it has no use for; nor even the consumerist coolie it expects, but something darker, and not wholly undeserved.


Blogger Karridine said...

The Chinese people find themselves tyrannized by a socialist system quite of their own making...

"Taste ye what your hands have wrought!" ... Baha'u'llah, the One Promised by Jesus of Nazareth

12/11/2005 03:13:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"To put it bluntly, that’s not even enough to buy toilet paper. We villagers think that this is unreasonable."
Uppity Villagers!
Let them read their news feeds on that environmentally friendly, multipurpose commodity.
. rsstroom reader - toilet paper printer!

12/11/2005 03:27:00 AM  
Blogger DEANBERRY said...



12/11/2005 03:38:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Can we stay on topic guys?

12/11/2005 03:40:00 AM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


In this post you mentioned "human rights organizations" and in the previous post you more explicitly identified Amnesty. I'm curious as to what you feel is behind their rather ho-hum attitude in regards to China.

12/11/2005 05:37:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Heard this morning that there were anti-globalization demonstrations in ... Hong Kong.
Do the demonstrators there mean to say - by implication - that Hong Kong should produce its own food and energy and market primarily to itself?
One wonders how popular Anti-Globalization is in China; are these most recent riots an example of a local variety?
Of course, in reality, by their desire to limit markets, information, and the very flow of capital, the anti-globalization "philosophy" is advocating a vast set of worldwide controls that committed Marxists would envy; they are pro-globalization, of the totalitarian kind.
Finally, Wretchard, if we get any more of those Deanberry type comments could you bring back the Sementia Demenita?

12/11/2005 05:59:00 AM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...

I'm no China expert, but one would have to be comatose not to notice the recent string of local protests, uprisings, and industrial/environmental accidents.

Some days I can't tell if China is a civil war masquerading as an industrial calamity or vice versa.

If those local protests/uprisings get linked together in any coherent way, the "international community" could be in for one very rough ride.

12/11/2005 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Stability om China, as in every part of the World, but, the Syrian Iranian triangle is the US's paramount issue.

This is seen from the facts on the ground, in South America, SE Asia,
and especially with regards China.

210,000 deaths and not a peep from the San Fransiscans. There the trolling for dollars goes on unmolested.

What happens when the Chinese decide to finance these Projects themselves and quit buying US debt.

Regardless we have committed US, by our actions, to Chi-Com economic survival.
In the REAL world.

Call back when the GENOCIDE in Darfur is dealt with. Then Freedom's torch will be on the march, 'til then we are spouting eyewash and platitudes.

Feel good concern without action, extending a Battle that is already won, the search for Border Bandits spun as an equivalent to a War.

A War the President and his VP say is winnable only in a time frame of decades against foes that hide in the mountains, that NO STATE supports.

In China, our ALLES, are killing protesters. Protesters we should, ideologially, be supporting. People that want property rights, economic stability and human dignity. Our Declaration of Independence spells it out, for US and them.

But we support our Chi-Com allies in their murderous ways.

12/11/2005 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger Cardozo Bozo said...

Growth is never uniform. The history of organic life is one of constraints, adaptations, explosions around the constraint or in new directions unimagined, followed by retrenchment and the loss of half a generation. Only once we have stepped back to the required level of abstraction can we call this chaos "Slow and steady progress."

Growth can only be controlled by intelligence and power an order of magnitude more powerful than itself. The farmer knows that he is just barely ahead of the weeds, if he is ahead of them at all, and the bonsai gardener chooses one small tree because a dozen would grow faster than his ability to shape and control is capable of managing. Life has an organic will.

American stands upon the world like a Collosus, but we are not an order of magnitude more powerful than the rest of the world combined. If Robert Zoelick is the Merchant-Gardener, he must realize his limitations; the limitations of America. He cannot shape and prune the world's economic growth as a Japanese Gardener does the Bonsai tree. At most he can rip up some of the worst creepers, enlist the aid of beneficial creatures, and generally hope that life's organic desires will strive towards the sunlight and fresh air of free trade and contract. In the political sphere Condi Rice must do the same.

China must find its own way. It really is too big for any outside force to constrain or control. Does anyone believe that if the Kyoto Protocol claimed jurisdiction over China that the Middle Kingdom would care or even notice? The forces within play in China are not super-human, but the scale of the projects means that only China has the manpower to tackle them. There will be no Marshall Plan, no Southern Reconstruction. The UN cannot even force Iraq to comply or Liberians to lay down their arms; does anyone expect the UN to have a snowball's chance in hell before the Throne of Heaven? Fat chance, says I.

I don't fault Amnesty for fearing to tackle China. They should be afraid. Human action produces force, and China is a 1.2 billion human strong dynamo trying to find a new axis to spin upon. Don't touch it or it might explode!

I don't doubt that many Chinese will seek to overcome the constraints induced by the stunted growth of their political sphere, but I fear the dynamo will come off its rocker before it finds that new equilibrium, spinning in to the world's Tea Shoppe like a flywheel with the strength of 50 million unmarried Marines.

12/11/2005 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger Polybius said...

Sometimes it's hard to tell whether the increased frequency of these reports is due to greater attention by media organizations, or whether it is due to a true increase in the tempo of events.

In either case, the Chinese government does not like word of protests, riots and such to get out. If we on the outside hear of five such events, it's likely that dozens have actually occured.

Interestingly, the Chinese government has taken steps to placate the villagers where the shooting has occured. They have arrested the responsible military commander, and launched a public relations campaign to regain the support of the locals.

See the CNN story for details:

The story also describes government efforts to hide the body count by bribing the families of the slain.

This does not look like the actions of a strong authoritarian government. These are signs of weakness and fear of the populace. Could this be indicative of a weakening of the government's grip on power?

When the Chinese communist government falls, it will be swift and sudden. Don't be surprised when it happens.

12/11/2005 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Desert Rat,

"What happens when the Chinese decide to finance these Projects themselves and quit buying US debt."

They can't...
They have no trustworthy bond or stock market... Their 'citizens' are too poor to self finance...

Personally, I think it is moronic to invest in an environment that is so liable to collapse into government kleptocracy... The American companies gluing shoes together over there are in for some fun at some undetermined time in the near future...

12/11/2005 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Polybius said...

Let me try that link again:

12/11/2005 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

If they took the money they buy the Treasuries with and instead made, in China,

" investment amounts for each project ranged from $ 100,000 to $50 million."

If it could pencil for US investors, it'll pencil for the Chicoms. Raise yourself by your bootstrap sort of thing.
I fail to see why they could not do it?

to polybious, where do you guys come up with these handles?
any way,

Paying off the families, sounds a lot like that Marine Major @ winds of change, different cultures see these payoffs differently.

The Chicoms see themselves as part of the people, in some wierd way. The payoffs acknowledge the loss to the family, the death should serve as warning to others.

Unless China were to break into pieces, again, would not some other Authoritarian Government be required to hold it together?

From Tibet to Shanghai it can't be that homogeneous, can it?

12/11/2005 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger Polybius said...

Desert Rat,

The "Party of the Masses" and all of that is just the tired old communist line. I doubt many truly believe it. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) long ago abandoned real communism for market economics. Now, they seem to stand for little more than their own personal power.

I can't see many government officials viewing themselves as part of the people. Corruption and abuse of power is incredibly widespread, and positions of authority are generally seen as means to line one's own pocket.

Local officials are notorious for building their own private kingdoms, and crushing any small people who try to challenge their authority. This same outlook tends permeate every level of government, as anyone with ambition in government seeks primarily to aggrandize personal power.

Paying off peasants rather than simply 'disappearing' them into prisons looks like an acknowledgement that whoever is in charge lacks the power to crush all dissent outright.

And crushing dissent has been the default policy for so long, changing to anything else could be seen as a sign of weakness. And perception is a powerful thing.

So many people and groups of people are kept in check by fear of government crackdown. It's like a huge pressure cooker. Released the pressure even a little bit, and you risk the whole thing exploding.

And this pressure cooker is 1.2 billion strong.

12/11/2005 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Desert Rat,

China does not have a viable and trustworthy stock and bond market. They will soon be limited by what the government can coerce from the 'citizens'. Could you immagine if our government taxed us for all economic activity.

Our stock and bond markets are the means of growing the economy. Our government can put billions on the market and expect citizens and companies and retirement investment managers and even foreign investors, companies and currency managers to purchase them. They are purchasing them because they are good and solid investments.

China cannot put bonds on an internal market - they do not have an internal market. I don't think many are buying their bonds on the international market either. Instead, they are counting on QUALCOMM and others to invest in infrastructure - but that only goes so far and only while the graft and corruption ratio stays low. Soon enough, they will have to use these financial tools for growth.

I am certain you think China has a hold on your family jewels... They could demand immediate payment, but these bonds are long term and are used to prop up their currency - like a gold standard. Regardless, I really don't like the annual borrowing, but it is shrinking rapidly (about 100 Billion in less borrowing for FY2005 than projected and the economy and internal tax base is growing rapidly).

12/11/2005 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

There are many reasons why human rights and environmentalist groups focus on America to the near exclusion of China, and all of them have to do with economics.

China is ignored because it is impervious to attack. In normal circumstances, success creates visibility, and visibility brings in donations. In a world of opportunity cost, one cannot expect many people to expend resources on ventures with zero returns. The Savior Groups, knowing this, spend their time in greener pastures.

Attacking America is ubiquitous because returns on investment are so high. The entry barrier is low, and success is not even required to gain visibility. There is a constant, unwavering spotlight over here, a spotlight that has its own gravity on the annointed.

Also, one must look to the economics of ego. Success, or alternatively visibility, vindicates feelings of self-importance, and nothing is so dependent on sustenance as self-importance.

12/11/2005 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Polybius said...

As for the fall of the communist party resulting in just another authoritarian government:

This view is widespread.

In fact, when looking at 2,500 years of Chinese history, the accepted view amoung Chinese is that you either have a strong-arm government to hold everything in together, or you have chaos and fragmentation of the country.

The CCP uses this view to its advantage: 'The only alternative to us is either (1) another authoritarian government, that could be even worse, or (2) complete chaos, breakdown of society and suffering for all. And if everyone sticks with us, we'll at least deliver the economic good.'

This is why President Hu Jintao has initiated economic development in the rural areas that had been intentionally left behind. If people start to believe that the CCP can't deliver better material well-being, they might consider trying something else.

It's also one reason (of many) that Taiwan drives the leadership bonkers. In Taiwan, you have a functioning Chinese democracy - open society, open media, and all.

It's an alternative to the devil's choice of authoritarian rule or chaos.

12/11/2005 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...


No, I think we could Nationalize or reprudiate the Chinse debt as easily as Mexico Nationilized their Oil Industry.

They hold our Goodwill, that's all.

If we are borrowing $100 Billion less, and I do not dispute that, we are still borrowing how many 100's of Billions? And what will the Chinese do with the $100 Billion we do not borrow, if not invest it in China? At leat some of it.

12/11/2005 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Aristides: True, and also the psychic feedback for the protests of America is no doubt greater where it counts - in the faculty lounges and coffee houses frequented by the Left.
I have come to realize that today almost everything is truly basically personal. Greater and grander causes as motivating factors simply no longer exist.
The one general exception to this is the U.S. Military, and even it is a far from immune to the "But what's in it for me?" general attitude.
The Left frets endlessly about the legal horrors of Abu Grabe and Gitmo - and the economic atrocities of the U.S. rust belt - rather than China and Iran because that is where the money and accolades are.
George Soros does not fund anti-Iranian protest activities and the New York Times does not give a rat's rump about the plight of the Chinese.

12/11/2005 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Desert Rat,

They hold it as assets to:

Buy oil
Strengthen their currency
Get safe growth on stagnant assets

Stuff is not purchased the world over using the yaun. Dollars and Euros and Yen. I am guessing (speculation alert) that most of their dollar holdings (from unbalanced trade with us) rolls from their surplus with us to their deficit with the oil ticks.

I, too, don't think the $325 billion FY2005 deficit is a good thing. But next year it will be less than $200 billion - and China doesn't buy as much as you might think. That is one reason why long term interest rates are not going up as the Fed increases short term rates. The government is borrowing less and less so they do not have to pay high interest because the consumer demand is high. Consumers will be fighting for long term stable bonds - to fill their retirement accounts and the like.

If you were a Frog (French dude), a Saudi oil tick, a Chinese businessman, or a Chinese government currency manager were would you invest your money? Russia, France, Germany, or America...

12/11/2005 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

With 1.3 billion people, boghie, the Chinese make up a BIG portion of the World.
Factor in the ethnic Chinese scattered around the World, while they may not owe an alligence to the Government, they are, in many places still Chinese.

It just seems to be a very complicated structure, that we may be on the wrong side of.

If we were to use the self evident truths of the Declaration as our guide, in dealing with those that are beyond our Frontier, we'd be further along IMHO.

I'll take Jefferson over Marx or Mohammedan in a Battle of Ideas, any day.

12/11/2005 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Breaking News, Breaking News...

Vast Chinese Armada Spotted Rounding South Korean Peninsula!

World trade is done in Dollars...
Oil is only done in dollars...
Not too worried about China...

12/11/2005 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...


Trashing America over its relative misdemeanors is not only lucrative, but comes with no risk.

Human rights groups, from their offices in New York, issue outrageous indictments of the United States, with no fear of interference or censure. Imagine this happening in China.

Politicians from hostile and 'allied' nations hector and ridicule, with no risk of retaliation.

Wait till Bejing withholds an industrial contract worth billions of Euros (foreign exchange) and hundreds of jobs because it doesn't like the press or criticism it's getting from politicians or activists in some country, somewhere.

The selective attention of the world's sanctimonious poseurs will become even more apparent.

12/11/2005 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger david bennett said...

Here is Amnesty International on China.

It is very critical, documents large number of abuses. Among the requests (see links) are appeals to Bush and the UN to continue pressing human rights issues.

12/11/2005 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Lefty whiners about 'stifling dissent' should pay close atttention to how dissent is dealt with in a real police state.

This is why anti-globo tinker-toy revolutionaries like Black Bloc never show up at things like the APEC Summit in Shanghai. There, they'd get the chance to go toe-to-toe with the enforcers of a genuine totalitarian state, run by a cabal of gangster capitalists and corrupt bureaucrats, where there exist no workers rights and little concern for the environment.

But, of course, then there wouldn't be any televised arrests in plastic handcuffs by policemen reading Miranda rights, or any fawning, sympathetic media coverage of the 'protesters' faux-heroics, no activist lawyers giving press conferences on courtroom steps or suspended sentences for 'civil disobediance.'

12/11/2005 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...


Yes, the abuses are well documented. The trick is getting the attention of the press and, by extension, the public -- both awash in flood-the-zone coverage which accompanies every allegation of U.S. misbehavior, no matter how tenuous or how inaccurate they turn out to be.

12/11/2005 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

4800 MW Guangdong Shanwei Power Plant project is just one of several major electric projects. The Chinese are slated to build 16 nuclear power plants and have construction going on on 48 coal-fired electric generating facilities. Adding 9 new LNG terminals to take all Indonesia produces that Japan, Taiwan, S Korea don't have going to them already. (US has only 3 LNG terminals on it's East Coast).

China has produced enough surplus trained oil field workers that it has inquired about sending them to Canada, the USA, Indonesia, ME, and Latin America to try and develop new fields.

They are going on all cylinders, with an 11% per annum industrial growth rate and it will need to get much of the world's existing energy supply and hopefully develop new fields in order to keep their rise to superpower status going.

The 210,000 "public accident deaths" sounds like a lot, but the US has 70,000 - mostly motor vehicle accidents - so if CHina was as developed and wealthy as America became when we dominated they would have 280,000 deaths - and they would think that a good thing reflecting on their prosperity. Beats losing 25 million a year in famines. And much of their accidents are from creating infrastructure that will last several generations - dams, bridges, skyscrapers, highways, heavy industry, and from mechanizing farm production. Good deaths, the Chinese would say, considering what China gains in the process. They are trying to optimize their productivity in creating the maximum amount of infrastructure for the least acceptable(to them) risk.

Americans were once less risk-adverse. When 80 people died in a week as the Panama Canal was built, 80,000 people back in America begged for a job there. As sandhogs and ironworkers died building the nations bridges and tunnels from 1890 -1960, the union hiring hall always had hungry, eager workers waiting.

China has limitless labor. Over 300 million able-bodied workers still are classified as unemployed or under employed.

For that matter, the Islamoids with their high birth rates are producing a similar pool of limitless labor as their cities have 30% or so of their men unemployed.

India similar.

They all want to take the formerly high paying Western jobs the multinationals are divvying out, but the drag is that natural resources will contrain those aspirations eventually as labor costs race to the bottom except where workers are protected from the unlimited hunger of the "2nd World", plus China, India, les-developed Asia, and the Islamic world to take those jobs..

Meanwhile, look at what China is creating that even outstrips what America and Maiji Japan did in their Golden Ages of industrial growth as they rose to Great Power status, and be impressed!

12/11/2005 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


We are heirs to the 1960s dichotomy between the First World, which must be held accountable for everything, and the Third World, which is exempt from all responsibility. So Ms. Rice in Europe is asked about torture chambers and a special meeting is held in Montreal which for days running did nothing but say the US is destroying the world environment.

Then we have China which as you point out, is preparing an oil empire. It's building naval bases along the Indian ocean route; it's plowing under thousands of hectares a day, damming whole rivers, knocking off 200K plus people a year in accidents, preparing to invade an island neighbor, etc. And guess what? Nobody even knows where Shanwei or Harbin is. The uneven development of China is matched by the uneven development of international politics, which is stuck in the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation atmosphere of 1965.

I'm uncertain whether China will live happily ever after because its traditional weakness is the one exhibited now: the lack of solid China-wide institutions. The Chinese have never lacked for drive, inventiveness and entrepreneurial power in their 10,000 years of existence. It fell to the depths because its institutions failed: the catastrophes of the era of the Warlords, last effete dynasties, Japanese occupation, Great Leap forward. Why should it stop? What's changed? The money from Globalization can fund factions just as well as new malls. Money flowed to that El Dorado of the 1970s, the Middle East, and years later America found itself fighting not to change the money, but the institutions of that region, which are still just fine to UN-types of the world.

12/11/2005 01:06:00 PM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

Polybuis is right. There is a serious ingrained fear of the entity called 'China' fragmenting into oh so many little itty bitty pieces. And this fear is completely justified.

Happened after the first Ching dynasty collapsed, happened after the Han collapsed, happened ever so frequently, most recently when Sun Yat Sen brought down the Qing only for numerous petty warlords to establish their own fiefdoms.

For a people with such a strong identity as being 'Han'(I count myself among them), we sure don't seem to get along very well when things get messy and chaotic. Or perhaps it is the nature of chinese society, gravitating to the nearest strongman in times of trouble, because they're looking out for their own interests as well.

If the current impending fall can be cushioned to a soft landing, good. If not, the present order collapses, then it's back to every strongman for himself, and good luck to the proles following their chosen leader, until somebody manages to get over the top again.

Wretchard - The chinese have always been industrious, but it's not enough. My parents come back from trips to China, every time with some new tale of how they discovered the people there trying to fleece them, without any consideration for the law.

My own suspicion is that we never had much regard for it in the first place historically. Without it, no enduring expansive civil institution would arise because people are constantly undercutting each other to get a better deal. A libertarian's wet dream, but a nightmare when trying to find some way to maintain the cracking eggshell.

Chinese culture has got to change. How, I'm still trying to figure out. One thing's for sure: no more Confucius or Legalism! I suspect the heavy-handedness of Legalism used by the dynasties is what led to the countervailing disregard for the law.

12/11/2005 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...


Have you seen this mess in Australia? What started the attacks?

Watching Fox News, saw an Australian reporter getting interviewed saying, "This is only the beginning, I'm afraid."

Reuters covers it here:

12/11/2005 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

From SMH:

One man was taken by police into Northies, which became a "safe haven". Police also set up a safe house in the North Cronulla clubhouse.

About 7.30pm a young man of Lebanese appearance, arms held out imploringly, sprinted south on a footpath towards the protective shield of the police stationed at Cronulla Beach, hotly pursued by a drunken mob numbering hundreds. He outran the mob and was saved by police, who placed him in the back of a police van, which was then surrounded by the mob.

As the van drove away, one young Caucasian girl laughed and said to a male companion: "That was sick. I've never seen a dumb Leb run so fast. How good was that?"

Earlier a man was cornered in Mitchell Street and had several bottles smashed over his head while he was punched and kicked by dozens of screaming people.

He had been walking with two other men when he was hit by a young man draped in the Australian flag. A bystander tried to stop the assault, saying "He's not a Leb, he's not a Leb".

Around North Cronulla beach and the surrounding streets, drunk teenagers communicated with each other on walkie-talkies about rumoured sightings of Lebanese gangs.

Appeals by text message for "Aussies" to descend on the beach to reclaim it drew a crowd estimated at 5000 people...

Welcome to the Information Age.

12/11/2005 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Wretchard and Yeo: I have thought for some time that most of the PRC obsession's with Nationalist China is based not really on rivalry and certainly not on a real military threat but rather on the recognition of the mainland’s own fragility
- and the fear that should things come well and truly unzipped that Taiwan will be in the position to pick up many of the pieces.
China's main defense traditionally has been that by the time an invader gets done consuming the country, he is as Chinese as his victims.
And so it was with the Communist Party.

12/11/2005 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Fox news runs regular shows about how the local governements around the USA have jumped on the supreme court decision to allow the government to expropriate property so as to install new owners with higher valued added enterprises. Ist something not unlike what's going on in china.

Something that has to be understood is that communism has not been defeated. The chinese are still plugging away at it. And the europeans right now are sitting on the fense but tilting toward communism.

I think the US supreme court property expropriation ruling will be overturned. But meanwhile things are much closer than people imagine.

12/11/2005 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Aristides, evidently the Lebanese were attacking young women (al la Sweden), then last week they attacked two lifeguards. The booze of Australia Day(?) plus the attacks lit off the event. The link

12/11/2005 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger Rizalist said...

Wretchard--I think we must be thankful that the trajectory China followed in history from that curious point in time when a Gang of Four controlled it, has been generally "towards the West" than towards itself. Though the Communist Party still rules by monopolizing the bureaucracy, its millions of members probably participate more in the present governance, such as it is, than when Chiang Ching sent everyone off to shovel chicken manure. I would say that Tian An Men was the "inflection point" in that trajectory. Since then at least a million bright young Chinese have encountered the West at the Graduate School level and even in the Chinese Blogosphere one encounters certain intellectual influences that many Westerners would find more familiar than Confucius or Sun Tzu.

I guess I would think of the situation between the West and China as the collision of coral, Hong Kong and Shanwei being perhaps the leading edge of the interface. And of course the Internet. There Free trade of goods has meant a free trade of memes, but all forms of contact are characterizable by the way that "scale free networks" interact when they begin to merge.

LANGUAGE is the actual medium used by the memes, even if the physical network is its own means of travel. The reason I believe for China's inscrutability to the West, has something to do with the resilience and durability of each LINGOSPHERE. China's culture has survived for 10,000 years, the West is comparatively younger. But both have things they just know "are worth fighting for" to be in some future arrangement of the whole reef.

It is, for lack of a better metaphor, a war of the memes. And what are the Chinese looking for from the West? Is it science and technology? Yes but they remember that they invented gunpowder. Is it investments? Surely yes, but they know they have the untapped market, so they know they only need to open their doors for that to happen even more .

So what do they seek for from us? I think it is GOD. Because China has never quite found an adequate replacement for Money. What major religion for example has emerged from China? None. I think it is Western spirituality -- in a more general sense than "religious might convey" -- that attracts the Eastern Mind, which is parched for soul-energizing ideas that is so proudly displayed here.

But first they must cook their noodles and secure their plots of earth, that they may hear Longfellow in the cadences of Mandarin and wander, as it were, around Walden Pond. They must become convinced that such things are to be found in Harbin and Shenwai too. Or will be.

12/11/2005 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Wretchard, yes there are dual standards, but even if there weren't, a nation that senses prosperity, greatness, even Global Dominance after what are commonly known in China as the "unbearable humiliations" suffered - will not be deterred by human rights Euroweenies or internal minority dissent.

Even as America rose and a small connected elite harvested most of the wealth created by technology, industrialization and exploitation of the countries resources, people largely went along with it. Better for 10,000 to make 1.00 a day to service a pool of 16 investors becoming multimillionares out of the profits and fruits of the workers toils than make 25 cents a day on a farm back in 1875. Besides, the workers were patriotic and sensed their work was making America a great country and perhaps their children would have a much better life. When the ruling capitalists wouldn't spread the prosperity is when America went with unions and trust-busting and Gov't ooversight to roll back the greed of a few.

But it took generations for workers to stand up to the Robber Barons and create the now-endangered American middle class.

Chinese citizens are nowhere near the point of being fed up with the diversion of wealth in China's miracle economy. The richest 1% in China are sucking much of the wealth up, but in a good month 2,000,000 new jobs are being created making what used to be made in Buffalo or Modesto California, and a highly educated middle class is being created - so the people are so far content - except highly agitated small pockets of people being screwed in the name of progress.

The "3rd Way" of Communism, so extraordinarily successful in creaming Western competition also retains it's strong central political control diffused down to the smallest village local Committee and retains it's willingness to kill or imprison forces that would fragment China. The Central Party also appears to recognize that fear and guns alone do not suffice and are happily arresting the most corrupt not protected by fatcat PLA or senior Party members, and listening to the grievances of the peasantry far more they they were 5-10 years ago. They are ending the 2-tier pay sytem in some cities where a person who had city papers vs. countryside papers was paid double.

I wouldn't look for China to crumble anytime soon. It is rolling in money once going to America, massively building up it's military and technological capacity, and has strong central institutions that reach into and control the smallest village, and the leaders, backed by the people, will stand for nothing that holds the Han Race back.

12/11/2005 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger HK Vol said...

RE: WTO protests in Hong Kong.
Some notes.

From my diplomat friend from a South American country, "about 30% of all protesters are professionals - i.e. they get paid to do this for a living."

2 - About 15% of the protesters are expected to be "Korean Peasant Farmers" who, although being peasants, have enough money to pay for plane flights, organize, stay in 3-star hotels, etc. They are expected to be the most violent. They are against the WTO because they are HEAVILY SUBSIDIZED by the Korean govt. and WTO is seeking to reduce all agricultural subsidies. Not exactly fighting for the "third world poor" but fighting for their subsidized lifestyles.

3 - There are 10,000 expected protesters and Hong Kong has assigned 9,000 of their entire 27,000 person police force to deal specifically with the WTO protesters for the coming week.

4 - Protest areas are tightly cordoned with 40-foot containers stacked two high to prevent anything from getting out of hand. Of course, it will be difficult for anyone to see them either. Shops in the area all have metal wire from ceiling to cement pavement on outsides of all buildings. I don't see how any windows will be broken anywhere within a mile of the WTO event.

5 - Strict rules on assembly of more than 20 people (I think) without a permit being obtained (very different from Seattle). They are pretty easily obtainable if you can prove your event to be non-violent. But for these protest groups, expect any assemblage of more than 20 or so outside the designated protest areas to be quickly and efficiently rounded up and dispersed. Either arrested and taken to jail or gathered in transport vehicles and "escorted" to the designated protest areas where they are allowed to be noisy.

It may not be perfect, but Hong Kong seems quite prepared.

12/11/2005 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

My two cents worth on the Maroubra beach riots (Eastern suburbs) is this. There's a perception, justified or not, among some Anglo Australians that authorities are not cracking down hard enough on Middle Eastern gangs, who are in Western Sydney. Some days ago, a Lebanese gang supposedly attacked lifeguards, who are an iconic part of Australian beach culture. That's a little bit like spitting on the Flag and writing grafitti on the Liberty Bell. So guys revved up by beer decided it wasn't just Miller Time, but payback time.

I have no doubt that some of the Middle Eastern guys beat up were innocent. But that's what happens when perceived political correctness undermines public confidence. We rely on the state to dispense justice, when that is thought to fail then mob rule steps in and punishes innocent and guilty alike.

I've been warning about this for some time now, both with respect to the torture debate and in an old post called the Three Conjectures. Like most people in Oz, I have Muslim or Middle Eastern friends and the way I got it figured is if we don't start cracking down on the Osamas and the Zawahiris and the al-Arians because they are draped in this bogus human rights shield, then the Joe Samadis and the Bill Mansours of the world are gonna start catching it. What's the use of being innocent if the guilty go scot free? One day if a nuke goes off in Sydney or Manhattan all the bets are off.

I get a little emotional sometimes watching these peacenik types defend blatant murderers because by frustrating justice they are building up tectonic pressures that will go snap one day, and it won't be their necks at the end of a rope. What the world needs isn't the fake sympathy of the Euro-human rights crowd but justice. They should remember that in the absence of justice there is only revenge.

12/11/2005 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Tim Blair has a roundup of the riots. Pretty much the same take as mine, but Tim's Aussie sensibilities are pitch perfect, and so I take that as confirmation. I'm tone deaf to the finer points of Australian culture and can't rely my own impressions that much.

12/11/2005 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

Taiwan is another interesting case study of my thesis. Certainly, even with democracy, the candidates standing for elections are pretty uncouth compared to other democracies. Witness their infamous fisticuffs in parliament! Or the assassination affair during the last elections. Just another symptom of the general disregard for the rule of law, even by politicians.

The PRC's fear of Taiwan is the fear of losing power. Nothing less, nothing more. Of course, there's this historical and reflexive need to 're-unite' the country whenever it's broken up. And please don't tell me it's unique. Nations much younger than China, like Germany and the US, have the same characteristic. What more for a nation more than 2000 years old?

As for religion, it's a factor, but not so important. I'd be wary of any religious triumphism. The chinese don't particularly need religion. They need a mass lobotomy to hammer into them the need to have good sensible laws and to obey them. I'm not sure if these or elections should come first, but looking at Taiwan, maybe it doesn't really matter.

Thinking upon it, I think I've realized why chinese were able to prosper in Singapore. We were a British colony, and our pioneer leaders grew up with British Common Law which had been around locally for years, and carried with them the advantages of that particular system. Chinese industry restrained by english sensibilities produced a very effective synthesis.

12/11/2005 09:32:00 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

rwe said:

One wonders how popular Anti-Globalization is in China; are these most recent riots an example of a local variety?

Not very. A Pew survey a couple of years back had 76% of Chinese very favorably or favorably disposed to globalization. When they asked about global connectedness instead of using the charged word "globalization," favorability was over 90%.

I suspect most Chinese like what they are seeing, not just because the standards of living in a very poor country have soared, but because of raw nationalism -- after a couple of really bad centuries, the Chinese are finally getting their self-respect back. It is a mistake to underestimate this as a force far stronger than the quashing of a few protesters.

These protesters are the minority whose goals and dreams are (unfairly) crushed by the modernity transformation. But that happens in most places. It would be interesting to compare what's happening in China now with something I know little about, the great transformation of the UK in the 1700s and 1800s -- the enclosures, the protests against "Satanic mills" and the like. This too, shall pass, I think. In some sense the U.S. is distinct because, as a young and largely empty country heavily dependent on immigrants who came here voluntarily, it substantially avoided the upheaval that industrialization wrought on other more tradition-laden societies.

If anyone is curious, I have written about both the likely short-term (pessimistic) and long-term (cautiously optimistic) likely futures of China.

12/12/2005 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Rat, Sir: "Unless China were to break into pieces, again, would not some other Authoritarian Government be required to hold it together?"

When, in the near future, Communist China begins to break into smaller, ethno-centric autonomous regions, the action will be SO fast and SO furious that it will make the Southern States' secession look like cold molasses!

China, the monolith, gotta go. Gonna go.

12/18/2005 01:06:00 AM  
Blogger Scott A. Edwards said...

Join NOW for FREE...

The Quick and FREE Way to Get a SWARM of Visitors to Your Site!

To find out more visit: making money online business opportunity site. It successfully exposes FREE information covering Traffic and making money online business opportunity related stuff.

6/09/2006 03:20:00 AM  
Blogger Scott A. Edwards said...

You may already know that basic sign up is free at traffic swarm. You can also upgrade to the Pro membership, Check this out: "New TrafficSwarm Pro Membership Delivers TWICE the traffic, Provides FREE Custom Products and MUCH More!"

"We Create the Products for you to sell...and YOU keep All The Money!"

To find out more visit: making free money online site. It successfully exposes FREE information covering Traffic and making free money online related stuff.

6/09/2006 05:21:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Powered by Blogger