Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Terror, Oil and the Beijing Olympics

It turns out that China is unpopular with lots of groups. And I try to ennumerate some of them at an article at Pajamas Media. The Olympics has brought them all out. But even after the Olympics are over, they'll still be there.

The number and variety of groups which have some sort of grievance against China was reflected in protest efforts to disrupt the Olympic Torch relay through San Francisco. Zombie, in a photo-essay depicting the cat and mouse game between the Torch and the protesters, observed that it “turns out a lot of people have a beef with China. I counted at least 20 different causes being championed at the protest, on a dizzying array of topics.”

First, of course, were the Tibetans and their supporters … the second largest contingent were the Darfur supporters, who blamed China for propping up the genocidal Sudanese regime … next up were the Burmese dissidents, who demanded that China stop supporting the repressive military dictatorship there … the Uyghurs had a surprisingly large turnout … Taiwanese Nationalists turned up en masse to warn China: Keep your hands off …

And then there were the Vietnamese protesters, animal rights activists, and the union members angry at the Chinese competition for jobs. There would have been more had Zombie somehow run into the Falun Gong. Yet the travails of the torch in San Francisco and elsewhere could be a walk in the park compared to what lies ahead.




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43 Comments:

Blogger Aenea said...

The Olympic Committee was criticized for even selecting China as a host country. As well choose Sudan, or North Korea.

4/16/2008 04:32:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

These observations provide an interesting juxtaposition with the “rise of everyone else” piece (which means you got a freebie for the same material - congratulations!). China’s economic clout and new engagement of the world means that they get blamed for all sorts of things in which it has little or no actual responsibility – the usual position occupied by the USA.

On Darfur, everyone wants Someone to Do Something, but Everyone so far has figured out that fixing Darfur equals Regime Change in the Sudan. And Everyone has figured out that would be the textbook definition of Hopeless Quagmire. The armies of protestors, having no Armies of their own, have decided that Someone Else should fix the problem without them getting their own lilly-white hands dirty. The same is true for Burma, and for that matter, for China itself.

“Welcome to the party, pal!” indeed!

4/16/2008 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger Aenea said...

These climate change folks should be careful what they wish for. One car tank of bio petrol needs as much grain as it takes to feed an African for a year. A reported one-third of American grain production is now subsidised for conversion into biofuel. My relatives in Manila can't even get rice even though they have the money to buy it, because it is being hoarded by entreprenuers hoping prices will continue to rise. United Nations food expert, Jean Ziegler, screamed for it to stop: "Children are dying ... It is a crime."

4/16/2008 06:28:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

teresita/aenea

Shocking. I agree with you about something. Converting food stocks to biofuel is a crime.

A crime that will never be punished, however. To the Leftoid greenies a few million anonymous people starving to death is nothing but a wholesome and worthy sacrifice to Gaia. Perhaps you should consider the callous inhumanity of this trade-off as a signal that all is not well on your side of the political divide.

4/16/2008 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

A crime that will never be punished, however.

Indeed. Instead, the energy inefficient conversion of foodstocks to biofuels will not only not be punished, it will continue to be subsidized by the government.

4/16/2008 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Aenea said...

Peterboston: Perhaps you should consider the callous inhumanity of this trade-off as a signal that all is not well on your side of the political divide.

My side of the political divide is the middle.

4/16/2008 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

China is scheduled to equal the US economy in another generation or two - assuming they can continue to increase the human capital of their large population.

As they grow, the "have nots" will complain. As they assert their presence in world affairs, the weak and spineless will complain.

China will change. They are too addicted to the results of their foray into free market economics to turn back to the "good old days" of collectivism.

I guess China is beginning to understand the criticism that the US has endured. It is lonely at the top.

4/16/2008 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

Speaking of crimes, over 90 million people have died in sub-saharan Africa directly because of the ban on DDT.

So the Earth-lovers saved some bird eggs at the expense of millions of lives.

My point is that some decisions are far-reaching.

We stopped giving away corn to the Mexicans and the price of tortillas trippled.

4/16/2008 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

I apologize for not having my sources handy, but the idea that China will overtake the USA economically in a generation is something of an absurdity. The coastal cities have done well but the same success cannot be imputed more than a few miles beyond the ocean. China has no infrastructure. I don't remember the miles of railroad track in China but it's probably less than the US had in the 19th Century. Roads and bridges capable of heavy traffic are equally missing as are more intellectual resources like an efficient banking system or a legal system capable of fairly resolving commercial disputes.

A graduate engineer in China would not qualify for a comparable associates degree in the USA. The most important resource for economic development is human capital, and although China has lots of people it has only a tiny ruling class which alone has access to the educational resources necessary for rapid development on a large scale.

China also has hundreds of millions of ethnically diverse people who live at subsistence level under arbitrary provincial mandarins while they watch their bosses' families become fabulously wealthy. It's unlikely that China could be China without an authoritarian central government. Economic development was a mirage under the Soviets and with the coastal cities excepted is not likely to be an different under the Chinese Communists.

4/16/2008 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Were terrorists to destroy the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Versailles, I doubt the French press would be celebrating the world’s “multipolarity”.

4/16/2008 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger always right said...

Somehow I have a hard time imagine the Chinese developing a "White Guilt" mentality, and proceed to “amend” their image so that rest of the world would “love them better”.

4/16/2008 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger lurker said...

http://www.junkscience.com/ddtfaq.htm#ref6

sorry for OT... but some one mentioned DDT and bird eggs.

DDT has no negative effect on bird eggs.

4/16/2008 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 04/16/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

4/16/2008 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

PeterBoston said:

"...the idea that China will overtake the USA economically in a generation is something of an absurdity. The coastal cities have done well but the same success cannot be imputed more than a few miles beyond the ocean. China has no infrastructure."

Peter is right. China is doing just fine right now but their current economic success maybe just a flash in the pan.

This actually worries me.

I'm happier with China as an economic rival rather than a looming military threat. If their backs are against the wall economically, they'll become more militaristic out of desperation.

4/16/2008 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Aenea said...

Eggplant: I'm happier with China as an economic rival rather than a looming military threat. If their backs are against the wall economically, they'll become more militaristic out of desperation.

You assume there is a dichotomy between economic power and military power, as if they were two kids on a see-saw, but in reality the military fist is inside the economic glove.

4/16/2008 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

Aenea has a point. As the old saying goes (Hermocrates of Syracuse). .

"They have an abundance of gold and silver, and these make war, like other things, go smoothly."

4/16/2008 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger joe buz said...

I for one am not concerned about the Chinese growing bitter and aggressive. PresO will be able to talk down to them and educate them on how to become good communists. Besides they dont have any religion on which to cling!

4/16/2008 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

And if PresO is too busy, he can always send ex-Pres JimmyC to hug and hold hands with them.

(Do we *really* have to let Mr. Carter back into the country when he returns from Hamas Land?)

4/16/2008 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Somehow I have a hard time imagine the Chinese developing a "White Guilt" mentality, and proceed to “amend” their image so that rest of the world would “love them better”

Others have mentioned it, but it's highly likely that criticism of the Chinese will lead to introversion rather than introspection. A moral siege will antagonize and entrench Chinese nationalism, and marginalize its proto-Western elements.

That's not to say it shouldn't happen, but we should be clear about the likely consequences. The pestering of our self-righteous elite makes Chinese politico-moral evolution less likely, not more.

4/16/2008 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

The US lacked infrastructure too, but somehow we built it. Why do you think the Chinese are unable to do so?

By the way, I said "or two" - the intercept point is about 50 years out.

4/16/2008 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

dla, I think you're partly right.

alwaysright is closer.

Reaction by China to the protests and criticism has been telling:

Astro-turfing counter-protests, demanding (and getting) apologies from CNN, vilifying foreign political leaders who dare criticize it, dismissing critics because they are not in China (as if critics are given airtime in China and a guy watching CCTV in Guangzhou really knows what's going on in Tibet).

Grandstanding anti-Americans in Europe, long accustomed to paying no price for their slanderous moral exhibitionism, will be surprised by Beijing's preemptive responses to the prospect of papier mache puppets, street protests and scathing newspaper editorials. Ministers will simply be informed that such 'hostility' will result in the loss of industrial contracts worth billions of Euros and tens of thousands of jobs.

And like CNN, they'll capitulate and kowtow.

4/16/2008 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

You assume there is a dichotomy between economic power and military power, as if they were two kids on a see-saw, but in reality the military fist is inside the economic glove.

No it isn't. North Korea is a basket case, has no econimic glove at all, but they've got the bomb, the bomb. And we fear to touch them. And we'll fear to touch Iran too.

4/16/2008 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

dla that was your 8:36 comment I was referring to.

alwaysright at 9:46

4/16/2008 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

The Chicoms are capable of building physical infrasturcture, If anything the authoritarian system would speed the process as the niceities of eminent domain, environmental concerns, and private property rights in general are not a concern.

But even with infrastucture you only facilitate economic growth. You do not create it. The Fortune 500 has probably not added a net job to our economy in 20 years. US growth comes from entrepreneurial enterprise and small to medium sized companies with innovative products, services and ideas. That kind of enterprise can never be duplicated in a planned economy. The market has too many unknown variables. Do you think for a minute that the Chinese Communist autocrats are going to give up their control of the economy and the enormous wealth it generates?

Also, no matter how fast China could grow theoretically the Party must still deal with the hundreds of millions of rural minions who will not be participating in this new wealth. Even the peasants in the most remote provinces know what's going on. They are not going to kowtow and eat dirt forever just so some general's niece can live well.

4/16/2008 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

...will be surprised by Beijing's preemptive responses ...

Personally, I am looking forward to China totally blowing all of its authoritarian gaskets during the Olympics, when you just know there will be street protests both here and there, winning athletes demanding freedom of speech and giving power salutes, and lots of tourists trying to escape from their communist minders to see what's behind the Chinese version of a Potemkin village.

Undoubtedly the Chinese will threaten the whole world with economic retaliation and will demand apologies from everyone, but really -- we're *so* busy dealing with Arab oil prices and apologizing to Muslims on an hourly basis, how will we ever find the time to apologize sufficiently to the touchy Chineses, too?

BTW, I was shocked during the torch run in SF that so many pro-Chinese wannabe-Americans turned out to support China. That sort of freedom of expression needs to come to a screeching halt RIGHT NOW, or we won't love them any more.

4/16/2008 02:00:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

I think it's quite clear that the usual Left has projected Western weakness and (fellow Leftism in media, government, elite circles) onto China and will regret making that mistake.

Muslims also seem to think China weak. I have no doubt there will be AQ inspired terrorism aimed at China in Beijing. Osama certainly "has to" do this, or AQ if he's dead, because the stakes (who controls Central Asia) are too high.

Yes. "Welcome to the Party, Pal."

4/16/2008 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Peter --

You're correct in one regard. Westerners are often dazzled by totalitarian pyrotechnics (seeing the future in the Soviet Union, Mussolini's trains, etc.)

Edict issued by fiat appear efficient compared to decision-making back home, where interest-groups and litigation can grind progress to a halt.

Things are changing, but I've spent enough time throughout China in shoddy buildings thrown up by cabals of corrupt vice mayors and developing zone presidents to know that autocrats have to be exceptionally wise, indeed, to make things that last.

4/16/2008 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Peter --

While you're correct about America's job engine, China is also a nation of independent contractors and small business people.

Not to be too anecdotal, since I spend most of my time in provincial cities and towns, but many of the people I've done business with there, my three brothers-in-law and many people in my wife's extended family, and many of my friends and contacts are in business for themselves, often by necessity. The streets of towns and cities are a collection of mostly small shops.

I'm not sure how much it contributes to job creation -- I'm not even sure it's measurable, given that most of this activity occurs in the cash economy -- but I'm sure, given what I've seen over the past 15 years, that it takes some of the pressure off.

4/16/2008 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

nahncee:

I hope I'm wrong, but there probably won't be much disruption outside China or at the games themselves, largely for the reasons I've mentioned previously.

Inside China, well there's a reason why the anti-globo mob never shows up to cause trouble at APEC summits in Shanghai, where they'd get to go toe-to-toe with the enforcement apparatus of a genuine police state.

Those folks you saw waving red flags -- whether they came out by themselves or were astroturfed by China -- will likely always have a primary allegiance to the motherland. The reasons why could be the subject of a dozen posts.

4/16/2008 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger Nichevo said...

If there aren't incidents of shocking violence at these Olympics it means at least one of three things:

1) AQ and China have made a deal. (Most likely.)

2) AQ can't beat Chinese security. (Good news.)

3) AQ has forgotten how to make bombs. (That would be nice.)

How are you NOT going to have splodeydopes, etc.? Irresistible. Even if not ordered by OBL Central, SOMEBODY is gonna want to hit this. Maybe under a false flag, e.g. with a white American-looking op team. Maybe some kind of protest eruption provocation.

But I think if they don't do it - if they don't even try - they're dead.

Or, of course, playing dead, or some other 3D chess move I can't figure.

Quaere: would OBL have known before 9/11 that these Olympics would take place in China? When was that decision made?

Of course it would look really, really good for China to have a smooth time of it. National importance, nothing spared.

4/16/2008 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

nichevo:

Option 2. The enemy of my enemy, etc., etc. Sino-Soviet pact or red-green-brown Left-Islamist cooperation. Thus as it ever was.

nahncee:

One footnote. Minders are very much a thing of the very distant past. When I started going and staying for periods of time, foreigners were supposed to report to local police bureaus, but no one I knew ever did. I certainly didn't, and I was often one of a handful of 'foreigners' within hundreds of miles.

Sidenote: I had a minder once in Vietnam, long before recognition and trade normalization, when I had to get a visa outside the U.S. Friends who've visited north Korea tell me employment prospect for state snitches in the Hermit Kingdom are still good.

But much of China is a roam-free zone; the further away from the coastal cities you get you'll be more a curiosity and you'll be more conspicuous -- which is, in itself, a form of 'minding'.

Got me started. Sorry, off to bed.

4/16/2008 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

"They have an abundance of gold and silver, and these make war, like other things, go smoothly."

The Chinese aren't going to start a war. (What war would they start anyway? To get Taiwan?) The more their economy strengthens the more they are invested in stability. A war will be bad for bidness. Someone will be sinking their ships filled with goods for the US and with the oil and iron ore that they need to keep their economy moving forward.

They are like the US in this.

They will at some time have to deal with unrest from their own workers who don't want to work for coolie wages.

Also, I've read that christianity is spreading in China. At some point, maybe a decade or two, this will affect how they deal with the world and with internal unrest.

4/16/2008 09:34:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I had a friend return from a junket to China two weeks ago. She specifically commented upon her group's minder and that they were not allowed to get off the bus and wander around in certain places. Maybe the Chinese were just protecting them from their local version of Mexican gangbangers, but as of two weeks ago, yes. There are minders.

4/16/2008 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger Aenea said...

NahnCee said: I had a friend return from a junket to China two weeks ago. She specifically commented upon her group's minder and that they were not allowed to get off the bus and wander around in certain places.

My military installation requires visitors to sign in and be escorted around, and we don't allow even people who belong here to take photos unless they have "PHOTO" on their badge. You can't carry firearms and your vehicle is subject to 100% search at all times. So the United States has minders too.

4/17/2008 02:23:00 AM  
Blogger joe buz said...

T&A, I am growing a bit weary of you pointing that plastic anime pistol at us while spouting lame comparisons in an attempt to discredit the USA. If you have issues with the security measures on "your installation", I suggest that you request a transfer to a less minded facility.

4/17/2008 05:47:00 AM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

How can an equivalence be drawn between not being allowed in certain public areas, and strict security on a military installation?

It's like comparing apples to swordfish.

4/17/2008 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Aenea has demonstrated repeatedly that she is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. She's not even the sharpest butter spreader. I'm not sure why people continue to be amazed at the un-lucidity of her comments.

4/17/2008 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Aenea said...

Yashmak: How can an equivalence be drawn between not being allowed in certain public areas, and strict security on a military installation?

Obviously, China looks at their entire national territory with the same eye for security that the Navy looks at the sundry and divers territories of Naval Base Kitsap. There's some tall buildings on the coast of the Middle Kingdom, and we don't here about any of them being brought down by skyjackers. But all we hear is how awful China is, violating the civil rights of visitors by shadowing them with minders.

4/17/2008 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

nahncee:

Yes, tour groups often have people serving as facilitators and translators, there to reduce the inconvenience and friction of travel for tourists who are likely unaccustomed to getting around a developing country (and to steer their charges into lodging, restaurants and souvenier shops -- just like anywhere else).

And, yes, they're there to protect the naive and less-than-street-smart from wandering off into trouble, as well.

But with tens of millions of visitors annually, the idea of political minders riding around on the tens of thousands of tour busses clogging the streets of major cities of China, even for a ruthless police state is . . . well . . .

Let's put it this way: Not to argue from authority, but I'll put my 15+ years of traveling, doing business, living (off and on) and visiting family in China against the impressions your friend may have brought back from that junket.

4/17/2008 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

So Aenea,

The reports I've seen in the world press (not on some rabid anti-communist blogsite) about the Mainland Chinese are merely hate-filled propaganda lies????

(a) making thousands of harvested organs available for sale in the world transplant market, after removing them from the fresh corpses of condemned criminals.

(b) removing the skins from freshly-executed criminals (some while the heart yet beats), processing them to collect the collagens, then selling the collagen to European cosmetics manufacturers.

(c) sending animal control teams around to collect fees from Chinese citizens for pets; brutally killing the pets in front of the families when they haven't paid or can't pay the license fees.

I read these on the websites of several British daily newspapers, and I've cited them previously with links to those sites. I can provide them again if anyone cares.

China behaves much as the Soviet Union did under Stalin, at least in its casual willingness to use brute force routinely against its own subjects.

There does seem to be a sort of schizophrenic acceptance of the economic benefits of private enterprise, so long as it doesn't undermine the autocracy.

My sense from reading 20th Century history is that Mao was always more concerned with consolidating power in China by any means he could, than with a faithful application of Marxist-Leninist principles.

Stalinism --- i.e., the persistent untempered application of brutality as a means of coercing the population into acquiescence --- certainly was Mao's style, and he was as good at it as Joseph was.

4/17/2008 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Of course, the point of mentioning the Chinese sale of harvested organs from condemned criminals is to underscore the point that the Chinese Government regard their subjects literally as commodities to be utilized by the state for the good of the Ruling Class.

4/17/2008 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

nahncee:

P.S. If your friend required minding, it's unlikely he/she would know it was being done.

It's not as if the Public Security Bureau issues secret decoder rings for operatives to wear.

A police state, yes, and a clumsy one at times, but they've plenty of practice.

As you know from my previous comments, I have no illusions when it comes to the Middle Kingdom. But, it's more likely the busybody 'minding' your friend was being paid to steer tourists clear of incident in an often difficult-to-navigate and, at times, hazardous environment.

4/17/2008 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

My friend was part of a group of American business people that the Chinese are trying to develop a relationship with. In other words, they want us to buy their stuff, and it would be very bad indeed if this group (and my friend) stumbled across Chinese men beating their wives in the street, or organ donors selling kidneys on the street corner, or puppies being sliced up into chop suey.

But there obviously is no need for this discussion since you MUST be right about everything all the time, so just ... never mind.

4/17/2008 04:04:00 PM  

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