China thread

Seems like there should be a thread for discussing China-related issues and posting awful takes about China (some my own, some from China Watchers and of course the Trump admin).

I’ll start with this from a China Watcher who seems so close to understanding that one’s prior actions, reputation and credibility influences the effect of one’s words and actions.

The US could have the most competent and respected president and presidential administration that could ever exist and a direct call for Chinese to rise up against CCP would be worthless. Coming from the greatest propaganda gift CCP has ever received, its insulting.


Closing the consulate in Houston for naughty consulate behavior is just like kicking out Chinese journalists who are only allowed to write pieces with pro-CCP narratives. Its all perfectly reasonable if you forget that the Chinese government will respond in a tit-for-tat manner that will inevitably harm both US and world interests way more than US actions will harm China.

Chinese journalists can write the same propaganda pieces from anywhere, whereas US journalists in China play a huge role in actual reporting of things that happen in China and need to be located inside China in order to be able to do so.

China can no longer use a Houston consulate for whatever above-board and below-board things they did there. Now the US has lost the ability to do the same at their Chengdu consulate, the only one they had in western China. Who wins in that exchange?

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Good thread on non-Trumpian avenues to deal with China

I guess this Wierdness (TM, brought to you by 2020 Inc.) goes in this thread.

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This is brilliant



That is fucking exceptional. @bestof and it’s a fucking link. There’s 0.0% this would have gotten onto my radar without this post.

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Four individuals aged 16-21 are the first to be arrested via investigation (not arrested at a protest) for violating the National Security Law.

Their grave offense: Talking about HK independence on social media.

Dude’s take is pretty terrible. I mean some of it is ok and not terrible but literally if you flipped all of those switches tomorrow it would be disastrous for the world order. In short, the USA should mow its own lawn before it tells others how to exist. There is a lot of complex shit going on over there with pretty deep historical context.

I’m far from an expert but there is a pretty delicate balance of issues over there and China’s cooperation is very much based around feeling respected first. It’s literally the largest country by population and the 2nd largest by economy. It is not respected as a world superpower when it clearly is one.

Most of the expansion that China has been moving for are for geopolitical strategic defense. The USA having a large military presence in Tiawan for example presents an immediate threat to China. Also, a Chinese presence in Tiawan presents a defense hazard for Japan, the #2 power in the region.

HK was literally part of China until they got their ass kicked by the UK and that saga should have never lasted as long as it should. China hasn’t really acted in good faith but they are literally taking back what was stolen from them by drug dealers.

Not trying to play down the bad things about China but the USA hottakes about other people’s landscaping shouldn’t really be welcome. Meanwhile we have created an entire economic wasteland in the Caribbean and take any influence by perceived hostile actors as the gravest national threat. We are not interested in any sort of parity or fairness, we just want to micro them because we feel threatened. The world definitionally is asymmetric so we have to consider what is palatable for them and try not to be hypocrites or it erodes our ability to institute fairness.

That article was about making fun of the various types of Westerners who claim to understand China as I understood it. I enjoy mocking these types because it’s rare that one of them will be capable of finishing a thought without me wanting to raise my hand and ask multiple pointed questions attacking the simplicity of their argument.

I agree that we aren’t in a good position wrt moral authority to hold China accountable, and that we should probably start with fixing our own problems in 2020… because yeah if there’s one thing the beer virus has made explicit it’s that our system has a ton of major glaring flaws that are in desperate shape.

In your post the thing that I felt most still needed to be said is that China was EASILY the worlds greatest power and the economic heart of global trade for all but maybe three centuries of Human history since the copper age. Unsurprisingly they feel that a return to that is inevitable and correct.

Reading comprehension ftl by me, I guess reading the title of the tweetstorm helps. Yeah man I thought it was srs buzinzz post and was like huuuh? Yeah I kinda hate the ‘pop politics’ that the west has towards China, everyone loves FREEDOM why doesn’t China want more FREEDOM. I think we’re close to full agreement.

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Meanwhile in China:

Hongkong now bascially a one party city. Fk China.

Seems unlikely to be true.

It is in this context that Wang Huning appears to have won a long-running debate within the Chinese system about what’s now required for the People’s Republic of China to endure. The era of tolerance for unfettered economic and cultural liberalism in China is over.

According to a leaked account by one of his old friends, Xi has found himself, like Wang, “repulsed by the all-encompassing commercialization of Chinese society, with its attendant nouveaux riches, official corruption, loss of values, dignity, and self-respect, and such ‘moral evils’ as drugs and prostitution.” Wang has now seemingly convinced Xi that they have no choice but to take drastic action to head off existential threats to social order being generated by Western-style economic and cultural liberal-capitalism—threats nearly identical to those that scourge the U.S.

This intervention has taken the form of the Common Prosperity campaign, with Xi declaring in January that “We absolutely must not allow the gap between rich and poor to get wider,” and warning that “achieving common prosperity is not only an economic issue, but also a major political issue related to the party’s governing foundations.”

This is why anti-monopoly investigations have hit China’s top technology firms with billions of dollars in fines and forced restructurings and strict new data rules have curtailed China’s internet and social media companies. It’s why record-breaking IPOs have been put on hold and corporations ordered to improve labor conditions, with “996” overtime requirements made illegal and pay raised for gig workers. It’s why the government killed off the private tutoring sector overnight and capped property rental price increases. It’s why the government has announced “excessively high incomes” are to be “adjusted.”

And it’s why celebrities like Zhao Wei have been disappearing, why Chinese minors have been banned from playing the “spiritual opium” of video games for more than three hours per week, why LGBT groups have been scrubbed from the internet, and why abortion restrictions have been significantly tightened. As one nationalist article promoted across state media explained, if the liberal West’s “tittytainment strategy” is allowed to succeed in causing China’s “young generation lose their toughness and virility then we will fall…just like the Soviet Union did.” The purpose of Xi’s “profound transformation” is to ensure that “the cultural market will no longer be a paradise for sissy stars, and news and public opinion will no longer be in a position of worshipping Western culture.”

In the end, the campaign represents Wang Huning’s triumph and his terror. It’s thirty years of his thought on culture made manifest in policy.


let the hicks fantasize about freedom from elitist Washington, and see where that gets you

I’ll believe there is any real “common prosperity” plan when I see it.

Taking Jack Ma down a peg and cracking down on monopolies is as much about “common prosperity” as disappearing human rights lawyers was. It’s about power every time.

IDK anything about the sources. Dyor eieio

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Analysts are watching this weekend’s events keenly, to see if Xi is also formally given the title of People’s Leader, an honorific not officially used since Mao Zedong.

the People’s Leader cannot have a term limit and removing one from such a position is ‘anti-people’.” Giving Xi the title would signal that Xi was “untouchable”, Tsang added, “and in effect to be honoured and treated as a demigod”.

“It [would] elevate him to least a position comparable to Mao, as the Great Helmsman.”


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China is way, way, way underdiscussed relative to everything else going on.

There is a recent Odd Lots episode about the chip sanctions that was pretty interesting. Also, Yglesias wrote a really great piece this morning:

T he issue is that if the U.S. sees China’s rise as threatening, then we will seek to hobble them. But if China thinks we are trying to hobble them, then China will feel compelled to overthrow our hegemony. This can lead to very negative-sum outcomes, even if absolutely everyone involved acknowledges that peaceful coexistence would be a better option. And that’s the position I find myself in, too. Reading Gregory Allen’s detailed technical report on Biden’s war on Chinese semiconductors, I am both glad that we are doing this and also alarmed by the implications. As he writes, “these actions demonstrate an unprecedented degree of U.S. government intervention to not only preserve chokepoint control but also begin a new U.S. policy of actively strangling large segments of the Chinese technology industry—strangling with an intent to kill.”

The consolidation of Xi’s dictatorship is such a huge disaster. Not only is a personal dictatorship scarier than a oligarchy, Xi is the worst leader China has had since Mao, so it’s awful (though probably not a coincidence), that it ended up being him to end up as permanent dictator. There don’t seem to be a lot of good options here. Letting China grab all of the most modern technology while their political system gets more abusive and more hostile to our interests isn’t ideal. But if we take away the carrot of tighter economic integration to induce them towards better behavior, what’s to stop them from moving on Taiwan now? I’m deeply worried that the chip sanctions are going to be a clear signal that peaceful cooperation will not get China any further along then it already is. If that’s true, and if China calculates that being cut off from cutting edge tech will make it hard or impossible to close the gap with the west, now is the ideal time to strike at Taiwan (or advance its final solution to the Uyghur problem). The combination of now (maybe) being a local maximum for their chances of Taiwan plus a new cap on the benefits of peaceful cooperation is a really scary place to be.

I’m not sure I disagree with the administration here, but I’m dumbfounded at how little attention this is getting, even among pretty news-aware people.