Friday, November 28, 2008

What Lev Navrazov Means

To be fair, I should actually start with what Lev Navrazov said (World Tribune):
The position of the totalitarian rulers of China is much more difficult, and they are inclined to safeguard themselves not by constitutional evolution of their country, but by the conquest of the rest of the world, to convert its population into their serfs/slaves or annihilate it.

This is the essence of the Chinese Communist Party's plan. If it sounds familiar, it should, because it was also Leonid Brezhnev's plan in the 1970s; in fact, it was going quite well until the United States decided to challenge it.

For the CCP, things look better on the international front - as the U.S. has yet to assume its role from the 1980s. The International Olympic Committee is still insisting the Beijing Games were a wondrous success (Boycott 2008), leading Americans, including retired Admiral William Fallon, are spouting the "engagement" line (International Herald Tribune). Foreign reserves continue to rise (Bloomberg), although there's a lot less there than meets the eye. The cadres can rail about the peaceful resistance in Tibet (McClatchy via Yahoo) without serious repercussions (BBC). The Korean colony seems (for now) to be having some more influence on South Koreans again (BBC). although we should emphasize some (One Free Korea). There is even talk about expanding the shipyards to more international customers (Bloomberg).

Domestically, however, the rot is more obvious than in Brezhnev's time. The economy is in serious trouble (Agence France Presse via Yahoo, BBC, Bloomberg, Business Week, London Telegraph, Washington Post, and the Washington Times), and corruption has reached the highest of its "entrepreneurs" (BBC and Epoch Times). Given the oncoming economic downturn, these could do far more damage than in the Brezhnev era.

For starters, economic development and radical nationalism were all the cadres had once Deng Xiaoping decided to steer clear of the Brezhnev path. While the former lost much of its luster after the Tiananmen massacre, a white-hot economy still enabled the cadres to keep the elite happy - especially local cadres in the rural interior for whom ill-gotten gains were simply a regular benefit of the job.

This enabled the regime to continue to get away with brutality toward its own people (BBC, Boycott 2008, Epoch Times, and the Washington Post). Now, with even Hong Kong coming under economic strain, the de facto buying off the elite could run aground (Washington Post). The truth about the anti-Chinese nature of the CCP (Epoch Times) will only make things worse (for the cadres).

Finally, even if the United States were to avoid becoming the anti-Communist leader Beijing fears, there's no guarantee India won't - especially if there's even a tenuous link between the terrorists who attacked Mumbai this weekend and the Communists' longtime ally Pakistan.

Thus, like the Soviets before them, the Chinese Communists are forced to subdue the rest of the world to prevent being subdued at home. The democratic world must not forget this. One day China will be free. The question is, how much blood and treasure will be spilled in the interim?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Pinochet paradox (Or, why so many conservatives get Communist China wrong)

The gleaming facade that the Chinese Communist Party hoped to show the world continues to crumble.

Another foreign firm (MYOB - Australia) has come to the realization that the CCP is an immovable barrier to profitability (AAP via Epoch Times). The "1.3 billion customer" mantra has been attracting outside investors and companies for years; more and more of them find themselves throwing good money after bad. MYOB was merely the latest.

Many believe the investment climate in Communist China has nothing to do with its political repression. I disagree. A regime that can brook no dissent (BBC and the Epoch Times) usually has trouble with criticism or bad news on any front - including economics, but especially regarding corruption, which continues to be rife within the CCP (Epoch Times). Corruption greatly increases the operational cost for any business enterprise, and when that includes less than perfect information on the economic state of affairs, it can make business planning almost impossible.

Meanwhile, when the regime itself behaves in such a criminal, the very definition of "crime" becomes relative - as was seen in Shanghai, where an executed cop killer was lauded as a hero for standing up to the bloodthirsty regime (BBC). Many, many Chinese citizens identified with Yang Jia, who himself was a victim of police brutality, but foreign investors or firms - who mostly have no experience with tyranny at home - either have no concept of Yang's plight (meaning they see a dangerous society glorifying a murderer) or recognize that for a regime this brutal, nothing is sacred (including an outside firm). This is especially true given the CCP's ultimate weapon - trumped-up espionage charges (BBC) - to which foreigners are especially vulnerable.

Yet, despite all of the above, despite the continuing anti-American policies (Weekly Standard), and despite the antics of the obviously controllable Korean colony (One Free Korea), the CCP not only continues to get away with this on the world stage, but even continues to gain "engagement" supporters throughout the democratic world.

The reasons for this are myriad, but for one of the most important pieces of the Communists' charm offensive puzzle - bedazzled American conservatives - the answer can be found in an old Latin American dictator who gave up power two decades ago and died two years ago - Chilean General Augusto Pinochet.

By almost any account, Pinochet's tenure (1973-1990) began brutally. After taking power in a military coup against a democratically elected yet increasingly unpopular Marxist, Pinochet was every bit the bloodthirsty tyrant. Yet as the 1970s wore on, he also radically reoriented Chile's economy in a free-market direction, and turned it into one of the most prosperous nations in Latin America. By the time he stepped down in 1990, Chile was an economic model.

For many American Cold Warriors of the time, Pinochet (a staunch Western ally) was himself a model dictator (to the extent that dictators could ever be a model), and the trajectory of his tenure was touted as evidence of the inevitable progress of economic freedom to political freedom. This has colored the view of most (if not all) CCP-"engagement" supporters on the American right. It is also spectacularly wrong for two reasons.

For starters, unlike Pinochet, the Communist Chinese economy is hardly a free market. The CCP still owns the major industries (either outright or through high-ranking cadres and their relatives). Even outside firms have to enter joint-ventures with regime-run domestic firms (which usually steal information from the foreign group and hand over to domestic "competition" for either a hefty bribe or a piece of the action). Pinochet's actual reforms would be considered dangerously radical to any CCP cadre per se.

Secondly, we must remember the reactions of the tyrants themselves. Pinochet was faced with a painful choice (for him) in the 1980s: his legacy (the revitalized Chilean economy) or his power. When the Chilean people told him he couldn't have both, he chose the former, and honored the referendum calling for him to step down.

The CCP by contrast, has never chosen to cede power - even slightly. There has never been a China-wide referendum similar to the 1988 Pinochet vote. Moreover, even in the "village elections" so highly touted by the cadres, anti-Communists and reformers who manage to win them risk jail, or worse, if they dare exercise the power their fellow villagers tried to bestow on them.

In fact, contrary to being a "model," the Pinochet experience was actually quite unique. Far more common is the method the CCP is attempting: fake reforms to fool the locals, win Western support, and buy time (in Eastern Europe, that came with national elections that had enough freedom to dislodge the Communists from power; the CCP refuses to let that happen).

Augusto Pinochet - for all his many flaws - gave his people real economic freedom, and rather than risk its extinction, added to it real political freedom. By contrast, the Chinese Communist Party has combined fake economic freedom with fake political freedom, and has chosen to toss each into the trash heap whenever either threatened its "mandate from heaven."

In other words, the CCP is nothing like Pinochet, and the sooner Pinochet's apologists and defenders on the right can see that, the sooner we will all be to a democratic world ready to see the Communist regime for what it really is and act accordingly until the Chinese people (hopefully with our help) can rise up and take their country back.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On the power of words

Four years ago this month, the Nine Commentaries on the (Chinese) Communist Party were published. It was and remains the most detailed account of the CCP's devious and brutal history. The editors of the Epoch Times (who published them) marked the anniversary today.

In a world where contests for power are seemingly dominated by stronger and more destructive weaponry, it can sometimes be forgotten how important words can be. Yet the First Cold War was won not in the jungles of Vietnam or Central America, but rather in the basements and abandoned buildings of Eastern Europe, as dissident authors spread their criticisms of Soviets and their lackeys throughout the old "Warsaw Pact" zone. In 1991, Boris Yeltsin scrambled atop a tank , read a speech, and won over at least some of the military detachment that was sent to occupy his city. Even the Communists themselves used words to build their path to power.

So, the CCP understands as well as anyone what words can do. This is why they have taken aim at song lyrics, anyone whose faith does not include reverence to the Party (Agence France Presse via Yahoo and the Epoch Times), and outside critics (Epoch Times).

Words can be dangerous to any tyranny, but they can be especially poisonous when the bread piece of bread and circuses runs low (BBC). In fact, the cadres are suddenly facing all of the roadblocks their Soviet counterparts and predecessors did in the 1970s - despite all the efforts to avoid Brezhnev's fate.

Thus the cadres are reduced to emulating the Brezhnev regime, by propping up brutal satellites (BBC and One Free Korea) and making more foreign nations dependent upon it (AFP via Yahoo). Trouble is, that didn't save the USSR.

It won't save the CCP either.

Monday, November 24, 2008

They found their target

So it appears the Chinese Communist Party has finally figured out how to solve its Brezhnev-redux problem.

Take steps to fix an economy busted by decades of corruption and manipulation (Epoch Times)? Of course not.

Reach out to the disaffected masses (Epoch Times)? No dice, save for an embarrassingly faked propaganda moment (Washington Post).

Take aim at the corruption that has literally poisoned the Chinese economy - domestically and internationally (Epoch Times)? You're joking, right?

Reign in the Korean colony? Why should Beijing mess with success (CNN, CNN again, One Free Korea, more One Free Korea, and the Washington Times)?

Face up to their brutal history as occupiers of Tibet (BBC and CNN) and East Turkestan - the latter of which has become so horrid that even your fellow occupying cadres have had enough (Epoch Times)? Try again.

Rethink their treatment of their own people, including following a UN panel's recommendation to look into the Falun Gong organ-harvesting outrage (Epoch Times). In a word: no.

Instead, the Communists have decided that their silver bullet for all of the above maladies is . . . to launch a rhetorical broadside against Axl Rose (Between Heaven and Earth and the London Telegraph) because he wrote an anti-Communist song - the title track for Chinese Democracy.

On one level, the absurdity of going after a song in the face of, well, everything else is comical, especially considering the Rose and his Guns 'N' Roses band's sails lost the Zeitgeist years ago. Then again, the CCP remains the entity that accidentally performed the heretofore impossible task of restoring the reputation of the Prince of Wales.

However, this is one regime that understands the sword's weaknesses against the pen. It's why they have stretched the Long Arm of Lawlessness out to smack NTDTV (Epoch Times), bury the unpleasant aspects of its history whenever and wherever possible (Weekly Standard), etc.

Trouble is, for all their efforts, the regime's true face keeps being seen (San Francisco Chronicle and the USCC), such that even their success in Taiwan (Epoch Times) comes with caveats (Washington Times).

In short, the cadres are exactly where the Soviets were thirty years ago, with an economy and social structure rotting away, and international acceptance just outside its reach - exactly where they did not wish to be.

Yet they refuse to do what the very few surviving European Communist parties (Hungary and Bulgaria, mostly) have done: namely abdicate power, admit to their mistakes, and take their chances on the electorate. So the economy and society will continue to decay; an aging rock band gets an unintentional boost to its career; and the clock continues to wind down on the Chinese Communist Party.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The CCP admits to the problem

The Chinese Communist Party has made a major diversion from the Brezhnevian path of their Soviet forebearers; they've come clean about their economy being in serious trouble (CNN and the Washington Post). It's where the solution part comes in that they still have trouble.

More and more citizens are finding out that the half-trillion-dollar "stimulus" plan is actually a bunch of smoke and mirrors (Washington Post). This is certain to further undermine confidence in the CCP, which is already putting out fires on multiple fronts (BBC and Epoch Times).

As one would expect, the Communists are continuing to play the only card they have - radical nationalism and aggressive foreign policy. Trouble is, their military buildup is raising hackles even in friendly democratic nations like Australia (AAP via Epoch Times), while the Long Arm of Lawlessness is also starting to lose its reach (Epoch Times). In this respect, the Brezhnev puzzle remains unsolved.

The cadres are running out of options. More are seeing that Beijing's huge American debt holdings are less than meet the eye (He Qinglian, Epoch Times, although I do not agree with all of her points; my take is here). The Communists must actually solve the problems of their economy: rampant corruption, debilitating regime control, and overdependence on exports. These issues cannot be resolved by a tyrannical "state capitalist" system, and unless the Communists drop it, they will follow it onto the ash-heap of history.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Brezhnev bifurcation continues

On the outside, Communist China looks as menacing, powerful, and aggressive as it always has, what with more cyber-espionage (Newsmax), missile deployments (Epoch Times), troop deployments on the border with North Korea (Epoch Times), and even plans to scoop up pieces of General Motors and Chrysler (The Truth About Cars title is a bit overblown).

The regime looks every bit as threatening as Brezhnev's Soviet Union did in the 1970s. Their Korean colony even managed to spook the elected government of South Korea (One Free Korea).

Yet inside Communist China, it's an entirely different story: taxi drivers on strike (Washington Post), botched medical procedures (Epoch Times), the melamine fiasco (Epoch Times), corrupt hospitals getting rich off an earthquake (Epoch Times), and the continuing effects of the economic slowdown (BBC).

In other words, the regime is just as rotten one the inside as Brezhnev's Soviet Union.

Even the troops on the Korean border reveal the cadres' weakness as much as their strength. As an unnamed British intelligence source told Gordon Thomas (Epoch Times), "The problem we have is trying to decide that if Kim dies, who will take over? And during that process could there be a 'palace revolution' which in turn could lead to conflict beyond North Korea’s border if there is an uprising within North Korea."

In other words, the viceroy's successors might decide they don't want northern Korea to be a colony anymore.

What does this mean for the free world? It means we must remember the lessons of the 1970s and 1980s. When European Communism fell, it tried to prevent its demise by taking as much as it could from its enemies. By the early 1980s, the democratic world got wise, and from then it was only a matter of time.

As Chinese Communism suffers the same fate, the cadres are hoping their better PR with the democratic world can enable it to take more from us than the Soviets could. Once our leaders get wise, the end is nigh. Until then, however, blood and treasure remain at risk.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The powerlessness of credit

Most Americans will remember September 2008 as the month of the Wall Street panic, when Lehman Brothers went under and AIG nearly followed suit. However, we now know that September witnessed one other milestone: the Chinese Communist Party becoming the largest holder of American public debt (Washington Post):
China passed Japan to become the U.S. government's largest foreign creditor in September, the Treasury Department announced yesterday, reflecting the dramatic
expansion of Beijing's economic influence over the American economy . . . China, in fact, may be the government's largest creditor, period. The Treasury does not keep records on domestic bond holders. But analysts said China's holdings are so vast that the existence of a larger stakeholder in the United States now seems unlikely.
So at long last, the CCP has become America's "largest creditor" - and it couldn't have come at a worse time. Don't be fooled by the dramatic rhetoric about the power Beijing has over the American economy (even the Post fell for that). The regime's only true power is in maintaining the fiction of power; any attempt to realize it will fall painfully flat.

To understand why, let's take a look at what would happen if the CCP decided to follow through on the only real "threat" it could make: namely, unload is U.S. Treasury notes.

In the best case scenario, the debt drop drives down the dollar and drives up interest rates. Other international investors do what the Post authors - and everyone else - fear most, they "follow suit" and run away from T-bills. The dollar falls further, and interest rates rise further. Is a default on the horizon? No, that only happens when nations run out of foreign reserves trying to prop up an artificially high currency level. The only such "peg" the American dollar has is set by the cadres themselves (to their own currency) - a peg that they would have to scratch in order to do this. The rapidly declining dollar would greatly exacerbate America's already shaky economic psychology, and the higher interest rates would likely make the oncoming recession much worse.

However, even within these effects are mitigating factors. The higher interest rates will also make American capital more attractive. Whether it would completely negate the currency effect is hard to predict, but it will at the very least reduce said effect, thus eventually slowing down the exodus of foreign investors. Meanwhile, the lower currency would make American exports - long one of the brightest sectors in our economy - even more attractive to international consumers. No one knows better than the CCP what a white-hot export market can do for one's economy.

In the meantime, the dropping dollar will also have another effect - it will cripple Communist China's export sector at a time when the regime desperately needs it to regain its health. Things are far from perfect in Communist China - all attempts to Brezhnevize the situation notwithstanding. Factory closures for this year are already in the tens of thousands. Previous commitments to improve the disastrous ecology have already fallen victim to economic realities (Washington Post). Angry citizens are in open revolt (BBC and Epoch Times). The Korean colony is showing signs of serious trouble (One Free Korea and World Net Daily). This is hardly the time to send the best export market the CCP has into a deeper recession.

Still, one could see the regime doing so if they thought the geopolitical gains against America were worth the serious risk. Trouble is, any geopolitical gains from a weaker America would be countered by the political damage done to the "engagement" crew. Once the American people see the CCP as the cause of their hard(er) times, anti-Communism will enjoy a very fast political renaissance. Just about every tax-cutting Republican and big-spending Democrat can lay the blame for broken promises, lost jobs, and lower incomes at the feet of Zhongnanhai. How many democratic governments would be so willing to do the Communists' bidding (see the Epoch Times for an example) once that happens?

Meanwhile, any reduction of American strength on the world stage would be counteracted by the continuing rise of India, which is (1) right next door to the Communist regime, (2) already more anti-Communist than the United States at present, and (3) very likely to be more assertive on the world stage if, as expected, the BJP returns to power in next year's elections.

So what the CCP would face is a badly damaged economy - and an angrier citizenry - at home, an economically weakened but far more politically aware enemy across the ocean, and a more assertive enemy next door. Again, this is the best case scenario.

In the worst case scenario, all the political effects are still in place, but the rest of the world doesn't follow the CCP in dumping American bonds. This is more likely than it appears. While the American economy is likely headed for a recession, Japan is already there. Meanwhile, Europe is facing its own financial crisis and currency devaluations. The Middle East is drowning in its own oil. Russia is teetering on complete collapse. For more than a few investors, American T-bills are the best thing out there right now - as even the Post acknowledged:

The surge in Chinese buying is part of a rush by panicked investors into U.S. Treasurys, an indication that lending to the U.S. government is still seen as among the safest investments in uncertain times.

"It is occurring in an environment where global investment prospects are less enticing," said Lawrence Goodman, head of emerging market strategy at Bank of America. "There is a movement for foreigners to seek safer haven investments like Treasurys versus more risk-oriented foreign investments."

What happens if the Communists unload their American debt but the rest of the world snaps it up? Then all the leverage and goodwill is gone and the American economy is undamaged (at least by this). Meanwhile, the dollar will still fall relative to the Communist renminbi, meaning the export-market damage would still occur - and even without it, the domestic economy the cadres face is already in bad shape.

In other words, nothing good can come from the actual use of economic "power" that comes with the holdings of American debt. Said power is actually a myth.

Still, the myth itself is powerful, and we can expect the cadres to use is as much as they can, for as long as they can, which means right up to the very moment the democratic world comes to understand all that is written above. At that point, the cadres will come face to face with the powerlessness of credit.

Until then, however, the cadres will use American bonds much like Brezhnev et al used nuclear weapons, as an imposing facade to cover up the internal decay. The democratic world should not be fooled.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And so it begins

"But if China's downturn turns into an outright recession, the country could face its first serious threat to the regime." - Joshua Kurlantzick, The New Republic (h/t Weekly Standard Blog)

Truth be told, I think Mr. Kurlantzick gets more than a few things wrong in his piece, but his larger theme - namely that the Chinese Communist Party is entering uncharted and dangerous territory for itself - is dead on.

The situation the regime faces looks very much like the beginning of the end. As the Potemkin cities and economic growth zones on the Pacific coasts slow or shut down, migrant workers are coming back to the hometowns in which they were unable to find work in the first place (Epoch Times). Such movement will not only spread the pain of the economic slowdown, it may also enable the interconnections among laborers that the CCP dreads the most - i.e., folks will soon find out their local cadres weren't the only ones stealing wages and making life difficult. Meanwhile, the regime is finding out that earthquake victims are no longer the propaganda pieces that were so useful in the spring, but rather real people to be ignored or slighted at great risk (CNN and Epoch Times). Put it all together and you get an increasingly restive people (Epoch Times).

How have the cadres responded? They've taken a page right from Brezhnev's playbook - in two provinces, company's need government permission before firing anyone (BBC) - so much for the "free" market doing wonders for the Chinese economy. This is coupled with all the usual antics we've come to expect from the regime - espionage (Agence France Presse via Breitbart, BBC, and the Epoch Times) and deals with America's enemies (BBC).

Another sign of the worry gripping the regime was its flat refusal to even consider sending troops to Afghanistan (London Telegraph). Lest anyone forget, al Qaeda is just one of many terrorist entities that Communist China has aided over the last two decades. However, the cadres usually would be wise enough to appear anti-terrorist. Their decision not to even bother with the charade is a clear sign that they are more interested in aggressive, anti-American behavior abroad to counter increasing problems at home.

Yet there are even signs that the usual "charm offensive" in foreign affairs is falling flat. For example, South Korea made history by granting asylum to a Chinese political refugee yesterday (Central News Agency and NTDTV via Epoch Times) - a clear sign that its more muscular stance on North Korea (Washington Times) is turning into an anti-Communist policy across the board. Meanwhile, the American Food and Drug Administration is setting up shop in Shanghai and Guangzhou to get a better idea of the food poisoning debacle (Epoch Times) - although I wouldn't expect the cadres to be very forthcoming to the visitors.

In two months, America will have a new leader. How he chooses to view the Chinese Communist Party (and Wei Jingshen himself is unsure - Epoch Times) will help determine whether China's final triumph over Communism is peaceful and short or long, bloody, and broadly painful.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I really do see the end of the CCP regime on the horizon. However, we still have no idea how many years - or casualties - it will take to get here, and we must do what we can to minimize both.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Here we go again

Hu Jintao, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, continues to show us that the Russian translation of his name is Leonid Brezhnev.

Outwardly, the CCP is all ambition and repression. The alarming and horrifying expose by Ethan Guttman (f.d., friend of the C e-L since 2004) about the organ harvesting of religious dissidents (Weekly Standard) is sure to get the usual dismissals, cat-calls, and opprobrium. Never mind that similar tales of Soviet abominations (ecological nightmares, the Katyn massacre, and millions upon millions of Red Army rapes in occupied Eastern Europe, to name a few) were similarly dismissed with haughty laughter, only to be horrifyingly confirmed as European Communism collapsed. For the CCP, it's all about being the indispensable part of the global economy (Epoch Times and Washington Post), building aircraft carriers (BBC), maneuvering the Korean colony to win more concessions and praise for Beijing (One Free Korea and the Washington Times), and feting celebrities (Boycott 2008).

Still, while the rule of Western naivete in the face of Communist dishonesty still holds firm on the organ harvesting issue, exceptions are starting to pop up all over the place.

For starters, the half-trillion-dollar-plus "rescue package" that was supposed to symbolize the CCP's arrival as a global economic powerhouse is coming under more scrutiny - never a good thing for the cadres. In fact, according to the Washington Times, "the central government would only be coughing up a quarter of the money, with the rest coming from local governments and state-owned enterprises." In other words, the Communists are expecting the local robber-barons to fix their own messes - the very messes said robber-barons created with land seizures and rampant corruption. Moreover, there's hardly any "new" action in the plan: "Some international experts who specialize in Chinese economics believe that over 60% of the projects in its rescue package plan are just recycled ideas given a new title" (Epoch Times).

Once again, as Beijing repeats Moscow's old fantasies, China repeats the old USSR's painful realities - over 66,000 factories shut down in the last six months (Epoch Times), and there's plenty more where that came from (Epoch Times).

Meanwhile, the melamine poison scandal has been joined by other food poisons: clenbuterol and formaldehyde (Epoch Times), and the regime's lead soccer league has become so corrupt it was taken off the TV (BBC).

All of this was merely in China proper. Occupied Tibet may become a much trickier file (BBC and CNN), and even long-time ally Pakistan is becoming a headache - albeit for vastly different reasons (Epoch Times).

So there's plenty of things to keep the regime busy, but instead, the cadres continue to focus on imprisoning dissidents (Between Heaven and Earth and the Epoch Times), intimidating overseas Chinese communities (Epoch Times), and enjoying the fall of political enemies abroad (BBC and CNN).

In other words, the tragedy of Eastern Europe's degradation during the Brezhnev era has indeed been reborn as the farce of Beijing - except that the Chinese people aren't laughing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Drip, Drip, Drip . . .

The Brezhnevization of the CCP continues apace, with more signs of trouble - and more evidence that said signs are being ignored. How long the internal decay will take before becoming a collapse is still up in the air (it took more than two decades in Brezhnev's home - which was in a weaker position to start), but the decay has almost certainly begun.

The largest alarm bell came from the United States, which is now blocking all shipments from Communist China containing milk or products made in part with milk, to prevent melamine from killing Americans (Epoch Times, and the Washington Post); they have also placed an "import alert" (BBC) on all foodstuffs from Communist China. The blow to the cadres' reputation as the world's mass-producer may never recover from this, to say nothing of their market share.

Economically and politically, it comes at a very bad time, as the economic slowdown brings more people into destitution (Epoch Times), and into the streets (Epoch Times). The situation has become so bad that in Shanghai - easily the crown jewel of the Communist "model" - the police have become so hated that a confessed cop-killer is a local hero (Washington Post).

So do the cadres take stock and try to figure out a new course?

Are you kidding?

All we see from Beijing are more arrests (Boycott 2008) and more silencing of the local population (Epoch Times) - the same failed and false strategy that sent the Soviet Union into the grave.

I honestly thought the CCP would be smarter than their Soviet predecessors, and until this point, they had been. Their descent into Brezhnevization is shocking.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What the arrest of Chen Shui-bian means

There is no greater political drama in Asia right now than the saga of Chen Shui-bian, the former Taiwanese President now under arrest for corruption (BBC and the Washington Post). It has split the people of the island democracy (BBC), and caused many to wonder if you-know-who is behind it all (National Review Online). If that's the case, however, the cadres may want to be careful they don't suffer the fate of the tragic figures of old - being destroyed by the very thing they wanted.

Of course, the Communists will be thrilled to see one of their leading political tormentors in jail, but the trial of Chen Shui-bian goes from here will all-but-ensure that this is the high-point for the CCP. If the Chen trial becomes seen as a political stunt, it will likely backfire on the governing Kuomintang Party - and badly. Lest anyone think the KMT has recovered from its earlier and self-inflicted wounds, it should be noted that the economy had a lot to do with its victory in the 2008 elections, and Communist China's decision to throw half-a-trillion dollars into priming its own pump (BBC) will likely mean the "investments" President Ma Ying-jeou is hoping will help his own economy will be much fewer than expected (American markets are already starting to come to grips with this reality - Washington Times). A politically motivated trial will boomerang against the KMT with a vengeance.

What hasn't been discussed as much is the other possible outcome. What if Chen is convicted, and the Taiwanese people accept that verdict? The assumption has always been this would be a banner day for the cadres. I'm not so sure.

What has made the Republic of China such a headache for the cadres is not its clamoring for international attention, but rather its willingness to let its people decide who will rule. Already, the cadres have been forced to watch - and shield from the mainlanders - not one, but two peaceful shifts in power on Taiwan in ten years.

How would the people of mainland China react if they were to see Taiwanese justice come to the island's former leader? Assuming the charges stick (and I'm not saying they will), I'm sure more than a few residents of the mainland will wonder how a similar investigation against Jiang Zemin would go - before collapsing into bitter laughter, that is. How would a dictatorship that imprisons whistleblowers (Epoch Times) compare to a democracy willing to hold one of its former leaders to the law? Not well, I presume.

Yet once again, it appears no one in Beijing is even thinking about the damage that would ensue. It's business as usual, be it with the Korean colony (BBC and CNN), bloodthirsty cadres wining and dining abroad (Epoch Times), or the continuing Cold War against the United States (Epoch Times).

Despite the Brezhnevian bluster, the world is growing less hospitable to the regime. Canada has ended the Communist monopoly on Chinese-language broadcasting (Epoch Times). India's walk to an anti-Communist consensus was noted yesterday. Now, even in Taiwan, one of the cadres' biggest opponents (and one if their biggest targets) could very well undermine the regime in a matter more dramatic and earth-shattering than even he intended (let alone wanted).

The Chinese Communist regime could literally be suffering their own worst curse: they are subsumed in "interesting times."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More trouble for the CCP

The news and events continue to pour in - or to be more precise, pour down upon the Chinese Communist Party. The regime is clearly in a "rough patch," as it were.

The extent of the economic slowdown is becoming unavoidable; the coal and coke industry appear to be in a full-fledged recession (Epoch Times) - a word that strikes terror in the heart of a regime that needs economic growth of at least 7% just to keep up with the population. It might also explain the impetus behind the massive "economic stimulus" (Epoch Times) the cadres announced over the weekend, although the success of that plan is debatable, at best. More likely, it will simply mean more incentives for the cadres to steal land and build useless factories while the economy sinks beneath the waves (Epoch Times) and the ecology worsens (EnGadget).

Meanwhile, Tibet continues to be a headache (Epoch Times), and worse, India's center-left government appears to have finally gotten wise about the danger from Beijing (Epoch Times).

The cadres will do their best to ignore all of this, and choose instead to continue expanding their influence abroad (Epoch Times), crush dissent at home (Boycott 2008 and Epoch Times), use the Korean colony to maximum effect (BBC and Newsmax), and enjoy some Taiwanese schadenfreude (BBC, CNN, and the Washington Times). Those who remember the First Cold War will remember this phase of Communism well: the Brezhnev phase.

Leonid Brezhnev's solution for the problems faced by the Soviet Union - ignore them and increase the aggressive behavior abroad - worked so well that the USSR couldn't outlast him by as much as a decade, even though no American President seriously challenged his regime until just before he died. That should bring hope to all anti-Communists. Even if Obama becomes the "second Carter" his critics fear he will be, Hu Jintao seems determined to be the second Brezhnev.

Bismark is reported to have said, "God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States of America." He continues to be more right than he could have possibly imagined.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Trouble on the horizon for the CCP

Over the weekend, we discovered once and for all what a disaster the 2008 Beijing Olympics really were for the Communist regime. The reason, however, was not an expected one. The Washington Post, in their analysis of the melamine poison scandal, unearthed the surprising fact that essentially wiped out all the benefits of the summer propaganda exercise (emphasis added):

Initially covered up by officials afraid of losing their jobs and besmirching the Beijing Olympic Games, the melamine contamination scandal began with infant milk formula that killed at least four infants and sickened 54,000 babies. It soon spread to candy, instant coffee, yogurt, biscuits and other products made with Chinese milk, prompting bans or recalls in 16 countries.

In recent weeks the toxin has been discovered in eggs and in animal feed, sparking fears that tainted foods go well beyond dairy products and may include fish, shrimp, beef and poultry.

So it turns out that fear of "besmirching the Beijing Olympic Games" led in part to the greatest international embarrassment for the Chinese Communist Party in nineteen years.


Under normal circumstances, this would be bad enough, but the regime is going through anything but normal times.

For starters, we have the oncoming recession, the first serious one since the regime become the export maven for which it was famous just months ago (and is now infamous, see above). The cadres are responding the only way they know how, with more infrastructure projects that will do little or nothing for the overall economy (Washington Post). When this fails, as I suspect it will, the regime will be up a serious creek - one that will be far more beneficial for the rest of the world than even it realizes, as One Free Korea notes. When even the Potemkin city of Shenzhen is hosting anti-police riots (BBC), there is serious trouble afoot.

The melamine and economic crises also come just as the rest of the world has decided to stop giving the Communists so much slack over festering problems that refuse to simply go away. The regime's insistence that the "developed world" cover the cost of greenhouse-gas reduction rings quite hollow now that Communist China is the leading carbon emitter (Washington Times).

True, Taiwan is becoming much more cooperative under President Ma Ying-jeou (Washington Times), but the cadres barely had time to enjoy that before the Dalai Lama made it clear he would listen more to his people and take a tougher line on occupied Tibet (BBC and CNN).

Even the Korean colony, fresh off its spectacular slaying of the Bush Administration, is causing more trouble with its abductions of Japanese citizens returning to the news (BBC).

As January approaches, it becomes clear the Chinese Communist regime will need willing dupes in Washington and elsewhere in the free world as never before. Here's hoping the President-elect refuses to be one of them.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The President-elect's horizon

Despite the title, little about this post will focus on Barack Obama (I've already addressed his election here). Rather, it will focus on the world around him, and what we will face starting on January 20, 2009. It will be a world of challenges, to be sure, but also opportunities.

Naturally, there will be much attention dedicated to the economy, but even here, the situation is decidedly more mixed than it would initially appear. The economic troubles have hit Communist China with a far greater force than it has it us so far (BBC, Epoch Times, more from the Epoch Times, and the Washington Post), in no small part because it had many more causes - chief among them the effect of poisoned exports (Epoch Times and AAP via Epoch Times).

While economic troubles are concern enough for any government, for a totalitarian regime like the Chinese Communist Party it is particularly worrisome. In democracies like the United States, voters can take out their frustration on the governing party, if they so choose (and, in fact, they did on Tuesday). The Chinese people have no such luck - indeed, any dissent, political or otherwise, will face the same heavy hand as it did in more prosperous times (Between Heaven and Earth, Boycott 2008, CNN, Epoch Times, Radio Free Asia via Epoch Times).

Of course, when the economy was humming, fewer people felt the need to speak their minds, and Westerners - more used to governments toppling at the ballot box during recessions - blithely told themselves that the CCP would be rewarded for their economic stewardship if they ever tested their mandate with the Chinese people. I certainly don't subscribe to that view, but the important point is this: the Communist regime is entering a period where the democratic world would naturally expect a change - meaning the CCP's ability to hide its tyrannical nature will ring more hollow.

As Senator Obama becomes President Obama, this will pose a huge challenge for him, as the cadres will likely move on two fronts. The first is finding any vehicle to economic growth. At first, those who would be courted by Beijing for this might feel good about their position - as the Taiwanese president certainly does (BBC, Washington Post). However, the cadres will make it clear with anyone that any deals that result from their weakened economic position must still come at their political terms - as the people of Taiwan learned the hard way (Epoch Times and the Washington Post). The president-elect should thus be very wary of offers of better relations coming from Beijing (Washington Times), as should any foreign businessman (Epoch Times).

The regime will likely also step up its anti-American efforts, best revealed via its hackers (Financial Times, UK), its increased military prowess (Wall Street Journal), and its Korean colony (One Free Korea and the Weekly Standard).

Finally, Beijing will try to relieve outside pressure by trying to silence exiled dissidents or other anti-Communists in their own countries. The cadres have had great success in Canada (BH&E, Boycott 2008, Canadian Press) and to a lesser extent Australia (Epoch Times), but now even Britain is getting into the act (Wall Street Journal), much to the consternation of the Tibetan people (BBC).

It won't be easy for President Obama to face the truth and resist Communist China's multi-pronged efforts to avoid the judgment of the Chinese people. However, if he holds firm, he will have the support of his fellow American - all his fellow Americans.

After all, even in the entertainment world, Beijing is still acknowledged as a villain (Epoch Times via Boycott 2008).

Thursday, November 06, 2008

An open letter to President-elect Obama

Dear President-elect,

Allow me to begin this letter by congratulating you on your victory Tuesday. If you read this space regularly, you would know that you did not earn my vote (the explanation will come later), but obviously that did nothing to slow you down. More to the point, I don't automatically assume (let alone hope) that candidates I oppose will fail when they serve the office they have one.

Finally, and most importantly, on the issues that matter to me, my fellow Epoch Times columnists, and those who read these pages, you have the opportunity to act in both America's best interests and your own (no shame in the latter - you do have re-election to consider after all). Here are some areas where you can become the first 21st Century anti-Communist President - and make the world a much safer place.

Trade and Product Safety
How it helps America and the free world: The melamine scandal has at last revealed just how much the cadres are willing to risk the health of the entire world - especially their own international customers - keep the flow of bribes coming. It is clear that they have no interest in joining the world community as a model nation, but rather to subvert the current world order in favor of one where the CCP is the leading world power. This regime must be held accountable.

How it helps you: You were the most openly protectionist party nominee in at least twenty years; you are probably worried about the backlash in international markets due to this, but your "base" is looking for an end to the free-trade/globalization policies of the last two decades. However, even many avid free-traders (such as yours truly and David Frum) include an exception for the Communist regime. Taking trade action against Beijing will appeal to your protectionist supporters without badly inflaming everyone else. In fact, you may find support for it from unexpected areas.

Taiwan (a.k.a. the Republic of China)
How it helps America and the free world: You will the President who could face a Communist military invasion of the island democracy in 2012. I say "could" because with enough of a show of strength, you could delay or event prevent the regime from taking this action.

How it helps you: To the American people, you were the anti-Bush, the man who represented the clearest break from the outgoing Administration. In this case, that break would be dramatically emphasized by standing with Taiwan (the Bush Administration made it clear it preferred keeping Beijing happy). Furthermore, a strong, principled stance for freedom here can be a nice foil to your plans to withdraw from Iraq within 16 months.

North Korea
How it helps America and the free world: The Communist regime has gotten away with using its Korean colony to distract Washington for far too long. Not only has it led to dangerous concessions to Kim Jong-il, but it has also enabled Beijing to avoid all responsibility for propping up the regime in the first place. It is time to make clear that the CCP can not have it both ways, and that for any antics by North Korea, Beijing will be held responsible.

How it helps you: Again, this is one where the Bush Administration dropped the ball. By picking it up and moving in another direction, you can show that you are not George W. Bush, while at the same time re-orienting American foreign policy in East Asia.

How it helps America and the free world: I had hoped that a democratic Pakistan would be less dependent on Beijing and more willing to help America defeat al Qaeda and the Taliban. It didn't happen. Whatever the Pakistani people may think, Pakistan's elite clearly sees India as a greater threat than the terrorists in its own midst. They have become an enabler.

How it helps you: I don't need to tell you how much your tough stand on Pakistan helped neutralized the national security issue. Were it not for the history Democratic Presidents have of talking tough and acting week, I would have given this more consideration. Follow through on your tough rhetoric and India will be a much closer ally, while Beijing will finally have to play some defense in the Second Cold War. More to the point, it would dramatically reveal that as President, you intend to keep your word.

The overall "War on Terror"
How it helps America and the free world: Communist China is the largest benefactor of the terrorist enemies we face. So far, they have suffered no consequence for it. This must stop. The War on Terror is now part of the Second Cold War. Unless America recognizes this, neither war can be won.

How it helps you: This will be the biggest political problem you will face, because you will be caught between defending America's interest abroad and protecting your political coalition at home from left-wing critics. This would transform American foreign policy in a way that would make the left happy (more on that later), while keeping our enemies on their toes. In fact, the CCP would have to deal with a new, clear-eyed Administration that will not allow them to furtively provide aid and comfort to terrorists.

Winning the Second Cold War
How it helps America and the free world: See all above.

How it helps you: You have the largest Democratic coalition in forty years. Managing it won't be easy; the left will be very unhappy whenever you look to appease the centrist piece. On this issue, however, left and right stand as one against the center. Thus, a genuine anti-Communist policy will not only score big with the "base," but it will also maintain or perhaps even add to the list of "Obamacons" who provide you bipartisan cover.

For the past year, you have run as the candidate of change - not just rudimentary tweaking, but complete transformation. On this issue, you truly can transform not only America, but the world as a whole. You can give hope to Chinese dissidents, starving Koreans, and freedom-lovers across the globe. You can make America and anti-Communist country again. You can show the world that we have a resolve to defeat tyranny wherever we find it, however long it takes. Finally, you can do all of this while making your strongest supporters and some of your most determined opponents happy. It could make the temporary political majority you have built permanent and larger.

Who knows? You might even get my vote next time.