Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ready, Aim, Watch the Backfire!

The Chinese Communist Party's attempts to use economics as a weapons continue to reveal that when it comes to weapons, one should stick to the real thing - notwithstanding the cadres' best efforts otherwise. At a time when the CCP still manages to maintain its grip on conventional wisdom among Western elites (Agence France Presse via Yahoo, International Herald Tribune, and the Washington Times), it appears to have fallen for one of the elites' greatest errors: the myth that a currency is more powerful than a gun.

For years, the Communists relied on building economic power to compliment their military power and bring the West to heel. The model was simple, make the free world more and more dependent on the CCP, and then spring the trap. The problem for the Communists is that economics and politics are never that simple.

Sure, many in the free world who should know better are buttering them up (as Rana Foroohar of Newsweek does, in what is easily the Ignorant Comment of the Day; Matthew Continetti takes Foroohar apart on the Weekly Standard Blog), but for the cadres, the painful realities are coming into view.

The CCP's position as the largest creditor to the United States has not removed any roadblocks for Huawei Technologies' effort to break into North America (Forbes), or prevented members of Congress from taking aim at its deliberately devalued currency (The Hill). Meanwhile, the Canadian government continues to be a headache for both the regime and its enablers (Canadian Business). The best the cadres can seem to do is keep America from resolving the issue of its detained Uighurs in Guantanamo Bay (The Australian), but that's more a function of the Communist propaganda on East Turkestan (Epoch Times) than any economic concerns.

Even the Communists' financial and political charm offensive in Taiwan (AFP via Yahoo) has struck out - the number of Taiwanese who support reunification with Communist China is still less than one in fifteen (Angus Reid). Looks like that 2012 invasion is still necessary.

Meanwhile, the current economic climate has led the cadres to scale back their investments overseas (Market Watch) - save for their propaganda machines (Fox Business). Clearly, the regime is deemphasizing the yuan in favor of the pen. One can hardly blame them, as their previously envious economy has gone off the rails (Epoch Times).

More ominously, laid-off workers are "becoming increasingly bold in expressing their unhappiness -- expanding a debate over how to protect the Chinese economy into long-fought disputes over other issues such as freedom of expression and equality before the law" (Washington Post). This is exactly the sort of thing the regime fears most.

So what will the Communists do when they realize (as they soon will) that the economics cannot be aimed at pointed at their enemies? They'll go back to more traditional methods. In fact, for the CCP, the foray into economics was itself a diversification of weaponry. The old standbys - military buildup and projection (Weekly Standard), arming terrorists (Epoch Times), etc. - never really went away.

So the regime is still threat it has always been, but now we should be aware that it cannot use economics as a weapon. That should allow the leaders of the free world (who tend to be hyper-focused on economics in the belief that it drives their respective electorates) to take a clear-eyed view of the CCP and the danger it poses.

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