Wednesday, February 25, 2009

China's Human Rights Record Worsened--State Department Report

Is Clinton playing both sides against each other? It wouldn't be the first time.

"China's human rights record worsened in some areas in 2008, including the repression of dissidents and of minorities in Tibet, the report said.

It came just a week after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on a trip to China that co-operation should take precedence over tensions."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Today in Dharamshala, more than 500 Tibetan refugees in exile have demonstrated their solidarity with the population of Tibet

"On the eve of the Tibetan new year - February 25 - and just days ahead of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the anti-Chinese revolt - on March 10 - Beijing has stepped up security measures in the region. In recent weeks, the police have forcibly repressed some demonstrations, arresting at least 24 Tibetans. The government is denying entry to tourists and journalists, and is vowing to "crush" any show of solidarity with the Dalai Lama."

A telling appointment

The Obama Administration has offered a "the influential, low-profile job of chairman of the National Intelligence Council" to Chas Freemen (Politico).

Mr. Freemen is known for many things - among them, effectively saying the Tiananmen Square victims of 1989 deserved what they got (Weekly Standard Blog).

So much for the fellow who would "be frank with the Chinese about such failings and will press them to respect human rights" (National Review Online - Campaign Spot). Appeasement is back.

The CCP "spending spree": A sign of strength? Or Weakness?

As one would expect, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Beijing was the leading news regarding the Chinese Communist Party - and not in a good way. The Secretary not only threw the victims of the CCP under the bus (New York Post), but then proceeded to embarrass herself and her fellow Americans even more by pleading with the cadres to keep buying American debt (Agence France Presse via Breitbart). The cadres were more than happy to agree, and score highly undeserved political capital in Washington for it (AFP via Yahoo).

The regime was sickeningly gleeful at how obsequious the Secretary was (AFP via Yahoo), but such is the cost of ensuring the cadres will continue to lend to us, right?


To understand why the Secretary's appeasement was so unnecessary (and thus, all the more maddening), we need to look at what else the cadres are doing abroad.

In Australia, Canada, and France, the CCP is looking for firms desperate enough to need capital now - and finding them in abundance (Christian Science Monitor). The regime is building a special sovereign wealth fund to buy up foreign resource firms (London Telegraph) - at least the ones not already dependent upon regime-run banks for loans (International Herald Tribune). High-ranking cadres are going on import tours in Europe (AFP via Yahoo), and the regime is already buying half of Australia's mineral exports (Bloomberg).

All of which would be taken as signs that the regime is spreading its economic wings and effectively buying geopolitical power - which it is. It will also be taken as a sign that the CCP has arrived as a major global power in all realms - which is also true.

Finally, it will be seen by some as a "tipping point," revealing that with America weakened by the global downturn, the Chinese Communist Party is taking the wheel and driving the global economy. That's where the narrative jumps the track.

While the regime does indeed look strong from afar, get closer in and the picture looks very different. As Zhongnanhai prepares to gobble up chunks of the global economy, the regime's national pension fund posted its first ever loss (Bloomberg). Meanwhile, the details released on the CCP's "stimulus" are so vague that a lawyer in Shanghai (Yan Yiming) is threatening to sue for more information (Bloomberg) - and in a very clear sign that the cadres themselves haven't figured out their own thinking, Yan is not only still out of prison, but being quoted approvingly by Communist mouthpieces. Given what the regime would normally do to such gadflies (Epoch Times), one can only assume at least some of the CCP's factions are cheering Yan on, which would mean a deep division on the most important issue the regime faces: how to get the Chinese economy out of the ditch.

So what can we take from the regime's recent actions? What does it mean when the tyrannical elite will invest in prostrate foreign firms but steer clear of its own pension fund? What can we infer from the cadres' complete clarity on what to do for, with, and to other economies when coupled with the fog of confusion about fixing their own?

I would humbly submit that the regime is not investing abroad because it wants to do so, but because it has to do so.

First, we have to remember that the regime is dependent upon expanding its influence and power abroad to distract the people at home. This has been the cadres' modus operandi ever since the Tiananmen spring. So it should be no surprise that they are moving into the economic realm now that they appear to have the resources needed.

However, there are two other factors that cannot be forgotten. The more obvious one is the cadres' dependence on their exports. Despite the advice of nearly every economist on the planet to shift from an export-centered economy to a domestic-demand-centered one, the cadres know that such a move would (as all adjustments do) cause some serious hardship in the transition. Since the cadres have been relying on a wealthy, urban elite to defend its "mandate from heaven," any transition that would turn said elite into a poor and angry one is not in the cards. Thus, the Communists, trapped in their export dependence, must rely on foreign spending to keep them in power.

In America, that means the regime cannot pull the plug on its massive debt holdings. In fact, it is facing the exact dilemma I predicted last year. Any attempt by Beijing to force American policymakers to do its bidding by unloading American bonds would either drive down the dollar so far that American exports become competitive with their CCP counterparts, have absolutely no effect as others snap up the bonds the cadres sell, or (most likely) somewhere in between these two extremes. More importantly, such a move would certainly reduce or eliminate any appearance of Communist leverage over the American economy (and appearance is all it is), while moving American politics an decidedly anti-Communist direction.

For these reason, the CCP can't afford to sell its American debt holdings. In fact, they can't even afford to stop buying more - especially with U.S. Treasury notes continuing to be a safe haven for just about every investor on the planet.

In other words, Secretary Clinton didn't need to beg Beijing to keep buying American debt. If anything, the cadres need to lend us money more than we need to borrow it from them. That the Secretary of State felt the need to do it anyway - almost certainly at the behest of her boss, the President - is a very troubling sign of what we can expect from both of them regarding the CCP.

Sadly, it appears we must wait until 2013 for an anti-Communist Administration - and in many ways, that could be too late.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Death of a Tireless Champion for Democracy and Human Rights is Mourned in South Korea

"Cardinal Kim is remembered by South an ardent supporter of democracy who unreservedly stood up against the authoritarian governments that reigned here from the 1960s through the 80s...Kim often outspokenly criticized the governments of Park Chung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan for suppressing student activists and labor unions. In 1987, he gave sanctuary to dozens of anti-government student activists at Myeongdong Cathedral and told authorities who came to arrest them, "You'll be able to get to the students only after you get past me, the priests and the nuns."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A gift of clarity from 1937

It seems that the appropriation by Communist China of a 19th-century capitalism has--in many minds--worked well to obscure the fact that it is still Communist. In 1937, the Vatican published the Encyclical Divini Redemptoris, which articulated most clearly and forcefully the slavery that is life under Communism. Whether or not a person is Catholic (or even anti-Catholic), this document clarifies the humanity-destroying nature of Communism.

Seventy-two years later, and there's still nowhere for the enslavers to hide.

Facebook and Hutchison-Whampoa

The previous post is a link to a news story on MSNBC about Facebook, in which entities from Communist China have a significant investment. For example, the Chairman of Hutchison-Whampoa, whose holdings include ports around the world, has invested at least two-hundred million in the social network.

The Chairman:

The container ports on both the Atlantic and the Pacific sides of the Panama Canal, along with many others, are listed on their website. Oh well, the Panama Canal has no strategic value anymore, right?

The ports they own in the Americas are here:

Reading all of this would lead a person to conclude that money will buy anything, and that the spiritual fire of the Americas, and its citizen-warriors' uncomprising intellect in service to truth, have been in a coma for awhile.

I think we're awake now, don't you?
"...except whatever you've already shared with friends"--which meansthey definately own everything, (and the "new terms" were actually_always_ the terms--the classic "bait and switch")
In case you want to be LKS's friend:

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hope and Change? Ha!

Each of the previous two Administrations (Clinton and Bush the Younger) sounded tough on the Chinese Communist Party for months, only to transform itself into an apologist for the regime.

Even by that weak standard, the Obama Administration's one-month transition is starkly painful (Washington Post):

Human rights violations by China cannot block the possibility of significant cooperation between Washington and Beijing on the global economic crisis, climate change and security threats such as North Korea's nuclear program, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday.

"We pretty much know what they are going to say" on human rights issues such as greater freedoms for Tibet, Clinton told reporters traveling with her on a tour of Asia. "We have to continue to press them. But our pressing on those issues can't interfere" with dialogue on other crucial topics.

Clinton's remarks elicited sharp condemnation from Amnesty International, which has urged her to move human rights near the top of the U.S.-China agenda. The organization accused Clinton of saying "that human rights will not be a priority in her
diplomatic engagement with China" and urged her to "publicly declare that human
rights are central to U.S.-China relations before she leaves Beijing."

Amnesty International criticizing a Clinton? Why that hasn't happened since . . .

. . . since . . .

. . . since the last time a Clinton in power talked about the CCP.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Who will succeed Kim Jong-il? Who cares?

Leave it to the New York Times to bury the most important part of Hillary Clinton's comments on North Korea at the bottom of their piece on the subject. The Times was obsessed over the Secretary of State's decision to speak openly about life after Kim Jong-il:

When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Thursday that a succession battle in North Korea could complicate nuclear negotiations with that country’s government, she broke an informal taboo. Diplomats do not talk publicly about what comes after Kim Jong-il, the convalescing dictator who turned his isolated country into a nuclear rogue state.

Mrs. Clinton, on her first trip as secretary of state, broached the topic with reporters on her plane, and then answered two questions.

“If there is a succession, even if it’s a peaceful succession,” she said, “that creates more uncertainty, and it may also encourage behaviors that are even more provocative, as a way to consolidate power within the society.”

The question is whether Mrs. Clinton made a beginner’s error that could upset other
players in the negotiations, like China. Or whether she showed refreshing candor — the kind of approach that could shake loose what has been a diplomatic quagmire for the last eight years.

The answer to that last paragraph, of course, is "neither." In fact, the cadres pretty much said it all with their subsequent silence: "neither China nor North Korea itself issued any official reaction to her comment."

There has already been plenty of scuttlebutt about who would succeed Kim Jong-il as the Chinese Communist Party's Korean viceroy (One Free Korea is the source to which I turn). In the final analysis, however, the name of the new "leader" is irrelevant. What matters is that when the time comes, the CCP will be the ones who put or keep him there.

The cadres may be in uncharted and threatening territory regarding the global economy and the anti-Communist resurgence in India, but when it comes to manipulating Washington through Pyongyang, they're experts. Two successive Administrations over the last fifteen years have been worked over by Beijing, and a third one (the current Administration) is ripe for the same.

That was all but telegraphed by what Clinton said later:
Mrs. Clinton said she was interested in exploring whether neighbors like China could exert more influence on North Korea. “North Korea is on China’s border, and I want to understand better what the Chinese believe is doable,” she said.

So, not only does the CCP keep its role as gatekeeper for its Korean colony, it now has the American Administration seeking their advice on what is "doable."

Given that, does it really matter who the CCP decides will play the role of "leader" of North Korea? Of course not. What matters is that the Communist regime will continue to be able to use its Korean colony as a lever to pry loose concessions from the United States.

So, whatever Secretary Clinton intended, she revealed that her Administration's policy towards the CCP will be no better than that of her husband or that of Bush the Younger. In fact, as impossible as it may have seemed a month ago, this Administration's policy toward the CCP could even be worse.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Communist edifice of lies and its weak foundation

The Chinese Communist regime announced to the United Nations that it was developing "a major move to advance human rights protection in China" (Agence France Presse via Yahoo). That was more than enough for their usual friends on the UN Human Rights Council (Pakistan, Sudan, etc.), although Canada refused to fall for it (Voice of American News).

Within 24 hours, Gao Zhisheng's arrest by Communist police hit the internet (Worthy News). Oops.

Not the the cadres will mind, much. They've survived such juxtapositions in the past. So long as the rest of the world was content to line their coffers and praise their "reforms," the leaders and the members of the Chinese Communist Party were content to just ignore the minimal effect of their blatant disregard for their own words.

That's where the trouble comes in (for them): neither of the above are happening anymore.

The cadres themselves had to admit that roughly half of their toymaking firms fell under the waves of the global recession last year (AFP via Google and the Financial Post). The effect is cascading into other sectors (Wall Street Journal's China Journal Blog), but even that paled in comparison to the bigger danger for the regime. The recession is causing economists and financiers around the world to notice the cadres' penchant for padding its statistics (China Journal Blog).

Of course, in many capitals, the old combination of smiles and promises of economic aid can still work its magic (AFP via Google, AFP via Yahoo). However, in the private sector, the magic is gone. Foreign investment in Communist China fell by nearly a third last month alone (AFP via Yahoo).

It's gotten so bad now that even when a Communist-owned firm invests abroad, local investors are choosing to take their own money and run (AFP via Yahoo).

Meanwhile, in the developed democracies of the world, the Communists are running into a bit more flak then they anticipated. Rome's hard-left mayor reminded the world of the long-running anti-Communist impulse in European socialists by welcoming the Dalai Lama (AFP via Yahoo). The embrace of anti-Communism by India's Congress Party has the cadres doing a painful double-take (AFP via Yahoo).

Finally, in the United States, where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is moving heaven and earth to shift from George W. Bush's largely friendly policy towards the CCP to her husband's even more friendly policy towards the CCP (Global TV and the Washington Post), Communist cyberhackers are leading others in the American government the opposite way (Bloomberg and China Aid) - including, ominously for the cadres, the president himself (AFP via Google).

Has any of this slowed down the cadres rapacious appetite for global power and resources? Of course not. The buying spree is now shifting to oil and other resources (Bloomberg and Bloomberg again); the military buildup continues (AFP via Google); and the persecutions continue (China Aid and Radio Free Asia).

They even went to the old standby - getting the Korean viceroy to act up and distract everybody, in this case with a test-launch of a missile that can hit the American Pacific Coast (CNN and National Review Online: The Corner).

Why are they doing this? They believe they have no other choice.

The cadres have been relying upon geopolitical power abroad to appease the masses at home for years, ever since the economy-first model resulted in the Tiananmen spring of twenty years ago. For the CCP, radical nationalism is the only card left to play, and they have played it well for nearly two decades.

Unfortunately, the regime is now discovering the awful truth: such a move forces it to really on outsiders for its own survival. So long as said outsiders were buying up Communist-made exports and playing nice with Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, everything was fine.

Now, however, with the recession wiping out the export market and more people in the free world wondering just what the CCP is planning, there is more risk in what the regime is doing. Most Westerners don't notice this because only the economic change has happened for them: governments in Washington, London, Paris, etc., still have the same vague confidence in "engagement" that they did before (while Ottawa maintains its vague skepticism).

In India, however, the change is profound - and much more troubling for the cadres. Nothing in the twenty years spooked the CCP more than India going nuclear in 1998. It turned the largest democracy on earth into a regional military power with an anti-Communist government at the helm. Eleven years later, India has grown to be a full-fledged economic competitor to Beijing as well, while the center-left coalition that ousted the anti-Communist in 1998 is mimicking them (and may lost to them anyway in upcoming elections).

This means the cadres only have one real hope: President Obama. So long as the president extends to the CCP the same olive branch he is trying to extend to nearly every rouge regime and entity the CCP backs, then the cadres can isolate India and still draw on international appeasement to ward off rising anger at home.

I sincerely doubt the cadres will leave their survival to such chance. Therefore, I still expect the satellites to be used to ensure Washington continues to "cooperate" with Zhongnanhai. North Korea's possible missile launch is part of that strategy. We should expect the Iranian mullahcracy to do its part soon.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The "center" loses its grip

Hardly anyone remembers William Butler Yeats these days - at least outside of Ireland that is. However, one phrase from "Second Coming":
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.

Now, the Chinese Communist Party didn't even exist when Yeats wrote this (the Soviet Communists were maneuvering for control of China through the Nationalist Party back then), but I wouldn't be surprised if more than a few cadres in Zhongnanhai were wondering about the ability of the "center" (themselves) to keep a firm hold on events.

Given the current global recession, the CCP desperately needs its Party members to dial down the graft. Yet for lower-level cadres (and middle-level cadres, and a good chunk of the higher-ranking cadres), the License to Steal was the first, last, and only incentive to Party membership in the first place. Can the CCP really change a behavior it was using as an incentive to boost its numbers for a generation?

Two pieces of evidence from this weekend suggest the answer is "No" - a former vice president of a regime-run bank busted for taking $1.5 million in bribes (Agence France Presse via Yahoo) and the head of the regime's credit export insurer nabbed doing the same thing. That these two corrupt officials were caught in the most sensitive areas of the economy - exports and bank lending - tells us all we need to know about the failure of the CCP to root out corruption.

If that wasn't bad enough, a new nightmare arose for the cadres - evidence that they themselves caused the Sichuan earthquake (London Telegraph):

The 511ft-high Zipingpu dam holds 315 million tonnes of water and lies just 550 yards from the fault line, and three miles from the epicentre, of the Sichuan earthquake.

Now scientists in China and the United States believe the weight of water, and the effect of it penetrating into the rock, could have affected the pressure on the fault line underneath, possibly unleashing a chain of ruptures that led to the quake.

Fan Xiao, the chief engineer of the Sichuan Geology and Mineral Bureau in Chengdu, said it was "very likely" that the construction and filling of the reservoir in 2004 had led to the disaster.

"There have been many cases in which a water reservoir has triggered an earthquake," said Mr Fan. "This earthquake was very unusual for this area.

As an aside, we might want to keep an eye on Mr. Fan himself.

If word of this reaches the Chinese people (in Sichuan especially) it could get very ugly for the regime. In fact, the CCP may be preparing themselves for the worst; its latest report to UN on human rights deliberately skipped over several incidents of repression (Bloomberg). Meanwhile, its promises of being more open to the press - made in the run-up to the Olympics - have been exposed as fraudulent (Bloomberg).

Of course, the Communists are responding as all Communists do - by trying to project more power abroad and prevent the democratic world from noticing what's going on at home. However, even this is beginning to cause problems.

The cadres have clearly succeeded in building a blue-water naval force (AFP via Yahoo). However, rather than earn the respect of the United States (or engender weakness in the same), it has fueled the revival of anti-Communism in India (Indian Express). Meanwhile, recent comments by American Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner about the CCP's deliberate currency devaluation got an unexpected boost from Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty - not previously known to be part of the anti-Communist force within the Great White North's Conservative government.

In fact, the only place where the elected party in power is consumed by the "engagement" nonsense is on Taiwan (AFP via Yahoo), and even there, talk is moving to concern that President Ma Ying-jeou - who has a bridge to sell, literally - "has no idea what he is doing and is compromising the nation’s security" (Taipei Times).

Now, all of this put together hardly spells the CCP's doom - for now. The center can still "hold" a while longer. However, if the anger of the Chinese people were ever to combine with a clear-eyed and sober free world recognizing the threat from Beijing, the cadres would suddenly be in very deep trouble. A similar combination that defeated European Communism, and the CCP has been trying to prevent it ever since.

Over the weekend, the CCP Doomsday continued to come closer. The center still holds, but its grip is weakening.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

With job losses now at 20 million and counting, the regime looks for scapegoats

The Chinese Communist Party is literally going back in time. All of the prosperity and "reforms" of the last thirty years have kicked into reverse.

The regime is now being forced to admit that over 20 million jobs have vanished over the last year (BBC). At least three provinces that went from rural backwaters to major commercial hubs - Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu - are now home to "dozens of protests that are never mentioned by the state media" (Sunday Times of London), reminiscent of the tens of millions that took to the streets outside Beijing during the spring of 1989. The cadres blacked out those protests, too.

Guangdong is also finding its modern model of corrupt corporatism under attack from Beijing - not for reasons of modern reform but old-style anti-business Marxism (Financial Post).

Of course, none of these things had to be a harbinger of going back to the future by themselves. What really triggered the way-back machine was how the cadres continue to handle the situation - with pages ripped right out of the Brezhnev playbook.

As more and more ordinary Chinese demand accountability from their Communist leaders, said leaders recycle charges of "slavery" against the Dalai Lama (Hindustan Times) and aim the bloggers' ire at a show-thrower in London (BBC). The usual crackdown against anyone in Tibet who does not approve of the Communist occupation continues apace (Bloomberg). Meanwhile, the cadres have decided the economic crises is a perfect time for a massive investment - in propaganda (Manila Times).

For the most part, the leaders of the rest of the world hasn't noticed this, or is trying to pretend it's not that big of a deal (BBC, Bloomberg, and the Taipei Times). There is, however, one country that may follow (to an extent) the CCP back into the pass - and in a way the regime truly cannot afford: India.

As the CCP continued to juggle its blood-and-circuses act, India's Bharatiya Janata Party - currently the lead opposition party and quite possibly the leader of the next government after elections this spring - railed against the Communist regime for its militarization of Burmese regions bordering India and refusing to accept India's territorial claims east of Kashmir (Calcutta News).

India and the CCP fought a border war forty-five years ago (during which the Kennedy Administration made fairly clear it backed India), and while not even the BJP is willing to go that far, a resurgent anti-Communism in an Indian democracy once again close to Washington has to have Zhongnanhai on edge. While the Soviets managed to limp along, and even score geopolitical gains, until the United States got serious about winning the First Cold War in 1980, the "other" power that concerned Moscow (ironically, the CCP) was presiding over a traumatized people and a flattened economy. India, by contrast, is a vibrant democracy with an economy that was already drawing investment money away from Beijing before the downturn. Should the BJP win the upcoming elections, it would give the CCP a neighboring threat from a political, economic, and military perspective - something not even the United States could be at present.

Unexpected events from places that should have been followed more closely have changed history before. A political sabotage operation by German intelligence in World War I led to the founding of the Soviet Union; Communist Party parliamentary maneuverings - on orders from Moscow - in a chaotic Weimar Republic gave Adolf Hitler the keys to power, a shipyard protest in Poland led to a mass anti-Communist movement that inspired the American electorate - at least in part - to elect Ronald Reagan. If anything, the Indian people electing an anti-Communist government would be a more straightforward cause for change in China than any of the above.