Friday, December 19, 2008

See you in 2009

The family is headed for vacation next week - far, far away from the homestead. So yours truly's next post won't be up until after the New Year.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and Happy Insert-your-holiday-here-if-I-left-you-out.

It was quite a year, and I can't say enough how grateful I am to all the readers who stuck it out (or, to be more precise, stuck me out), and became followers of the blog again when I came back to the keyboard. You're dedication will always inspire me.

Next year promises to be very busy for me, and I don't think I'll be able to post as often as I have over these last months. However, I don't plan to "go dark" this time.

Christmas comes early, courtesy of the Washington Post

One of the most critical pieces of the coalition that brought down the Soviet Union was the American people. As the 1970s wore on, Americans became more aware of both the Soviet threat and the nature of the regime (largely through its vicious satellite states) and demanded leaders who would confront Moscow.

Today, while many of the other pieces are in place - an economy showing its true colors (Epoch Times), the exposure of eye-popping and life-risking corruption (Epoch Times), the rise of a more assertive and connected dissident movement (Sound of Hope via Epoch Times), the brutal satellite (BBC), etc. - the American anti-Communist majority still has yet to assert itself.

However, there were signs today that this could change.

Sadly, most of the MSM's "coverage" of the Chinese Communist regime is similar to the nonsense Jaime FlorCuz wrote at CNN (runaway winner for Ignorant Comment of the Day). Yet this week we saw two terrific columns in - of all places - the Washington Post.

The first Post column, by Georgetown Law School Professor James Feineman, focuses specifically on the Communist judicial system, and unlike most columns by Western "experts," this one pulls no punches (emphasis added):
Thirty years ago this week, the epochal Third Plenum of the Eleventh Communist Party began the process of making the Chinese people far freer economically and politically than previously imaginable. Sadly, on this anniversary, the trends set in motion then appear to be reversing -- with ominous implications for China and the global community.

There are very few analysts of any kind willing to be that honest - and that's just the opening paragraph.

Even more heartening, for its own peculiar reasons, is Michael Gerson's column from today's Post. Gerson focuses on the Korean colony, but what makes his column interesting is his domestic political posture. Gerson is one of the very few defenders of President Bush left; he goes after liberal and conservative critics of the outgoing leader. To some extent, there is hardly a better representative of the Republican establishment than he.

On the Bush Administration's North Korea policy, Gerson is unforgiving. Parts of it read like they were lifted right off One Free Korea's page. What really caught my attention (because Bush has faced an avalanche of criticism from within the right and the GOP on North Korea) was Gerson's comments on the CCP:
Also, it should now be clear that our Chinese partners hold significantly different priorities from ours. Chinese diplomats push for greater American concessions and oppose tough economic sanctions because their primary objective is a stable North Korea on their border, not a denuclearized North Korea.

Again such realism about the CCP is rare in Washington these days.

Meanwhile, over at the Washington Times, the details on these "significantly different priorities" become quite clear (the CCP has been caught violating UN trade sanctions against its Korean colony, sanctions they voted to enact in the UN Security Council and then refused to honor the same day).

Now, the Times has been generally more anti-Communist than the Post, although never perfectly so. The key, however, is that the American elite - divided on domestic issues into Democrats and Republicans but previously near-unanimous in support of "engagement" - are finally beginning to notice what the American people have known for some time: that the Chinese Communist Party is not the peaceful and reformist institution it claims to be.

This could make it much easier for one (or perhaps even both) of the major political parties to take the anti-Communist mantle as its own. I still believe that whichever one reaches for this flag first will be the majority party in America for at least a generation.

More importantly, we may be seeing the first steps (like those taken in the mid-1970s) to an anti-Communist Administration coming to power and helping the Chinese and Korean peoples free themselves from these egregious tyrannies (or, if you prefer, an Administration coming to realize the need for anti-Communist policies).

The Chinese Communist Party was for many years in a far better position than the Soviets could ever dream of occupying. Over the last few years, however, Hu Jintao has let that advantage slowly erode. Now, the regime is just as ripe for a fall as Brezhnev's USSR was. All that is needed is a democratic world determined contain, isolate, and undermine the regime. The aforementioned Washington Post columns tell us that this day is closer than we previously thought.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Yet another Brezhnevian move by Beijing

As Beijing sees its domestic economy deteriorate (Epoch Times) and political dissidents grow more popular (BBC) and bolder (Epoch Times), the regime has responded with saber-rattling reminiscent of the Brezhnev balderdash that preceded the end of the Soviet Union.

The attempt by the cadres to scare Americans with the debt issue (Agence France Presse via Yahoo) was clumsy even by CCP standards. Its announcement of the execution of two Uighurs (AFP via Yahoo) over a "terrorist attack" that may very well have been a fake was much cleaner - and typical of the cadres' combination of dramatic flair and lack of concern for the facts. However, what will probably get the most attention is the decision by the regime to join the fight against the pirates of East Africa (BBC, BBC again, CNN, and the Washington Post).

At first, this move looks like one of cooperation with the rest of the world, and indeed, that's how it's being played. I have to wonder, however, how much of it was driven by India's recent battles with the pirates, and the subsequent jump in the reputation of the world's largest democracy. It is no secret that the CCP - who are convinced they have Washington figured out - are more afraid of India than any other nation on earth. What better way to minimize India's geopolitical gains from the piracy fight than joining in and taking away some of the credit?

Of course, this will also be an excellent chance for the cadres to show off their naval power - and thus intimidate their enemies - without what would be seen as a provocation.

Make no mistake, though, the regime that continues to prop up North Korea (CNN and One Free Korea) and desperately figure out "where to go next" (BBC) at home is not doing this to send a message to the pirates. The regime is sending a message to us. It is message we must hear, but not heed. The CCP is weaker than it would like us to believe, and there's no reason we should continue to believe it is stronger than it really is - pirates or no pirates.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's starting to coming together (except for leadership in the democratic world)

If there were strong anti-Communist leadership in Washington, DC, I could say with confidence that the Chinese Communist Party was in its final days. As it is, we're at the beginning of the end, but that end could take years, and many lives along with it.

To understand my frustration, all one need do is examine the recent news and events which the CCP must face.

Economic growth - the "bread" of the Communists' bread-and-circuses routine - is now expected to drop below population growth for the final quarter of 2008 (Agence France Presse via Yahoo). Annual growth for next year will be lucky to keep up with the population. If that happens, it would be the first time in nearly twenty years, and force hundreds of millions of Chinese to face the reality that the CCP repression is not the price of a white-hot economy, but rather the economy was strong despite the repression (said repression has hardly slowed down - AFP via Yahoo).

We're already starting to see the results of this. In Hunan, teachers are demanding pay raises - which, irrespective of the economic situation, are mandated by Communist law. The cadres, of course, have no intention of following their own laws (Epoch Times), and at least one party figure blithely told the teachers he could "crush a few of them to death."

The teachers are miles behind taxi drivers, who have conducted wildcat strikes across the country (Washington Post). However, it should be noted that all of these are illegal under CCP rule, because the only labor union the CCP allows is the union the CCP controls. The cadres have used that for years stifle genuine independent labor unions - and break strikes.

Of course, to hear the regime tell it, there is nothing getting in the way of the "peaceful rise." After all, foreign leaders are still coming to Beijing for investments (AFP via Yahoo); the Korean colony continues to be as brazen - and successful - as ever (One Free Korea); the plan to muscle down the price of iron seems to be working (Business-Standard); and the regime is moving forward on at least one major project - a nuclear reactor (Bloomberg).

Yet even here, the weakness comes through. After years of promising to be model global citizens, the CCP responded to its first adverse decision from the World Trade Organization by refusing to honor it (AFP via Yahoo). COSCO - the CCP-owned firm best known from getting its meat-hooks into California's shipping ports - is hemorrhaging money (Bloomberg).

Worst of all, there is more attention in the democratic world to the plight of dissidents under the CCP's thumb (Washington Post). Even the regime's friends in the democratic world are taking hits (Epoch Times).

About the only place that hasn't changed much is Washington, DC, where the powers that be are still talking "engagement" and advising President-elect Obama to continue the appeasement policies of the last twenty year (Richard Holloran - Washington Times - takes down this nonsense in a slow-developing column that's still worth the read).

On one level, the disconnect is maddening. As nearly every other indicator of the Zeitgeist shows a regime on its last legs, the powers that be in the most powerful democracy on the planet still treat the CCP as if its wave-of-the-future veneer is firmly in place. Never mind that the Olympics actually turned out to be a surprise bust. Never mind that the melamine scandal has permanently damaged the Made-in-China brand. Never mind the economic downturn and its already visible effects.

That said, we should remember that we've been here before - in 1977. The Soviet Union was just as weak, and suffered with just as many problems; only no one outside Eastern Europe new until Solidarity was formed in Poland in 1980. The Charter 300 dissidents today echo the Charter 77 dissidents of Czechoslovakia. Yet despite all of this, incoming President Jimmy Carter announced to the world that America was over its "inordinate fear of Communism."

While I doubt Barack Obama will use those exact words, odds are good he, too, will dismiss "inordinate fear" of the CCP - giving the regime more time to support anti-American terrorists, imprison and kill dissidents, build up its military (and Russia's economic dependence on same), swallow up Taiwan, and otherwise prepare for its goal: replacing America as the lead power in the world.

The Soviets took similar advantage of Carter; the voters replaced him with Reagan, and the rest was history. What Obama himself will do - let alone American voters - is anyone's guess. What we do know is that the cadres will have some time to limp along, time that we could better spend helping the Chinese people take their country back.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Crackdown in Beijing; creativity in Washington

The false Olympic openness to the press is now gone, as the BBC is reporting that it has been banned by Beijing once more. The full ugliness of the Communist regime was revealed by Gu Xiao, mother of the jailed founder of the China Democracy Party (Epoch Times).

However, in Washington, the North Korea Freedom Coalition has come up with a unique way of counteracting this - calling on Christmas shoppers to "balance their made-in-China Christmas purchases with donations to help North Korean refugees who are suffering under China’s policy of forceful repatriation" (Epoch Times).

Many would like to believe thatr North Korea and Communist China are separate issues, but in fact, the regime in northern Korea is so dependent on Beijing that it has practically become a CCP colony. Half the reason Communist China sends back any escapee from northern Korea is for said colonial regime's benefit. The more northern Korea looks "normal" (BBC), the better things are for the CCP. The more the truth is exposed, the more energy the cadres must expend to prop up the Korean viceroy.

All in all, this is an excellent way to keep attention focused on the Chinese and Koreans that are dying to keep the CCP and its Korean puppets in power. Nicely done, NKFC.

Monday, December 15, 2008

More trouble at home; more trepidation abroad

This past weekend was chuck full of examples of the tragic history of the 1970s returning as Marxian farce.

Much like Leonid Brezhnev seemed to make endless advances around the globe during that decade, so the Chinese Communist Party appears to be reaping gains as the expense of democratic leaders who, frankly, should know better. In Taiwan, President Ma Ying-jeou suddenly reverses himself on Tibet (Taipei Times) while continuing to make nice with the CCP (BBC and CNN). A former leading American diplomat, Richard Holbrooke pretends that the last twenty years never happened (Washington Post), even as the Communist regime looks for better weaponry to stack up against the United States (Strategy Page).

These free world mistakes are based upon a delusion - the delusion being that the Chinese Communist regime is a normal government that is concerned for the Chinese people. In fact, the CCP cares about nothing but itself. Holbrooke himself reveals the error in his Post piece, which fauns over Deng Xiaoping without ever mentioning Deng's role in ordering the Tiananmen Square massacre. This same delusion gripped the "West" during the Brezhnev era.

However, unlike that era, it is far easier for the truth to escape the Communists' clutches. Thus, the crackdown itself not only fails (partially), but it itself becomes the news (The Epoch Times).

More ominously (for the regime), the economy continually refuses to play ball. Exports are tanking (Epoch Times and Newsweek) - and not just for economic reasons (Victoria Times-Colonist). Meanwhile, the regime seems determined to do all of the wrong things (Newsweek and Weekly Standard).

Normally, the Korean colony could be useful in distracting the free world - America in particular - with the nuclear question (One Free Korea and the Washington Post), but even there the script has been lost, as media sources are looking beyond the nuclear weapons issue and to the viceroy's barbaric cruelty (One Free Korea and Washington Post).

All of which may very well pale in comparison to the biggest threat of all, which brings us back to Tibet. After years trying to reach out to Beijing, the Dalai Lama is now trying to reach the Chinese people directly (Epoch Times). This is more than just a sign that Tibet's spiritual leader is increasingly fed up with the regime. It means that he makes it clear he sees China and the Chinese Communist Party as two separate and distinct things.

The regime can not survive that reality being accepted by the Chinese people. This is why they will continue to go after anyone who gives the Dalai Lama an audience (such as New Zealand's new PM - New Zealand Herald).

The irony in all of this is that the Dalai Lama has literally become the "splittist" that the CCP always accused him of being, just not in the way the Communists have meant. Instead, he is creating a much more dangerous fissure (for the Communists), one between the CCP and the Chinese people. Amidst the economic turmoil, he is much more likely to succeed with that separation - and the Communists must stop him at all cost.

Friday, December 12, 2008

What to do about North Korea

Quite a bit of attention is being paid to the latest collapse of North-Korea-nuclear-talks (Washington Post and Washington Times). Once again, the Stalinist regime in northern Korea has told us that after giving them nearly everything they want, they still want more.

North Korea's antics are becoming legendary (One Free Korea has the latest), yet even now, no one seriously talks about punishing them, even minimally (BBC and CNN). I'm guessing this is due to two unspoken reasons: uncertainty about the fate of the viceroy (OFK), and the fact that the Chinese Communist Party remains the regime's biggest benefactor and ally.

The cadres have been using their Korean colony brilliantly. It has badly distracted the Bush Administration (and may very well do the same to its replcaement) while extracting concessions from America and making her look pathetically weak. Despite all the talk about Zhongnanhai's stash of American Treasury notes, it is the Korean colony that has provided the cadres with the most leverage against the United States.

I humbly submit it is time to turn that around use create some leverage of our own.

OFK has some excellent ideas for how to respond. None of them would make the CCP happy, but that's just the point. Rather than let the Korean issue be used against us, we should be using it against them.

Consider the cadres' position right now. The economic slowdown is spreading (BBC, Epoch Times, and Market Watch), as are emabrrasing exposures of corruption (Epoch Times). The democratic world continues to criticize them (Agence France Presse via Yahoo and Epoch Times), however softly. Even the normally friendly Bush Administration is growing colder as it leaves (AFP via Yahoo).

Now, imagine, on top of all that, the cadres find out that the United States will make it much harder for them to prop up the Korean colony due to various trade sanctions and other actions. Might the cadres decide they don't need this bothering them right now?

Of course, the endgame must be the liberation of the Korean and Chinese peoples, but that will be years off unless Beijing feels more pressure - exactly the kind (albeit not the volume) of pressure the Administration can still inflict before it leaves next month. It would also be a cold splash of reality for a regime that can hide from its troubles by reveling in Chen Shui-bian's indictment (BBC and CNN) and France being, well, France (London Telegraph).

There is still time for the Bush Administration to take the tougher line and establish the pressure for incoming President Obama to use (if he chooses to do so). At the very least, it would show that, in its final hours, the Administration finally got something right in East Asia.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Are consumers and investors ahead of the curve?

The Chinese Communist Party announced two economic jaw-droppers which hint that the consumers and investors of the world are wising up on the regime, even if the politicians haven't.

First, exports fell for the first time in seven years. While the global economic travails certainly had a hand in that, I'm surprised that neither the Economist nor the Los Angeles Times made note of the melamine fiasco having an effect on consumer preferences.

If you ask me, however, the bigger news was buried (although Bloomberg caught it): "foreign direct investment fell 37 percent from a year earlier" (emphasis added). In other words, foreign investors are fleeing.

Now, we all know that the Communists' human right abuses (Between Heaven and Earth and Epoch Times) wouldn't be enough; nor would national security issues (Washington Times); nor would the Korean colony (One Free Korea and Washington Post - the latter is an especially moving piece about a prison camp escapee).

As a former campaign operative once said sixteen years ago: "It's the economy, stupid." At long last, the rest of the world seems to have figured out the mirage behind the Beijing "miracle." Already the cadres' solution (devalue their currency again to stimulate exports) is being panned (Epoch Times). If Wall Street and their various counterparts are no longer falling for the Communist line (and that is still a large "if"), it won't be long before the political leaders start to turn as well.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Democratic leaders fail to heed Gutmann's advice

I look forward to the day when Ethan Gutmann's Losing The New China is irrelevant. I'm sure he does, too, because that would mean the Chinese Communist Party had at last been swept from power, no longer able to confuse and confound the free world. Sadly, the CCP is still here, and far too many democratic leaders still fall for the facade of power and modernity that the CCP projects. Gutmann explains in great detail how the cadres accomplish this - particularly with the business community - in his book. However, I also remember one other theme running through Gutmann's work, a warning about how the Chinese people will react when they take their country back - and see just how much a bedazzled West had become the CCP's enablers.

Unfortunately, there is plenty of evidence that the bedazzling is still quite effective, in both Washington (Bloomberg and Christian Science Monitor via Yahoo) and Taiwan (Washington Post). Most of the democratic world is still treating the CCP as a stable government and responsible actor on the world stage, even as evidence to the contrary continues to grow.

While the CCP is still in place, these erroneous assumptions can be damaging. They give the regime a respectability it does not deserve (Washington Times), and help the regime avoid responsibility for its actions, such as the melamine scandal (Epoch Times), and those of its satellites, such as in northern Korea (BBC and One Free Korea). The CCP can use this unearned goodwill to survive and thrive - at the expense of the free world. Given the regime's support of terrorists and anti-Americans of nearly every stripe, the danger in this should be self-evident.

However, the damage will continue even after the CCP is gone, as an angry Chinese people will undoubtedly ask very hard questions about our behavior - exactly what Gutmann predicted.

The regime continues to brutalize its own people (BBC, Bloomberg, Epoch Times, Los Angeles Times), but even the Chinese people would understand the need to deal with a regime that was well entrenched in power (so long as we did what we could to undermine said entrenchment - which we're not). Yet it should be very obvious that the Chinese Communist Party's position is far less sustainable than it appeared even last year, due to the economic slowdown (BBC and Bloomberg). At least one economist thinks the Chinese economic growth is actually below the 8% needed to keep up with population (Herald Sun - Australia).

The Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites underwent similar turmoil in the 1970s; the West was simply unwilling to take advantage of the situation and work with the peoples of Eastern Europe against the regime. The West's position changed in the 1980s, and thus when European Communism collapsed, it was years earlier than it would have been (saving possibly thousands to hundreds of thousands of lives in the process) and ensuring goodwill between NATO and Eastern Europe that - outside of Russia itself - continues to this day.

The Chinese Communist Party is suffering similar internal decay and unrest (Epoch Times and Bloomberg), and unlike the Soviets in the 1970s, the CCP has to compete with more nimble dissidents and whistleblowers. Yet the democratic world continues to operate under Detente II. Unless this changes, not only with the CCP last that much longer (and do that much more damage), but even relations with China after the CCP falls will be hampered by mistrust and anger, which would be deserved.

It is also needless. It is time for the democratic world to heed Gutmann's warning and remember its history. It is time to begin helping the Chinese people take their country back.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Communists try more bluster

The Chinese Communist Party appears to have found a method to deal with its economic problems (Bloomberg and - in its C e-L debut - National Public Radio): bulling foreign suppliers (Bloomberg):

China, the world’s largest iron ore consumer, may ask Rio Tinto Group and rivals to accept an 82 percent price cut for the raw material after steel prices plunged to 1994 levels, an industry official said.

“Iron ore prices should keep pace with steel prices which have fallen to the 1994 level,” Shan Shanghua, secretary in general of the China Iron and Steel Association, said today in a phone interview. “We are asking for a big drop in iron ore prices.”

Whether or not this rather bold move at intimidation will succeed is hard to say. The important point is that it jives pretty well with the CCP's modus operandi - find foreigners to blame, blame them loudly (watch what happens with Rio responds), present yourself as the defender of Ahn Chinese pride, and arrest anyone who disagrees.

It's much easier than admitting to your mistakes; unfortunately, the Soviets already tried it, and we know what happened to them.

Meanwhile, the Korean colonial viceroy is having better luck (One Free Korea), not to be confused with the Korean people, who continue to suffer (Washington Post). Still, all the successes of the satellite state will mean nothing if the CCP falls . . .

. . . and fall it will; it's just a matter of time. The bad news: if "time" is years or decades, many more Chinese and Koreans will die, and many others from around the world may die if the CCP lashes out before it collapses.

Monday, December 08, 2008

You'd think the Dalai Lama took out a subprime mortgage

Over the weekend, the Chinese Communist Party faced an ever-increasing wave of taxicab driver strikes (Epoch Times), a growing wave of foreign bans on their exports (Epoch Times), and another food poison scandal (Epoch Times), on top of the economic slowdown (Time and London Telegraph).

How did the cadres respond? With more repression (BBC and Epoch Times) and fiery criticism of the Dalai Lama. They even called Tibet's spiritual leader "a wolf in monk's clothing and a devil with a human face" (BBC). It's as if he took out a huge subprime loan and then defaulted on it just to cripple the Chinese economy.

Of course, he did no such thing. Nor did he move away from his previous rejection of Tibetan independence. He did make it very clear he prefers a Tibet free from the CCP (Agence France Presse via Yahoo):
When China becomes more democratic, with freedom of speech, with rule of law and
particularly with freedom of the press, . . . once China becomes an open, modern society, then the Tibet issue, I think within a few days, can be solved.

Those are a few days the cadres hope never to see, which at least in part is why the crackdown on Tibet has escalated - again (Radio Free Asia via Epoch Times).

The cadres have been using radical nationalism for years to buttress their regime. Their Korean colony has become so good at this that it can dominate talks on its nuclear ambitions (BBC and CNN) while publicly slamming the one nation that has refused to play its game (Japan - BBC). The "bilateral" talks with South Korea provide more evidence that this nonsense actually works (One Free Korea and Washington Times).

Unfortunately for Beijing, it is the regime's very willingness to prop up Kim Jong-il and his cohorts that allow them this leeway. The Beijing cadres have no such backup. In time, the Chinese people will rise up and take their country back. How much blood and treasure is lost in the interim remains to be seen.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Jonah Goldberg nails it

If I could, I would make Jonah Goldberg's column in National Review Online required reading for the entire blogosphere. As I can't, I'll just highlight the really good parts (but you should still read the whole thing):

Ask yourself this: Why are we in this financial crisis?

Any short list of reasons would include a lack of transparency in markets and regulatory rule-making; collusion between business and government; the politicization of lending practices (including the socialization of risk and the privatization of profit through giant governmental entities like Fannie Mae); and, of course, simple greed.

Does anyone honestly think China doesn’t have these problems ten times over? It has no free press, no democratic accountability, and no truly independent regulators.

After every Chinese earthquake, we discover that safety inspectors couldn’t be trusted to oversee the construction of schools and hospitals. And we’re supposed to believe that China’s corrupt model produces toxic baby formula but spic-and-span finances?

Jonah wrote that as part of his skeptical response to the Communist-China-is-the-future conventional wisdom. I'm guessing he'll hear from a lot of furious emailers telling him how wrong he is, but the cadres themselves know that every word of it is true. Yet the moment they acknowledge this, their facade of strength - upon which they rely for much of their global power - vanishes.

That's why they're insisting on picking fights with the Dalai Lama (Agence France Presse via Yahoo, Epoch Times, and ISN) and overseas opponents (Between Heaven and Earth, Epoch Times, and World Tribune) while merely hinting that something has gone horribly awry (BBC and Bloomberg). If the world is not distracted by the regime's bombast (which can include dramatic offers of "aid" - BBC), they may focus too much on the weakness behind, which despite the aforelinked "warnings," is already here (Epoch Times and Guardian, UK).

For in reality, as Goldberg himself notes:

There’s an honest debate about how much blame institutions like Fannie Mae and laws like the Community Reinvestment Act deserve for the financial crisis, but few honest observers dispute that they played some kind of deleterious role. Well, China’s entire economy is one big Fannie Mae, its laws one big Community Reinvestment Act.

I’m willing to bet that the bill for that comes due long, long, long before China catches up with the United States of America.

That is the cadres' worst nightmare, but every indication shows it's true. Despite Zhongnanhai's best efforts, it has fallen right into the Brezhnev path to oblivion.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Bluster and Balderdash

The Chinese Communist Party decided to do some chest-thumping today.

At an economic meeting with visiting Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Vice Premier Wang Qishan took the time to demand America "stabilise its economy and financial markets and ensure the safety of China's assets and investment in the United States" (Agence France Presse via Yahoo). It's arguably one of the most blunt statements tossed across the Pacific since Mao Zedong's day.

On some level, the cadres have reason to talk tough. Their advances against the island democracy on Taiwan (best detailed by Joseph Wu of the Jamestown Foundation) continue apace, and judging by this sickly Washington Times "special," they're continuing to neutralize some leading conservative constellations in the United States.

Still, one has to wonder if this is more driven by the need to distract attention from the continuing internal turmoil.

William R. Hawkins makes the point brilliantly (ironically, also in the Washington Times):
"China's international standing is based partly on foreigners' calculations that it is 'the country of the future,' " says the NIC (C e-L note: NIC stands for National Intelligence Council). U.S. policy should disabuse the world of this notion.

Indeed, American policy should, but the mess that is mainland China is doing a fairly good job as it is. More ordinary Chinese are suffering under the brutal dictatorship (Epoch Times and more Epoch Times). The melamine fiasco refuses to go away (Epoch Times). Finally, Europe - of all places - refuses to toe the Communist line on Tibet (AFP via Yahoo and BBC), a sure sign that not everyone is overawed by the "country of the future" nonsense.

Odds are we'll get more blunt statements, threats, and the usual tantrums to which dictatorships resort when things are dicey at home. The Soviets went through the same thing in the 1970s and 1980s, but it was much harder for the truth to come out. This time, the truth comes out more easily, but there is less resolve in the Western world to act on it. The Soviets survived due to forced silence at home; the Chinese Communists survive due to intimidated silence abroad.

That must stop.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

More steps in Brezhnev's shoes

The Chinese Communist Party had another typical day - typical of the Soviets in the 1970s, that is.

Within the free world, they were able to score some wins. Their minions disrupted anti-Communist efforts in Korea (Washington Post) and Israel (Epoch Times), while an American court ordered a Chinese mother of four - and thus a violator of the one-child policy - back home to face sterilization (World Net Daily).

Before anyone goes after the jurists in this case, it must be remembered that the Xiu Mei Wei could easily be granted asylum by the political branches of the government. That neither President Bush nor Speaker Nancy Pelosi has even begun to consider this reflects badly on both - but especially Pelosi, given her anti-Communist past.

It's a different story on the Communists' home turf: reports of citizens angry at local cadres (Epoch Times), petitioners telling their tales of being tortured by Communist police (Epoch Times), and more melamine (BBC). This on top of the usual reaction that comes from brutal human rights abuses (Epoch Times) - reaction which remains quiet until the moment the camel's back is broken and the people rise up to take their country back.

All in all, it was another day of muddling through for the cadres, but while they mark time, the end comes one day closer.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Mumbai attack, and what it means for Beijing

More melamine deaths (CNN and Epoch Times) and an export sector in serious trouble (BBC and the Epoch Times); Communist China was facing growing domestic problems just as anti-Communism was becoming the consensus in India.

Suddenly, India suffers a major terrorist attack in its chief commercial center (Mumbai, known to many Westerners as Bombay) - an attack that was authored by the Lashkar-i-Taiba terrorist group - and this from a captured terrorist himself (Washington Post).

Where has Lashkar-i-Taiba had a refuge and support from friendly government officials for nearly two decades? The answer is Pakistan - the very same Pakistan that has been an ally of the Chinese Communist Party for six decades.

Before anyone thinks I've gone over the edge here, I am not claiming that Beijing had a hand in the Mumbai attack. However, I have noticed that it has refused to join in the American and Indian demands that Pakistan help catch the perpetrators (Washington Post).

How has Pakistan responded? Well, a senior military official there suddenly decided it was a good time to call Taliban warlords "patriots" (Weekly Standard Blog), while others are talking about shifting Pakistan units away from figthing terrorists on the Afghan border and put them n the Indian border - where they would effectively be protecting terrorists.

Clearly, the duplicity of the Pakistani military did not change with the election of a new government. Still, Pakistan's Beijing allies continue to avoid responsibility for their longtime alliance with Pakistan (although it would help a great deal if Washington wised up and stopped calling Pakistan an "ally").

Robert Kagan (also in the Post) would give the Communists the chance to reveal their true colors:

Have the international community declare that parts of Pakistan have become ungovernable and a menace to international security. Establish an international force to work with the Pakistanis to root out terrorist camps in Kashmir as well as in the tribal areas. This would have the advantage of preventing a direct military confrontation between India and Pakistan. It might also save face for the Pakistani government, since the international community would be helping the central government reestablish its authority in areas where it has lost it. But whether or not Islamabad is happy, don't the international community and the United States, at the end of the day, have some obligation to demonstrate to the Indian people that we take attacks on them as seriously as we take attacks on ourselves?

. . .

Would the U.N. Security Council authorize such action? China has been Pakistan's ally and protector, and Russia might have its own reasons for opposing a resolution. Neither likes the idea of breaking down the walls of national sovereignty -- except, in Russia's case, in Georgia -- which is why they block foreign pressure on Sudan concerning Darfur, and on Iran and other rogue states. This would be yet another test of whether China and Russia, supposed allies in the war against terrorism, are really interested in fighting terrorism outside their own borders.

Indeed it would.

Given that Kagan is although one of the few anti-Communists in the American punditry, I doubt he's holding his breath on this one. Neither will I and neither should you.

The fact is, the CCP has long been a quiet terrorist sponsor, hoping that the rest of the world doesn't notice. Why? Because the CCP has relied on radical nationalism to justify its regime for years, and will need it even more now that its domestic economy has sputtered. Thus, the regime has become like American slavery of old - it must expand its influence and breadth, or it will die. Whether it's crushing the island democracy on Taiwan (otherwise known as "reunification"), replacing Japan as the lead power in East Asia, or replacing the United States as the lead world power while making sure India doesn't take the role, the CCP's greatest obstacles to its own survival are the two largest democracies on Earth.

So, instead of having to defend itself against parents whose children were poisoned, or foreign importers who won't touch anything it ships out, the CCP gets to defend Pakistan and the terrorists who use Pakistan as a shelter and the Pakistani military as a de facto sponsor. With any luck (for Beijing), the resulting brouhaha will be so bad it turns Afghanistan into a complete disaster (with Pakistan's soldiers handing the border regions over to the Taliban so they can point their weapons at India) that sours America on the entire War on Terror.

This is yet another reminder just how much said war is actually part of the Second Cold War. Victory in both can only come when China is free.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Hu Jintao admits to the problem

Communist Chinese boss Hu Jintao admitted over the weekend that things were no longer so peachy economically in his realm (BBC, Epoch Times, and the Washington Post).

It's not as if he had much choice at this point. The warning signs are everywhere now (BBC, Bloomberg, the Epoch Times, Time, Washington Post, and the Weekly Standard Blog).

Still, Hu was, as expected, woefully short on specifics. He called for more reform, which could actually mean more trouble, given that Jiang Zemin turned reform into a euphemism for mass corruption. Meanwhile, Hu made no mention of shutting down the cadres' various international endeavors, such as what Agence France Presse (via Yahoo), the BBC and KTVU noticed.

The Korean colony, of course, continued its more traditional method: clampdowns and ginning up propaganda from useful idiots (BBC, One Free Korea, Washington Post)

Then again, coming clean on the economy - even without any real solution - could actually become a useful diversion from all of the other problems the regime is facing domestically - such as a crumbling ecology (Epoch Times), the continuing spread of AIDS (CBC), and the fallout from Shanghai over Yang Jia's execution (Epoch Times) - or internationally - such as human rights (AFP via NASDAQ, Epoch Times, and the Globe and Mail).

Ironically, the only place where Beijing doesn't seem to be facing serious trouble is Washington (Epoch Times), but if that changes, the cadres may soon face the same critical mass of opposition that the Soviets did in the 1980s.

Thanks to the Chinese Communist Party's combination of incompetence and lack of ethics, the rest of the pieces are falling into place.

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.