Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The CCP's organ trafficking admission - a sign of things to come?

The Chinese Communist Party admitted to breaking its own law against organ trafficking, and admitted to it in a big way (BBC):
About 1.5 million people in China need transplants, but only about 10,000 operations are performed annually, according to the health ministry . . . the government passed a law in 2007 banning trafficking as well as the donation of organs to unrelated recipients. But in practice, illegal transplants - some from living donors - are still frequently reported by the media and the Ministry of Health . . . In a rare admission of the extent to which this takes place, China Daily - citing unnamed experts - said on Wednesday that more than 65% of organ donations come from death row prisoners.
In other words, the CCP just admitted that over 6,000 organ "donations" came from the condemned, 2007 law be damned.

Of interest to many readers of this column, the cadres of course did not make any admission about organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners. Then again, they don't really admit to killing them either, so this is no surprise.

What is important (and as with most important things regarding the CCP, it has been largely ignored) is this: the CCP admitted, once again, that it can't or won't enforce its own laws among its own members. After all, who else could be selling the organs taken from prisoners but the very Communist regime that supposedly made such organ selling illegal?

While most of the rest of us may not have noticed that whopping admission, the cadres certainly did: they were so nervous about it the rushed out anti-Uighur propaganda without notifying their "Xinjiang" counterparts. Even worse, the BBC got to the cadres in occupied East Turkestan before Zhongnanhai did.

That this would so badly scare the regime will surprise most people. After all, they have the friendliest Administration in Washington since Nixon. The elites in the free world are still seeing the mounds of American debt held by Beijing in economic terms (where it appears powerful) rather than in geopolitical terms (where it's practically worthless). Perceptions like that mean something, and for the CCP, it means a lot.

Still, reality trumps perception in the end - no matter how late that end comes. The one thing the cadres fear the most is the Chinese people rising up to take their country back. Amidst massive unemployment (as the Epoch Times noted earlier this week), the cadres were clearly worried that another example of their refusal to follow the rules could cause problems.

At the same time, with the next CCP Congress only three years away, and most cadres looking to take advantage of the transition from Hu Jintao, information like this could easily be used by one faction against another. So, off it goes into China Daily, leaving the party apparatus scrambling to distract the people's attention.

Lest anyone forget, Hu Jintao is the first leader in CCP history whose exit is considered common knowledge (Mao died in power, while Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin hung on as Central Military Commission Chairman for years after handing over the ostensibly omnipotent role as CCP General Secretary). As any other "lame duck" can attest, the people supposedly following Hu's orders are starting to look beyond him. Even in most democratic countries, factions within the incumbent party will start leaking against each other in an effort to gain the upper hand for their champion come convention or primary time - except that the leader is still considered legitimate and everyone accepts that the voters will decide the successor.

Neither of the above applies to the Chinese Communist Party. Thus, every factional battle has the potential for disaster - and the cadres have three more years of this coming, unless Hu has enough power left to tell everyone to calm down for the good of the Party.

That may be more wistful than it initially appears, for the factions within the CCP are marching straight into the classic "prisoner's dilemma" - concern for weakening the tyranny is trumped by the fear of the other faction (or factions) doing it anyway and getting the upper hand in the process.

European Communists, whose leaders almost always died in power, never had these problems unless the Soviet leader himself was gravely ill - and even then there was a faction interested in keeping that news under wraps to preserve their position. Ironically, in an attempt to ensure a smoother transition from one leader to the next, the Chinese Communists stumbled into this new problem without any guide to solve it.

By 2012, the factional warfare could end up with enough exposures to lead to a full-blown revolution. It may seem improbable, but it can't be seen as impossible. Hard as it is to believe, the Chinese Communist Party's attempt to modernize itself could very well be what seals its doom.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why China Won't Rule the World

There has been quite a buzz lately over Martin Jacques' When China Rules the World. I will confess, I have not had the chance to read the book, so this should not be taken as a review of it; that would not be fair to him - let alone all of you. Still, I have had the chance to look over Jacques' comments in an interview with Macleans, and I can already tell his thesis has problems - problems that make the entire notion of China - or, to be more precise, the Chinese Communist Party - running the planet to be utterly laughable.

The first problem with Jacques' theory is that he apparently takes the cadres' economic growth statistics at face value. Anyone who has been tracking the regime for a while should know by now the danger in that. National statistics in Communist China are just amalgamations of provincial statistics, which are themselves summations of county, city, village, and town numbers. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem, but with cadres at every level trying to justify their existence, the "fudge factor" can be significant. A few years ago, Communist economic chicanery was estimated to add almost 1.5% of false growth to their GDP statistics. Stretch that out to the supposed date the CCP passes the U.S. in economic size (sometime in midcentury), and one sees a lot of padding.

Criticism number two is centered around the notion (at the end of the interview) that the Chinese are a patient people. This has long been marked as a virtue that someday would lead China to pass the shortsighted Western powers. There's only one problem: the Chinese Communist Party has no such patience. While Western observers fret over Beijing's plans for the next century, the leaders in Zhongnanhai are too busy plotting against each other's plans over the next decade, at most. One could even argue that most high-ranking cadres can't even think past three years (i.e., the 2012 CCP Congress, which could very well include a major shakeup), let alone three decades.

One would expect Jacques, "an academic and journalist working throughout East Asia" would have taken the factionalism of the CCP into account - until they notice his glaring error with one of the most hackneyed examples of the "patience" theory (Macleans again).
You remember what Deng Xiaoping was supposed to have said when Henry Kissinger asked whether he thought the French Revolution was a good thing: “It’s too early to say.” That to me is a very good insight into the Chinese mentality.

In fact, it was Zhou Enlai, not Deng, who dropped that famous line about the French Revolution - Deng was not even rehabilitated by the regime until after Kissinger and Nixon's trip to Beijing. While this doesn't necessarily impeach Jacques' views about the Chinese culture, it certainly calls into question his knowledge of the Chinese Communist Party.

All that aside, what really sinks Jacques' vision of a CCP-dominated world is his regional bias, i.e., toward East Asia. Normally, this is hard to spot, as Eurocentricism remains the dominant bias nearly everyone tries to combat. However, in his discussion about the fate of the globe, Jacques focuses entirely on the CCP's relationship with its eastern neighbors (Japan, Vietnam, etc.), while its western neighbors are barely an afterthought. Thus, Jacques falls into the common yet catastrophic China-and-India trap (one more time with Macleans).
We’re moving into a world where former colonized countries like China and India will become the big players. This is going to shake up the global value system. So I’m not arguing personally against democracy, but I’m trying to imagine what the world’s going to be like when countries have different imperatives, different histories, and therefore different priorities.

I am continually and perpetually amazed at how many people treat Communist China and democratic India as indentical twins. Nothing could be further from the truth. While India could probably care less about what Europe wants (and that's not necessarily a bad thing, by the way), its entire foreign policy has evolved into a deep mistrust and concern for the CCP. Beijing and New Delhi still don't have an agreed-upon border, and the Indian people know full well that Pakistan - which lacks either the will, the ability, or both to prevent terrorists from crossing into India and killing hundreds to thousands of people - is protected by Zhongnanhai.

The idea the India would be willing to play second fiddle to the CCP would be hilarious if it weren't so insulting. That India furthermore would not use its democratic history as part of its rivalry with Beijing is to further insult the intelligence of the Indian people and its elected leaders.

Again, I don't want this to appear to be a criticism of Jacques' book itself (although I don't have high expectations for it), but it is clear that the author has a worldview that is lacking not only in vital information about Asia, but even about China itself. More to the point, these areas of ignorance are the only things that have allowed Jacques to even entertain the notion that the CCP could ever "rule the world."

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The CCP and the Axis of Evil

Yesterday morning, Americans woke up to see former President Bill Clinton return from Stalinist North Korea with two former hostages - Current TV News reporters arrested in the CCP's Korean colony - in tow (Washington Post). Pictures of happy reunions were beamed across the grateful nation as talking heads abounded at Clinton's ability to bring the reporters back and speculated as to just what role the Obama Administration played in all of this.

Half a world away, in Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (or, as he is known in this corner, Mad Mouthpiece Mahmoud) was officially inaugurated to a second term as President - despite thousands of protesters in the streets and a slew of boycotting legislators still angry over the obvious fraud behind his "re-election" two months ago (Washington Post).

Most would presume that these events have nothing to do with each other. I'm not so sure.

First of all, we need to remember that Kim Jong-il is a lot like Teamsters pension-fund head "Andy Stone" from Casino - "by all appearances . . . a powerful man . . . but Andy Stone also took orders." Kim Jong-il may be many things (including on death's door), but he remains the Chinese Communist Party's Korean viceroy - even more so now that he is desperate to ensure his son as his successor. Thus, if the CCP wanted those two journalists back in America and out of the headlines, it would have gotten exactly what it wanted.

The question becomes, then, why now? What made early August different from July? Or, for that matter, April? That's where the Iranian inauguration farce comes in.

The CCP has a habit of using the Korean colony to change the subject from any unfortunate matter it would rather avoid. The most dramatic example of this came just over two months ago when Kim and his cronies conducted a nuclear test less than two weeks before the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. So, it was fairly obvious the moment these reporters were captured that this could be of use to the CCP.

How they could be useful wasn't clear until the Iranian uprising, which was as much of a surprise to Beijing as it was to the Tehran regime itself. Under normal circumstances, the CCP would pay no attention to a tyranny cracking down on its own frustrated people - besides making sure everyone knew it stood with the tyranny.

Things became a bit more sensitive when the Iranian people - noticing Beijing's long alliance with the mullahcracy - included "Death to China" among their street slogans. Suddenly, the CCP was itself the target of the protesters, and any trouble coming out of Iran could redound to the free world (whose anti-Communists continue to make the regime very nervous) and China itself (ditto - and then some).

Thus, August 5, the date Iran requires its president to be inaugurated for a new term, became a very important date the cadres in Beijing - important enough to ensure the rest of the world paid no attention to the ongoing battle between the Persian people and the Tehran tyranny. Can we really be surprised that North Korea suddenly jumped on Bill Clinton's trip as an excuse to release the captured journalists just as Iran was approaching another flash point?

As it is, hardly anyone paid attention to Tehran, even when White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs slipped and called the Mad Mouthpiece Iran's "elected" leader (Fox News). All eyes were on North Korea, Bill Clinton, and the two released reporters. Speculation swirled around Kim Jong-il's motives, pundits praised Bill Clinton to the skies (although some are now wondering what was offered in return), breathless reports about the "deep involvement" of the Obama Administration (now that things went well) were whispered and then broadcast.

In short, the plight of the hostages dominated the news day - and the ongoing reverberations of the Iranian uprising did not. The Chinese Communist Party not only saw more press for its Korean colony, but also no press for its Iranian ally. Whatever kind of day it was for Clinton, the reporters, the president, and the media, it was certainly an excellent day for the CCP.