Showing posts with label xi_jinping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label xi_jinping. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Let's all take a moment to savor Tsai Ing-wen's arch wit

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Original photo from Wikimedia Commons, speech bubble is mine


Look, I know President Tsai (who, by the way, is now my official girl crush on account of her being still alive) has a reputation for being a dull public speaker. A frosty technocrat who doesn't engage with the people. A wonkish civil servant who hasn't convinced the public of her vision for Taiwan. And all of that is somewhat true - Tsai isn't a bad president, in fact, I'd say she's the best we've had since we entered the true democratic era in Taiwan. But she's not that good at "politics", if by "politics" you mean "standing in front of a crowd with a podium and doing politiciany stuff." I don't care, but clearly others do. What she is good at, however, is new media, and she deserves credit for that.

Let's not forget that this isn't only the first female president of Taiwan and one of the first women in Asia not preceded by a male family member, but the woman who wore pants at her inauguration to the top office of the government of a patriarchal society (almost all societies are patriarchal; Taiwan is on the liberal end for Asia but the conservative end for liberal democracies.)

She told us from Day One with her rockin' pants that she DGAF and will absolutely slay you if she feels like it, but it appears we're just now getting the message.

And you know what? She's great at it, and it's time we started appreciating that.

Because I can't go hang out with her and have a sleepover and drink wine and pet her cats and wear pajamas and do each other's nails while we talk about boys international politics and the future of Taiwan (who cares about boys?), I have put together this tribute post to the wittiest damn president Taiwan has ever had.

DJ...drop the beat!*




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From Twitter

Let's start with the retort that spouted a thousand memes. Xi Jinping was all hot under the collar, being so shrill and outraged and full of hormones, like, Taiwan must and will be reunited with China blah blah blah 1992 Consensus blah blah blah One Country Two Systems blah blah blah I'll show mommy I'm a good ruler of China after all blah blah historic trend blah blah mommy blah blah. 

And Tsai was like, "...and the Taiwan Consensus is BYE FELICIA."


I mean, more presidential than that, but...same deal.


So then, some English teacher called her "Tsai Englishit" on a test for no reason. I suppose he thought it was funny. The question went like this:


President Tsai-englishit made some silly ____ in her speech.
 a.) amateurs  b.) disasters c.) parades  d.) comments 


Did Our Lady of Hot Tea get mad? No. Did she slam the teacher on Twitter with a tirade of incoherent and misspelled tweets? Of course not, she's not the President of the United States or anything like that. 

Did she take it in stride and release her own (much funnier) comeback that pointed out the civil liberties that allowed that English teacher to make his "joke" in the first place?


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I don't know how to credit this because I shared it on Facebook ages ago. 



Of course she did. Because she is a (democratically elected) queen.

So now, we've got Big Uncle Dirk in Hong Kong meeting with local leaders and (apparently) CCP members - you know, like a traitor would do. Is Tsai incensed that he was invited so that Beijing could make it clear to Taiwan that if they'd only vote the way China wants them to, all this could be over (not that it's really clear what this is, as Chinese pressure hasn't impacted Taiwan nearly as much as the media says it has)?

Nope. Once again she made it clear with a quip that there are many messages China might hear (link in Mandarin), if they'd only actually talk to Taiwan:


她記得韓國瑜選舉時很在意中華民國,現在就是一個機會請告訴對方,中華民國台灣是一個主權獨立的國家,請中國停止打壓台灣的國際參與空間。 
She [Tsai] remembered that "Han Kuo-yu was very concerned about the Republic of China during the election, and now he has a chance. Please [Mayor Han], tell the other side that the Republic of China is an independent country, please request that China stop suppressing Taiwan's ability to participate in the international sphere." (translation mine)

I truly can't think of a better comeback than reminding Taiwan and the world that China is the enemy, but as long as they're talking to someone from Taiwan, they may as well hear the right message - and making it clear without saying a thing that Han certainly isn't someone who will deliver it.

And finally, we've got not so much a witticism as a quick 'n dirty truth bomb:





I mean, how much more perfect can you get than "oh but BEIJING is going to be MAD and OPPOSE that aren't you WORRIED about the reaction from BEIJING because it's the only thing the international MEDIA can TALK ABOUT because CHINA!!??"

Tsai: "Beijing opposes everything."

Hey, Mr. Xi. Is your English name Elvis? Because you just got a couple of burns. 



*Skip to 3:20 to see Tsai say exactly that

Saturday, March 9, 2019

With doing lots of genocide, Xi Jinping of China keeps with tradition

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Photos from the province full where Xi Jinping is committing genocide RIGHT NOW, not that the
New York Times thinks that's important, after all...his hair is graying, so...that's a story, right?



by Confucius McDoorknob

HONG KONG (because we can't report freely in China) — President Xi Jinping is known for keeping the rules of Chinese politics, amassing more power than any leader since Mao, and doing almost as much genocide. 

His latest attempt to shake things up may be one of his boldest moves yet: Mr. Xi is going slightly — though unabashedly — anti-Uighur, in total lockstep with longstanding Communist Party tradition.

For decades, Chinese leaders have attempted to show unnatural 'togetherness' between the various cultural and religious groups of China, a look that symbolized unity and gave the party a not-genocidey veneer.

But Mr. Xi, 65, appears to be dispensing with vanity as he presents himself as a relatable and avuncular mass murderer, part of his efforts to soften his hard-line policies.

As Mr. Xi takes part in the annual meeting of China’s legislature this week, the concentration camps he's set up to systematically wipe out the people of East Turkestan through re-settling the area with Chinese, a heavy-handed surveillance state, "re-education" and straight-up murder have been a hit with delegates and the public.

“He’s very humble,” said Gu Yan, 47, an employee at a technology firm in the eastern city of Xiamen. “He’s not afraid to be himself.”

Mr. Xi has a history of making genocide choices that underscore his image as a man of the Han people. He is often pictured in China wearing a navy blue, zippered windbreaker which doesn't have any blood on it because he doesn't personally do all the genocide, a symbol of humility as he leads a campaign against corruption and also anyone who criticizes him or the CCP, anyone who is not Han unless they are an obedient "ethnic" minority that will dance for Han tourists and also wear colorful costumes but never actually question their (subordinate) place in Chinese society.

His lots-and-lots-of-murdering further reinforces that image, as well as Mr. Xi’s desire to be seen as a paternal figure - I mean like if your dad was a murderer - and live up to the nickname by which he is popularly known, “Murderin' Uncle Xi,” China apologists and flunkies say.

“It’s not this image of the stodgy cadre who must be exactly dyed and dressed in the right mold,” said Western Guy O'Whiteass, a useful idiot who studies Chinese history and politics at Prestige Academy, whom we asked to make it look as though we did any real research into what's actually going on in China. “It’s an image of the party that is more relatable and less apparatchik-like in its aesthetics, but definitely not in its murdering of people who look, act and believe differently."

Going full-on Hitler was not always such a big deal in China — both Mao and Deng Xiaoping, China’s paramount leaders, embraced spilling blood on Chinese soil for infractions such as asking for freedom and human rights. The former was thought to have caused the deaths of millions during the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, and the latter, of course, gunned down protesters (or just ran over them with tanks) during the Tiananmen Square protests, which the world seems to have forgotten about and we definitely don't want to remind you about with this article because, you know, profit.

But more recently, as the party promoted a “collective leadership” model to spread power more evenly after the strongman days of Mao so that the blame for disappearing thousands if not more of their own citizens would be more difficult to pin on a single person, and any given person would be able to deny knowledge or complicity, genocide was not as widely practiced, although murder and disappearance definitely still happened.

In the past, how much genocide one does has often been seen as a symbol of status within the party. In 2015, for example, Zhou Yongkang, China’s former chief of domestic security, was shown confessing to crimes during a sentencing hearing, his formerly jet-black hair having turned into a shock of white while he was in detention. Of course, that was probably because he was tortured and forced to admit to whatever the party wanted. 

Zhang Jiehai, a sociologist at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said that in the past Chinese officials embarked on genocide in secret so as not to raise eyebrows both in China and abroad. But now, he said, Chinese officials are younger and society has grown more open. 

“It has become more natural,” he said. “The leaders no longer need to cover up their actual literal real-life concentration camps.”

How exactly Chinese officials maintain the "I didn't mass murder anyone oh actually haha I did"  look is something of a state secret, though copious amounts of money are probably involved.

Mr. Xi’s murder record was mostly unknown when he rose to power in 2012. But as he has grappled with a slowing economy, diplomatic tussles in the South China Sea and a trade war with the United States, he has turned to taking the lives of anyone who opposes him in thought, deed or creed or just looks like someone who might, so as to scare people away from assailing his position of power.

His really-serious-genocide-committing look has not gone unnoticed in the party.

In 2016, a delegate at the National People’s Congress said she had noticed during a meeting with Mr. Xi that he had "done a lot of genocide, I mean, I'm not criticizing him or anything, please don't drag me away and torture me."

“Our country is so big,” the delegate, Zhu Xueqin, speculated at the time. “He needs to manage all sorts of things and it’s very hard.”

Mr. Xi’s example seems to be catching on: many members of the Politburo, an elite 25-member council at the highest levels of the Communist Party, also are surely complicit in some genocide. 

While genocide might be seen as undesirable elsewhere in the world (President Trump proudly declared on Saturday, “I have not committed genocide, at least not yet”), in China some view it as a sign of wisdom.

At barbershops in China, stylists said they applauded Mr. Xi’s decision to kill lots of non-Han people who are viewed as a disobedient threat to CCP control. 

“It makes him look like he works harder — that he’s laboring day and night,” said Liu Ke, a stylist at a salon in the central city of Xi’an.

Jiang Zhirong, the co-owner of a barbershop in a Beijing alleyway, said Mr. Xi couldn’t go wrong.

“Whether he mass murders lots of people I don't know and don't care about or not,” she said, “the president has great style.”

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Xi Jinping is probably a terrible parent, given the way he treats Taiwan

Another day, another repetition of China's old line that if Taiwan would just agree to unify with China, that their rights would be assured under the "one country two systems" framework.

The article is strong, and includes analysis from experts who mostly actually seem to know what they are talking about. It avoids the incorrect use of "reunification", which not many reports on the issue do. It's clear that a.) Taiwanese are not likely to ever embrace unification (meaning that if it ever happens, it will be annexation, not unification); b.) things aren't great in Hong Kong; and c.) that Taiwan has "everything to lose and nothing to gain" from unification with China.

There are a few flaws, such as not dissecting Jeanne-Pierre Cabestan's assertion that Beijing's offered "reward" is "sweeter" than previous offers when in fact it's just the same old crap, and using the phrase "tensions could rise" rather than clearly identifying China as the source of tensions. But, it's good work overall and I don't want to dwell on these small nitpicks.

Instead, seeing as Xi Dada routinely treats Taiwan as a recalcitrant child (Taiwan is not China's child, but this is how he sees it), I have to wonder what kind of Dad he is exactly. Does he treat his own kid this way?

I can only imagine that conversations in the Xi household go something like this: 



Xi Dada: "Honey, come give your Dad a foot rub."

Formosa: "Ew. No. That's gross, you're gross, your feet smell and I'm not going to do it."

Xi Dada: "Come on, don't you want to give me a foot rub?"

Formosa: "I literally just said I don't want to do that."

Xi Dada: "If you give me a foot rub, I'll let you take out the garbage!"

Formosa: "Um, I don't want to take out the garbage or rub your feet. I especially don't want to rub your feet so that I can take out the garbage."

Xi Dada: "Oh, honey, but...if you give me a foot rub, you can take out the garbage! Won't that be great?"

Formosa: "Did you not hear me say two seconds ago that I don't want to take out the garbage?"

Xi Jinping: "If you take out the garbage, you can take out your own garbage with my garbage."

Formosa: "I only have a little garbage. I can take it out myself. You have a ton of garbage. I would be totally buried in it. That's disgusting and I said no."

Xi Jinping: "But honey...don't you want to take out the garbage? You can do that if you rub my feet!"

Formosa: "For the last fucking time, I don't want to give you a foot rub, and I don't want to take out the garbage, so why would I agree to give you a foot rub so I can do another thing I don't want to do?"

Xi Jinping: "Why are you so difficult? This is a wound on our family! It's a matter of family pride that we all agree on."

Formosa: "I don't agree with that and never really said I did."

Xi Jinping: "You used to say that!"

Formosa: "Back when I was forced to. Now I'm not. I never actually believed it and you know that. To be frank, I'm not even sure you're my real Dad."

Xi Jinping: "But I'm offering you so much! I keep sweetening the deal and you keep turning me down!"

Formosa: "What makes it sweeter?"

Xi Jinping: "If you give me a footrub, you can...take out...the...garbage!"

Formosa: "That's not sweeter, that's the same thing you offered me before and it's terrible."

Xi Jinping: "Your cousin gave me a foot rub and took out the garbage and he loves it!"

Formosa: "No he doesn't! You forced him to give you a foot rub and take out the garbage and now he smells like your feet and is covered in garbage!"

Xi Jinping: "That's not true."

Cousin Hong Kong: "That's true."

Xi Jinping: "This is a wound to our family pride!" 


International Media: "Oh no! Tensions could...be risen...in the China household!"

Formosa: "Um, I just live nearby and I don't know why this jackass says he's my 'Dad', so - - "

International Media: "Shhh!" 


Xi Dada: "A WOUND ON OUR FAMILY PRIDE!! We as a family can never be truly happy until Formosa rubs my feet and gets her reward of taking out the garbage! That's what everyone wants!"

Formosa: "No, it's not what anyone but you - - oh whatever. I'm not going to do it but I'm done telling you why."

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Contortions of a Dove in Hawk's Clothing

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Guard the alley, cat. 



Taiwan makes me contort myself in weird ways.

I don't mean living here, I'm pretty used to that. I mean in figuring out how the hell to reconcile my international political beliefs.

Because I'm not an expert in IR (having majored in it in undergrad 16 years ago doesn't count) I'm not going to try to analyze anything. I'm just going to say - so many people seem to think all of these  Korea-focused summits between Moon, Kim, Trump, Xi in various permutations are fantastic, and I too would love to be on the side of discussion, negotiation and diplomacy carrying the day toward peace and nuclear non-proliferation. I'm a liberal, right? We're foreign policy doves, are we not?
This is better than troops stationed for decades in foreign countries, nuclear tests, threat of war and ever-increasing military spending, is it not?

I'm not so sure of either.

The dove in me would love to see fewer American troops stationed abroad. The realist in me knows that Kim wants this, Trump is already talking about it, Xi definitely wants it, but it would be terrible for Taiwan. Mostly, I'm afraid that this is Xi's game: fewer US troops in the region that could potentially be deployed quickly is a clear strategic advantage for China and its designs on Taiwan. To continue the strongest possible deterrent to Chinese attack on Taiwan, I have to be in favor of continuing to station (and pay for) US troops in South Korea. I have to set myself against de-escalation and for the (heavily militarized) status quo.

I don't like that one bit. It goes against everything I believe in otherwise. But I also believe in Taiwan and have no doubt that deterring Chinese designs on Taiwan is not only the right thing to do, it's essential.

It is clear to me that the person who benefits from Trump looking like he's doing some good is Xi. He knows Trump is a paper tiger in most respects who can't be controlled but can be played, whose saber-rattling only makes China look like a victim when it isn't one (he is probably more worried about Trump's pro-Taiwan advisors, but also knows Trump people can and do get fired all the time).

The person who benefits from a US troop withdrawal in South Korea, in terms of regional influence? Xi. (I'd say "China" but it's all run by Xi anyway). The person who benefits from a denuclearized North Korea (if that actually happens, which I doubt - North Korea wouldn't be willing to talk if it didn't think it already had a deterrent to US attack, has broken promises after negotiating concessions), and from it seeming as though the region is peaceful and therefore there is no reason to maintain US influence at current levels? Xi. The person who benefits if the rest of the world decides Taiwan is not geostrategically important enough because Asia is quiet? Xi. Who keeps meeting with Kim with timings so fortuitous that they're practically announcing who is directing the "North Korea is suddenly playing nice" train? Xi.

Who is Taiwan's greatest enemy? Xi. Not the CCP (though they're pretty bad), not China. Xi. He’s not the next Mao Zedong. Mao had (messed up) ideals. He’s the next Chiang Kai-shek: ruthless, amoral, immoral, power-hungry, and weirdly obsessed with Taiwan.

It terrifies me that the small country that always breaks promises is being directed - and I do believe they are - by a big country that always breaks promises, which has designs on the country I live in and love. It terrifies me that so many people think peace always benefits everyone and that all players are honest and well-intentioned, when they are not, and the peace these people broker now could well lead to a war for Taiwan's continued freedom later.

But winning the hearts and minds of my fellow Western doves means convincing them that US military presence in Asia has more pros than cons and what looks on the surface like ‘peace’ actually isn’t. Good luck with that.

Granted, I don't think a troop drawdown in Korea is the only thing standing between Taiwan and China. We have troops elsewhere too and influence can mean as much as military might. It's more that every drop of US defensive capability that disappears from Asia is one drop less that China might have to contend with if it invades Taiwan (and it knows it). Every bit less of US influence in Asia is a bit more influence that China wins. Besides, troop drawdowns in S. Korea also affect Japan - this won't be good for Japan either if what I think is going on actually is.

I know this sounds a lot like wanting to keep letting the US run the show around the world rather than letting Asia (and Asians) manage their own affairs - and that too makes me as uncomfortable as doing a crazy yoga position. I don't particularly like US global hegemony, it was created to serve US interests, not the interests of the world as a whole.

But peace isn't always what it appears to be - you can bet Xi wants increasing power (and territory) in Asia to look "peaceful" so the West will stay away. Destruction can be rebuilt from - avoiding it is not always the top priority. CCP oppression is forever.


And so I'm stuck being a hawk even though I really, really don't want to be.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Taiwan is the canary in the coal mine, and it's getting hard to breathe

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Emperor Xi Jinping of the Pooh Dynasty



Lots going on in the news this past week or two on China, its strategy abroad, the West's reaction to it, the rise of Emperor Xi, and what this could all mean for Taiwan.

I noticed, as international media outlets began reporting on Xi Jinping crowning himself Emperor Winnie of the Pooh Dynasty, that a number of them - most, in fact - curiously left out Taiwan, like the BBC, The Guardian, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the NPR News broadcast I listened to while making dinner yesterday. Only a brief mention of how he has "toughened China's stance" on Taiwan in this other Washington Post article (I can't read the New York Times coverage as I've used all my articles for the month and it's not one of the two papers I subscribe to). Even though that last one is about how Xi might use his throne - despite there being at least a fair chance, if not a likely one, that he will eventually use it to make a move on Taiwan - it doesn't factor in at all.

This is unsettling for anyone who cares about Taiwan - not just that this changes the game vis-a-vis a potential Chinese threat, but that the West doesn't seem terribly concerned about it. If you don't believe me about that threat, by the way, Donovan pointed out clearly why Taiwan is right to be terrified of Emperor Xi in The News Lens:


Most analysts (including myself) have thought the only way China would risk an invasion of Taiwan in the short to medium term would be if the China faced enough of an internal crisis that the power of the Chinese Communist Party was threatened, who would then use an invasion as a distraction and nationalist rallying cry....

This is where the terrifying part lies. Xi may consider actions purely for glory that his more institutional predecessors wouldn’t or couldn’t have.

This should make China’s neighbors very nervous. An absolute ruler of a massively powerful nation with ambitions to enter history is potentially very dangerous and unpredictable. China wants the Senkaku Islands from Japan, several border areas from India and to consolidate power over the South China Sea. But the obvious big prize to achieve glorious “reunification” of China and finally end the “century of humiliation” would be to take Taiwan.

That would be hugely risky and destructive course to take, potentially igniting a massive war involving many countries. But we can no longer assume that only a Chinese Communist Party facing an existential internal crisis is the only likely scenario whereby China would consider an attack.

Xi might just consider it for himself.

He is absolutely correct and I could not say it better myself.

I have no idea what Xi might do - there's a lot to consider. He wouldn't have made this power play if he hadn't been quite sure it could be accomplished fairly easily, meaning that there would be no need to 'distract' angry Chinese citizens by manufacturing a pretext to attack Taiwan. That said, China has underestimated resistance before (I genuinely believe they didn't see the Umbrella Movement coming, for example, and note how they only worked to send its leaders to jail once it became apparent they could actually get elected to LegCo in Hong Kong. I don't think they'd planned for that at all), and might be doing so now. I don't know. Within the CCP, there might still be a number of people who had thought, until this past Sunday, that they might be potential heirs to the Chinese presidency, and might be less than happy about this change in plan, but not necessarily saying so outright, given what Xi does to his rivals. That does mean, however, that it is not guaranteed that he is as surrounded by syncophants and True Believers as he might think he is, and there might be a crisis they truly don't see coming, for which they need to manufacture a distraction in the Taiwan Strait.

Yes, the CCP claims to value stability above all else - but what they claim and what they actually believe are not necessarily the same. They value what suits them, and nothing more (they're very Trumpian in this way, although perhaps less venal). They value "peace and stability" when it suits them, and are also quite willing to manufacture instability and crisis when that suits them instead (and keep that door open by continually rattling their saber at Taiwan). So I would not base a belief that Taiwan is basically safe on any CCP talk about "stability".

And yes, I do believe the CCP as a whole - as Donovan wrote so well - is as keen on actually taking Taiwan as they say they are. They want to keep up the claim, sure, but they know perfectly well we're more trouble than we're worth. Xi, though? I think he wants this just for him - for his historical legacy He's not doing this for the power. He could step down in 2023 and still have that. He's doing this because he wants to be a big name in the history books. Whether or not he actually believes his blah-blah-blah about the Chinese Dream, the Rejuvenation of the Great Chinese Nation, Reunification of the Motherland and Xi Jinping Thought (barf, barf, barf and barf, by the way) - that I don't know. But that's the kind of stuff that makes it into textbooks, not the more tepid reigns of people like Hu Jintao.

Sure, this takes off the pressure of him accomplishing "Reunification of the Motherland" (BARF) by the original end of his term, but it also means we have a president-for-life who is an ideological hardliner, especially on Taiwan. 


So, we have every reason to believe he plans to make a move on Taiwan in his lifetime. 

And this is terrifying. For Taiwan, and also for the world.

All of this "Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation" (which includes annexing Taiwan) talk stems from China's "century of humiliation" victimhood mentality - they talk about it as though it's an internal confidence-building and great-nation-building exercise, but it's really about vengeance for being the one-time top dog who was laid low by the (admittedly crappy and colonialist) ascendant Western powers. They don't just want to be "a confident nation at ease with itself", they want to be on top again. They want global hegemony. They want to take the US's place.

Taiwan? We'll just be the first domino to fall. We've seen this coming for awhile - because China already claims us, they'll go for us first. In this scenario, Taiwan's beautiful, imperfect but vibrant and fierce democracy will fall. Assuming the country is not completely pulverized, for awhile, a sham democracy will take its place in which we are able to choose among "candidates" pre-selected by China in "elections". Eventually that might be scrapped too. Not immediately - the attrition must be slow, similar to their strategy in Hong Kong. This not only wears down resistance but also makes it easier for Western nations to pretend they don't see it happening. After all, they grow tired of most stories in the news after awhile. They might be mad at first, but nobody will want to upset the new global economic order - that could mean instability (oh no!) - so they won't actually do anything. And after awhile they'll forget that they were mad at all.

The world will have 23.5 million fewer free people, 23.5 million fewer people who lack basic human rights...and the rest of the world will hardly notice.

The US - well, our superpower status has kind of sucked. We're not great. A lot of Westerners angry at the abuse of our position as we supported the toppling of governments we didn't like and propped up regimes friendly to us, regardless of what was best for the countries involved, at our failed attempts at "spreading democracy" one bombing at a time, and our take on the global economy that reeks of modern mercantilism would be happy to see us fall and to see a non-Western (and non-white, because they're sick of white people taking the whole pie, as they have every right to be) power take our place. Triumph of the people of color, that sort of thing. The rise of the oppressed, toppling the oppressors.

It all sounds really wonderful if you blur your eyes. But, if you think about it, China is just an Asian version of Killmonger in Black Panther - his idea to funnel resources to the oppressed to they can overthrow the oppressors sounds great on its face ("it's a good idea!", some people said), but in the end he just wanted to institute another kind of oppression, a different sort of hegemonic rule.

But, it's easy to get people on board when the new bully in town isn't white. It looks a lot like liberation. It's not.

So why isn't the rest of the world worried yet? When (almost) every piece of news from Taiwan includes a reference to China no matter how unrelated, how is it that when something China does really is a threat to Taiwan, nobody seems to even realize it?

Brian over at New Bloom says this is because Westerners lack a conceptual framework in which to consider Chinese neo-colonialism (phrasing from Michael Turton) and he has a point - Westerners don't seem to have the necessary lexicon to really talk about China's global ambitions. They sure get tongue-tied if they try!

But, I don't think that's because they "lack the vocabulary" or even a "conceptual framework". The framework and vocabulary exist - neo-colonialism. Expansionism. Neo-imperialism (or, in the case of Taiwan, just 'imperialism'). Hegemony. Global domination. Economic subjugation. Checkbook diplomacy. Economic imperialism. The spread of authoritarianism. We have all of these words and frameworks.

It's just that Westerners are afraid of using them to describe China (or really any non-Western/non-white nation) for fear of seeming - or being labeled - racist. They're afraid someone will say they don't understand how the historic injustice of white privilege means that anything non-white people do can't be considered the same, or as bad, as anything white people do. (A worldview which has its uses, and which I am often sympathetic to, but which doesn't apply here.)

That's really all it is - it's a race thing. All they need to do is take their old frameworks, dust 'em off and apply 'em to a regime that happens to be Asian. There's nothing new or uncharted about it. Just stop being afraid of criticizing China because someone might think you're racist if you criticize shitty things non-Western powers do, and call China's actions what they are using words you already have.

What I'm saying is, the thing Westerners lack isn't vocabulary or conceptualization, it's balls.

Feeding into my idea that this is actually a race thing: the Western world seems content to ignore China's increasing reach - including its attempts at controlling or even abducting foreign citizens - when its levers of control are used to oppress other Asians (not just Chinese - this affects Taiwanese too, and the majority of Taiwanese identify as Taiwanese, not Chinese). Their increasing control over Australian citizens is ignored by the rest of the world - though kudos to the Sydney Morning Herald for continuing to report on the story - because most Australians affected have Chinese ancestry (but, remember, are not Chinese citizens). The world ignores Lee Ming-che - a Taiwanese citizen - because he looks Chinese. They ignore Gui Minhai - a Swedish citizen - because he looks Chinese. They ignore Hong Kong because they are Chinese, regardless of what Hong Kongers want or feel they were promised.

Yes, reports are filed, articles occasionally appear, but most of the West just doesn't care much. I suppose it's too bad that these problems are happening, they might think, but deep down, they don't think too much about it, because the victims don't look Western, and it's easy to ignore a bunch of Asians. Just an internal matter. It sucks, but, well, that's in China. No matter how much the people being threatened, persecuted and prosecuted might align themselves ideologically more with Western thought than "Xi Jinping Thought", and no matter how much it is not just in China - it's happening in their own countries - and not just Chinese citizens. That they look Chinese seems to be enough to get the West to turn the other way.

So what does this have to do with Emperor Xi, Taiwan and the coal mine?

Well, we are the bellwether. The new Emperor has his eyes on Taiwan. Don't think Taiwan is in that much trouble? I do. I don't see a good outcome here - either there's a massive crisis in China, in which case we're invaded as a distraction as the CCP tries to hold onto power. Or there's no crisis in China, and the slow march of their invasion plans continues forward without much resistance from the rest of the world (although I am heartened to see a little pushback). Or, there's a massive world war because Trumpo was bored with porn stars and Big Macs and couldn't keep his finger off the trigger, and China takes advantage of the chaos. No matter how this shakes out, good potential outcomes for Taiwan are few, and the possibilities leading to catastrophe are massive.

And what happens in Taiwan - perhaps an invasion, perhaps the slow erosion of our democracy under Chinese pressure, perhaps we get pulverized by missiles and then pushed into a sham 'democracy' where 'candidates' selected by China run for 'election', perhaps we spiral into economic ruin - is a sign of things to come under Chinese global hegemony over the rest of the world. Not in terms of outright invasion (of countries other than Taiwan), but in terms of the ways in which China will seek to influence what happens within those countries - who gets elected and what they do in office. Putting pressure on foreign governments to bring their own citizens in line regarding what they can and can't say vis-a-vis China (and perhaps anything else the Chinese government doesn't want us discussing, as well), through diplomatic and economic influence. If that doesn't work, threatening them directly.

In other words, to dust off some old vocabulary that we absolutely have, we'll all be tributary states.

Don't think China would care to reach that far into the affairs of other countries? They're already doing it, to citizens of those countries. Australia (and to some extent New Zealand) seem almost like test cases for how they'd do this - want to know what they'd like to do in the US and Europe? Watch Australia.

You just haven't noticed, because your fellow citizens being threatened by China don't look like you. Taiwan is getting the brunt of China's wrath, but they're already branching out, and there's a point at which they'll no longer care if criticism comes from someone who looks Chinese or someone who doesn't.

By then, you might care, but it will be too late. The canary is suffocating, and the time to pay attention is now.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Mr. Xi's Soft Prong

This sort-of-okay thing that veered into a steaming pile of garbage from the Economist, uh, exists. So that's...there.

Please draw your attention to this paragraph particular line towards the end:

Lin Chong-pin, a Taiwanese scholar and former senior official, calls this Mr Xi’s “soft prong”. 


Ah.

Now we know why Xi Jin-ping is so obsessed with taking Taiwan.

Now, I really hope Lin formulated this thought on purpose, as a big, fat, hard jab at Xi Jin-ping, perhaps hoping we would understand the encoded message in his long, straight, pointed finger.

But even if he didn't, this says a lot. All those powerful cylindrical metal planes circling Taiwan and it's huge rocky mountains, standing tall and erect right there across the strait. He has to take a stab (well, maybe not a stab, more like a flaccid wriggle) at Taiwan to prove to us - and more importantly, to himself - that he's packing heat (well, maybe not heat, more like those squishy hand warmers you can rub. They get warm but they never get stiff). All those big, powerful missiles pointed right at Taiwan, ready to launch.

Because I don't want to linger too long on, uh, Mr. Xi's Soft Prong, let's take a look at the flaming heap of crap that makes up the final two paragraphs of this utter head-scratcher of a piece.

Now I will say, it starts out okay. It could take more time to discuss the perspective of Taiwan, but as it stands it is a pretty clear laying out of China's coercion tactics against Taiwan, which are important for Westerners to know about.

But then....whhaaaaa?



All this is out of the old playbook. Mr Xi’s innovation is to single out young Taiwanese and to pile on the blandishments.

In terms of pay, yes, but if he thinks he's actually going to win them over politically...he's not.


Colleges offer Taiwanese teachers better pay than they could get in Taiwan. Chinese provinces are opening research centres aimed at young Taiwanese. In the southern city of Dongguan, Taiwanese tech entrepreneurs can get free startup-money and subsidised flats.


Yeah, that's the strategy. Want to talk about why it's a problem?


Over 400,000 Taiwanese now work in China. The young in particular are crossing the strait in droves.


I guess not. Well, okay.


You do realize they're not moving to China because they want to, yes? You do realize they are doing it because the economy at home isn't offering them fair wages for fair work, and because they feel it's their best opportunity to make money - but not because they actually want to live in China, yes? Why are you implying that there is anything other than economic rationalization for this? Nobody - literally nobody - thinks China is overall a better country to live in than Taiwan.


Lin Chong-pin, a Taiwanese scholar and former senior official, calls this Mr Xi’s “soft prong”.

Hahahahaha.


In some respects it seems to be reshaping attitudes towards China.


No, it isn't. Identification with China, liking China, thinking China is anything other than a terrifying enemy who must be dealt with for economic reasons, is not actually changing. This is simply factually wrong. 


It does not help Ms Tsai that she has failed to make much progress on her promise to create more opportunities for the young.


Duh, but what does that have to do with China? That's a domestic issue. Her administration is simply not doing a good job with this. 


Taiwan’s economy remains sluggish.


So does the rest of the world's. Want to put what you're saying into perspective a lil' bit maybe?


The young think older generations get the better deal.


This is true but it is not related to China. 


But she gets the blame for tricky cross-strait relations more than Mr Xi does.


Does she? I mean, personally, I think the one thing she is doing right is her cross-strait policy. What's your source on this? 


A recent poll even shows Taiwanese feeling more warmly towards Mr Xi than to Ms Tsai.


Oh, I see, a poll that you don't link to. Hmmm. I'd like to see this poll. How is it worded? What questions are asked? Where is this coming from? Where is your source? Why aren't you comparing Tsai's approval ratings to pro-China Ma Ying-jiu's (man, talk about a soft prong...ahem) to show what it means in a Taiwanese context? 


They do not admire China’s political culture.


No shit. So why don't you say more about this? And if they don't admire China's political culture, why do they admire Xi so much?


But Mr Xi may be nurturing a reluctance among young Taiwanese to bite the hand that feeds them.


They know perfectly well that they are not being fed so much as slowly poisoned. They also know - they're not stupid after all - that slow-acting poison food is better than no food. But if you think for even one second that this is going to change how they feel about China, or Taiwan, or Xi Jin-ping in a way that will get them to accept unification...


...well, then do I have a soft prong for you!