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Cracks in the Chinese wall

In recent years much of the narrative is that China is rising, the US and the West as a whole are declining, and that there is not a lot we can do to arrest that switch, even if it would be desirable to do so, blah-blah-blah. Liberal democracy is on the retreat, authortarianism is the new hotness, so get ready for Social Credit, compulsory school Mandarin lessons and the rest of it. Now it is true that we seem to be well capable of gutting defences of liberty on our own without Chinese influence anyway, but it does nevertheless matter, in my view, if China’s rise continues in the way it has. Well, it is possible that things aren’t going to be quite so straightforward:

Check out this article from US think tanker Thomas J. Duesterberg, in the Wall Street Journal. As it is paywalled, I am going to publish a few paragraphs:

In December real-estate developers China Evergrande and Kaisa joined several other overleveraged firms in bankruptcy, exposing hundreds of billions in yuan- and dollar-denominated debt to default. Real estate represents around 30% of the Chinese economy, nearly twice the levels that led to the financial crisis of 2008-09 in the U.S., Spain and England.

I have been covering the Evergrande saga in my day job. Let’s just say that anyone who remembers the Japanese real estate meltdown will recognise the danger signs.

The real-estate industry has been key to keeping annual growth above 6%. Yet a debt bubble has inflated by 20% annually between 2014 and 2018. Originally intended to accommodate rapid urbanization for the industrial economy, the urban property market is now overbuilt. Some 90% of urban households own their own properties and enough vacant units are available to accommodate 10 years of urban immigrants. Sales and prices have tumbled this year, and overleveraged builders and creditors are suffering the consequences.

It seems the Dr Evil bloke at the helm is not as smart as he’s made out.

Mr. Xi is privileging the less productive and less innovative components of the Chinese economy while enhancing control, limiting financing and punishing entrepreneurial leaders in many leading industries. This isn’t a recipe for maintaining strong economic growth. Despite the frequent assertions that China is catching up or moving ahead of the West in technology industries, it has a long way to go to achieve the self-sufficiency and global leadership it seeks. U.S. sanctions on advanced semiconductors, for instance, have gutted Huawei’s ability to make its own 5G phones. China’s semiconductor industry is 10 years behind world leaders, according to a recent German study.

In short, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that China’s economy is systematically weakening and that Mr. Xi’s new priorities offer little hope for a quick turnaround. The U.S. and its allies could further compound Mr. Xi’s challenges by vigorous enforcement of trade laws, limiting Chinese access to technology and financing from the West, and imposing sanctions against China’s brutal human-rights abuses in Xinjiang and in countries in the developing world that it is trying to exploit through its Belt and Road Initiative. A good example of such exploitation is the atrocious mining conditions for key battery components cobalt and lithium in Africa and South America.

A major slowdown or acute financial crisis in China would certainly have a negative impact on the global economy. But U.S. and allied policy makers do have tools that could both influence the direction of the Chinese economy and help repair some of the accumulated damage to their economies from Chinese mercantilism. A first step is to undermine the narrative of a relentless, unstoppable economic advance under Mr. Xi’s leadership.

That of course would mean efforts to counter China’s thefts of Western IP, and for Western governments to limit Chinese access to Western finance and tech. That isn’t easy. Of course, a big slowdown/recession in China will hit the West, given the web of capital and trade relations. And for what it is worth, I still think the world is far better off with a prosperous China than the horrors of Mao in the 50s and 60s. But it is plain that China’s current behaviour (Hong Kong, South China Sea incursions, treatment of various groups, IP thefts, clashes with India, etc) mean that the regime in Beijing needs a very big kick. Maybe we will see this happen in the next year or so.

16 comments to Cracks in the Chinese wall

  • Paul Marks

    The statue to the 1989 massacres in China has now been removed from the University of Hong Kong.

    I am old enough to remember when the vile creature Edward Heath used to crawl to and praise Mao (not just in the 1970s – Heath crawled out from under his rock to support the Communist Party dictatorship n 1989 as well) – the Marxist dictator who murdered tens of millions of people. But the lies of Edward Heath (and his fell fake conservative Rickard Nixon) are now coming back into favour again – already real historians of China such as Jung Chang, Jon Holliday and Frank Dikotter are being called “Revisionists” outside the “mainstream” of Western thought. Soon “Wikipedia” and so on will shove real historians of China down the Memory Hole (or just smear them as “racists” or whatever).

    Mao was at least consistent – he practiced Marxist politics (tyranny and mass murder) and Marxist ECONOMICS (Collectivism) – thus China was weak and backward under his demented rule. The sort of people in power by 1989 (who were endlessly praised in the West) and the sort of people in power in China RIGHT NOW practice Marxist politics (tyranny and mass murder), but they mix it with “pragmatic” economics – as in Nazi Germany, private Big Business is allowed in China – as long as it is loyal to the dictatorship and supports its goal of endless conquest in the world.

    The West rewarded the People’s Republic of China Communist Party dictatorship for the mass murder of 1989 and the tyranny after it – President Clinton and co pushed “Free Trade” with China claiming it would lead to “peace”. If by “peace” they meant dependence and slavery – then they were correct.

    China is a vast country with well over a billion people – which makes its combination of political tyranny and economic pragmatism vastly more dangerous than the same combination pushed by Nazi Germany (Germany was much smaller than China). The policy of such countries as the United Kingdom and the United States of “outsourcing” manufacturing to China, even the most basic and essential goods, has been utterly insane.

    Is the Chinese economy a Credit Bubble? I do not know – but I do know that the British and American economies are Credit Bubbles.

    Whatever problems China has – our problems are much worse. As we have allowed the Communist Party dictatorship to put its hand on our throat – indeed we have actually tied our own hands behind our backs and begged the People’s Republic of China to throttle us (listen to someone like Stanley Johnson “it is impossible to be anti China – China is the future, we must make an accommodation” people like Stanley Johnson make Lord Halifax seem sensible by comparison).

    “President Trump was no economist” – no he was not, but he understood what an enemy is. Sadly a lot of our own free trade brothers and sisters do not understand this basic fact.

  • Paul Marks

    “Are you denying that China is a Credit Bubble?” – no I am not denying it, I do not know (as no figures from the PRC, good or bad, can be trusted), but I know that the Western economies (especially the United States and the United Kingdom) are Credit Bubbles – and, insanely, have outsourced basic manufacturing to a power that wishes to destroy (to enslave) them.

    The position is actually worse than the 1930s – in the 1930s (contrary to what is often thought) British manufacturing was relatively strong compared to Nazi Germany. That is not the case now compared to China – their industrial output (by any estimate) dwarfs ours – and it dwarfs that of the United States as well. In the 1930s (even in the Great Depression) the United States had vastly greater output than Nazi Germany – which meant that, in the end, conflict between them could only end in an American victory. Now the position is reversed – China has much greater industrial power than the United States.

    In the end all power, including military power, comes from industrial power.

    Again, Donald John Trump was no economist – but he instinctively grasped that. Even if he did NOT reverse the relative decline of the United States.

    Defeat is not yet certain, the situation can still be rectified, but the chances of victory (of survival) are not good.

    NOT hopeless – but not good.

    The first step to survival must be to grasp that the PRC dictatorship is a fanatical enemy – to stop treating it as a friend in such things as trade. And if Stanley Johnson and son do not like that – well then they can go and live in the PRC (supposedly “the future”), no one is keeping them here in this “country of the past”. And they can take their PRC inspired “Environmental and Social Governance” (Social Credit) score system with them.

    Corporate State Fascism (what Dr Schwab calls “Stakeholder Capitalism” and the United Nations calls “Agenda 21” and “Agenda 2030”) is NOT Marxism (I fully accept that – it is not the economic policies of Mao and co), but it is not compatible with liberty either.

    The PRC road must be rejected – and that means rejecting the government and corporate establishment in the WEST, who are committed to that road.

    “Net Zero” – piling up costs on Western industry in order to give China a de facto monopoly on basic industries (and pretending that this is about reducing C02 emissions – as if Chinese emissions of C02 do not matter) is a big part of this.

    Again Donald John Trump grasped that – and Mr Biden and co either do not know (or do not care).

  • Paul Marks

    On the IP question.

    I will not get into the moral debate on patents and copyrights – but I do know that they are can not be enforced against a massive and ruthless PRC drive to gain technology. They will find out all industrial secrets – they are prepared to do anything it takes (including bribery and murder) to achieve that.

    The only way to defeat the PRC is to radically reduce industrial costs in the West – and that can only be done by taking “Social Reform”, “Social Justice”, the “Environmental and Social Governance system” and the rest of the Corporate State Fascism stuff – and shoving it in the bin.

    In the end it does not even matter what “trade policy” we follow – what matters is reducing industrial costs in the West, making Western countries the least expensive and best places to make things.


    Get all the policies suggested by (for example) the “Biden Administration” and DO THE OPPOSITE.

    On government spending, taxation, regulations and so on – just do the opposite of what they suggest.

    And this includes the “cultural” policies – the “Woke” stuff, which is designed (yes designed) to undermine both the society and the economy of Western lands.

    Policies such as “mathematics is racist” are not a joke – they are a dagger in the heart.

    The American and other Western governments (including police forces and the military) now list certain things as “whiteness” and hold them to be evil (evil because they are “whiteness”).

    These things include, objective truth, logical thought, hard work, saving for the future, and-so-on.

    If anyone still does not understand how this Frankfurt School Marxist stuff is a dagger in the heart of economic life – then it is hard to see how it could be more clearly explained to such a person.

    “But George Floyd….” – if anyone thinks that PRC dictatorship, or BLM and Antifa and other death-to-the-West groups, really give a damn about the late Mr Floyd – then I have a nice bridge to sell you.


    Well stopping the closing down of business enterprises (it does NOT reduce Covid deaths – the lockdowns in Western lands did NOT reduce Covid deaths) and then handing out subsidies to the same business enterprises would be a good start.

    The payments do not negate the harm done by the shutdowns and restrictions (as the Prime Minister appears to think) – in reality the payments COMPOUND the economic harm. The money created (from nothing) does great harm.

    Such money created from nothing is the very Credit Bubble that the post complains about in relation to China. If it is not good in China (and it is not good) – a bigger Credit Money bubble is not good in Britain and the United States either.

  • Sam Duncan

    Well, it is possible that things aren’t going to be quite so straightforward:

    It never is, is it? I remember when I was at school in the mid-’80s, many of my friends took German because “obviously” it would be necessary in the world of the future. By the time we were leaving, they were beginning to regret that decision: “obviously” they should be learning Japanese.

    I don’t doubt that learning these languages was worthwhile as an excercise in itself, or that some of them did find it useful, but it didn’t prove necessary, or give them as much of a competitive advantage as they clearly expected it to.

    As Yogi Berra said, predictions are hard, especially about the future.

    It seems the Dr Evil bloke at the helm is not as smart as he’s made out.

    They never are, are they?

  • APL

    Paul Marks: ““President Trump was no economist” – no he was not, but he understood what an enemy is.”

    I don’t accept that China is our enemy, they are just not our ‘friend’. They, like Russia intend to work for their own best interests. Not some vapid international brotherhood of bankers and ‘industrialists of low morals’.

    Paul Marks: “Defeat is not yet certain, the situation can still be rectified, but the chances of victory (of survival) are not good.”

    If the insane individuals in the West are dead set on provoking a conflict in the Ukrane, 10 – 1 China will use that as an opportunity to take Taiwan. There goes the 50% of the integrated circuit fabrication capability of the West, if it’s destroyed in the take over, or in resistance to the take over, doesn’t much matter. Especially not to China.

    It was insane to offshore critical manufacturing. But for a few bucks, the financiers and industrialists will prostitute themselves and betray their own countries.

    Wasn’t it Lenin who said ‘Capitalists will sell the rope with which to hang them ? Well, QED.

  • Paul Marks

    APL – “I do not accept that China is our enemy”, the PRC Communist Party Dictatorship is an enemy (bent on world domination) NOT Chinese people in general.

    “If the insane individuals in the West are dead set on provoking a conflict in the Ukraine” – that is not how the people of Ukraine see the matter. But if you take the Putin line on the Ukraine, and think that the PRC dictatorship works for the “best interests” of the Chinese people (rather than for world domination) then we are not likely to see eye-to-eye. Fair enough APL – after all it would be a boring world if we all agreed. I hope that at least you agree that Mr Putin condemning POLAND for the outbreak of World War II (rather than the alliance of the Soviet Union and National Socialist Germany) was a terrible thing to do.

    I do not agree that industrialists tend to have low morals (although I am NOT claiming that you hold that position) – for example Jon Huntsman SENIOR was a man of high moral character. And generally we need MORE industrial production in the West – not less. And that is NOT what the Credit Bubble bankers want. Remember the bankers are NOT money lenders in the logical sense – they and governments (they are joined as the hip) create money from nothing, they are not about Real Savings and industrial production.

    The blows keep falling upon us.

    British car production fell yet again (and a clown took it as an opportunity to boast that the share of electric car production was at all time high – if only one car was made and it was electric that would be 100%, would that be a good thing?).

    And on electricity – now Belgium is following Germany in destroying nuclear power (so what electricity? rusting windmills?), the madness, the Death Wish, in the West continues.

    And, again, if anyone thinks that sending manufacturing to China and closing down nuclear power will “reduce world C02 emissions” they are horribly mistaken.

  • Paul Marks

    Sam Duncan – “Dr Evil” does not have to be very clever, not with the vast (and highly intelligent) Chinese population. Do you think that Chinese schools hold that mathematics is “racist”?

    All the Chinese regime has to be is less stupid than the governments of such nations as the United States and the United Kingdom – does that seem a difficult standard to beat?

    I have already mentioned that the policies of the “Biden Administration” on government spending, on taxation, on regulation, on energy (and so on) are the exact opposite of what should be done. And we all know what sort of policies are being followed in the United Kingdom – “close down” and then “here is a subsidy from money we have created from nothing”.

    Does “Dr Evil” have to be very clever to defeat powers such as these?

  • Sam Duncan

    All sadly true, Paul. Unlike you though, I remain an optimist. I can never figure out why.

  • Paul Marks

    No reason not to be a optimist Sam Duncan.

    I can do the doom-and-gloom stuff – it needs a counter balance.

    In the end economic law will crush Mr Biden (or rather those who control this puppet) – the question is will there be time in January 2025 to save the United States?

    I do not know. But there is no harm in hoping there will be time to save the United States after January 20th 2025.

    There is a vast amount of WORK to do between now and the elections of November 2022 and the elections of 2024 – for there to be a chance of doing what needs to be done from January 2015 onwards.

    What needs to be done?

    Roll back “Social Reform” – defeat “Social Justice” and thus give victory to JUSTICE (to each their own). Both economically – and culturally. For example, the things that the establishment falsely call “whiteness” (and regard as evils to be exterminated) are virtues – and they are so for all people, regardless of biological race.

    The West can be saved.

  • Fraser Orr

    But, it seems to me that the problem is not that Communist China is rising, but rather that the United States is BECOMING China.

  • Paul Marks

    Fraser Orr you have a point – but an inferior version of the the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese do not teach that mathematics as “racist” – nor do they weep and tear their clothes over someone who died of self administered fentanyl.

    The more one considers the Western policy over China over the last 50 years the more obvious it is that it was despicable – such people as Mark Steyn greatly underestimate both the stupidity and the EVIL of Western policy.

    Yes evil – for such people as Edward Heath and Richard Nixon were crawling to someone, the Marxist Mao, who was murdering tens of millions of human beings.

    “Paul they did not know!”.

    Pull the other one – it has got bells on.

  • Stonyground

    Am I deluding myself when I recall a time when lots of things were pretty screwed up and there were people who went into politics in order to try to make things better? Surely there was a time when democracy worked because, if the elected government didn’t make life better, or at least not worse, for the voters, they would be kicked out at the next election. Now we seem to have reached the point where the only people who want to be in charge are the people who are the last people who should be allowed to. A jury system that picks people at random would surely produce a better outcome.

  • Paul Marks

    It is rather ironic that the PRC dictatorship backs Marxist BLM in the United States – the sort of economic policy that BLM wants (lots of money for NOT working) would not be tolerated in China (any more than homelessness is tolerated – in China it is considered the crime of vagrancy, as it was in the West till the 1960s), and the various sexual practices that BLM celebrates would not be tolerated either.

    As for black people – the PRC does not regard them as fully human (black people who visit the PRC can find this out), but for some reason this attitude is not considered racist. Perhaps because a central doctrine of the education system in the West (followed now by police forces and even the military) is that “only white people can be racist”. So if the PRC Communist Party dictatorship had put Mr George Floyd in a cage and had children mock him and torture him with electric cattle prods – the “Woke” West would have pretended not to notice.

    Too much? To anyone who thinks that – I will point out what is happening to Muslims in the PRC, genocide (marked by great sadism – including institutional sterilisation and rape).

    The people who scream “Islamophobe” at me carry on trading with the PRC with total difference to the mass murder (and sadistic abuse) of Muslims in the PRC.

    Does a civilisation as cowardly and corrupt as the modern West has become, deserve to survive?

  • Paul Marks


    The last British Prime Minister who wanted to limit government was Margaret Thatcher – this lady was (sadly) followed by John “we have spent more money than Labour even promised to spend!” Major.

    As for “make life better” – the key point (which I think you know) is that government does NOT make life better, people make their own lives better – if government (and private criminals) get out of the way. Government is a sword (the Sword of State). Sometimes a sword is needed – but one must never forget that it is a weapon.

    The idea that government can make life better (rather than make life WORSE than it otherwise would be) is the great error at the heart of “Social Reform”.

    Perhaps the personification of the Sword of State in its honourable (as opposed to dishonourable aspect) was Chesty Puller – United States Marine.

    Fought in the First World War, in the various wars against sadistic murdering bandits (now celebrated as heroes by the demented education system and mainstream media) in various Central America countries (and elsewhere around the world) in the 1920s and 1930s, fought in the 2nd World War (such little disagreements as Iwo Jima), and fought in the Korean War – surrounded by the minions of Mao at the “Frozen Chosin” Reservoir. Never gave up, never surrendered – like a real life version of the slogan from the kindly humour of the film “Galaxy Quest”.

    But how did he end?

    His health broken by a lifetime of service, weeping over his son who had both legs and an arm blown off in Vietnam (and then was abused by sneering world – till he killed himself), and seeing the United States under Richard Nixon – price controls (not “in response to the oil crises” YEARS BEFORE IT) and crawling to Mao.

    Even a sword can weep.

  • Karl R Maier

    There’s a reason why American Culture is the most successful in history (245 years and counting), and Authoritarian Cultures can neither create nor maintain Modern Civilization without continuous 1st World input.

    Free Markets are the most efficient way of allocating resources, compounding growth is the most powerful force in the Universe.
    Free Markets can’t exist without a Rule of Law that secures private property.
    Power Corrupts…always.

    Defeating China is just a matter of ending 1st World input. A Water Buffalo level economy was the best the Communist/Authoritarian China could manage before 1st World uplifting/input. Corruption in China is insane by 1st World standards. The top (70) Communist bureaucrats (yearly salary $25k) are all multi-billionaires. America’s 538 electors net worth is only a few billion now that Trump is gone, and most got their fortunes outside of Government corruption.

  • Judge Arrow

    Too many getting a check from government to stop now. Like 60% and rising in the US. This new silent majority has kicked back and will not raise a meth coated finger at the open tyranny on the make. They don’t give a &^%# plain and simple. The 25% who do are fast going out of business or going off the grid, unbanked. Repubs, if they do come to majority, will apply a few jabs at the brake pedal, but at 300 mph, what’s that? The slave trade streaming across the southern border is a pit stop under yellow opportunity to them. Ask the Chamber of Commerce. More D.C. power delights Mitch McConnell. The Biden gang is evil in ways that only a connoisseur of the pathological can admire. They are pulling up root and branch the vine of social contract with MMT. In three years 80%+ of US will continue to vote okay the oligarchic fascist state of things as the price of dwindling everything skyrockets while Uncle Joe and Mitch throw money out of helicopters. To do otherwise is not just no free lunch, but no lunch at all. Somewhere during all this we’ll find a way to have another war. By 2025, to pick up your theme, the nearly sixty years of full-on corruption, hideously manifest in the skeletal death mask of average Joe Biden will have reached its end game with a military presence on most street corners, welcomed by most. What comes next will have nothing to do with the past. Keep drinking.