Wednesday 27 November 2019

‘How you’re being misled on the Electoral College'


Many, especially Democrats and fellow leftists, have complained about America’s Electoral College system -- prompted, largely, by the fact that Donald Trump won the election, but lost the popular vote, a fact that is repeated endlessly.

Tara Ross sorts it out for us. She’s an “author, lawyer and Electoral College expert”.

When she talks about the EC being about “big vs small” not “slave vs non-slave” states, what she’s referring to is the criticism I’ve seen around that the ECs were set up to entrench the power of slave-holding states. I think that’s a pretty strong belief out there.

I first got interested in the whole EC issue when I saw what one of my very fave authors and public intellectuals, professor Richard Dawkins, was saying about it. A Brit he may be, but he was just as upset as many an American by Trump’s victory and blamed it on the ECs.  Then again, he’s also a bit bananas over Brexit too, tweeting quite the most horridly snobbish stuff. And yet I like him! (Still).  Just a bit less than before...

Part II of the talk with Tara Ross

Boris creeps higher; so does Jeremy

From BritainElects, a poll of polls.  (You have to register with email)
Last time I looked, 5 November, Boris was extending his lead.  No longer. The Tories are up around 6% to 42.4%.  But the Labour Party is also up by about 5% to nearly 30%.  Well, OK, it’s extended a bit, by 1.3%, which I guess is good, at least for Boris.

Meantime, the Lib-Dems and Brexit Parties are way down and Greens down a touch to 3.4% support, which I can’t quite figure given all the hoopla from the Extinction Rebellion folks...

The fact that Labour is still threatening might be good for the Tories.  In the hastily called 2017 election, people were so certain the Tories would win that many Tory voters felt safe in making a protest vote for Labour as a kind of kick in the pants to May. Result: May was crushed. She won only by the barest margin and it all ended with a minority government, unable to pass legislation including Brexit.

So, if Tory Brexiteers feel worried by a Corbyn government (as well they ought), no more of this protest or “tactical” voting, thank you. Just a straight Boris vote will do nicely.
Poll of polls as of 1 November

SCMP - American democracy group slams Beijing’s claim it is ‘black hand’ behind Hong Kong protests, as National Democratic Institute head calls it ‘patently false’

Haggling over the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act"
Is America involved in funding the Hong Kong protest movement? 
I don't know, but I do know smart people who believe it is. And so does Beijing. 
My view has been that we should see evidence of it, if they are — yet we've seen no evidence of it. As in evidence. In the media there is only an outfit called Global Research which is run by a Canadian conspiracy theorist and the China Daily, quoting that Global Research site. I've seen nothing else in mainstream media. 
An article from America's National Democratic Institute in today’s South China Morning Post saying they did not and do not fund the protesters, protesting their innocence, is hardly disinterested denial, not, as they say, dispositive. So I discount it. 
Still, the fact that 71% of the HK population came out last Sunday and voted overwhelmingly to support the so called pan-Dem parties, suggests that it's a popular movement, not necessarily funded by American "black hands". Not that it might not welcome such help.…
And so, to me it remains an open question. 
Comments at the article are interesting. Tending to be all over the shop, equal on the yes/no sides.

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Carrie Lam treads a fine line

Chief Executive Carrie Lam at her weekly press conference this morning
(10:00am): Just watched the Carrie Lam presser, her first since the crushing defeat of the pro-government camp in last Sunday’s District Council elections. To remind: she is our Chief Executive, like the PM or president. Or perhaps more politically correctly, our executive Mayor.
She trod a fine line, with an eye to Beijing and an eye to the people of Hong Kong.
On the government’s devastating losses last Sunday’s she said she would “reflect on shortcomings” and “listen to the people” (we’ve heard that before). And, as the chyron above shows: “pleased that pro-establishment parties said they’ll continue to serve”. Well, of course. And I thought it odd, and somehow a bit insulting, that she chose to highlight pro-government forces still being in LegCo, when the people have tossed them out of all but one local Council.
She said she views the DC election results as the Hong Kong people hoping for “peace and return to normal”. But…. but… the pan-Dems won 90% of the 450 seats, 17 out of 18 Councils and the pan-Dems are pro-protesters and it is the protesters (some of them) who are the ones carrying out the violence. So at the very least there’s a tolerance of violence.  A reading of “Hongkongers want a return to peace” is hopeful to say the least.
Towards the end she talked about setting up an international commission to look into our troubles, based on the  British one after the “Tottenham riots”. That could be spun into meeting the demand for an independent inquiry into police actions (one of the protesters’ Five Demands) and maybe she had to say it this way so’s not to upset Beijing.
Beijing, by the way, has said nothing about the results in its own media here or in China. Just repeated, via Foreign Minister Wang Yi, that Hong Kong is “always a part of China”. Yeah, we get it.
Beijing hasn’t minded news of riots in Hong Kong reaching the mainland, because … “chaos” brought on by democracy. But that the people, the plebs, should get out and have a free vote, open and fair, and give the government a bloody nose? No way, no how.
I’d give her a B today.
Trying but could try harder.
********
PS: the pan-Dems have an additional 117 votes on the Election Committee to elect the next Chief Executive. Together with votes they already have in the Legislative Council, thy will have about 500 votes out of the 1200 total. Quite an influential block, in other words. And the next C-E election will be interesting because of it.
ADDED: “China’s Amazon”* and China’s largest company, the e-commerce giant Alibaba, just (10:15 am) had its secondary listing in Hong Kong, worth $US11 billion, the biggest in nine years. It’s risen 7.5% already, and will likely soon be the largest company on the Hang Seng exchange. A major win for the Hong Kong stock market and for Alibaba.. Hong Kong thus remains the largest place in the world for new listings. Despite all the troubles…
Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder, owns the South China Morning Post. 
*(Alibaba does what Amazon does, and a lot lot more besides: b-to-b, finance, robotics…).
ADDED LATER: my fave Alex Lo has his Take, but a touch too acerbic to my taste.

Monday 25 November 2019

Pro-government, pro-Beijing camps suffer crushing defeat

Today’s front page. Snaking queues at
the Aberdeen voting centre
Well, it didn’t go the way I’d hoped; it went the way I’d feared — that is, yesterday’s District Council elections here in Hong Kong. But I’m OK with that. I believe in “loser’s compliance” (is that the word?). When you lose, you have to do it with grace. (Like Roger or Novak). And If you can’t do it with grace, then bite your tongue and accept it anyway. Suck it up. 
In fact, I’m strangely exhilarated. Perhaps something good will come of this. Perhaps some attention: (a) to an independent investigation into the whole shamozzle and (b) restarting talks on universal suffrage. Perhaps.
ADDED: I need to clarify. I’m not against democracy. Who is? But I was, and am, against the violence that was tolerated, if not encouraged by the so-called “pan-Dems”, and I remain against anyone pushing for independence for Hong Kong, because the spread of that sentiment will only bring down Beijing’s wrath upon us. Let’s secure the freedoms we have, and lobby for them to go beyond 2047, rather than tilt against the independence windmill. And that’s why I voted for the Independent candidate Jonathan Chow, instead of the representative of the Civic Party that supports the independence outfit Demosisto, and stirs violence by its public statements. But, we lost. So we live with it, suck it up and hope that the gains of pan-Dems are not seen as a green light for more violence. (13’20” HKT).
The result was — quoting commentators this morning —  a “bloodbath”, a “crushing defeat” for pro-government, pro-Beijing candidates. More than 71% — 2.9 million — of the electorate voted, a record, and the pan democratic candidates won some 90% 86% -- 388 of the 450 seats. 90% 86%!! Like, wow, man… that’s getting up there with North Korea. Just kidding: the voting was free, fair and open. Not just me saying that, but international observers as well.
      [ADDED: total votes not quite as dramatic due to first-past-the-post policy: 55% for pan-Dems        and 41% for pro-government].
Many of the new faces are very young. And the pundits are saying good to have them in some position of authority to they can get a feel for doing things rather than protesting and destroying things. If they succeed they can step up to contesting Legislative Council elections in a few years. Cross fingers. 
The District Councils, mind, are not policy bodies. They work on local issues, garbage collection, recycle bins, bus-stop locations, that sort of thing. But they do have a say in the make up of the Electoral Committee (which chooses Chief Executive candidates) with the right to elect 117 of its 1200 members. In that sense they do have an influence on the choice of the next Chief Executive. 
A difficulty may be what one describes as “stickiness” in the chain of command between the local government, the Liaison Office of the PRC and Beijing.  And the stickiness’ effect on what comes out of Beijing in reaction to this "tsunami of disaffection". 
Here in Discovery Bay I voted for Independent candidate Jonathan Chow. He lost to the long-sitting Amy Yung of the Civic Party by about the same margin of loss back in 2007 when I chaired the campaign committee of Michael Leung who went after Amy. She had then “rusted-on” voters and those same voters came out again yesterday. Vote yesterday, Discovery Bay seat in Lantau constituency: Amy Yung, 2072. Jonathan Chow, 1172. Margin, exactly 900. Or exactly one hundred more than when I chaired Leung’s campaign when we lost by “just” 800. Is that some kind of victory?!…
Maybe something good will come of yesterday. Let’s hope so.
Hedging bets… maybe something bad will come of the results instead, from up north or here. After all, this is a government, on the mainland, that locks up Uygur Muslims to brainwash them. Are they going to turn around to us and say “fair play”? “You got us. Let’s sit down now and discuss universal suffrage”? Unlikely. Just got to hope that Beijing doesn’t react in the toughest way. And hope this tin-eared local government finally decides to do something about the widespread discontent, something other than sitting on its hands and wailing about the violence.
Or something bad might come from here: what if the protesters take the results as a green light to intensify their violence, if they don’t immediately get what they want?

Coverage at the Post. A “tsunami” of disaffection. 
Celebrating pan-Dem wins. Social media said: don’t wear black!
(Black: the colour of choice for protesters). Good move.

ADDED (I): Tin-eared as ever, the Chinese “liaison office” here in HK has just issued a statement saying that whatever the result of these District Council elections, Hong Kong remains part of China. Riiiiight. (12:30 pm HKT).
ADDED (II):  Our stock market index, the Hang Seng, has risen 1% so far today. (12:45).

Sunday 24 November 2019

I voted today. Yay!

This morning at the voting booth, North Plaza, DB
I just voted in the Hong Kong  District Council election, here in Discovery Bay, for the Islands District. I’ve voted every four years in every District Council election since the handover. There are some 452 DC seats contested by 1,090 candidates. In my experience they are fair, free and open. In 2007 I was the Campaign Chairman for Michael Leung who was going up against our representative, Amy Yeung of the Civic Party. We lost. But I bore no ill will and didn’t think anything was amiss, other than perhaps our own campaigning ability. 
The DCs are mainly involved in local issues. But they also have a vote in who makes up the Election Committee for the next Chief Executive. They are not nothing.
They comprise a greater degree of democracy today than we had under the British up to the handover in 1997.  People don’t know that, or forget it.
The proposed revisions in 2014 would have meant more DCs having more say in the Election Committee. But because the pan-Dems thought this proposal not perfect, they rejected it, and staged the Occupy Central movement instead.. And so we are where we are now. We could have been a bit further along the road, contemplating the next steps. Instead we are further back along the road contemplating the destruction of Hong Kong by millenarian juveniles. 
Turnout today is a record. People are anxious to vote after six months of turmoil. No one seems quite sure which way it will go. My fear is that it will be pro-protester, which means anti-government and anti-Beijing. You don’t have to be pro-government or pro-Beijing to find that outcome worrying. Because there could then be a flare up of violence with the protesters feeling encouraged by a positive vote.
And more of the cycle downward. Ever less slow…
I’m just  back from a thanksgiving gathering where many are optimistic. I’m not. If people think a vote for the Civic Party — which stirs up protesters with talk of independence — is the thing to do, as many did, we are in for strife, trouble and tribulation.

SCMP - 14 minutes to obliterate Hong Kong: deconstructing Donald Trump’s bizarre boast

Roland runs through some other Trumpian delusions
Now this is pretty weird.
I caught the end of Trump's musings on the radio, just in time to hear him say something  about "14 minutes" and Hong Kong. 
It turns out that he saved Hong Kong which was 14 minutes away from annihilation by one million PLA troops on the Chinese side of the border! Wow! Who knew?!
Trump doesn't explain how we didn't know about this million (it's a lot!) just a short train ride from Central, nor does he appear to understand that the PLA is already in Hong Kong. They stay in their barracks. The last time they came out was two weeks ago, to help with road clearing in the wake of an evening of casual quotidian vandalism. 
Yonden Lhatoo has a go at him here.
Comments are interesting too; (you may need the App).
/Clip: Trump by Trump:
"If it weren't for me, Hong Kong would have been obliterated within 14 minutes," Trump boasted in a phone interview on Fox & Friends, his audiovisual Wikipedia of world news. Chinese President Xi Jinping "has got a million soldiers standing outside of Hong Kong that aren't going in only because I asked him, please don't do that".
I'm pretty sure this could be filed under "Trump Delusion". Right next to "Trump Delusion Syndrome".

‘Anti-mainland bigotry may be fuelling anger’

Click to enlarge and clarify
South China Morning Post 
24 November 2019
My letter published today. Basically in full, but clipping a reference the Washington Post video quoting a young protester. No matter, it was just a bit of additional evidence of the anti-mainlander views of many of the protesters. 
For the record it was:
A video by the Washington PostAnatomy of a Protest features a woman who says that she fears the "invasion" of mainlanders, who "refuse" to learn Cantonese, and only speak their own "dialect"(!), Mandarin. [Link].

Saturday 23 November 2019

Western observers getting *everything* wrong about Hong Kong

This is an email to someone podcasting about chaos in the world. Hong Kong was mentioned at he beginning but only in passing. And with virtually every word incorrect. 
Here’s my email to the caster:
Peter Forsythe here, 40+ year resident of Hong Kong and long-term subscriber …
I’m no friend of Beijing nor of our local government BUT, everything you said in your intro (bold italics below), re Hong Kong, after the words “You have the situation in Hong Kong where...”, was incorrect. They may be your feelings; they’re certainly not the facts….
You say  “the Chinese government is running roughshod over protesters” — this is not correct, because:
(a) the Chinese government (as in: Beijing) does not, at least yet, run our government. Our police force reports directly to our own Hong Kong Secretary of Security, via our own locally appointed Police Commissioner. And:
(b) the police force has been carrying out duties in the face of six months of violent provocation from protesters. There is currently an enquiry into police actions and whether they have perhaps been rather too robust — and there is much public debate about their actions — but to say ‘`riding roughshod” is not factual.  And doesn’t help our situation either.  
You go on... “solidifying its grasp on a territory” … if anything China has proved the naysayers of 1997 (the “handover”) wrong by keeping out Hong Kong's day-to-day affairs. And has done so even in the face of daily provocations. 
Then “… that it was not supposed to be in control of until something like 2040”.  Two factually incorrect statements here: 
(a) China has been and remains “in control” of Hong Kong, by international treaty and via our Constitution, the Basic Law, since 1997. It has allowed, via the BL, a “high degree of autonomy” (“Hong Kong people run Hong Kong”) to the local HK government, but that in no way diminishes its suzerainty, which is recognised internationally.  And: 
(b) the date the current “one country two systems” runs to is 2047, not 2040, and is not a termination date, but rolls over unless specifically abrogated. Many Hongkongers — including me -- think we ought be working to clarify and extent post 2047 the freedoms we enjoy now; rather than carrying out fruitless and self-defeating (as we see them) protests, violent vandalism, killing and injuring ordinary people in the process..
By the way, we are not a Syria or a Yemen, nor even an Egypt or Chile. We are, we have been, a liberal, modern, tolerant, free society, economically successful and enjoying every freedom one could wish. I cover our Freedoms here on my blog. Our existing Freedoms are neither trivial nor imaginary. They are serious and real. So to say — as do the protesters — we are fighting for “Freedom” is something of a sick joke and clearly crafted for international consumption. The only freedoms that are being abridged are ordinary people’s freedom of expression and movement by the protesters… (Just like in America, opponents, ordinary people, are “cancelled”, their shops trashed, opponents and police are doxxed. And more.. a man is dead from a protester’s brick to the head, another in a coma after being set alight by protesters, a policeman was hit by an arrow, another had his throat slashed…All this, and the police are the bad guys??).
… I’m a long term fan and subscriber, hugely impressed by your knowledge and skills, so I was naturally disappointed that every word you said after ‘You have the situation in Hong Kong… ” was wrong, or at least grossly misrepresents the facts on the ground. If you don’t know, don’t speak, would be my plea here.
RELATED: why we don’t like the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act”, recently passed by your Congress….
With best wishes from a Free Hong Kong — oh, and I’m going off to vote tomorrow in the local District Council elections. These are free and universal. And the District Councillors so elected have say in the make up of the Electoral Commission, which selects a short-list for the next Chief Executive, who is in turn elected.  But, you know, violence in the name of “Freedom and Democracy”. Yay!

'What were the human rights violations in Hong Kong?’... [that led to the protests]

I’ve often said the we have in Hong Kong (or at least have had) every freedom of a modern, open, tolerant, liberal society. So what do they want, these protesters, when they say “Stand with Hong Kong, Fight for Freedom”?

There’s an answer on Quora to the above question. Quora is a pretty good site.

The answer below is from one Jane Tan, a local whose English is clearly not native. But the views she expresses, I can agree with 100%. (It’s from October 9th, but I’ve just come across it).

Jane Tans answer is below and the link is here.
I have experienced British Colonial life and post handover life in Hong Kong. During the British times, Hong Kong people weren’t given much privilege or participation in politics and the Legislative Council members were appointed by the Governor, not by people’s votes. The Governor was appointed by the British Gov. In today’s Hong Kong, everyone reaching the age of 18 and above is allowed to vote for the Legislative Council members. We can’t choose the Chief Executive because Hong Kong is not a country. It is just another city of China.
Apple Daily which is a controversial publisher, famous for its political twist, bias views and always criticizing the government has been surviving since 1997 the handover. It was founded in 1995 by Jimmy Lai. He has also encouraged people taking into the streets and fund protests. People in Hong Kong know how to protest on a regular basis now. And that is okay, total human rights of Hong Kong people.
During the Colonial rule, do you think these are allowed? The answer is NO. Today, Hong Kong is ranked as one of the city on earth that has the most freedom. Hong Kong people can do anything they like as long as it is not a crime. But now the pro-democracy thugs or protesters want to rule Hong Kong or Coup but they have no real leader. Maybe the leader is shy, scared to be identified or no leader at all. They are just crazy sheep. People in Hong Kong now are stripped off their freedom for they will be beaten by the protesters when they do not agree with them. There are new cases that the protesters are extorting money from people. The police are perceived as their enemies and they will do anything to tell the world the fake things about the police in the social media and try to destroy the police image.
We are now facing human rights violations, not from China or the police but from the pro-democracy protesters who always say “Stand for Hong Kong.” “Fight for Freedom.” “Police Brutality.” Yes, you heard it. We live in a nightmare for 4 months already under the threat of thugs, mobs and terrorists the protesters have become. [emphasis in original].

Friday 22 November 2019

One of the first things I learnt in Cultural Revolutionary China was....

.... not to ask a question, when you suspect the answer  will be “no”.

Better to ask forgiveness than permission.

This was in the 1970s, the fag end of China’s Cultural Revolution. By that time, all the officials we met were super sensitive, super cautious. If you asked, for example, if you might leave Beijing, for a train trip to a nearby town, the answer would be “no”.

Better make the trip, and ask forgiveness later (if they catch you!).

In international relations it’s known as “strategic ambiguity”
.
We have had such strategic ambiguity here in Hong Kong, over the issue of just where the line is drawn for what can be judged here in Hong Kong, by our High Court, and what has to go to Beijing for National People’s Congress interpretation.

We’ve had fine, ambiguous, understanding on this since 1997.  It’s called “flexibility”.

And now the pan-Dems have gone and screwed it up.  By challenging the ban on face masks in Hong Kong, getting a determination by the High Court, they’ve prodded Beijing to weigh in, put its foot down and say “this in our area of responsibility, not yours”.  Who has this helped? No one.

But that’s the pan-Dems all over. They’ve been stirring up the demos, and stirring up the violence.  For their own petty, partisan political aims.  Shame on them, for not caring about our broader society and our broader interests. Both of which they’ve damaged.

Again, the redoubtable Alex Lo says it best:
Not too long ago, a retired top judge warned that Hong Kong’s judicial independence faced “a storm of unprecedented ferocity”. We are now in the eye of the storm.
The pan-democrats opened a can of worms by taking the authorities to court for using emergency powers to ban the wearing of face masks amid escalating violence by anti-government rioters over the past six months. They won. To make a long story short, the court ruled that the ban breached provisions in the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.
That in turn provoked a furious rebuttal from the nation’s top legislative body, which claimed that Hong Kong courts don’t have the powerto invalidate local laws by ruling them unconstitutional. That power rests entirely with the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC).
No judges in Hong Kong doubt that the NPCSC has that final say. But it has never questioned the power of top local courts to make such rulings – until now.  Read on.
I will be happy to vote on Sunday 24 November, and vote for the independent candidate against our long-term Civic Party candidate. The Civic party has its hands very dirty in stirring the pot, stirring up hatred of the government, stirring up violence against anyone who disagrees.  Sadly the Civic party rep here has “rusted on” voters. For the life of me I don’t know why, but there it is. I’ll certainly be out voting for Jonathan Chow to represent our little bit of the “Islands District”, in these District Council elections. 

What is Beijing up to in Xinjiang?

Click to enlarge.  (a bit of spellcheck would’ve helped...)

A reader sent in a great article, The Pressure on China, by George Friedman, with the above map of China’s most westerly province of Xinjiang and where its Uygur Muslims are being incarcerated.

I’m also posting the article in full below the fold, as it’s clear Mr Friedman wants it dissminated.

Regular readers will know I’ve written often about China’s abuse of the Uygurs and I put it down to the horrid Mr Xi. So that’s the argument I buy below: that the release of the documents is by senior Chinese appalled by what’s happening in their name, and worried at Xi’s missteps.  Of course, it could be others, as Friedman says...

I don’t buy every nuance of Friedman’s analysis on the Hong Kong side. Concerns about cities in China copying Hong Kong are overblown. They are, on the whole, and clearly on social media, appalled by Hong Kong’s shenanigans.  Chaos! (乱 luan).  But overall it’s a good and insightful article.

Talking in Hong Kong last weekend with a visiting “Old China Hand’ (中国通, zhongguo tong), who has lived and worked many years in Beijing, he says that Xi’s toughness, domestically (censorship, purges, Xinjiang) and internationally (S. China Sea) is “backfiring”.  He says (a) most Chinese doing business with Americans think they are “suckers” and “chumps” (and still think like that.  But yet, (b) many mainland Chinese like Trump. They hope that Trump can achieve some opening of the Chinese economy so private businesses can have a chance of competing with the resurgent State Owned Enterprises.  And (c) agrees with my point above, that young Chinese are not raring to copy Hong Kong protesters. Rather they think they’re spoiled brats. And... “look where democracy gets you -- chaos!”.  From my reading of Social Media in China, it’s by no means all state directed, and there’s a strong nationalist streak. Verging on bigoted nativism. Whatever... not pro-HK protesters anyway.

Text of the Friedman article below the fold.

Bill Gates’ solar start up could solve industrial carbon emissions


Form article in Quartz magazine

Bill Gates is doing so much in the climate area. 

One of his passions is, as he calls it, “cow farts”. Companies he supports are working on how to reduce the methane in bovine flatulence. The livestock industry is responsible for around a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions. I believe he also supports companies working on man-made meat. Not meat substitutes, like Beyond Meat, but actual meat-meat. Meat made in the lab and eventually the factory. That’s surely the future of meat. 

Another is his nuclear energy company TerraPower. He brought together the best minds to reinvent nuclear power.  As he points out in his Netflix bio-pic, all the 400+ Nuclear plants currently operating in the world were designed and engineered before computers. They were built in the days of slide rules. TerraPower has technology that is melt-down safe — they are incapable of melt down — and use previous nuclear waste materials as their feedstock. They were about to go commercial when … Fukushima …. They are now on hold trying to find somewhere that has the wit and wisdom to grant them a trial. 

Here in Discovery Bay we get our electricity from the nearby Daya Bay nuclear power station. We are a zero carbon household. I’ve visited Daya with a bunch of classic car buffs. We love it! Look at how pretty.…

Daya Bay Nuclear Power station, Shenzhen, China.  40 km north-east of us.

Thursday 21 November 2019

Impeachment hearings… why no discussion of the “quo” Trump got for the “quid”?

Amb to the EU, but also covered Ukraine. A jolly fellow
Last night I watched hours of the United States Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland testifying in the Trump impeachment enquiry, before the House Judiciary Committee. 
The key issue is whether Trump expected a quid pro quo (or a “bribe” as the Democrats now call it) from Ukraine in return for a White House visit, and (later) for $400 million in military equipment.
Sondland’s answer during his written and read-out testimony was “yes”.
Though later he admitted, in the Q and A, that he’d had a phone call with Trump, asked T directly what he wanted in relation to Ukraine, to which T had answered “I don’t want anything. No quid pro quo. Nothing. Just get [the Ukrainian president] Zelinski to do the right thing”.
Nevertheless Sondland had concluded  ”yes” there was a quid pro quo, from discussions with Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer and from his own inferences. (“2+2=4”, as they all called it throughout the night).
He was quizzed by Jim Jordan (R) as to why he’d left out this rather germane phone call and said it was just an oversight (laughing, saying “believe me”).
So at the least it’s arguable: quid or no quid pro quo.
But let’s stipulate for a moment that there was expectation of a quid pro quo.
Why the meltdown and why the impeachment? Why not a big fat “so what?”
Here’s the thing.
In life, everything is quid pro quo. Amongst individuals it’s “I scratch your back, you scratch mine.“
In international relations it’s known as “reciprocity”. We expect trade deals to be fair to both sides = quids for quos. Most international aid is tied, “we give you this aid and you buy stuff from us”. Quid pro aid money.
It matters what the “quo” is, not that it exists.
Returning to Trump Ukraine. If Trump had said, “ok I’ll release the $US 400mill and you kick back $40 mill to my offshore account”, that is clearly illegal. And of course Trump would not have made such a quid pro quo public.
In our stipulated, actual quid pro quo, Trump wanted investigation into Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election including the hacking of DNC servers and investigation into the company Burisma. Later, in the July 25 phone call, he added investigation into the Bidens, especially son Hunter’s dealings with Burisma. Trump wanted commitment to carry out these investigations to be made public by the Ukrainian President. Two things:
1.  Would not such investigations be of interest to the American public? After all there were serious questions around Hillary’s Steele dossier, its Ukrainian connections and Ukrainian interference in that election.  After all, Mueller had just spent two years investigating similar issues around the Russians. Why suddenly so touchy on Ukraine? And as for the Bidens? Even pro-Biden folks must wonder: what on earth was Hunter doing getting $US50,000 per month, from an outfit that had already been under suspicion by the Obama administration? Surely there’s a public interest to clear that up? It doesn’t have to be Trump’s purely personal and partisan interest.
That public interest was the reason, one presumes, that …
2. Trump demanded Ukrainian investigations be made public. He would not have made a request for kickback public. He made the investigations public because they are indeed of interest to the American people.

It’s for those reasons I say: surely the type of quo requested for the quid is hugely relevant.
Yet no one on either side has raised this.
That’s what I really don’t get. Perhaps I’m being too naive. Perhaps the calculus is: Trump said there was no QPQ, so we have to defend that line. Don’t give an inch.
But still …
[Another stipulation: for the umpteenth time: I’m no Trump fanboy. But I don’t have TDS.  I’m trying for Althousian “cruel neutrality”].

Why the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act” is bad for Hong Kong

It’s been passed by both houses of United States Congress and, as I write, is shortly to be signed into law by Donald Trump.
The Act’s stated aims are in the title. And who could be against Human Rights and Democracy? Isn’t it a motherhood issue?
Well, no it isn’t, because the Act will punish the very people it is intended to help. It will hasten Beijing’s takeover of Hong Kong, the opposite to the aims stated in the title. Both democracy and human rights will be harmed.
We are about to learn, yet again, that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”?
Let me explain.
The Act calls for annual reviews of the situation in Hong Kong. If officials in either Hong Kong or Beijing are deemed to have failed the review in any way there are two forms of punishment:
1.  Punishment of officials in Hong Kong and Beijing.
2.  Removal of Hong Kong Special Status.
Most people appear to see only the First part. That is, officials in Hong Kong and Beijing will be punished by sanctions if they are deemed, by the United States Congress, to have violated human rights or democracy in Hong Kong.
The effects of this part of the Act are arguable, but I won’t dispute them here.
The damaging part to Hong Kong is the second part and the part that is ignored well-meaning folk here and in Washington.
The Second part will remove the special trade and investment conditions that have applied to Hong Kong since the handover in 1997. As a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, Hong Kong has been treated as a separate legal entity in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), in the WHO and in many other International and United Nations bodies. Hong Kong is separate in the Olympic Games, in Cricket, Rugby and Football World Cups and in all sporting World Championships.
In short, Hong Kong is treated as a separate entity in manifold international organisations.
It is this special treatment that underpins the “One Country Two Systems” (OCTS) formula. This formula is to last “at least” until 2047. We have argued that our efforts ought focus on extending the special treatment past 2047, rather than wantonly destroying our city (but that’s a whole ‘ nother issue).
The Act will remove this special treatment if the United States deems the Hong Kong government or Beijing to be in breach of its provisions.
Is it clear how bad this would be for Hong Kong.
Removal of Special Treatment would only hasten the demise of OCTS. It would only speed up our eventual total takeover by Beijing.
It is the people of Hong Kong who would suffer for the alleged misdeeds of our government officials (alleged, note, by the US Congress, whose members have shown themselves woefully ignorant of us and the region).
This is not shooting themselves in the foot; it is not even shooting us in the foot. It is shooting us in the heart.
I blame (a) self-righteous American politicians. The know-nothings, like the Act’s key promoter Senator Ted Cruz who came here and told us “I have seen no violence” — while at the exact time he said that, rioters were busily vandalising the Mongkok subway station and trashing nearby shops. But I blame more than Cruz and his ilk.
I also blame (b) Joshua Wong, the founder of a radical outfit called Demosisto, which boasts all of 25 members.  It was Wong, with three of f his acolytes, who spoke to the United States Congress — imagine, a 24 year old student in front of Congress! — and pressed them to pass the Act. He made a big impression. But he clearly has only the haziest notion of what was in the Act. Or is so blinded by hatred of Hong Kong and Beijing officials that he only sees the first part and ignores the second.  He ignores the wider damage that ordinary Hongkongers will suffer.
But then he doesn’t really care about ordinary Hongkongers, does he? His stormtroopers are trashing the working class areas of Hong Kong. Hitting the livelihoods of ordinary Hongkongers. Nowhere are the fancy properties, the glitzy Malls, of our billionaire Taipans attacked. I  presume Wong and co. are worried the Taipans will take revenge. They didn’t grow up in the days of Triads without learning some good old fashioned knee-capping, after all.
There are other people who have spoken out against the Act. To no avail, clearly.
Most recently today, Alex Lo, the redoubtable.
ADDED: The Hong Kong stock market is not fooled by this “motherhood”Act. It has just opened 3% down.
ADDED (22 November): Editorial against the Act 

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Dangerous social media — harbinger of terrorism?

Hong Kong’s algorithm-driven violence is via this platform 

I’ve commented before on the main social media used by the protest movement: Telegram and LIHKG. I’ve spent time on both, mainly LIHKG. Though I quickly tire of it, as it’s relentlessly hateful and conspiratorial.  But beloved of protesters! (I read the Chinese version, which is most of it, though there are some posts in English).

Simple example from LIHKG: there was a video labelled “Vid shows police planting hammer on protester”. I watched it right through to the very end, when you see a protester on the ground, being restrained. The final move is a policeman picking up a hammer from the ground and putting it in the protester’s backpack. Now, we know, because we’ve seen it many times, that the protesters often carry hammers, as well as metal poles, and — recently — bows and arrows. These are the tools of choice for your average urban vandaliser. So the question is: what is more likely: that the police are “planting” a hammer or that the hammer was being put back in the backpack? I know which explanation I find more likely. But at the very least it is not a slam dunk case of planting evidence.

All the post does, and does successfully, is give them yet one more reason to hate the police, who are doing their job in unprecedentedly difficult times.

Many posts are even more shocking. Instructions on how to attack police or individual officers; how to make weapons, including bombs; and how to wage information warfare and spread fear – it’s all there.

Here’s a popular post on LIHKG, from yesterday: 
“Traditional methods of mass resistance will gradually disappear. Instead smaller units will secretly aim at achieving specific goals. For example, in some places where police officers are eating or squatting, a small group of citizens will suddenly appear and attack them, causing serious injuries and then fleeing.
 “Or some officials, dignitaries and their families will be taken away on the way home to be lynched. These sudden attacks with a small number of people and without warning to the other party, will cause the police force to be dispersed and distracted, and can spread fear to the government. [my emphasis].
The effect is that when no one knows who will be next, when even the police are the target, there is no way to effectively concentrate the police for protection.”
This is not a random political fantasy post. It generated 15 web pages of discussion, 364 responses and 2,451 likes against 17 dislikes, in just seven hours yesterday. 

And it is, surely, incitement to terrorism: violence and spreading fear. If this seems too alarmist, Alex Lo reminds us that previous Chief Executive, C.Y. Leung, was mocked when he said student protesters (2014) were pushing independence for Hong Kong. I was among the mockers. I didn’t believe the threat of independence was real. We’ve learnt the hard way. It is very real indeed. And it’s ruining our city. So what’s to say terrorism is not on the way? Police have found bomb-making materials, after all.  And now the post above, urging terroristic violence …  protected by our free speech laws (!).

Tuesday 19 November 2019

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act... is really bad for Hong Kong

This United States Act is well-meaning, but dangerous. Dangerous for we Hong Kong residents and dangerous to our autonomy. I've said this many times before and quoted experts on the subject.
But know-nothings like Joshua Wong — the face of the revolution, who gives every impression that if he had one piece of wisdom in his head it would be very lonely — are pushing for the US Senate to pass it. On yer, Josh! Way to go. Not. 
Yet another case against:
American politicians have been warned that "most of the pain" from US legislation that could put Hong Kong's special treatment under greater scrutiny would fall on residents of the city, rather than officials in mainland China or the local government. [Here]
ADDED (20 November): Oh dear. Despite the real problems with the Act, it has been passed unanimously.  How does that happen? Not a one who cares for the potentially bad consequences for Hong Kong people? How?

Paul Keating at the Australian Strategic Forum in Sydney on 18 November 2019

 Paul Keating at the Australian Strategic Forum in Sydney on 18 November 2019

(3222 words)

 

Taking some longer view of the strategic scenery, I have come to some key beliefs about the changes that are taking place globally.

 

The international system is fundamentally anarchic in[PM1]  structure. Two world wars in a century and Vietnam, Iraq, Syria gives the evidence of that. We should not confuse the relative peace of the last 30 years with the anarchy which lies latent[PM2] .

 

Pax Americana is not the natural order of things[PM3]  and at some point an American president was going to construe the national interest in much narrower terms. President Trump may have no academic or rationalist framework for his actions – but his intuitive stance will take America where the next president or the one after that would take it anyway.

 

The direction started with President Obama. His policy of “restraint”, the red lines and his impotence in the South China Sea – pointed the direction for Trump.

 

As someone said, President Trump is restoring America as a selfish state among selfish states. Never since the Roman Empire had power been so concentrated in one state and imperial decay invariably comes from the misuse of power – which follows from its concentration. Both the opportunist extension of Nato to the very borders of Russia, and the unprovoked attack on Iraq, come to mind as examples.

 

Then from the mists of imperial grandeur – China popped up. President Trump’s great fear is that China will overtake the US, both economically and technologically. Economically, it’s bound to, simply by population – technologically is another matter.

 

The US president is endeavouring to engineer a technological divorce from China – in the mistaken belief that China’s technological achievements depend almost entirely on theft from the west[PM4]  – some of which has certainly happened – but China’s contemporary progress is broadly homegrown.

 

I think the president fails to understand that the industrial revolution broke the nexus between population and GDP and that globalisation – with the transfer of capital and technology – has restored that nexus. Population is now again the principal driver of GDP[PM5] .

 

The fact that the Chinese population is four times that of the US is the key metric.

I think it is true to say the US remains the most ideological major society on earth. It believes, as a nation and as a system, it has the democratic formula and the universal values – which values it is committed to propagate.

 

On the other hand, China’s historical view is not rooted in ideological aspiration, universal or otherwise. It sees its legitimacy arising from its ethnic one-ness[PM6]  and bulk, and its geopolitical pre-eminence on the Asian mainland.

The US will have to adjust to the reality of China, deciding which characteristics of China are inimical to US interests and pose a threat, and which are simply a product of China’s scale and economic rise, and which can be accommodated, however glumly.

In other words, the United States has to decide where its vital interests lie in its relations with China and China’s role in the world, and which interests are otherwise tradable.

After United States wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, it has to accept that war on the Asian mainland is unwinnable and that the shape of Asia cannot be cast by a non-Asian power – including by the application of US military force.

The promotion of economic and strategic cooperation between Asian powers is the key to Asian stability – not resorting to strategic blocks or military arrangements.

 

The key question is about the United States itself: Is the United States capable of fundamental renewal? Can it overcome its debilitating political gridlock; can it regain its sense of magnanimity and mission; can it rebuild its productive base and more equitably divide its wealth? Can it renew the enthusiasm of its middle and working classes for the national story, and can it redress the growth in its budget imbalance and national debt?

 

For if it fails on these fronts, it will compromise and perhaps forfeit its global pre-eminence and regard, as it will its ability to fund its military outreach.

 

These are all live issues for Australia.

 

It is in all of Asia’s interests, including Australia’s, that the United States remains engaged with its traditional partners and allies – Japan, South Korea and the Philippines.

It is desirable that the US improves relations with India and Indonesia but not cajole them into an alliance structure with military undertones.

The same can be said for Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

 

Closer US political and commercial links with the countries of the region should help establish a web of self-reinforcing, cooperative ties which, over time, should assuage Chinese concerns that a structure is being built with the express purpose of Chinese strategic containment.

Indeed, such a cooperative structure should encourage China to participate in the region rather than seek to dominate it[PM7] .

 

We want a region which gives China the space to participate but not dominate.

Australia, for its part, should be actively involved in the development of such structures, while being wary of being caught up in a policy by the US, should the United States come to the conclusion, that the rise of China is broadly incompatible with its strategic interests[PM8] [PM9] .

 

When strategic blocs become bipolar – once they become rigid, even small events magnify risk.

 

The management of violence during the cold war has made many sanguine, that the great and developing forces within the post-cold war world can be similarly managed.

 

We should recognise that the cold war structure was quite stable but very brittle, whereas this new system is much less stable but more flexible. This is because a much greater range of interests cross the strategic divide – more players and a variety of interests.

 

Flexibility is the requirement when the structure is under pressure, and in this emerging structure there should, at least, be scope for some hope.

 

But back to the immediate. President Trump’s instincts are to avoid military confrontations, what he calls permanent wars, but the confrontation – the military one – he most seeks to avoid is with China.

From the Australian national interest we should applaud the president for that. But more than that, keep on applauding.

 

For President Trump alone is deciding US foreign policy and the news in that for Australia is he has no appetite for a military skirmish with China – which parts of the US east coast foreign policy and defence establishment would countenance. And not just part of the establishment in the US, in parts of the same establishment in Australia too.

 

So, while the president’s instincts in these respects are good[PM10]  – and they are particularly good – he is nonetheless not personally able to divine a new international agenda. He will not be constructing a new world model.

At the moment the current model is in serious decline. Global institutions are crumbling. Look at the WTO. The global system is under stress.

 

And regional institutions are being marginalised into the bargain. For instance, the president did not attend the recent East Asia Summit. He did not even direct his secretary of state to attend. The only US cabinet representation was his commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross.

When, in the context of the East Asia Summit, the United States invited the 10 Asean heads of government to meet the US commerce secretary, in the absence of the president – seven of the 10 invited to attend declined.

Apec, which has met consistently for 26 years, is this year off. To have been held in Chile, it is cancelled – nominally due to riots – but it lacked any real encouragement from the US for it to go ahead.

 

More broadly, the so-called “quadrilateral” is not taking off. India remains ambivalent about the US agenda on China and will hedge in any activism against China.

 

A rapprochement between Japan and China is also in evidence, with the Chinese planning a summit for December after concluding a successful meeting ahead of the G20 – so Japan is not signing up to any program of containment of China.

 

On the broader point, whether the United States can assume it retains strategic guarantor status in East Asia is open to debate.

 

What is not debatable is that we need the US as the balancing and conciliating power in the region.

 

But it is hard to be effective in that role if you don’t turn up. If you are not integral to and part of the strategic discussion.

 

As I said at a conference of this kind a year or so ago, “if you pawn the crown it is incapable of being redeemed at the same value”.

 

In fact, given recent US conduct, the larger question is: is the US likely to return to the pawn shop to recover it?

 

In the event President Trump were to win a second term, the answer to that question is likely to be in the negative.

Indeed, I think it is fair to say that following this presidency, the United States will not return to being the state it was, regardless of whether a Republican or a Democrat occupies the White House. But not only is the United States withdrawing from Asian arrangements – it is doing the same in Europe as well.

 

The French president is calling the effectiveness of Nato into question – admittedly with criticism from the Germans – but he visits China comporting himself as the representative of Europe. More than that, he feels he has to go there.

 

Given the rise of China and the power of population – four times that of the US – and the inevitability of China being as large an economy as the US, or in time much larger, the US, in strategic terms, had open to it the option of “consolidating the Atlantic”.

 

GDP between the US and Europe is worth some $40tn (Europe $18tn and US $19tn) – with China at $12tn, a third of the combined GDP of the Atlantic community. The combined population of the Atlantic is 850 million people.

 

The only real challenge to such a consolidation was finding a place or a point of accommodation for Russia in the European construct.

 

But the US is turning its back on that, that balancing construct, that Atlantic opportunity, returning to a “US first” posture – dividing Europe while leaving the bigger game open to Xi Jinping and China.

 

So where does all this leave Australia?

 

The answer: in the deep blue sea between two great powers – the US and China.

 

Despite all the talk about the Indo-Pacific, India and Indian GDP will not rival that of China over the next 30 years.

 

So Australia will be dealing, or obliged to deal, with but two great powers – the US and China – over the next 30 years.

 

Currently, India’s GDP sits at $2.1tn. China’s GDP is $12tn – six times that of India.

 

And, in the next 20 to 30 years, India is not going to catch up.

 

The related matter is China’s residual growth potential.

 

In terms of urbanisation, the advanced countries are in the 80% to 90% range. The United States is 82%, Germany 77%, France 80%, Britain 83%, Canada 81% and Australia 90%.

 

Currently China is at 60% urbanisation. China has at least 15% of its population yet to be accommodated in cities – leading to at least the basis of another 10 to 15 years of solid growth ahead of it.

 

And as China is the world champion at infrastructure and city-building, no other state will catch them.

 

Certainly not India.

 

So in Australia we will be left to deal with the two most muscular economic powers in the world. The United States and China. Just the two of them.

 

But unfortunately, the debate in Australia has markedly degenerated in respect of the preponderant Asian economic power – China.

 

Two underlying propositions go to this degeneration.

 

The unstated one: that somehow the rise of China is illegitimate. That a state dragging 20% of humanity from poverty has ulterior motives and has to be strategically monitored. With no premium being placed on the human condition – 700 million people lifted from abject poverty. An event without precedent in world history.

 

The second proposition, debated more openly, is that China is not a democracy. Well, God help us if we are limited or slated to deal only with democracies.

 

That policy would, without doubt, have lost us the second world war – for Europe had no chance of being liberated singularly from the west.

 

Twenty six million Russians died defeating nazism in the brutal battles across the northern European plain.

 

I don’t think we cared at the time whether the poor devils in those battles had particular regard to Jeffersonian democratic principles. Survival and a bigger overarching strategy took precedence. It was policy realism and, remarkably, it succeeded.

And let’s not get too starry-eyed about so-called democracies.

 

Germany was a constitutional democracy coming up to 1914 – those instincts didn’t save the rest of us from the nationalist instincts of the Prussian Junkers. But let me read what one of the coldest of the cold war warriors, Zbigniew Brzezinski, had to say on this topic – with particular reference to China. He said:

 

America should tacitly accept the reality of China’s geopolitical pre-eminence on the mainland of Asia, as well as China’s ongoing emergence as the predominant Asian economic power.

 

America’s Pacific strategy should not try to contain China but to engage it in a larger hub of cooperative relationships – that by themselves also help shape the US-China relationship[PM11] .”

 

And beyond Brzezinski, Henry Kissinger’s remark on the same subject:

 

“China’s political culture has deep roots and is suffused with its own distinctive philosophical concepts of life, of hierarchy and of authority – a Confucian China with modern characteristics.”

 

The idea that upon growth and wealth, China would, ipso facto, adopt a multi-party, western-style democratic structure was the idea of people ignorant of China’s long history or the recent history of the Communist party.

 

When Deng Xiaoping went with the traditionalists following Hu Yaobang’s death and the Tiananmen demonstrations which followed, he abandoned any within-party multi-group or multi-party objectives which his former party secretary and Premier Zhao Ziyang were considering.

 

The party was returned to its central position in the Chinese command system and hierarchy. China will be – is – the predominant economic power in Asia, as Brzezinski asserted.

 

That position will not be usurped by a non-Asian power, either economic or military.

 

How does Australia respond to this?

 

Is it to help divine and construct a set of arrangements which engages China but which also prevents China from dominating the region?

 

Or do we seek to insulate or remove ourselves from this enormous shift in world economic power, by allowing our singular focus on the United States and our alliance with it to mark out our international personality?

 

My concern is what passes for the foreign policy of Australia lacks any sense of strategic realism – and that the whispered word “communism” of old, is now being replaced with the word “China”.

 

The reason we have ministries and cabinets is that a greater and collective wisdom can be brought to bear on complex topics – and particularly on movements of tectonic importance.

 

This process is not working in Australia.

 

The subtleties of foreign policy and the elasticity of diplomacy are being supplanted by the phobias of a group of national security agencies, which are now effectively running the foreign policy of the country.

 

And the media has been up to its ears in it.

 

The Sydney Morning Herald has two anti-China stories in today’s paper. It’s the usual “shock and awe” indignation. All fundamentally fired by alarm at the scale and speed of China’s rise.

 

A few months ago, the Herald and the Age led with a “China Threat” headline. The “threat” turned out to be a beat-up about China supposedly building a full naval base on Vanuatu.

 

Drops to journalists by the above-mentioned agencies about another “seditious” publication in a particular university or the hijinks of another Chinese entrepreneur is passed off as the evil bearing of the Chinese state[PM12] .

 

The Australian media has been recreant in its duty to the public in failing to present a balanced picture of the rise, legitimacy and importance of China, preferring instead to traffic in side plays dressed up with cosmetics of sedition and risk.

 

Frankly, how the prime minister and the government can permit this state of affairs to obtain is beyond me.

 

Let me conclude on these points.

 

Great powers do things to advance their cause and use their strength.

 

Two years after I was elected to the House of Representatives, the US state department arranged a six-week visit for me to the United States. Meeting political organisations, staying in the homes of American families, meeting academics and key members of Congress and being inculcated with views by the state department, the Pentagon and specialist institutions.

 

No trifling things like Chinese language publications or pamphlets in Australian universities on that occasion – which the press here perpetually complain of. No, for the Americans, it was straight through the door to get a grip on you. And I was a member of the House of Representatives – a parliamentarian, not a random university student.

 

But this is the kind of thing muscular states do.

 

And in the case of the US at the time, it was just disengaging from Vietnam. Twenty years earlier, it had succeeded in removing the elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, to install the Shah, and at the time of my visit was manoeuvring with the CIA to bring on a military coup in Chile to remove its president, Salvador Allende.

 

Big states are rude and nasty – but that does not mean we can afford not to deal with them – whether it be the United States or China.

 

It is the national interest and its long run trajectory which should guide our hand and not the nominally pious belchings of “do-gooder” journalists who themselves live on leaks of agencies unfit to divine a national pathway – organisations which lack comprehension as to magnitude or moment or the subtleties and demands of a dynamic international landscape.

 

Australia still has choices, but it cannot ignore or go on downplaying the importance and import of the largest economic shift in world history – with all its attendant strategic implications.

*******

This is an edited version of a speech delivered by Paul Keating at the Australian Strategic Forum in Sydney on 18 November 2019

 

PF COMMENT: so which is it, Paul? Go with China? Or go with the US? Mearsheimer says it’s going to have to be a choice at some stage because the US will force it. Hegemons will fight/struggle with each other. And we will have to take a side. For me, that side has to be America. 

Keating displays moral equivalence here. The way the US duchesses him when he was a new parliamentarian, he suggests, is just like China and its influence peddling, but more overt.  But they are not the same.  China is China. And right now it’s pretty nasty. And America is a long time friend.

Keating seems to be saying, without quite saying, that we ought to throw our lot in with China. 

Otherwise his comments on China’s place in the region are spot on. Raising so many out of poverty, building great infrastructure and quickly. Shift to cities implies ongoing growth potential. All right on. 


 [PM1]“Anarchy “ is the wrong word here. The definition is: “... the state of a society being without authorities or a governing body, and the general confusion…” Clearly that is not the state of the world. “Confused” maybe, or “confusing”, but NOT anarchic.

 [PM2]There’s a view that the relative peace since WWII has been *because* of nuclear weapons, not despite them. 

Also: “anarchy” the way of the world forever. Lately greater peace, viz Steve Pinker.

 [PM3]Is there a “natural order of things”?

 [PM4]Surely a lot depends on theft from the west. Or at least has done. Just look at the tech companies, Baidu, Tencent, Alibaba, WeChat, etc, etc, all rip offs of US Companies.

AR’s comment: they think Americans are mugs …

 [PM5]I wonder if this is true. It would mean every country merging GDP per capita 

 [PM6]Cultural history, surely

 [PM7]Is this possible ?

 [PM8]Cf. Mearsheimer 

 [PM9]Who says the hegemon will always be wary of the newly rising power 

 [PM10]A positive word for Trump! Wonders…

 [PM11]Part of that was WTO. How did that work out?

 [PM12]Downplaying the Chinese threat, which is real.  Quilette article