Asia • China • Foreign Policy • Post

China’s Han Superstate: The New Third Reich

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More than a million people, for no reason other than their ethnicity or religion, are held in concentration camps in what Beijing calls the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and what traditional inhabitants of the area, the Uighurs, say is East Turkestan. In addition to Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs are also held in these facilities.

Families in this troubled area, shown on maps as the northwestern portion of the People’s Republic of China, are being torn apart. The children of imprisoned Uighur and Kazakh parents are “confined” to “schools” that are separated from the outside by barbed wire and heavy police patrols. They are denied instruction in their own language, forced to learn Mandarin Chinese. The controls are part of a so-called “Hanification” policy, a program of forced assimilation. “Han” is the name of China’s dominant ethnic group.

Because Uighurs and Kazakhs are dying in the camps in considerable numbers, Beijing is building crematoria to eradicate burial traditions while disposing of corpses.

The camps, a crime against humanity, are spreading. China is now building similar facilities, given various euphemistic names such as “vocational training centers,” in Tibet, in China’s southwest.

At the same time, Beijing is renewing its attempt to eliminate religion country-wide. Christians have come under even greater attack across China, as have Buddhists. China’s ruler, Xi Jinping, demands that the five recognized religions—official recognition is a control mechanism—”Sinicize.” The Chinese, as a part of this ruthless and relentless effort, are destroying mosques and churches, forcing devout Muslims to drink alcohol and eat pork, inserting Han officials to live in Muslim homes, and ending religious instruction for minors.

These attempts, which have antecedents in Chinese history, have been intensified since Xi became the Communist Party’s general secretary in November 2012.

At the same time, Xi, far more than his predecessors, has been promoting the concept of a world order ruled by only one sovereign, a Chinese one.

In broad outline, Xi’s vision of the world is remarkably similar to that of the Third Reich, at least before the mass murders.

The Third Reich and the People’s Republic share a virulent racism, in China politely referred to as “Han chauvinism.” The Han category, which is said to include about 92% of the population of the People’s Republic, is in truth the amalgamation of related ethnic groups.

Chinese mythology holds that all Chinese are descendants of the Yellow Emperor, who is thought to have ruled in the third millennium BCE. The Chinese consider themselves to be a branch of humanity separate from the rest of the world, a view reinforced by indoctrination in schools, among other means.

Chinese scholars support this notion of Chinese separateness with the “Peking Man” theory of evolution, which holds the Chinese do not share a common African ancestor with the remainder of humankind. This theory of the unique evolution of the Chinese has, not surprisingly, reinforced racist views.

As a result of racism, many in China, including officials, “believe themselves to be categorically different from and impliedly superior to the rest of the humankind,” writes Fei-Ling Wang, author of The China Order: Centralia, World Empire, and the Nature of Chinese Power.

The racism, therefore, is institutionalized and openly promoted. That was painfully evident last year in the 13-minute skit on China Central Television’s Spring Festival Gala, the premier television show in China. In “Let’s Celebrate Together,” a Chinese actress in blackface played a Kenyan mother, who had an enormous bosom and ridiculously large buttocks. Worse, her sidekick was a human-size monkey. The combination of the monkey and the woman was an echo of the Hubei Provincial Museum exhibit, “This is Africa,” which in 2017 displayed photographs of Africans flush next to images of primates.

In recent years, there have been many ugly portrayals of Africans in Chinese media, and although the skit last year was not the worst, it was striking because the main state broadcaster, by airing it to about 800 million viewers, made it clear Chinese officials think of Africans as both objects of derision and subhuman. In these circumstances, it is a safe assumption that these views are shared by the Beijing leadership, which, alarmingly, is making more frequent race-based appeals to Chinese people—and not only those in China.

This century’s master race has a problem, however. China, now the world’s most populous state, faces rapid demographic decline. Last year’s birth rate was the lowest since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. The country’s population will peak in 2029, according to the World Population Prospects 2017, published by the United Nations Population Division. But the high-point could in fact come in just the next couple years, as the U.N. numbers are based on Beijing’s overly optimistic assumptions. China’s official demographers, for instance, did not foresee the near-collapse of the birthrate last year.

In 2024, another momentous event will occur. Then, for the first time in at least 300 years—and maybe for the first time in recorded history—China will not be the world’s most populous society. That honor will go to a country the Chinese generally both detest and fear, India. When India peaks in 2061, it will have a population 398,088 million larger than China’s.

Once China begins to shrink, it will shrink fast. In 2018, China’s population was 4.3 times larger than America’s. By 2100, China is projected to have a population only 2.3 times larger.

China’s demographic path is set for decades, and it will have momentous—and extremely adverse—consequences for Chinese society and the country’s “comprehensive national strength.” Perhaps that is why Beijing looks as if it may be trying to compensate for collapsing demography by laying the groundwork for a race of superhuman Chinese.

He Jiankui of Shenzhen’s Southern University of Science and Technology announced in November that he had used CRISPR to edit human embryos that produced live births, in this case twins girls. He claimed he was making the babies resistant to HIV, but there is speculation he was also trying to enhance intelligence. In any event, the announcement evoked Nazi eugenics experiments, especially because there is evidence that the Chinese government had backed He’s “world’s first” experiment, considered unethical and dangerous.

Certainly dangerous is Xi Jinping. “Mao Zedong may have played on the Third World’s racial resentments when trying to unite former colonial peoples against white imperialists, but he thought that Communism was a global phenomenon that would eventually find a home everywhere and Mao’s utopia was in the future,” the Hudson Institute’s Charles Horner told Gatestone. “Xi Jinping’s Chinese Communist Party is not global or utopian in this way; instead, it seems in thrall to an essential ‘Chinese-ness.'”

Horner sees disconcerting similarities between Xi’s China and 1930s Imperial Japan. “Like Imperial Japan then,” Horner said, “Xi and the Party look backward to a mythologized past when a benign Emperor brought the whole world together to bask in his glory and share his munificence.”

Concentration camps, racism, eugenics, ambitions of world domination. Sound familiar?

There is a new Third Reich, and it is China.

Editor’s note: This article was first published by the Gatestone Institute and is republished here by permission.

Photo Credit: Guang Niu/Getty Images

Asia • China • Donald Trump • Economy • Post

Trump Deserves Credit for China’s Changing Stance on Trade

President Trump is gaining the advantage over China in his long-term trade strategy, proving the naysayers wrong with his decision to use tariffs as leverage.

When Donald Trump first introduced his aggressive trade policy and imposed targeted counter-tariffs to push back against China’s rampant trade manipulation, most of the so-called experts remained skeptical.

President Trump’s strategy was deemed too dangerous by commentators, who also predicted that it would be powerless to contain China’s economic aspirations. The president never wavered, though—and his commitment has paid off faster than anyone could have predicted.

Beijing last month announced it would cut tariffs on imported U.S. cars—a major concession in a trade war that increasingly is tipping in Washington’s favor. The decision to slash tariffs on American-made cars from 40 percent to 15 percent came the week after President Trump met face-to-face with President Xi Jinping in Argentina and announced that both countries are on the verge of a breakthrough on trade.

Of course, China’s sudden concession has a direct cause—President Trump repeatedly has pressured Beijing to adopt a fair trade policy toward the United States, knowing that China has a lot more to lose in a direct trade war than America does.

“We are either going to have a REAL DEAL with China, or no deal at all—at which point we will be charging major Tariffs against Chinese product being shipped into the United States,” the President tweeted recently. “Ultimately, I believe, we will be making a deal—either now or into the future. China does not want Tariffs!”

Trump was right: Beijing doesn’t have the fortitude or economic resilience to weather additional U.S. tariffs on its goods. After all, China’s economy relies heavily on exports, making it particularly vulnerable to policies that restrict its access to the world’s largest consumer market.

The president also understood that China’s economic might has rarely been tested, and accurately predicted that Beijing would be unwilling to risk its long-term growth prospects by engaging in a trade war against a far more stable market economy.

Despite hysterical warnings from Democrats, President Trump’s strategy began showing signs of success way back in early August, when China’s leaders reportedly became unsettled over U.S. tariffs—a clear sign that decision-makers in Beijing had no confidence in the resilience of their economy.

As it turns out, their concerns were well-founded.

According to a recent New York Times business report, China’s economy has experienced a major slowdown in both retail spending and industrial production in recent months, putting Xi Jinping and his party under significant political pressure.

China is suffering from declining business and consumer confidence, car sales have plunged, the housing market is stumbling, and some factories are reportedly letting workers off for the Lunar New Year holiday two months early.

As a result of those domestic economic pressures, the Times notes that Xi “has been forced to make concessions to the United States as President Trump’s trade war intensifies.”

Fact is, Trump is gaining on China—and a triumph on his trade strategy is approaching faster than anyone anticipated. While Beijing’s inability to go toe-to-toe with Washington on trade is partially a symptom of its own economic weakness, President Trump deserves the credit for identifying that weakness, pushing China to its limit, and calling the Communists’ bluff.

Photo Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images

Asia • China • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Post • Trade

Here’s Why the Huawei Arrest Helps Negotiations with China

Wall Street is worried that the arrest of Huawei Vice Chairman Meng Wanzhou will put President Trump’s ongoing trade negotiations with China on ice.

They fear that China may retreat from its G-20 promises, or perhaps even call off the negotiations altogether. Some have suggested that U.S. tech executives avoid traveling to China, fearing revenge arrests.

As someone who has followed elite politics in Communist China for 40 years, I disagree. In fact, I think that Meng’s arrest may actually help move the negotiations along.

China’s leaders see her arrest as a deliberate provocation, intended to provoke them into the kinds of overreactions that would blow up the trade negotiations.

They view it, in other words, as a strategic deception.

Anyone who has read their Sun-Tzu knows that deception is the primary category—the default position, if you will—of Chinese strategic thought. And the ancient strategist’s famous dictum, “All warfare is deception,” obviously applies to trade wars as well.

China knows that the president’s advisors are divided between the globalists, who hope for a win-win agreement on trade, and the nationalists, who want to disengage America’s economy from China’s. They fear that the nationalists have arranged the arrest of the Huawei executive precisely because they want to undermine the trade negotiations, and send China’s economy over a cliff.

The looming tariffs of 25 percent, scheduled to take effect on March 1 absent a deal, would cripple China’s export economy. It would drive supply chains to the tariff-free climes of India, Vietnam, and the Philippines. It would cause many Chinese companies to go bankrupt, and the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges to plummet. China might well be trapped in the middle-income, also-ran, economic no-man’s-land that it so desperately wants to avoid.

Official Washington has claimed that Meng was detained as a result of a longstanding investigation. The timing of her arrest at the precise moment of the Xi-Trump meeting was, we are told, mere coincidence. Whatever you think of that explanation, official Beijing is having none of it.

It is, indeed, harder to imagine a higher profile target than the vice chairman and heiress-apparent of Huawei, China’s leading hi-tech company and a key player in the “Made in China 2025” plan.

Not only is Meng the daughter of Huawei’s founder, she is the granddaughter of a senior party official, Meng Dongbo, who fought alongside Chairman Mao in the Chinese Civil War and later served as vice governor of Sichuan, China’s most populous province. In other words, she is a bona fide member of China’s Communist aristocracy, which is why the Chinese refer to her as “princess.”

The woman languishing in a Canadian jail cell is China’s Tim Cook and China’s Ivanka Trump all rolled into one.

The Chinese leadership has concluded from both from the timing and from the target that this was a setup.

Add to this the fact that the Chinese leadership has grown very wary of Donald J. Trump. They see him as tactical on trade—addressing an issue, extracting as many concessions as he can, and then moving on to the next issue.

But they also see him a strategic in a global sense, intent upon maintaining American dominance in the century that was supposed to be owned by China.

The state-run Global Times initially denounced the arrest as a violation of the spirit of the trade truce reached during the Xi-Trump dinner. But in the days since, the rhetoric has been ratcheted down, and Beijing is going out of its way to delink the two.

Sensing a trap, Communist leader Xi Jinping has not seized upon the arrest of Meng as a reason to derail the talks. Instead, he seems to have recommitted himself to working out a trade deal with the United States as the March 1 deadline looms ever closer.

Of course, deal or no deal, Beijing’s two-decades-long orgy of lawless and predatory behavior needs to come to an end.

In the meantime, neither Tim Cook nor Ivanka Trump need fear arrest if they travel to China.

Photo Credit: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

America • Asia • Center for American Greatness • China • Defense of the West • Economy • Foreign Policy • Post • Technology • The Media • Trade

Free the Kidnapped Canadians in Communist China

Last week, we discussed the national security threat to the United States and her siblings in the family of free nations that is posed by Communist China’s Huawei technology company—specifically, in the words of Eli Lake, “that China’s largest telecom company will allow the Chinese state to monitor the electronic communications of anyone using Huawei technology.”

Now, in light of the detention of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou, by Canadian officials for potential extradition to the United States to face charges related to the Iranian Sanctions Act, the Beijing junta hamfistedly reaffirms our assessment’s prudential rectitude of both the company and the communist regime.

Per the BBC, not one, but two Canadian citizens—Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor—living and working in communist China have “disappeared” or are being detained by the regime; and, despite the efforts of Canadian officials to raise the issue at the highest levels in Communist China’s regime, neither man has been released.

An employee of the International Crisis Group, which is gravely concerned about his welfare, Kovrig is believed to have been arrested by the Chinese regime “on suspicion of engaging in activities that harm China’s state security.”

Spavor, an entrepreneur with the “Paektu Cultural Exchange that organizes business, culture and tourism trips to North Korea,” had informed Canadian officials he was being questioned by the Communist government. Subsequently, he, too, is apparently being held on the suspicion of “engaging in activities that endanger China’s national security”; and, per Canadian officials, his whereabouts are difficult to determine.

What isn’t difficult to determine in this “delicate situation” is the wicked game being played by the Communist Chinese regime. Sure, using diplomatic parlance, Canadian officials state that there isn’t any “explicit indication” that the Communist Chinese have detained the two Canadian citizens. Yet, one doesn’t need to be have a degree in international relations—more useful would be watching “The Sopranos”—to understand this is doubtless a manifestation of one of the “unspecified threats” by the communist regime in the wake of Meng’s detention.

Bluntly, the Communist Chinese regime is less a government than a racket; and Canada must not allow itself to be intimidated by these socialist shakedown artists.

No, in dealing with these ideological fossils who still try to pass off Communism—a murderous screed of tyrannical butchers—as a rival and superseding model of governance to liberal democracy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must not capitulate to these global kidnappers’ ransom demands, namely the release of Weng. Ever imperious and never wanting to be seen losing face, Communist China is trying to coerce Canada into begging the United States to drop the charges against Meng to secure her release.

Just say “no,” Mr. Trudeau.

Rather, Trudeau should call President Trump and secure his commitment not to drop the U.S. charges against Meng; and, thus assured he will not be undercut by his friends to the south, he should commence raising tariffs and trade barriers and kicking Chinese diplomats out of Canada until his two kidnapped citizens are released unharmed.

Oh, and speaking of Huawei, remember that October letter from Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) to Prime Minister Trudeau that warned of joint intelligence activities with the United States, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand possibly being curbed if Canada allows Huawei to aid in the construction or maintain his nation’s 5G wireless network? Now would be good time for Trudeau to affirmatively respond: “Screw those Chi-com hosers, eh?”

It might not have the ring of “tear down this wall,” but it’s a damn fine sentiment and a damn good start.

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Asia • China • Foreign Policy • Post • Technology

Americans Need Protection from Chinese Hackers

Earlier this fall, the United States issued reports and warnings that hackers with backing from the Chinese government and military pose serious cyber-threats to U.S.-based companies. It is not just American businesses that need to be wary of Chinese privacy and security breaches, however; American consumers should be concerned as well.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned U.S. firms to be vigilant about potential cyber-threats from Chinese firms that either solely or with U.S. partners offer managed services, such as IT support for American companies that choose to outsource their IT needs. At the same time, the U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team (US-CERT), which provides disaster response and warnings about serious cybersecurity issues, published an alert that un-named countries are using cloud services to steal data and trade secrets from U.S. companies.

US-CERT did not identify the nation-states that were launching the attacks or the companies that were victimized, but China has long been known to be a sponsor of government- and military-backed hacks. US-CERT indicated that the cyber-attacks targeted information technology firms, health-care companies, telecommunications and Internet providers, and manufacturers—all entities that Chinese cyber-attacks have previously sought to undercut.

At the same time these warnings were being released, Bloomberg published a stunning investigation showing that Chinese hackers most likely backed by the Chinese government, inserted chips into network servers used by U.S. government entities—the Defense Department and CIA—and more than 30 major U.S. corporations. Despite significant pushback from some parties, Bloomberg stood by its story which found that the motherboards for the servers where the chips were found were built by a company bought by Amazon in 2015, but may have been in place before Amazon’s purchase.

Amazon is now one of the world’s largest cloud server providers, with extensive government and corporate clients worldwide. The chips enabled hackers to gain direct access to the networks that the servers helped to manage. In other words, the hackers had access to U.S. Navy and CIA data, as well as data for global banks and perhaps Apple. Such backdoor hacks are even showing up on Internet networking equipment, according to Bloomberg.

Beyond the potential for personal data theft from banks or employers, or even personal data stored by government agencies, such as the IRS or Health and Human Services, what does all this mean for consumers?  That they need to be wary not only about how they connect to the Internet and the information they share, but also about what hardware they use to connect to the Internet, as consumers increasingly embed every facet of their life to the so-called Internet of Things (IoT).

Whether it’s in-home personal assistants offered by Amazon, Google, or Apple that listen to your every word and store all that data to serve you better, or “smart” tools like thermostats, home security systems and cameras, or e-health tools and monitors, or smart appliances, or tools that allow you to network your home with better Wi-Fi or broadband access, all of them have to store consumers’ data to function properly. And all of them, most likely, have to connect to cloud storage systems via the Internet.

Consider this: thousands of the motherboards like the ones produced for Amazon’s server company are produced by tech firms in Chinese cities you’ve never heard of like Guangzhou, a city in southeastern Chin or Shenzhen, the “Silicon Valley of Hardware,” and home to tech giants like Huawei or Tuya. These companies can produce IoT hardware—voice assistants to thermostats, in-home video cameras, and Wi-Fi extenders—for U.S. businesses in less than 90 days and at prices virtually any American consumer could afford. But it’s hardly unusual to find chips or software embedded in devices for U.S. purchase that transmit data back to Chinese servers or that provide back door access for hackers to U.S. networks.

There was a saying a few years ago in Silicon Valley that “data is the new oil.” While it’s true that data must be mined for value, it’s also true that where the data is located and secured to be mined can be just as important. Increasingly, American businesses and consumer companies are using cloud and data storage entities based in China or controlled by Chinese firms, many of which have close relationships with the Communist government and military.

China is looking for a technological—if not an overall economic and competitive—edge over the United States, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that end.  China is becoming the go-to nation state for good quality computer chips for all sorts of products.  We now are seeing why U.S. based companies leaning on Chinese-owned or managed data storage or data management not only puts U.S. innovation and strategic advantage at risk, but also consumers’ data.

As President Trump, his Commerce Department, and other trade advisers continue their dialogue with China on a new trade agreement, it’s time for the administration not only to talk tough on steel, autos, and agriculture. It’s time to talk tough on protecting America’s intellectual property from hackers, and to protect consumers’ data, too. Indeed, it’s long past the time to talk about it. It’s time to do something about it.

Photo Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images

Asia • China • Economy • Post

Trump’s Chinese Tariffs Are a Necessary ‘Evil’

President Trump announced this week he would levy 10 percent tariffs on some $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. The tariff is scheduled to take effect on September 24, and is slated to increase to 25 percent by year’s end. Of course, China pledged to retaliate with tariffs of “equal scale and equal strength.”

This has some American exporters worried. After all, China is the fourth-largest buyer of American goods. Even more important to these exporters, the Middle Kingdom is the world’s largest untapped consumer market. China is El Dorado—were it only open for business.

GOP bigwigs agree, and are willing to fight the president tooth-and-nail in the name of “free trade” with China’s authoritarian dictatorship—an oxymoron if ever there was one. But what they fail to understand is that China will not embrace free trade because it conflicts with their modus operandi.

Instead of pursuing this Chimaera, Congress should focus on rebuilding America’s hollow industrial base and maintaining our tenuous technological lead.

The Birds and the Bees—also Bats
By 1970, Chinese civilization was near collapse. The “Middle Kingdom” was a peripheral backwater—a warzone populated by peasants who scratched out their living with tools of bone and rock. Mao’s cult demanded they melt down their metal implements to build forges to boost steel production. Steel production was a sign of progress, after all. Never mind if actual citizens were deprived of its use. Some 35 million Chinese died of starvation during the “Great Leap Forward” and millions more disappeared in the night. China lay in ruins.

Today, China is the land of 1,000 cities. In the last decade, China has poured more concrete than America poured in the last century. Their industrial production is triple that of America’s—their population over quadruple. Additionally, China’s computing power is nearing parity and their scientific output is gaining fast. No wonder economists describe China’s rise as an “economic miracle.”

How did they do it?

The standard explanation for China’s rise runs like this: in the 1970s China shied away from hard-nosed communism and began to liberalize. China in 1985 opened coastal cities like Dalian, Guangzhou, and Shanghai to development. As predicted, cheap Chinese labor attracted investors, who built innumerable, factories, roads, and ports. China industrialized because of its (economic) liberal reforms and freer trade with America. China’s rise is liberalism’s triumph.

There’s only one problem: this narrative is false. Remember, homologous structures don’t necessitate shared origins—just because bats, birds, and bugs all have wings doesn’t mean they evolved from a (recent) common ancestor. Likewise, although China’s economic reforms look “liberal” to western eyes, they stem from a different ideological substrate.

Modern Chinese capitalism is not rooted in Adam Smith or David Ricardo; instead, its progenitors are the Qing Dynasty’s nameless mandarins.

Pangu’s Corpse
The oldest definitive evidence of trade between China and the West dates from 1070 B.C.—a Chinese silk found in Pharaonic Egypt. Although we do not know the scale of this commerce, we do know that by 800 B.C. Chinese craftsmen created jewelry with imported gold, and decorated said jewelry with Scythian motifs. This implies that intercontinental trade was regular-enough to facilitate the diffusion of aesthetic tastes and artistic techniques.

Trade eventually coalesced along the Silk Road, an overland trade route crisscrossing Eurasia’s deserts and mountains. Because of the vast distances and physical limitations of pack animals, merchants only transported luxury items. For example, China exported silk and porcelain in exchange for amber, glass, and gold. This was the extent of East-West trade until 1522 A.D., when Portuguese ships reached China.

Direct shipping greatly reduced prices and increased European demand for Chinese goods. But there was a problem: China didn’t want anything made in Europe. They only wanted silver. There are two reasons for this: first, many Chinese elites held “barbarian” merchandise in contempt; second, the Middle Kingdom’s most able mandarins saw European goods as a threat to Chinese industry. Thus, silver was the preferred—and eventually only—medium of exchange.

Nevertheless, trade grew rapidly. In the latter half of the 1500s Europeans exported 50 tons of silver to China annually. By 1650 silver-outflows increased to 115 tons annually. This trade enriched China by increasing demand for Chinese production and increasing monetary liquidity (silver was currency). The gains in Europe were ephemeral, however. On the one hand, they enjoyed luxurious Chinese silk. On the other, they only had so much silver.

Hungry for Chinese goods but low on silver, Britain started smuggling opium and cotton into the Middle Kingdom during the early nineteenth century. China cracked down and tensions boiled over in a conflict known as the First Opium War (1839-42). The British won, gaining Hong Kong and the right to export their manufacturing to China—they finally entered El Dorado.

Fearing that British imports would outcompete their domestic manufacturers, China soon rescinded the deal and banned British imports. This precipitated the Second Opium War (1856-60), wherein a British-led European coalition again defeated China, and opened the Empire to European merchants. Additionally, British goods were entirely exempt from taxes.

The flood of European industrial production choked-out Chinese competitors, and aborted all prospects of domestic industrialization. Slowly but surely, China was reduced to a state of mercantile dependency.

The Second Resurrection of Lazarus
For over a century China lay in economic ruin. Things began to change in 1971 when President Nixon lifted America’s embargo on China, which had been in place since Mao’s takeover. But trade remained insignificant until 1980 when President Carter conferred “most favored nation” status on China, thereby exempting them from the additional tariffs imposed on “hostile” states—apparently this communist dictatorship was no longer hostile.

Once China opened its coastal regions to foreign investors, the rest was history. American investors relocated innumerable factories to China and exported production for “bargain basement” prices. Between 1985 and 2017, Americans bought a net $5.2 trillion worth of Chinese production—enough to capitalize the industrialization of earth’s largest nation.

Not only did China industrialize, it also modernized. American technology and science flowed into the Middle Kingdom after President Reagan reclassified China as an allied state, removing the usual restrictions imposed on technological exports. This benefited a number of America’s technology exporters, but it also gave China the keys to the Ferrari: not only was labor cheaper in China, but Chinese factories could be outfitted with the latest technology. We created a new competitor.

One of the main reasons that America’s leaders, from Reagan to Obama, have dealt with China so incompetently is that they misread the signals: they think China is emulating America, and thus they will eventually open their markets and trade freely. Every American concession is underpinned by this assumption. Like so many of our assumptions about China, this assumption is also false.

China isn’t emulating America, it’s emulating itself—an historical version of itself.

In 1985, Chinese opened its doors specifically to export-oriented industries. That is, companies that built factories in China with the express purpose of exporting the production were given generous subsidies and access to artificially cheap labor. From the beginning of its resurgence China’s goal was to be the seller, not the buyer—swap semiconductors for silk, or plastic for porcelain and you’ll see the similarity between the “Communist” and Qing trade policy.

Another important congruence is how modern China jealously guards its lucrative domestic market. By and large, Western companies cannot operate in China. Those granted the privilege are often forced into “partnerships” with Chinese companies, which siphon-off a portion of the profits and serve as important vectors for intellectual property theft—which costs America some $400 billion annually.

China’s protectionism also allowed the nation to evolve an independent and hugely profitable economic ecosystem. Just look at China’s information technologies sector: by blocking Amazon, China preserved the market niche for a domestic competitor, Alibaba. Today, Alibaba is one of China’s most valuable companies, and is Amazon’s only viable global competitor.

Modern Chinese bureaucrats, like their Qing predecessors, operate according to the simple maxim: China first.

When China “opened for business” in 1985, it was not emulating America, nor was it following the recommendations of free market economists: it was reviving the Canton System, it was embracing its mercantile past. China was becoming China again.

China was a mercantile power once, and it is a mercantile power again. And most importantly, it has no plans to become a liberal, free-trading nation—economists be damned. The late Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China’s economic resurrection, said this of China’s “economically illiterate” trade policy: “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white—if it catches mice, it’s a good cat.” Economists can say what they like, but make no mistake: China is one fat cat.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

America • Asia • Center for American Greatness • China • Deterrence • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • military • Post

Confronting China: America Needs Japan, India, and Australia

When President Donald J. Trump was elected, one of his first decisions was to fulfill an early campaign promise: he abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that the Obama Administration negotiated. The reason for withdrawing was simple: it disproportionately would have harmed American middle-class workers and their already-ailing communities.

Yet the decision to remove the United States from the TPP agreement came at a cost. It created some damaging downstream effects for America’s foreign policy.

One positive aspect of the TPP was that it empowered Asian states to stand against China’s growing threat in the region. Since the termination of the agreement, the Asian democracies have tried to go forward without the United States without success.

Despite its necessary decision to end American involvement in the TPP, the Trump Administration has also correctly acknowledged that Asia is the most important region of the world. Moreover, the Trump Administration believes that Asia cannot be left to the machinations of authoritarian China.

Japan, Australia, and Vietnam have all become concerned about Chinese military activities in the region over the last decade. More importantly, India—the world’s largest democracy, and the seventh-largest economy (an economy, moreover, that is set to grow even larger over the next decade)—is equally, if not more, threatened by the Chinese juggernaut.

Since the start of this year, the Trump Administration has sought to revitalize the Quadrilateral Security Dialog (or simply the “Quad Alliance”), a loose coalition from 2007 consisting of the United States, Japan, Australia, and India. The Quad Alliance, which is currently informal and relatively powerless, should be formalized by the Trump Administration and given greater power. It should be the basis for a new trading and defensive military bloc aimed at tethering together the region’s most powerful economies into a competitive counterweight to China.

But the Quad Alliance is not without its problems.

Like it or not, Trump’s trade war with China has turned off potential allies in the Asia-Pacific. Most of the Quad Alliance members have all become fabulously wealthy from the “free trade” policies that President Trump opposes. The leaders of these states are therefore skeptical of Trump. This has translated into their unwillingness to further enmesh their countries in the budding Quad Alliance.

Don’t let that fool you, though. As time progresses, Japan and India will be unable to ignore China’s true threat. In the last decade alone, China’s extreme behavior in the South and East China Seas (with their unlawful island-building program) have already exhibited to the region the danger that a China—drunk on wealth and nationalism—poses.

In 2017, India and China fought a series of pitched battles in their long-standing feud over water rights (which China controls at present) for the Tibetan Plateau. The stronger and wealthier China becomes, the less inhibited Beijing will be in checking its revanchist impulses.

For its part, Australia has taken a schizophrenic approach to the issue of China’s rise. Australia has allowed for the United States to base some Marines in Darwin. It has also expanded its participation in joint-naval exercises with the United States. Australia also attempted to participate in major naval exercises with the Indian Navy recently (which New Delhi, in an attempt to appeal to Beijing, rejected). However, like Japan and India, Australia has become more committed to its free trade policy with China, thereby negating the potential potency of the proposed Quad Alliance network.

The Quad Alliance is not dead yet, however. All that is needed is a more visible sign of American engagement with the Asia-Pacific (beyond mere rhetoric) generally, and specifically, American commitment to the other Quad members. What’s needed, then, is Trump’s decisive leadership. A new trade deal and deeper military ties are required to sweeten the deal.

Beginning with Japan, a country with the most antipathy toward China, the Trump Administration must negotiate the creation of a new fair trade deal that would leave open the possibility of Australia and India joining. From there, the United States should court other Asian countries, like Vietnam and South Korea, into becoming observing members of the Quad Alliance.

Rather than advocating for an expansive trade deal that effectively weakens the United States at the expense of the other members, the Trump Administration would have to employ its thus far effective negotiation style to goad its potential Asian allies into fully committing to the Quad Alliance, and making it a mainstay of the region.

Also, a joint military command would have to be created to better coordinate members’ defensive efforts. China, the world’s second-largest economy, will not be contained by each country in the region acting alone. It will require concerted effort and dedication.

The Quad Alliance is the only way to compete with China.

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America • Americanism • Asia • China • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Economy • Government Reform • Greatness Agenda • Post • self-government • The Culture

The Establishment Hearts China

Communist China is one of the gravest threats this country has ever faced, in large part because many members of the American establishment see China as a partner, a role model, and the wave of the future. They believe that, instead of fighting the Communists, we should work with them and emulate them.

Democracy is a problem, and China has the solution.

In the real world, China is a totalitarian police state that tortures and jails dissidents and seeks to intimidate anyone who gets in its way. Arguably the worst violator of human rights in history, it’s killed more of its own people than any other government, ever.

Enriched by the work of slaves and near-slaves and by the theft of intellectual property, China’s kleptocracy is using its unimaginable wealth to buy off politicians in Africa, fund hundreds of propagandizing “institutes” at U.S. colleges, and corner the market on the minerals necessary for modern technology.

The long list of China’s hacking operations includes the theft of 21.5 million U.S. government personnel records. And, as admitted by Mark Penn, Clinton chief strategist in 1996 and 2008: “In 1996, the Chinese government had the ‘China plan’ and pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign.”

Today, even James Clapper, President Obama’s director of national intelligence, concedes that China is the greatest threat to America “long term.”

Yet most members of the elite in the nation’s capital, in the major media, and in big business see no problem in working with the Communists.

With China as the world’s top movie market and an indispensable partner on projects ranging from movies to theme parks to casinos, Hollywood is in Beijing’s pocket, as are news organizations that are divisions of China-partnered corporations. Squire Patton Boggs, one of the top-30 law firms in the world and a key power-broker in Washington, represents China. The Washington Post distributes, as a newspaper supplement, the Communists’ propaganda publication China World.

Why not? China’s cool. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times wrote in 2005: “I cannot help but feel a tinge of jealousy at China’s ability to be serious about its problems and actually do things that are tough and require taking things away from people.” In 2009, Friedman wrote, “One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.”

Professor Daniel A. Bell of Tsinghua University in Beijing, formerly of Stanford and Princeton, wrote in a 2012 Christian Science Monitor commentary about “the success of meritocracy in China” as opposed to “western-style democracies” where “less talent goes to the bureaucracy.” The summary of his article reads: “Democracy has its problems. The world—especially the U.S.—could learn from China’s ‘political meritocracy.’ Its one party selects leaders based on ability and judgment. They balance the interests of an entire country—and the world, not just finicky voters or big donors.”

Another sinophile is Andy Stern, former head of the Service Employees International Union and the labor leader closest to President Obama. “As painful and humbling as it may be,” Stern wrote in a slavish 2011 op-ed, “America needs to . . .  study the ingredients of its competitors’ success. While we debate, Team China rolls on.” Stern quoted Robert Engle, Nobel Prize-winning economist, as saying “that while China is making five-year plans for the next generation, Americans are planning only for the next election.

Former Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Robert Herbold wrote: “Let’s face it—we are getting beaten because the U.S. government can’t seem to make big improvements. Issues quickly get polarized, and then further polarized by the media, which needs extreme viewpoints to draw attention and increase audience size. The autocratic Chinese leadership gets things done fast (currently the autocrats seem to be highly effective).”  

General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt (former head of NBC and MSNBC and chair of the Obama Administration’s Jobs Council) said in 2012: “The one thing that actually works, you know, state-run communism may not be your cup of tea—but their government works.”

In 2014, The Economist summarized the Chinese argument, that “their model–tight control by the Communist Party, coupled with a relentless effort to recruit talented people into its upper ranks—is more efficient than democracy and less susceptible to gridlock. . . . [T]he regime’s obsession with control paradoxically means it pays close attention to public opinion. At the same time China’s leaders have been able to tackle some of the big problems of state-building that can take decades to deal with in a democracy.”

Some Chinese intellectuals have become positively boastful,” the magazine continued. “Zhang Weiwei of Fudan University argues that democracy is destroying the West, and particularly America, because it [institutionalizes] gridlock, [trivializes] decision-making and throws up second-rate presidents like George Bush junior. Yu Keping of Beijing University argues that democracy makes simple things ‘overly complicated and frivolous’ and allows ‘certain sweet-talking politicians to mislead the people.’”

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that the arguments against democracy by many of our opinion leaders and industrialists sound as if they were crafted by Chinese Communists? Great fools think alike, I suppose.

America • Americanism • Asia • China • Deterrence • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • military • North Korea • Obama • Post • Terrorism • The Media

Trump’s Moves With N. Korea Are Nothing Like Obama’s With Iran

In the wake of the Singapore summit with North Korea, many commentators and publicists, Democrats as well as figures from the NeverTrump Right, have argued that President Trump is legitimizing a dictator. Trump critics contend that had President Obama met with a dictator like Kim Jong-un, Republicans would be fuming. After all, Republicans criticized the previous president for negotiating with another despotic regime, Iran, over its nuclear weapons program. Accordingly, honesty and principle require Trump supporters to criticize the current president for doing precisely what would merit attacks on a Democratic president.

A cursory glance shows that the two situations are not at all similar. Iran does not yet have a viable nuclear weapon and North Korea does. The negotiations that led to Obama’s signature foreign policy initiative, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, legitimized Iran’s path to the bomb, achievable within a little more than a decade. The purpose of Trump’s negotiations is to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

Clearly, Democratic and NeverTrump political operatives are not making a serious argument. They’re posturing. Since this is a deadly serious issue, however, it’s worth getting it right.

Obama’s Realignment Effort
It’s vital to understand that Obama’s Iran deal wasn’t simply or even primarily an arms agreement. Rather, it was an instrument with which to realign American interests in the Middle East. The goal of realignment was to upgrade Iran and downgrade traditional American partners—especially Israel and Saudi Arabia—in order to facilitate a U.S. withdrawal from the region.

Michael Doran wrote an important essay in February 2015 explaining realignment and detailing the Obama Administration’s flawed assumptions. Tony Badran is another Middle East analyst whose articles during the course of the Obama years showed how the United States was moving toward realignment. Obama aides and supporters waved off the realignment thesis as a “conspiracy theory” impugning foul intent to a president who simply wanted to avoid another Middle East war.

Most of these Obama supporters didn’t understand what the president was doing. It’s worth recalling that the “echo chamber” was a loud and incoherent chorus given the task not to explain Obama’s policies but to shout down critics of the Iran deal. For instance, the administration trotted out nuclear experts like Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to sell the “science” of the JCPOA—while at the same time Secretary of State John Kerry pushed poetry and fantasy, like Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s imaginary fatwa against nukes.

Most of the echo chamber had no idea what it was actually advocating, even though Obama frequently discussed it. In a New Yorker article from January 2014, for instance, Obama described a “new geopolitical equilibrium . . . developing between Sunni, or predominantly Sunni, Gulf states and Iran in which there’s competition, perhaps suspicion, but not an active or proxy warfare.”

Realignment was Obama’s version of Great Britain’s twin-pillar strategy. Formulated after World War II when London realized it could no longer sustain its empire, the twin-pillar strategy held that the two great powers of the Persian Gulf, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, would balance the region and manage British interests after withdrawal.

Fundamental Misunderstandings
In fact, it was the United States that kept the peace in the Persian Gulf after the British exit, a peace that became increasingly difficult to manage after Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979. Obama was correct to see that the United States had further altered the regional balance by toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003, thereby strengthening Iran. Obama wrongly concluded that the way to facilitate the U.S. exit from the region was by further empowering the regime in Tehran.

The Obama Administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran needs to be seen in this context. The United States was not negotiating with an adversarial regime but was rather treating with a potential partner that would help stabilize the Middle East to the benefit of American interests. How could Obama possibly deny the regime what it most desired, the bomb, if he expected Tehran to help balance the region?

The actual intent of the JCPOA negotiations has led to a great deal of confusion. Many critics on the Right believe that the Obama team did a bad job and got a bad agreement. Some thought the way to go was to renegotiate the Iran deal, not crash it, as Trump did in May.

This misunderstanding of the fundamental nature of the Iran deal has helped open the way for Trump critics to return fire. “How can anyone praise Trump when he has won nothing on paper from the North Koreans?” the argument goes, whereas Obama got lots of paper in a deal officially struck with Iran to limit its nuclear activities. But that was not the purpose of the Iran deal. The JCPOA simply provided Obama with enough cover to grant Iran the nuclear weapons program it will have as soon as the so-called sunset clauses prohibiting certain activities expire.

The actual goal of the Obama Administration’s JCPOA negotiations was to legitimize the Iranian regime and its nuclear weapons program. North Korea, in this framework, is already legitimized, regardless of Trump’s efforts. Whether we wish to blame the policies of more than two decades that did not stop North Korea from getting a bomb or prefer to see Pyongyang’s program as an inevitable and natural fact that was no more preventable than a hurricane, the reality is that acquisition of a nuclear weapon puts that power on the global stage.

Delegitimizing a Dangerous Regime
Does the bomb “legitimize” North Korea, or for that matter does possession of a nuclear weapon “legitimize” any regime? “Legitimacy” does not refer to a universal quality all regimes must have in order to exist, nor does it describe a regime’s behavior at home and abroad. It is simply a concept drawn from international relations syllabuses used to describe how various actors secure and sustain power and prestige.

Or, think about it like this: During the Iran debate, advocates of the deal often argued that the mullahs would never actually use the bomb, or they’d be crazy to use the bomb. Iran, said JCPOA advocates, isn’t crazy. It’s a rational regime.

That line of argument falls away as soon as any power acquires a nuclear weapon. After a state’s nuclear breakout, a central concern for policymakers around the world is that said state may indeed use the bomb. The primary purpose of acquiring a nuclear bomb is to get the world’s attention.

Kim Jong-un has the world’s attention. He has Donald Trump’s attention. We cannot yet know whether Trump will be successful or to what extent he may succeed. But in his efforts to “denuclearize” the Korean peninsula, the goal is to “delegitimize”—if that’s how you want to understand it—a dangerous and destructive regime that terrorizes its own citizens and threatens its neighbors. This is precisely the opposite of what the Obama Administration did when it legitimized the clerical regime in Iran and its nuclear weapons program.

America • Asia • China • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Hillary Clinton • Identity Politics • North Korea • Post • The Left

What’s Really Happening With North Korea?

Most commentary on the Trump/Kim summit is evidence of partisan stampede thinking. Herewith are the insights of an old professor of international affairs, who does not know what is on Trump’s or Kim’s mind any more than anyone else, but who strives to be dispassionate.

The 33-year history of negotiations about “denuclearizing” the Korean peninsula is too well known to recount here. Suffice to say that, for Americans, it has been a triumph of hope over experience, for the North Koreans an unfailing fount of assistance in the building of a redoubtable force of nuclear-armed ballistic missiles capable of reaching and commanding respect from America. For China, it has been an incomparable tool for showing other Asians that America cannot protect itself, much less them. The salient question is how this round might possibly be different.

The standard conservative answer, that Trump faced Kim with the choice between denuclearizing or being crushed, is just nuts.

Crushed how? Certainly not militarily. The United States has no way of destroying North Korea’s missiles. We have no way of knowing where they are. Nor do we know where most of its nuclear programs are located. And if we did, no one advocates starting a nuclear war to do it—especially since China has made clear that it is on North Korea’s side.

Crush it economically? Trump vowed “maximum pressure.” But since North Korea lives by China, crushing North Korea means convincing China to do it. China has promised something like that again and again. But, now as ever, North Korea is what it is and does what it does because China wants it so. Indeed, China’s first reaction to the Trump/Kim summit was to drop even verbal support for sanctions, and urge others to do the same. Hence, talk about “crushing” is just talk.

What about denuclearization? On which of the following scenarios two years hence would you, gentle reader, bet your net worth? a) North Korea will have no nuclear weapons or intercontinental missiles, b) North Korea will have fewer nukes and ICBMs than today, c) North Korea will have about the same number of nukes and ICBMs as today, or d) North Korea will have more nukes and ICBMs than today.

Consider how much effort the Kim regime put into acquiring these weapons, and the primordial role they fill in its domestic and international assertion of legitimacy. Consider also the (bad cop) role the North Koreans play in China’s effort to expel U.S. political-military influence in the Western Pacific—its main geopolitical objective. What, if anything, has happened recently so momentous as to have led the Kims to hazard their very lives and China’s to abandon a principal geopolitical tool? I cannot think of any. Can you? Therefore, I would bet North Korea has more nukes and ICBMs in two years than it does today.

On the other hand, the best of the establishment’s commentary on the Trump/Kim summit—the essence of which is that Trump has fallen hard for the oldest of diplomatic traps—is premised on gratuitous assumptions.

The first, that Trump is as starry-eyed as Fox News, declaring victory and “giving away the store” unaware or mindless of the equities and history involved, is belied by his own statements, foremost of which is “we’ll see.” And were Trump’s irresponsibility plausible, national security adviser John Bolton’s is not. In addition to the equities and history the establishment’s assumption is based on the fact that Trump, uncharacteristically, has started the negotiating process by making unilateral concessions: suspension of U.S military exercises in the region, raising the prospect of removing U.S troops from South Korea, and “normalized” diplomatic treatment of North Korea. He even saluted a North Korean officer. Machiavelli, however, reminds us that uncharacteristic errors may be indications of ulterior motives.

The second gratuitous assumption, that Trump actually expects North Korea and China to eliminate or even to reduce North Korea’s armaments, makes it impossible for the establishment to imagine that Trump may be pursuing an entirely different objective. Consider the possibility that Trump, Bolton, etc. concluded that China-supported North Korea is a nuclear power, irrevocably. In that case, the best way to contain both North Korea and China is to mobilize South Korea, and above all Japan, to become very serious about their own defense. Doing that requires forcing them to face unvarnished reality.

If this were the case, Trump would have regarded South Korean president Moon Jae-in’s offer to broker a summit with Kim as a golden opportunity to show Asians, once and for all, the need to take up their own defenses. By taking Kim’s promise of denuclearization at face value and meeting it by advancing all that pacifist Japanese and Koreans might want, and by setting a deadline for his own definitive judgment on North Korea/China’s seriousness he set up a confrontation between North Korea/China and South Korea/Japan six months from now.

Between now and December, through the midterm congressional elections, the media will continue to bet on options a) and b). If they blame Trump, it will be for being too much of a peacemaker. Then, as Trump recognizes the inevitability of options c) and d), he will have gone a long way to accomplish what his campaign implied, to induce Japan and maybe South Korea, to go nuclear.

Photo credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

America • Americanism • Asia • Big Media • China • Defense of the West • Deterrence • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Free Speech • GOPe • Hillary Clinton • military • North Korea • Post • The Left • The Media

How Twitter Diplomacy Works

President Trump this week will bust 68 years of diplomatic white paper inertia and meet the leader of a nation with which America has been at war since 1950.

In Singapore, Trump may add to a list of accomplishments that includes full employment, a booming economy, and sharp drops in illegal immigration, a new and completely unexpected one: ending America’s only war that lasted longer than the television show “M*A*S*H.”

Let’s not gloss over the fact that Trump’s foreign policy began with tweets, name-calling, and claims that “my nuclear button is bigger than yours.” Experts from CNN all the way to the Wall Street Journal have been aghast at Trump’s methods.

The experts haven’t yet figured out that the president’s tweets about Rocket Man and self-pardons cut through the news cycle like a machete, destroying every competing narrative in their path.

Because narratives are generally deployed to clutch, grab and frustrate Republican presidents, this is quite a political gift.

Trump wins the news cycle—as he won the presidency—by garnering maximum attention. That is why, in case you haven’t figured it out, he is taking pardoning advice from the Kardashians. Duh.

Writing 18 years ago in Dish: How Gossip Became the News and the News Became Just Another Show, Jeannette Walls presciently observed:

A lot happened in the world that week. The Berlin Wall was toppled and Germany was reunited. Drexel Burnham Lambert, the wildly powerful junk bond company, that spearheaded the eighties financial boom, collapsed. And after twenty-seven years in prison, South African civil rights leader Nelson Mandela was freed. But for eleven straight days, the front pages of the tabs were devoted to the Trump divorce. Time and Newsweek did cover stories. Even the New York Times stooped to cover it.

It is an approach founded in effective branding. Trump Airlines. Trump Divorce. Trump Tower. Now, Trump World Peace?

Any civic-minded conservative who would ever say Trump should tone it down simply doesn’t understand political strategy in the social media age.

Trump’s tweets, bombast, and other Scaramuccis (to coin a term) draw maximum attention, but they should not be confused with the reason good things keep happening.

They are diversionary devices that keep his naysayers occupied while he does real stuff. Good things are happening upon principles of cause and effect, the governing science of a real estate developer.

The key to getting Kim Jong-un to bargain was . . . wait for it . . . to ask. Not Kim, but the Chinese.

Whatever happens at this summit, the greatest advance in the Korean stalemate happened about a year ago, when China made clear through its state-run media that it would not support North Korea in a war that it started against the United States.

It was a game changer that materialized after Trump’s summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago. Nearly 70 years of State Department policy wonking and Harvard symposiums on Korea never quite got there.

There ensued Kim’s heavily armored slow train trip from the Hermit Kingdom to Beijing, where we don’t know what the Chinese told him, except that it was probably some version of “Cut it out, you’re ruining everything.”

Trump’s connection with the 65 million who voted for him is that they, too, live in the world of cause and effect, one bad decision away from losing everything.

They were fed up with the endless abstractions and self-congratulation that substitute for effective policy in Washington. They wanted a president who would be measured by results: did the president deliver benefits for America?

Even the phrase “America First” was a promise to yield tangible outcomes. That is how Trump voters understood it. Only huffy intellectuals far removed from causal connections could find their way to an esoteric reading of a simple slogan as a racial dog whistle. And, once again, their reading tells us more about them than it does about Trump or his supporters.

Trump enters the proceedings in Singapore with one unexpected advantage. He already blew up an international summit this week and publicly humiliated Justin Trudeau.

Kim Jong-un and whatever advisors he hasn’t yet killed have to be recalibrating their approach.

It is not quite three-dimensional chess. But it is at least the sort of tactical negotiation that a builder conducts with his granite supplier and that real people do every day.

Sometimes Justin Trudeau has to be roughed up to achieve a greater good.

And for those of you who never negotiated with a granite supplier, the olive branch extended to Putin while shutting down the G-7 was another shot fired at Kim Jong-un: even your friends like me better because my nuclear button is bigger, Exalted Leader.

It is impossible to know what will result from this summit. Maybe nothing, except the continued slow and effective isolation of North Korea from the protection of China. Or maybe the lion will sleep with the lamb and there will be 1,000 years of peace.

Whatever happens, one thing is entirely predictable: Trump will win the news cycle. Because that is how Twitter diplomacy works.

Photo credit: Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images

America • Americanism • Asia • China • Donald Trump • Economy • EU • Europe • Foreign Policy • Germany • Post • The Media • Trade

Trump is Right: G7 Needs a Wake-Up Call on Trade

The recent meeting of the G7 leaders in La Malbaie, Quebec ended dramatically, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau harshly criticizing U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum and threatening to retaliate. President Trump then instructed U.S. negotiators not to sign the communique that group members issued at the conclusion of the summit.

Predictably, global elitists have reacted with the usual horror, and expressed their customary disdain for Trump. According to the New York Times, we are witnessing a “slow-rolling collapse” of our “fragile alliances.” Trump is frivolously up-ending the global order, we are told, and alienating countries that traditionally have been our closest friends and partners. The talking heads may have backed off on their threats of apocalyptic “trade wars” (perhaps because strong economic growth rates and the ongoing buoyancy of the stock market make their predictions of doom seem laughable), but they are still clutching at the idea that we are witnessing a “fundamental” shift in the prestige and influence of the United States, and a steady worsening of our relationships with almost all civilized countries. There is even talk that the G7 has become the “G6+1” as America goes it alone.

The problem is these arguments are entirely self-serving, insofar as the global elite always chafes at the effrontery of populists like President Trump, and it invariably seeks to defend its own privileges and prerogatives by labeling all criticism of the established international economic order “protectionist” or “isolationist.” In fact, seldom do the elitists even bother to address the substantive complaints made by Trump (and others like him) about the unfairness of existing trade dealsthey simply wag their collective finger at anyone boorish enough to question the present regime of “free trade.”

Trading relationships should be susceptible to criticism and revision, however, and when the people of a sovereign state vote to empower a new leader who embodies such criticism and reformist zeal, his election should have consequences. The elite talks as if the vicissitudes of something as shabby as democracy should be divorced from our sacred trade agreements. Nonsense!

Turns out, G7 members are targeting their retaliatory tariffs against U.S. industries and enterprises concentrated in states that voted for Donald Trump. In other words, they seek to manipulate democracy itself and foster political headaches for those who dare to question the world order. So much for Russians trying to influence our elections. In reality, we have more to worry about from the French and the Canadians! This is simply outrageous, and it ought to raise the hackles of any American patriot.

Doing a Service
The idea that President Trump is doing permanent damage to our relations with our traditional allies flies in the face of the mountain of evidence that Trump has formed productive, respectful working relationships with numerous world leaders, from President Emmanuel Macron of France to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. Moreover, we should keep in mind that our ties with other powerful, wealthy nations are always troubled by tensions and disagreements, and, in the post-World War II era as a whole, many of these differences of opinion have been far more serious and dangerous than the current spat over trade barriers. Lest we forget, Messrs. Trump and Trudeau are duking it out largely over the price of milk. It seems unlikely that U.S.-Canada relations will be scarred permanently by so trivial a dispute.

Lastly, the critique of Trump’s performance at the G7 summit is misplaced because Trump is actually doing both the American people and the citizens of all the G7 nations a great service: he is drawing attention to the deficiencies of past trade agreements—deficiencies that have in many cases cost jobs, shuttered factories, and abetted many a populist backlash against elitist economic manipulation. Trump does so not because he wishes to curtail trade, but in order to build it on a sounder basis. Trump has made it abundantly clear that he supports free trade, but not biased trade deals that require openness on the part of some and allow tariff and non-tariff barriers for others.

How About Real Free Trade?
The truth is that the leaders of the international economic order have long lived a lie: they pantomime unfailing devotion to “free trade,” while at the same time overtly and covertly carving out exceptions for their preferred industries. The result is a half-hearted form of free trade that rewards sly negotiation and punishes naïve idealism. As Trump suggests, all too often it is the United States that has been the most naïve, accepting a trading regime that imposes massive trade deficits and costs millions of jobs.

In 2014, the United States had a $142 billion trade deficit with the countries of the European Union, and a $35 billion deficit with Canada. Essentially no one believes that this is because American companies can’t compete with their overseas rivals—it is instead manipulative, predatory trade practices that explain the imbalance. Why, then, should the United States not try to re-balance this equation in its own interests?

More broadly, though, will it not benefit all the nations concerned if we find a new formula for trade that limits job losses and de-industrialization, and that finds favor with voters anxious about their economic futures?

To achieve such a trading rapprochement, the United States even should be willing to make concessions of its own. After all, we too are sometimes guilty of using subsidies and non-tariff barriers to insulate our industries from foreign competition. If G7 countries believe their own rhetoric about free trade, surely they will be willing to meet us halfway and cooperate in the elimination of surviving trade barriers . . . unless, that is, they prefer to thumb their noses at Donald Trump on principle. Some principle, though!

The Choice Before the Globalists
In the end, for seeking the amelioration of a broken trading system, Trump should not be seen as an enemy of the established order, but rather as its would-be savior. His suggestion to his fellow leaders in Quebec that ideally he would like to see the elimination of all tariffs throughout the G7 economies is a testament to his dedication to the principle of free trade, and his belief in the transformative power of capitalist competition and development. The fact that Trump is clear-eyed about the pressing need for reform in our trading relationships makes him a realist, yes, but not the protectionist boogeyman that the mainstream media, and its international fellow-travelers, portray.

The truth is that the global economic elite faces a choice: take Trump (and the tens of millions of voters he represents) seriously, and repair and refit the damaged infrastructure of “free trade,” or mock and ignore him, ensuring that the wave of economic resentment and protectionist sentiment that seemingly has been cresting for years now will build into a true tsunami.

In that case, the global bigwigs may someday look back and say, “Donald Trump? He was the least of our problems.”

Photo credit: China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

America • Asia • Deterrence • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • North Korea • Post

Trump Will Get a Deal Done with North Korea

President Trump’s announcement Thursday that he is canceling the upcoming summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was seized upon by leftists with their typical fervor and malicious glee. Kim has “won,” according to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and he must be having a “giggle fit.”

To people like Pelosi, the summit’s cancellation is more proof that Trump is erratic, incompetent, and a danger to world peace.

And yet one has to ask: what sort of person would celebrate the curtailment of a dialogue between two countries armed to the teeth and clearly prepared to engage in a devastating, and possibly nuclear, war? How cynical have Democrats become, when maligning Trump is more important to them than the potentiality of saving millions of lives?

The truth is, Trump’s announcement was not an admission of failure. Not really. It is instead the precondition for eventual success.

The fact that North Korea was brought to the table in the first place, and was willing to consider total denuclearization, is entirely due to the tough line that the Trump Administration took beforehand.

In particular, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley presided over a spectacularly successful international effort to tighten the screws of economic sanctions against the Kim regime. China, too, was mobilized to put pressure on the North Koreans.

The result: a willingness on Kim’s part to denuclearize and to talk in good faith with South Korea and the United States.

Trump’s cancellation of the planned summit is a response to recent belligerent and dismissive statements from Pyongyang to the effect that Kim would not participate, and North Korea would not make concessions unless joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises were scrapped. North Korea’s tone nullified the pacific and optimistic atmosphere that was beginning to form on the Korean Peninsula and beyond.

Trump’s cancellation of the planned summit is hardly the last word we will hear on the North Korean question. It is a typically Trumpian bold stroke that is designed to alert the North Koreans to the fact that the United States will not be bullied and insulted, nor will it surrender any of its vital interests.

Kim also needs to understand just how weak his bargaining position is. His country has a tremendous amount to gain from a comprehensive settlement of its differences with South Korea and the United States. The reality is that without such a settlement, North Korea’s prized nuclear and missile programs are a few smart bombs away from total destruction—and the Kim regime itself may be in danger.

In the end, Trump and Kim will meet. Both the United States and North Korea are clearly leaving the door open for future talks.

The Left, therefore, should stifle its spite. Trump may earn his Nobel Peace Prize yet—even though, as he has said, “peace is the prize.”

Photo credit: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

America • Americanism • Asia • Center for American Greatness • civic culture/friendship • Education • Post • race • The Culture • The Left

The Great Wall of Harvard

President Trump’s vow to change a “rigged system” helped propel him to victory over stodgy supporters of “liberal” and “conservative” non-alternatives. His Department of Justice has sided with Asian-Americans claiming discrimination in admissions at Harvard and, again on their behalf, expressed interest in the possibility of antitrust violations in early admissions to elite schools.

As the putatively Chinese proverb has it, one picture is worth a thousand words (or even a whole article). This graph depicts the issue:

Source: Althea Nagai, “Too Many Asian Americans: Affirmative Discrimination in Elite College Admissions,” Center for Equal Opportunity, May 22, 2018.

Displayed are the percentages of Asian-American undergraduate students at California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University, from 1980 to 2015, based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics of the Department of Education.

Do elite universities in America discriminate against Asian-Americans and establish a quota in the form of a ceiling on their numbers? The graph above (the only one among the thousand or so words here) shows a plateau for MIT and Harvard against the results at Caltech, where undergraduate Asian-American enrollment has risen over 40 percent Caltech does not practice affirmative action.

Discrimination against Asian-American undergraduate applicants has long been suspected (and even admitted, in the case of Stanford University, back in 1986).  This old story has also been well-known among the parents of college-bound Asian-American kids and, of course, those students themselves. After crunching the numbers, Althea Nagai (who is also my wife) places the blame squarely on the much-hailed “holistic admissions” approach of the “Harvard plan” (as in the Bakke case, which justified affirmative action), and once helped put a lid on Jewish admissions in the 1920s.

What might justify such differences? We need first to consider the varied purposes of higher education in America, besides the propagation of ruling elites that it has in common with other countries.

Compare Great Britain, Germany, Japan, and France, where students are admitted to studies on the basis of universal exams held in high school. A venerable French professor told me “that essentially the very best, most hard-working of the upper class continues to dominate France by preparing their children for these elite schools. This is the state-oriented, civil elite that Napoleon wanted. There are different ways of sifting the wheat from the chaff in other European countries.” For these old nations, still striving to display their new democratic soul, exams are a meritocratic alternative to the class privileges of these oligarchic regimes. Was the daughter of the president of a prominent Asian nation (worse than your ordinary oligarchy) relegated to attend Harvard because her exam scores were too low for her to attend her nation’s most selective university?

With their sports teams, extracurricular activities, fraternities, and lavish facilities, typically unknown abroad, American colleges have purposes unrelated to intellectual capacity. Half the colleges and universities are private, including the most prestigious ones. They were formed as Alexis de Tocqueville’s civil associations, often for religious purposes, such as Harvard.

The public institutions are also diverse—including community colleges, land-grant universities, highly selective public ones, military academies. Schools may be nonprofit or for-profit, brick-and-mortar, or online; they can be historically black or for foreigners. They can be known for their economics departments, their wild parties, or their sports teams. Thus the je ne sais quoi of the “Harvard man.” We do know he’s at the top. Of what? Is there in fact a universe of which he is master?

What the Asian-American anomaly illuminates is the widespread lack of purpose of the American universe-ity. Or it could be said that American colleges and universities fulfill a variety of purposes, a multiversity without a particular unity. Let me speculate, in the spirit of Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws, Book 15, chapter five,  a “defense” of black slavery, on the elites’ motives for limiting Asian-American admissions.

First, be it noted, that some Asian-Americans support the affirmative-action regime that has led to these admissions plateaus. One Korean-American law professor at Harvard maintains, apparently with a straight face, that “We [Tonto to Lone Ranger?] should not want the composition of our élite universities to be wildly out of proportion to the racial composition of our country. Such lopsided access to gateways of opportunity and power—say, with whites being severely underrepresented at schools like Harvard—has the potential to fuel dangerous resentment and disturb social peace, at least if the change occurs too far ahead of demographic changes that are projected to make whites a minority in this country in less than three decades. I would not relish seeing the nation’s most élite colleges become majority Asian . . . .” That old villain in the woodpile, white racism! Some Asian-Americans, leftist apologists, bemoan the use of Asian-Americans against affirmative action for underrepresented minorities, while others try to “pass.”

But these apologetics deflect asking the tough questions. The plateau of admissions at around 20 percent (ticking slightly upward to 22 percent for Harvard in Fall 2018, likely in response to the litigation) suggests that the admissions committees of these schools see that number as a tipping point of some sort.   

One might ask the admissions bureaucrats what would be wrong about a majority Asian-American elite school, such as the University of California, San Diego (counting Filipinos as Asian-Americans)? Would it become another UCLA, a “University for Caucasians Lost among Asians”? In the case of Caltech, would the television comedy “Big Bang Theory” need to include more Asians?   Would such a Golden Horde incite ill-will against Asian-Americans? Would these “wildly out of proportion” and “lopsided” enrollments fuel “dangerous resentment and disturb social peace”? Would campus mobs begin to go after “Library Man”?  Or might he abuse his newfound power?

The term Asian-American itself is a bureaucratic invention, somehow covering nationalities from Pyongyang to Pakistan. So would our admissions committees worry: Would Asian-Americans on campus self-segregate into Korean, Japanese, and various Chinese and South Asian subgroups? Would Asian passivity hinder them from contributing to classroom or social interaction? Might Asians make blacks uncomfortable? And, it must be asked, would too many Asians discourage white women from matriculating at Harvard?

Would sports teams (football, basketball) be weaker? Moreover, would Asian Americans be less committed to their college’s social life and therefore less loyal to the school following graduation (and therefore less likely to be active alumni)? Are Asians cut out only for staff and not for top management—note the disparity in Silicon Valley? Are they too family-focused to enjoy Woodrow Wilson’s educational goal of separating them from their fathers? They’re just not like the Americans we grew up with, snap the admissions gatekeepers.

Finally, the killer qualm: Given that the growing proportions of Asian-Americans are first generation or immigrants, are they less patriotic, with divided loyalties, than other Americans? Note the espionage cases involving Chinese-Americans, not to mention the need for Japanese exclusion in World War II. These are not “Harvard men”—whatever we may think about Alger Hiss.

Has the liberal education establishment, which has given campuses multiculturalism, suppression of free speech, and promiscuity, produced or even conspired to bring about an academic form of redlining or discrimination in admissions, embodying base Progressive racial prejudices?

Harvard’s admission bureaucracy, and its elite brethren, appear to have built a wall, and Asian-Americans have no desire to pay for it. Would Asian-Americans redefine the elite this establishment has tried to produce, the one mocked by David Brooks, or would they become absorbed into it? There is truth in the Korean-American Harvard professor’s fear: “I would not relish seeing the nation’s most élite colleges become majority Asian….” It would not elevate Asian-Americans (or any other American) to confuse status for real greatness.

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2016 Election • America • American Conservatism • Americanism • Asia • Center for American Greatness • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Elections • Greatness Agenda • North Korea • Post • the Presidency • Trump White House

For Trump, the End of the Beginning

Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Barack Obama’s fantasy “Iran deal” brings a much-needed dose of realpolitik to a fossilized Washington foreign-policy establishment that has operated for far too long on “consensus” and an inflated reliance on the estimation of others, especially those hostile to the American experiment.

What the novice president understands, in a way that none of his predecessors since Ronald Reagan has, is that (as the Declaration puts it) “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind” does not mean to sacrifice control of America’s self-interest on the altar of cultural-Marxist shibboleths like political correctness, “fairness,” “tolerance,” “diversity,” or “white privilege.”

The president and his new secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, were undoubtedly emboldened to flout the conventional wisdom of Foggy Bottom and its amen chorus in the press corps by their success (caveat: so far) in handling North Korea. Just a few months ago, the usual worrywarts and chin-pullers were fretting that the madman in Washington was about to provoke the only slightly less mad Kim Jong-un into a nuclear exchange in the international equivalent of a dick-measuring contest. Meanwhile, the same Wise Men were thrilled with the “success” of their beloved Obama’s giveaways to the mullahs in Tehran.

And then, suddenly, there was Li’l Kim in South Korea; after nearly 70 years of a state of war between the two Koreas, talk of peace—if not actual reunification—is in the air. As it turns out, neither Trump nor Kim were quite as mad as the press made them out to be. Each man, acting on behalf of his nation and in his own prudent self-interest, understood that clarity of intent is sometimes worth far more than all the diplomatic niceties in the world. That North Korea had nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by provoking the United States, only made it that much easier for Kim to come to the table.

For decades—since the Iranian revolution, in fact—it has paid for lesser nations to ruffle the eagle’s feathers. Rather than bite back, American presidents from George H. W. Bush to Obama have turned the other cheek to near-continuous provocation; indeed, it took the enormity of 9/11 for George W. Bush to rouse the nation to action, and even then it was largely wasted on “nation-building” projects in places like Afghanistan and Iraq that were never really nations in the first place.

What should have been a punitive expedition against recrudescent Islam, several orders of magnitude greater than that of Kitchener at Omdurman, has since morphed into the Endless War—one that gives military procurers, Army lawyers, and the striped-pants set permanent employment, even as our capabilities have been degraded, our capital squandered, our young people killed and maimed, and “diplomats” like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry have racked up air mileage at public expense and accomplishing exactly nothing.

That this disgrace has been allowed to continue through both Republican and Democratic administrations tells you that it is not accidental, but intentional. The NeverTrump crew of conservative poseurs never really wanted to win the 2016 election , out of fear that it would force them put up or shut up. Similarly, the foreign policy establishment, which includes not only the diplomats but the institutional think tanks and the journalists who spin the revolving doors of both, has a vested interest in what George H.W. Bush unapologetically called the “new world order”—a totalitarian phrase that should have chilled every heart at the time he uttered it, but did not.

In a speech to a joint session Congress in 1991, the architect of the first Gulf War said:

What is at stake is more than one small country; it is a big idea: a new world order, where diverse nations are drawn together in common cause to achieve the universal aspirations of mankind—peace and security, freedom, and the rule of law. Such is a world worthy of our struggle and worthy of our children’s future.

And now here we are, 27 years later, with the world having become a far more dangerous and less worthy place thanks to the Bushes and the Clintons and Obama, until finally the voters said enough to these people and their ilk. They rolled the dice on an ofttimes-boorish political novice whose salient virtue was that he paid absolutely no attention to the Washington establishment, and dared to call out its pooh-bahs for being stark naked and at the same time flaccid and impotent.

So the end of the Iran deal will have ramifications and repercussions far beyond this nation’s dealings with Iran itself. Certainly, the excitable Iranians must now understand their bluff has been called, there will be no further rollovers from Uncle Sam, and that their long-accruing butcher’s bill, outstanding since 1979, is now due and payable. The Iranian regime is on shaky ground, its youthful population restive, and it might well have fallen during the Obama Administration had we supported the Green Revolution with just the slightest gesture. The abrogation of the “deal” will now doom them, irrevocably.

Why didn’t it fall nine years ago? Because the congenitally duplicitous Obama wanted the nuclear deal, and was willing to sacrifice any number of Iranian lives to get his fig leaf—a “deal” that actually furthered Iran’s nuclear program and paid them to do it. As Eli Lake wrote at the time:

There is no guarantee that an Obama intervention would have been able to topple Khamenei back in 2009, when his people flooded the streets to protest an election the American president wouldn’t say was stolen. But it was worth a try . . .  Perhaps then a nuclear deal could have brought about a real peace. Instead, Obama spent his presidency misunderstanding Iran’s dictator, assuring the supreme leader America wouldn’t aid his citizens when they tried to change the regime that oppresses them to this day.

No wonder those responsible for this deal are howling so loud in protest this week. The Iran deal is one of the last props to fall in the Potemkin presidency of Barack Hussein Obama. As the Mueller “investigation” collapses, Stormy Daniels blows her way out to sea, and even CNN comes to realize that Trump will be president at least until January 2021, the first explicitly anti-American presidential administration in history has been unmasked.

Expect more, and worse, to follow. A great reckoning is at hand.

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Asia • China • Defense of the West • Foreign Policy • military • Post

China’s Clear and Present Threat


While the Left continues to lose its mind over Russia and the fairytale of collusion, the fact is Russia simply is not a real threat to the future of our democracy. By any measure, the threat to America’s future freedom is China.  

When Trump first brought up the issue of tariffs, a great wailing erupted from the free traders on the Right decrying that he was about to begin a trade war. While it’s a convenient narrative to say that this is about a trade war, it’s fundamentally not that at all. Sure, if tariffs really did kick in and goods were to go up in price, and if in response to this China slapped tariffs on American goods, there would be a trade war. But think of tariffs on steel and aluminum as an opening salvo, a skirmish, about something far bigger: we are already immersed in economic warfare with China, in a great struggle to see who controls the technology of the future and what our future as a country really looks like.

The reason Trump must play hardball with China on trade right now is that China doesn’t want to win an economic competition in a free trade arena and it doesn’t want trade partners: it wants to dominate and create tributaries.

What Does America Want to Be?
With upwards of $3.5 trillion in forced technology transfers over the last decade, a figure we could actually double when we toss in outright theft, China declared economic warfare on us decades ago. Throw in the fact that China has been flooding our markets with subsidized goods, in steel and other sectors, in attempts to destroy our capabilities for national security and we’ve come right to the edge of a very real threat against it: what superpower in its right mind would ever concede its abilities to produce steel and aluminum? So all of this talk of a trade war is lost on many who are looking at a much broader picture.

Because this confrontation with China isn’t really about a trade war. It’s not even about Donald Trump, the Republican Party, or even the 2018 midterms.

It’s about who we want to be as a people 20 or 30 years from now and whether we actually want to be free.

Because on an even higher level, this is about a totalitarian state versus a free society, and without even a shot being fired, a totalitarian state potentially bringing us, and our way of life, to our knees through economic coercion. Based on the trends, and where we are right now, this might be one of the last chances to fight.

And if we don’t fight, we will regret it for the next 100 years.

Free Trade Naïveté
No matter how many free traders tell us that China needs to buy our goods, it’s naïve to think that will continue for much longer. The current Chinese regime has its “Made in China 2025” effort underway. The goal of this program is for 
Chinese industries to possess 80 percent of their home market in the listed sectors that include: new advanced information technology; automated machine tools and robotics; aerospace and aeronautical equipment; maritime equipment and high-tech shipping; modern rail transport equipment; new-energy vehicles and equipment; power-generating equipment; agricultural equipment; new materials; and bio-pharma and advanced medical products.

To be clear, China is on the path domestically to producing as many products as possible only seven years from now. The Chinese have no intention of buying American goods in perpetuity. Ask yourself what happens when the tables turn in the very near future and China no longer needs our goods, continues to control a decent size of our debt, and has helped devalue the American dollar so much that it’s no longer the international monetary standard?

Instead of people losing their minds over trade wars, perhaps they should step back and realize that we are on the road to becoming a tributary state of China’s. Yet right now, Beijing is bluffing big time. The Chinese economy is far more fragile than people think. And if their economy collapses, the regime collapses. President Xi and his government cannot engage in a destructive trade war with the United States. It’s simply a question of survival for them.

So now is the time to force a change in the rules of engagement and demand the Chinese accept new rules. For starters, they will stop stealing our technology through forced transfers and will allow American companies full market access.

Instead of Trump pulling back on tariffs, he should come back with $400 billion in tariffs and keep raising the stakes until China folds. And trust me, if China sees that the American people are supporting Trump in this, China will fold.

America • Asia • China • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Economy • Energy • Foreign Policy • military • Post • Technology • Trade • Trump White House

China’s Dream of Global Economic Dominance

With the implementation of President Trump’s tariffs last month, China is all the talk in the world of trade. The tariffs in question place $50 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese imports following a seven-month investigation into intellectual property theft. These actions against China are much needed and long overdue: about 20 years overdue to be exact.

Since the 1990s and especially since the beginning of the 21st century, we have seen a huge expansion of the Chinese economy and and increase in their global influence.

The Chinese have expanded and modernized their military and technological capabilities, reached heavily into the African, Asian and European continents for control of resources, and have built militarized man-made islands in the South China Sea. Yet with all this, the West is sitting idle and has not done much to respond to this growing menace.

This is partly because of Western capitulation to the draw of cheap manufactured goods and labor costs at the expense of the American worker. Products, services, and companies that Americans use on a daily basis gradually have come under the control of Chinese government corporate proxies. There is no such thing as separation between government and corporate interests in China, which is something many Westerners fail to understand. Moreover, prominent Western politicians are being paid off to maintain lopsided trade deals that favor the Chinese.

No wonder these politicians and corporate leaders are deriding tariffs. They  know that the jig is up and their free ride on the ‘free trade’ train is over. To the dismay of the “Republican” leadership, Trump has begun to overturn years ‘ worth of work designed (wittingly or not) to  empower a hostile foreign entity that entrenched itself across the world and into our own society.

In the years since Mao Zedong’s death, China has grown exponentially in terms of military and economic strength. Under the leadership of Den Xiaoping and successive leaders, China went from being a poor, Marxist, economically downtrodden nation to a powerful global manufacturing and military giant. It has opened its doors to foreign investment and manufacturing, knowing that foreign corporations would rather take advantage of the cheap labor in China than employ citizens of their own nations. In so doing, the West has empowered a hostile foreign nation that has every intention of reviving the glory of its historical dynasties.

China’s intentions are evident in the doctrines of the PRC and in the statements made by prominent military and political leaders of the Chinese government. In retired People’s Liberation Army Colonel Liu Mingfu’s book, The China Dream, he states “China’s job is to create a civilization that grows without conquest, a non-conquering civilization.” He continues, “To use non-conquering methods to create a non-conquering civilization is China’s responsibility. It is the demand of China to create a new world order that prefers peace, development, freedom and cooperative civilization. Chinese civilization’s traditions and cultural heritage will be able to accomplish this important task.” “Non-conquering” or not, the goal is domination and the “peace” they seek is the peace that accompanies submission. If this quote doesn’t send shivers down your spine, I’m not sure what will.

Over the last decade, the United States has seen its industries gradually taken over by various different Chinese corporations. Little do most Americans know that they empower these corporate proxies of the Communist Party of China (CCP) every day. A number of well-known U.S. companies have been bought out and taken over. These include:

Starwood Hotels: Purchased by Anbang Insurance for $14.3 billon in March 2016
Smithfield Foods: Purchased by Shuanghui International for $7.1 billion in May 2013
Ingram Micro: Purchased by Tianjin Tianhai Investment Development Co. in February 2016.
General Electric Appliance Business: Purchased by Qingdao Haier Co. in June 2016
Terex Corporation: Attempted by Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science, but acquisition negations ultimately fell apart.
Legendary Entertainment: Purchased by Dalian Wanda in January 2016
Motorola Mobility: Purchased by Lenovo in January 2014
AMC Entertainment Holdings: Purchased by Dalian Wanda in May 2012

These are only a handful of the largest buyouts by major Chinese corporations. Remember, any Chinese company is either state-owned or beholden to the Communist government in some way.  Given the deep political and business ties between Communist Party officials and corporate heads, it’s hard to distinguish corporate interests from national interests. In effect, the Chinese Communist Party is insinuating itself in key foreign industries in order to exercise greater political and economic influence abroad. This is happening all over Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, Australia, and yes, even the United States.

As Peter Schweizer highlighted in his new book, Secret Empires, the depth of Chinese infiltration is astonishing. Two of the biggest American political families have had direct dealings with the PRC. According to Schweizer’s findings, in 2013 When Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry were conducting sensitive diplomatic work with the Chinese, Biden’s son, Hunter, landed a $1.5 million business deal with the bank of China. This deal happened during these sensitive talks, as Hunter travelled with his father to China for this meeting.

But it’s not just Democrats who have been taken in by Chinese designs. In 2008, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao received between $5 Million and $25 million from Chao’s father, James Chao who is the founder and senior chairman of the Foremost Group, an international shipping and trading company. The Foremost Group is a direct military contractor for the PRC. Elaine’s sister, Angela, sits on the board of directors for The Bank of China. Since marrying Chao, McConnell’s anti-China stance has softened significantly.

With Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency, the United States has taken a hard stance against Chinese neo-mercantilist and expansionist trade practices. His top appointments on trade—Robert Lighthizer, Wilbur Ross, and Peter Navarro— have, like Trump, all warned about the encroaching economic imperialism of the Chinese and are pushing policies that will address China on this matter.

In the last two decades, China has emerged as an international power rivaling that of the United States. Economically, technologically and militarily, China is catching up to us. The United States has been asleep at the wheel for far too long and Trump’s $50 billion in tariffs are only the beginning to of a shift in policy and understanding that will be required to take on China in their game of global dominance.

Photo credit:  Vitaly NevarTASS via Getty Images

America • Americanism • Asia • Democrats • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • military • North Korea • Post

From ‘Fire and Fury’ to Peace on the Peninsula—It Could Happen

In the coming weeks, barring an unforeseen calamity, President Trump will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Six decades after fighting stopped on the Korean Peninsula, lasting peace may be at hand.

South Korean President Moon Jae-In on Friday hosted a summit with Kim. It was the first time since a 1953 armistice stopped the fighting in the Korean War that a North Korean leader has set foot on South Korean soil. Moon and Kim signed an agreement to denuclearize the peninsula completely. They also agreed to sign an agreement later this year that would lead to a permanent end to the Korean War. Moon has agreed to visit Pyongyang in the fall and will have regular meetings and phone conversations with Kim to advance negotiations.

None of this would have happened without close cooperation between Moon and President Trump.

Good Cop, Bad Cop Strategy
President Moon Jae-In hails from a family originally from North Korea that fled to the South during the hostilities in the 1950s. Because of this, he has always held a more dovish approach towards North Korea and has, for many years, called for peaceful reunification.

This is in stark contrast to his predecessor, Park Geun-hye, a hawkish conservative and daughter of former South Korean strongman Park Chung-hee. Her forced resignation in the wake of a string of scandals landed her in prison and led to a special presidential election last May, culminating in Moon’s landslide victory.

Moon’s ascension to the presidency could not have come at a better time. Donald Trump had been president for five months and had taken a more aggressive approach to North Korea than his three predecessors. Departing from Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama’s method of “strategic patience,” Trump decided to give Kim Jong-un a taste of his own medicine.

Last year’s tit for tat of threats between Trump and Kim led many to believe that a military confrontation with North Korea was imminent. Political pundits across the board warned Trump that he was treading in dangerous waters by challenging a “madman” who could unleash a barrage of missiles on the United States. Then . . . nothing. As it turns out, Kim Jong-un is not insane. The North Korean regime might be criminal, but it isn’t stupid.

For the last 25 years, North Korea has been taking the world on a wild ride with the development of its nuclear program. Bear in mind. the North relies on foreign aid from a number of nations (including the United States) to sustain its economy and stability. A huge chunk of North Korea’s  GDP goes to military spending. Every time the North felt vulnerable or in danger of internal instability due to a lack of resources, it conducted nuclear tests and threatened the international community. In return, more foreign aid flowed in. Trump’s predecessors preferred appeasement over confrontation, giving North Korea exactly what it wanted, when the particular Kim in power wanted it.

Trump changed the dynamic. Instead of bowing to the Kims’ bellicose rhetoric,  Trump returned it in kind. He didn’t stand down to the bully. His famous “fire and fury” tweet threatening to retaliate against North Korea sent Kim a message that he wasn’t dealing with a nice, bow-tie president who would go along to get along like his predecessors. For months, we had continuous threats and military tests, but no real action on either side. Just a continuous stare down that Trump eventually would win.

Couple this with Moon Jae-in’s diplomatic, conciliatory approach to dealing with the North. The previous two Presidents of South Korea were hawkish towards the North, while Obama and Bush did very little to confront them. A switching of roles with a more (seemingly) hawkish U.S. President and a more diplomatic South Korean President turned out to be the right combination to achieve this momentous occasion. On April, 26, the day before the summit, in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Hwa, credited President Trump as being largely responsible for bringing Kim Jong-un to the negotiating table. She also credited Trump’s tough rhetoric and economic sanctions on the North as instrumental to making the talks happen.

Only a month ago, prior to his confirmation as secretary of state, CIA Director Mike Pompeo secretly visited Pyongyang ahead of the proposed summit between Trump and Kim. This meeting, followed by the summit with Moon and Kim agreeing to an official to end the Korean War and denuclearizing the peninsula, is sure to be a positive lead up to the anticipated meeting between Trump and Kim.

Peace Ahead?
Bear in mind, there have been two meetings between North and South Korea before on this question. One took place in 2000 between then-President Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il. The other happened in 2007 between then-President Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jong-il. Neither meeting led to any significant changes in relations, just lip service and gift exchanges between the two nations’ leaders.

Friday’s meeting was different. Kim Jong-un is obviously not his father—though how different he is remains to be seen. What’s significant, however, is that Kim entered South Korea and met with members of South Korea’s government, visited landmarks, and interacted with locals, which has never happened since the formation of the two nations.

Most important, a sitting U.S. president is scheduled to meet with a leader from North Korea to discuss peace and denuclearization—something that has never happened. 

And what happens next? Nothing is guaranteed. President Trump says he won’t “be played” by the North Korean leader. But the possibility that long-term peace is achievable after all the bluster and saber-rattling of the past six decades—it’s simply astounding. And the idea that it could occur under this most unlikely of presidents—that’s something to be savored.

Administrative State • America • Asia • Congress • Department of Homeland Security • Donald Trump • Immigration • Law and Order • Middle East • Post • separation of powers • Terrorism • The Constitution • The Courts

Should the Supreme Court Run U.S. Immigration Policy?

In Wednesday’s oral arguments in Trump v. Hawaii, the case involving the third version of President Trump’s “travel ban” on immigrants from certain countries, the Supreme Court tried to pin down a great deal of evasiveness about a simply worded statute, and, in the end, fundamental questions about judicial supremacy.

On September 27, President Trump issued an executive order and proclamation indefinitely suspending entry into the country from six Muslim-majority countries—Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Chad—and two non-Muslim-majority countries—North Korea and Venezuela. The 20-page proclamation, which includes specific findings with respect to each country, has the purpose of “detecting entry into the United States by terrorists or other public-safety threats.”

Two previous versions of the proclamation had generated a great deal of public controversy, and the third was no exception. None of the three proclamations have included the words “Muslim” or “religion,” but, nevertheless, all have been extensively portrayed as being motivated by the president’s alleged antagonism to Muslims. And federal district and appeals courts have not hesitated to add fuel to that fire. For example, the federal district court in Hawaii ruled that the second order “was issued with a purpose to disfavor Muslims.” This week’s oral arguments came to the Supreme Court from the decision of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which imposed a “worldwide” injunction against enforcing the president’s order and proclamation.

President Trump issued the proclamation pursuant to a provision, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), entitled “Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President,” of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that by its explicit terms bestows an extraordinary degree of executive power on the president to deal with national-security and foreign-policy emergencies and exigencies involving immigration:

Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate. (emphases added)

In defense of the proclamation, Solicitor General Noel Francisco opened his argument yesterday by pointing to the law and stating “the proclamation reflects a policy and national security judgment that falls well within the president’s power under 1182(f) and has been successful, which is why the country of Chad has been dropped from the list.” Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor pointed out that Congress had written sections of the INA listing specific rationales for excluding aliens and also allowing certain waivers to exclusion. But, like the Ninth Circuit in its decision, neither justice seemed willing to concede that Congress had also written section 1182(f) granting the power to the president to protect “the interests of the United States” as “he may deem to be appropriate.”

Francisco downplayed the full extent of the power granted to the president by section 1182(f). Instead, he repeatedly emphasized that the secretary of Homeland Security had recommended the proclamation to the president after a “worldwide multi-agency review applying neutral standards.” As for Trump’s campaign statements about Muslims, Francisco, replied that a politician is a private citizen before he takes office and that the only statements after the oath of office is taken are “constitutionally significant acts.” He argued that any such statements by President Trump do not “address the meaning of the proclamation itself,” which “excludes the vast majority of the Muslim world” and “omits Muslim-majority countries that were covered by past Orders.”

Neal Katyal, an Indian immigrant, specialist in immigration law, and a private lawyer at a Washington law firm, spoke for the state of Hawaii. He argued essentially that Congress, in enacting the INA, had already considered the issues presented in the proclamation and chosen to address those issues by establishing an immigration system whereby potentially dangerous aliens had to go through an “individualized vetting process,” with the result that there could be no bans on admission into the country based “on nationality discrimination.” The president, he said, had violated the separation of powers and contravened these legislative decisions of the Congress.

Throughout his presentation, Katyal more or less denied the plain words of section 1182(f) which empower the president to act about “any class” of aliens. He wanted to take up the argument that President Trump intended to discriminate against the Muslim religion in violation of the Establishment Clause, but the justices never allowed him to develop that position. The Ninth Circuit had heard extensive arguments on the Establishment Clause issue but had declined to rule on it.

Chief Justice John Roberts repeatedly challenged Katyal as to when and how a president could act in an emergency in the field of immigration law if section 1182(f) did not allow him to do so. And Justice Anthony Kennedy followed that inquiry up by asking whether it is the province of the courts “to review whether or not there is such a national contingency” about immigration. Katyal’s answer was that potentially dangerous aliens seeking admittance should be “individually vetted,” and if that does not prove feasible on a large scale, to go back to the Congress with proposed legislative changes.

Justice Samuel Alito asked “whether any reasonable observer reading this proclamation” could “think this was a Muslim ban?” He said that there are 50 Muslim countries in the world but only “five predominantly Muslim countries are on this list.” Justice Neil Gorsuch wondered how and why a lower federal court could issue “a cosmic injunction” in the area of immigration and why domestic third parties should be allowed “to assert the rights of aliens who are not present in this country.”

In his rebuttal, Francisco clarified what the law has to say about the supposed “ban on nationality discrimination.” He flatly stated that there is no such thing. A certain provision of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1152(a)(1) bans discrimination concerning “the issuance of immigrant visas,” he said. “It doesn’t address the broader question over whether somebody is allowed to enter in the first place.”

Indeed, Francisco could have elaborated that a “visa” is a temporary pass to enter the country. It does not allow a person to become a permanent resident. And it is issued only after the approval of a petition, which is subject to other provisions of the INA like section 1182(f), by a family member or other legal sponsor.

Katyal eventually conceded that he “could imagine an emergency situation” in which section 1182(f) would allow the president extra powers, but he repeatedly argued that in this case it had been “460 days” since President Trump had issued the proclamation, and that no emergency had occurred. Overall, then, the state of Hawaii has proclaimed that it knows and will define the criteria for, and length of, a foreign-policy emergency and that the Supreme Court should do the same.

Photo credit: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

America • Asia • Defense of the West • Foreign Policy • Identity Politics • Immigration • Post • The Culture

What America Can Learn from Japan’s Immigration System

While the guilt-ridden West takes in refugees from all over the Third World and is wrestling with problems of assimilation, internal conflict, and hardened cultural enclaves, Japan continues to defy pressures from the international community to open its doors to mass immigration.

Granted, in the last decade, Japan has seen an uptick in legal immigration, as its shrinking native population contributes to a draining workforce. This immigration, however, is highly regulated and specific. Most of the immigrants in Japan are there on temporary work visas.

In contrast, the United States is feeling the effects of decades of illegal immigration, a lax legal immigration system (per the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965) and acceptance of large numbers of refugees. As a result, America faces an unprecedented level of ethno-religious and cultural tension that is compounded by economic pressures.

The advent of artificial intelligence and robotics also plays a large role in replacing millions of jobs in low-skill, tertiary sector employment—which would negate the need for low-skilled, uneducated labor from so-called “developing” countries. All of this points to the need for a more restrictive immigration system that puts our citizens and their needs before taking in more people from around the world. With that in mind, we might learn a few things from  Japan’s strict immigration system.

On the Cutting Edge of Automation
Instead of importing immigrant labor, Japan has instead focused on putting to work women and even the elderly in a variety of jobs. Additionally, Japan has also taken the view that a shrinking workforce is not necessarily a bad thing.

As it turns out, many companies and businesses would rather adopt AI and automation in lieu of unskilled, uneducated human labor. The reality is that artificial intelligence will likely replace most, if not all low-skilled jobs by the mid- to late-21st century. Japan is poised to be on the cutting edge of this development.

The rise of AI will lead to a more selective process of hiring and to the necessity of higher education or trade school certification for most jobs. The result will be a smaller, more skilled, and educated workforce that has higher wages. All of this points to a net positive for social harmony, provided existing populations are adequately employed. But the persistence of the notion that a civilization needs more working bodies for economic growth could pose a threat to good outcomes.

Culture counts. Most Japanese have dispensed with—or never adopted—the view that high rates of immigration would be good for their economy.  Thus, Japan’s unemployment rate, at 2.4 percent as of January 2018, is staggeringly low. It has dropped to its lowest levels since 1993. In total, Japan’s unemployment rate has remained below 6 percent since 1953. Automation has played a part in that, but the real difference is Japan’s rigorous and disciplined culture based in Shintoism (the ethnic religion of the Japanese ), which shapes its citizens from a young age to develop into responsible, hard-working members of society.

America Went in a Different Direction
The United States has done quite the opposite. With the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, we reversed our longstanding restrictive immigration policy that was designed to preserve the European heritage of our population. From 1921 to 1965, the 
National Origins Formula was the nation’s immigration policy. It was followed by the even stricter Immigration and Nationality Act of 1924, signed into law by Calvin Coolidge. In many ways, Japan’s current immigration policy reflects the ideas that inspired the older, saner U.S. rules.

What these two earlier pieces of American legislation did was to maintain the European cultural and political heritage of America’s majority population. The laws also recognized that industrialization made low-skilled foreign labor less of a necessity. Even prior to the 1924 law, America’s immigration policy was fairly strict with few exceptions. As a result, our nation had a shared credo, a recognizably similar system of ethics, beliefs, similar heritage, and a dominant ethno-religious majority that shaped the societal norms of the nation. It was understood that the nation was worth preserving as it had been built and that the culture that built it, though welcoming, could not withstand massive influxes of people with dissimilar beliefs or habits.

In 1960, America was 85.4 percent white, 10.5 percent black, 3.2 percent Hispanic, 0.5 percent Asian, and 0.3 percent Native American. In that same year, religious statistics showed America being 92 percent Christian (67 percent  Protestant, 25 percent Catholic), 3 percent Jewish, 2 percent “other,” 2 percent none and 1 percent undesignated. The numbers tell us that prior to the 1965 reforms, America had clearly defined cultural and societal norms. That’s not to say that there weren’t ethno-religious minorities, but their influence was minimal because their numbers were minimal. What made minority presence in America unique at that time was that they had to assimilate to Anglo-Protestant culture, because it was the core of the American way of life. Since the 1965 Immigration Act, as global immigration has increased, that dominant cultural and religious heritage has gradually faded.

What About Refugees? 
Japan’s refugee policy is also different from those of other Western nations. More than 99 percent of refugee applications to Japan are rejected. In 2017 alone
, there were 19,628 refugee applications and of those only 20 were accepted. The common mindset on the refugee issue in Japan is that one must care for one’s own people before taking in others.

During the height of the Syrian refugee crisis in 2015, Japan was under intense scrutiny from the international community for its refusal to take in refugees at the level of other Western nations. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would have none of it.  “I would say that before accepting immigrants or refugees, we need to have more activities by women, elderly people and we must raise our birth rate,” he said. “There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants.” 

Although Japan takes in few refugees, the nation sends a huge amount of its GDP to foreign aid projects that assist Third World nations with development and infrastructure projects.

The fact is, most Japanese are averse to the idea of taking in more foreigners. That’s reflected in the decades-old strength of Abe’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The average Japanese citizen is aware that his nation’s relative peace and harmony is due to its homogeneity. He’s skeptical of letting in large numbers of foreigners that might upset the existing order.

That being said, there are some loud voices among the political Left, business elite and even some LDP politicians (such as Foreign Minister Taro Kono) who have advocated increased immigration, though for differing reasons.

Lessons for the United States
The takeaway for Americans is that the post-1965 immigration law has adversely affected the United States and needs to go. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Purdue’s (R-Ga.) 
RAISE Act is an ideal remedy. The bill would drastically reduce levels of legal immigration and put greater emphasis on admitting foreigners with higher education and economically valuable skills. 

Obviously, we cannot copy and paste Japan’s immigration policy—which, after all, is uniquely Japanese—but there are aspects we could adopt and some steps we might take to improve our legal immigration system. While we wouldn’t want any American plan to be as restrictive as Japan’s, the RAISE Act would be a step in the right direction.

The RAISE Act would cut immigration levels by 50 percent and slash the number of green cards issued in any given year. It would also cap annual refugee admissions at 50,000, end the visa diversity lottery and abolish chain migration once and for all.

America may be a “nation of immigrants,” but any strong nation must have a shared credo, religious-based societal norms and morals, a common language and national heritage if it wishes to maintain any sort of social stability. That doesn’t mean that ethno-religious minorities cannot come here–they’ve always been welcome. But as in Japan, their numbers must be limited in size and scope as to not further the fracturing and balkanization of American society.