Tag Archives: China

The Implicit Desperation of China’s “Social Credit” System, by Charles Hugh Smith

Charles Hugh Smith makes a keen distinction between power and force. From Smith at oftwominds.com:

Other governments are keenly interested in following China’s lead.
I’ve been pondering the excellent 1964 history of the Southern Song Dynasty’s capital of HangzhouDaily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250-1276 by Jacques Gernet, in light of the Chinese government’s unprecedented “Social Credit Score” system, which I addressed in Kafka’s Nightmare Emerges: China’s “Social Credit Score”.
The scope of this surveillance is so broad and pervasive that it borders on science fiction: a recent Western visitor noted that train passengers hear an automated warning on certain lines, in Mandarin and English, that their compliance with regulations will be observed and may be punished via a poor social score.
In the Song Dynasty, arguably China’s high water mark in many ways (before the Mongol conquest changed China’s trajectory), social control required very little force. The power of social control rested in the cultural hierarchy of Confucian values: one obeyed the family’s patriarch, one’s local rulers and ultimately, the Emperor.

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Opinion: The End Game In Afghanistan is Beginning, by Lawrence Sellin

Can we pull a fast one on China and Pakistan by getting out of Afghanistan? Why not, everybody who has gotten involved in Afghanistan has come to regret it. From Lawrence Sellin at thedailycaller.com:

China and Pakistan have plainly stated their plans for Afghanistan and South Asia.

According to a press release from the November 12 conference held at Islamabad’s Pakistan-China Institute, “Pakistan-Afghanistan-China Trilateral Dialogue supports the CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor] as key to peace and regional cooperation.”

Pakistani news outlets emphasized the point, one stating, “Pakistan and China on Monday urged Afghanistan to join the Belt & Road Initiative as well as the CPEC.”

Is it a coincidence that such plain speaking occurs in parallel with an uptick in the frequency and intensity of Taliban attacks inside Afghanistan?

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The “Nightmare Scenario” For Beijing: 50 Million Chinese Apartments Are Empty, by Tyler Durden

The bulk of speculation in China is in real estate, not securities. Which means 50 million empty apartments are a bit of a problem. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Back in 2017, we explained why the “fate of the world economy is in the hands of China’s housing bubble.” The answer was simple: for the Chinese population, and growing middle class, to keep spending vibrant and borrowing elevated, it had to feel comfortable and confident that its wealth would keep rising. However, unlike the US where the stock market is the ultimate barometer of the confidence boosting “wealth effect”, in China it has always been about housing as three quarters of Chinese household assetsare parked in real estate, compared to only 28% in the US, with the remainder invested financial assets.

Beijing knows this, of course, which is why China periodically and consistently reflates its housing bubble, hoping that the popping of the bubble, which happened in late 2011 and again in 2014, will be a controlled, “smooth landing” process.  For now, Beijing has been successful in maintaining price stability at least according to official data, allowing the air out of the “Tier 1” home price bubble which peaked in early 2016, while preserving modest home price appreciation in secondary markets.

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The ‘War Party’ Wins the Midterm Elections, Accelerating the Transition to a Multipolar World Order, by Federico Pieraccini

The War Party sees a unipolar world, a global Pax Americana. The rest of the world has different ideas. From Federico Pieraccini at strategic-culture.org:

The outcome of the American midterm elections gives us an even more divided country, confirming that the United States is in the midst of a deep crisis within its establishment.

The midterm elections represented a substantial draw for Democrats and Republicans, a defeat for the Trump administration and a clear victory for the “war party” in Washington. The House of Representatives ended up in the hands of the Democrats, who managed to overturn the results of 2016 by winning 26 seats and bringing their majority to 219, with the Republicans with 193 seats. The Republicans, despite the feared “blue wave”, have increased their representation in the Senate, with 51 senators against the 45 of the Democrats. In terms of governors, Republicans remain ahead, with 25 red states against 21 blue. After two years of fake investigations on Russiagate, continuous attacks by the US media (except for the few pro-Trump channels like Fox News), the blue Democratic wave seemed inevitable. Instead, we witnessed a minor repetition of the 2016 elections, with Trump managing to perform above expectations.

The House of Representatives performs functions mainly related to domestic politics, while the Senate is responsible for confirming important appointments such as those to the Supreme Court. The Democrats holding the majority in the House makes Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign an uphill battle. Trump will need to be able to present to his constituents from 2019 with a series of 2016 promises fulfilled. Getting one’s legislative agenda passed with the House in the hands of one’s opponents is difficult at the best of times. For Trump the task becomes almost impossible.

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Why the U.S. Military is Woefully Unprepared for a Major Conventional Conflict, by Brian Kalman, Daniel Deiss, and Edwin Watson

This is a long but worthwhile article that’s essentially the last word on military boondoggles. It makes the important point that foreign policy should be geared to what the nation can afford on military spending. From Brian Kalman, Daniel Deiss,  and Edwin Watson at southfront.org:

Introduction

In the Department of Defense authored summary of the National Defense Strategy of the United States for 2018, Secretary James Mattis quite succinctly sets out the challenges and goals of the U.S. military in the immediate future. Importantly, he acknowledges that the U.S. had become far too focused on counter-insurgency over the past two decades, but he seems to miss the causation of this mission in the first place. U.S. foreign policy, and its reliance on military intervention to solve all perceived problems, regime change and imperialist adventurism, resulted in the need to occupy nations, or destroy them. This leads to the growth of insurgencies, and the strengthening of long simmering religious radicalism and anti-western sentiment in the Middle East and Central Asia. The U.S. military willfully threw itself headlong into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The United States engaged in unnecessary wars, and when these wars were easily won on the immediate battlefield, the unplanned for occupations lead to guerilla insurgencies that were not so easy for a conventional military to confront. The U.S. Army was not prepared for guerilla warfare in urban areas, nor for the brutal and immoral tactics that their new enemies were willing to engage in. They obviously had not reflected upon the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, nor the nature of their new enemies. As casualties mounted due to roadside IEDs, snipers, and suicide bombers hidden amongst civilians, the U.S. military and the defense industry were forced to find ways to protect soldiers and make vehicle less vulnerable to these types of attacks. This resulted in vehicles of every description being armored and new IED resistant vehicles being designed and fielded in large numbers. This in turn, equated to a vast amount of time, effort and money. It also focused both the U.S. military services and the defense industry away from fighting conventional wars against peer adversaries.

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“We Feel Comfortable Back-to-Back”: The Unlikely Comrades Of Trump’s Trade War, by Tyler Durden

The US has driven China and Russia into an alliance that’s going surprisingly well. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

“There is no sense of threat from Russia. We feel comfortable back-to-back.” A new deep dive by Bloomberg examining the growing closeness of Russia and China as both face down increased U.S. pressures and sanctions contains some deeply revealing quotes by analysts as well as a high official in the Chinese communist government reacting to Trump’s trade war.

Russia and China, Bloomberg begins, are currently “as close as at any time in their 400 years of shared history.”

Toasting a $400 billion energy deal in 2014, via WSJ

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It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Google, by Mark Nestmann

If the history of business is any guide, Google too shall pass. From Mark Nestmann at lewrockwell.com:

A few months ago, the Verge leaked a training video from Google. The video, obviously not intended for public distribution, described the data produced by a girl on her cell phone – all snatched up by Google without her awareness.

That data, according to the video, “describes our actions, decisions, preferences, movement, and relationships.” Google uses the analogy of a ledger, with the data siphoned off the web by the internet giant being “a constantly evolving representation of who we are.”

The ledger, of course, is you. And the video made it clear that Google believes you do not own the data about you, but that you are merely a “transient carrier” of it.  What’s more, Google suggests that over time, it could provide “more inputs” to the ledger with the goal of modifying your behavior.

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