09 September 2021

Video of the day -- why China can't lead the world

As I discussed a couple of years ago, if you want to understand China, imagine a version of the US where Donald Trump had absolute power and was able to run everything in the country exactly as he wanted, with no restraint or opposition, no criticism allowed, and no possibility of ever voting him out.  That's what China is like.  (See here as well.)  In this video, an American who lived in China for a decade explains why such a regime is not world-leader material, and can't be.  There are fundamental differences between a leader and a bully, and between a democracy (however imperfect) and a gangster-state; and the regime's claims of modernity and prosperity are largely a Potemkin façade, the same kind of bragging bullshit Trump was notorious for.  It's longer than most videos I post here, but well worth watching.


Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

Nailed it with the Cheeto comparison. A gangster state cannot lead because it's not for the people. China is a façade. There's no freedom there (political or otherwise). And that's something the Repugs don't understand here in America. Having one head making all the decisions does not work. That kind of top-bottom hierarchy has never yield good results. Not to mention that everything is for show. No substance, just like it was with IMPOTUS2. Pity.


09 September, 2021 05:22  
Anonymous Otis Young said...

Infidel, the Chinese couldn`t be world leaders (and certainly NEVER, repeat NEVER EVER should be under any circumstances ! ! !) because they`re brutal and vicious uncivilised savages just like the Japanese ! ! !. They`ve never had any time for civilised concepts like goodness, decency, kindness, and compassion. For literally 6000 years now both Chinese and Japanese societys have revolved wholly and exclusively around brutality, violence, and sadism and a total and utter contempt for literally everything that the western world and democracy have to offer. Thankfully The Japanese had that brutality and viciousness bludgeoned out of them by two glorious giant mushrooms in 1945 but the Chinese were unfortunately (and primarily and specifically because of American complacency and frivolity between 1945 and 1949) allowed to go their own way with the hideous, loathsome, odious, obnoxiousness of communism. If only democracy could`ve been imposed onto China (and the Soviet Union for that matter) by America in 1945/1946 like it thankfully was with Japan, what a marvellous world we would now have.

09 September, 2021 05:31  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sixpence: You got it. Just as Trump was (as the saying went) a weak man's idea of a strong man, so China is a weak man's idea of a strong country.

09 September, 2021 07:37  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Otis: Please. This is not about racist delusions and certainly not about delusions about Asians being psychologically defective. On the contrary, Japan and Taiwan show clearly that Asian societies can function well as modern democracies and are not "brutal and vicious uncivilised savages", contrary to the Chinese regime's unfounded claims that China needs a dictatorship to function.

09 September, 2021 07:40  
Anonymous Art said...

First: XOXO -
Neither Japan nor China were exceptionally violent or brutal historically in comparison to other nations, particularly western nations, of a similar time period. Of course China, until the 1920s, or there about, wasn't a nation but rather relatively independent regions and so speaking of a single national character is largely meaningless. Similar loose aggregations of power (most based on tribe, family and warlords) are notorious for conflict and violence. To the point of being completely ungovernable. Consider Afghanistan.

Both nations were, for most of their histories, highly advanced socially, technologically and in terms to human rights. Yes, there were times and places in both where violence reigned but no more so than any other nation.

In example: Consider the Dutch. Today, and for much of their later history the Dutch were considered the tolerant and humanitarian liberals of Western Europe. But dig down in their history and you find decades of unfathomable cruelty and violence, much of which stems from religious conflicts.

On Topic - China has a long way to go to world power status. There are lots of issues:

China is huge. Yes telecommunications helps but to try to span such a space and declare it unified is tough. Tribes, religions, history, terrain, cultures, climates are all in conflict.

China is very much a young nation. They are barely past the basic stage of not being individual provinces. To get past that stage you, typically need a strong-man figure. Mao and Xi are very much still in that mode.

Authoritarianism is the result. But, as per video, being an advanced nation and a world leader conflicts with authoritarian tendencies. It is hard to have individual participation and buy-in in any meaningful way when everything is tightly controlled. The 'lay-flat' trend is but one consequence.

China lacks a culture. Mao systematically destroyed the Chinese culture in the Cultural Revolution. It is a nation without a heritage. If you want to experience real Chinese culture you have to go to Taiwan. Which makes the situation even more complicated.

Finally, there is the not so small matter of the Chinese written word. Pictograms and characters were highly advanced hundreds of years ago. But there are real and practical reasons why most other languages have gone to some sort of phonetic spelling and alphabet. To be proficient in Chinese you need to memorize literal tens of thousands of individual symbols. Even the average Chinese only knows a few thousand. By some estimates the average citizen is unable to read, much less write, outside the typical vocabulary of a few hundred words. This alone holds back the Chinese economy and prevents integration into the world trade system.

The answer to this dilemma is not obvious given the conflicting goals of being a modern written language and supporting a library of a thousand years.

09 September, 2021 10:43  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Art: Some good points there. I've posted about a couple of them -- this video about the destruction of Chinese culture under Mao, and this post about the complexity and difficulty of the written language.

09 September, 2021 12:02  
Blogger yellowdoggranny said...

scary shit

09 September, 2021 12:42  
Blogger SickoRicko said...

The video was interesting, but in the back of my brain I kept thinking it sounded like propaganda of some sort. When China started building up the atolls in the South China Sea I began to worry that a war was in the offing. Art's comment helped me be less fearful.

09 September, 2021 14:11  
Anonymous Art said...

Art here -

Infidel753 - Your posts, and accompanying videos, have been quite informative. Many thanks.

09 September, 2021 16:10  
Blogger Kwark said...

Yeah, wasn't it great that we offered our defeated enemies the Marshall Plan. It was good but not coincidental that said plan was our way of controlling commerce in the post WWII world. The prospect of a dictatorship "leading" the world isn't pleasant for much of the world perhaps but another large chunk of the the world views our leadership with a similarly jaundiced eye. For good reason.

09 September, 2021 19:27  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Granny: It's a pretty scary place to live, especially if you're part of a minority group.

Ricko: I think any argument going against conventional wisdom risks coming across as propaganda, but he knows what he's talking about and he makes a solid case. Art's comment makes some solid points. I view China today as being like Germany c 1933-1936 -- the regime is very belligerent, but if the democracies stand firm, there's still time to squelch its expansionism before the situation escalates to the point that an all-out war is unavoidable.

Art: Thanks!

Kwark: I know that's an argument a lot of people like to make. I think the number of democratic allies we have against China (despite four years of Trump being an asshole to everybody) speaks for itself. Nobody seems to want to align with China except fellow thugs like the Taliban and Putin, and you can bet Putin doesn't trust Xi -- Russians remember what happened when Stalin trusted Hitler. In any case, this is about China, not the US.

10 September, 2021 02:28  
Blogger NickM said...

I guess we can all do our bit...

My old Lenovo had reached the end of it's tether not that long ago. I'm writing this on an ASUS. My old TV needed replacing. I've got a Philips now. Very good reviews (and I love it) and a good price. Philips - Dutch... Oh, and it was actually made in Poland. The idea that everything has to be made in China to be competitive is hog-wash. That's two significan recent purchases from 1st World (economically, socially, politically) countries that were not bought by me out of altruism but bought deciding on tech-specs, ergonomics and price and such things. I was though looking specifically not to buy Chinese.

Infidel, your point about Germany 1933-1936 is, I think, absolutely spot-on. The really big issue is Taiwan - China's potential Anschluss. That has to just not happen. And there is enough power (of varying levels of hardness) to stop that. Obviously the Taiwanese and the USA but I cannot for a second imagine Japan, South Korea or others (Australia, Malayasia, Canada...) being happy with the Red Flag over Taipei. Keeping a united front on this is paramount because that way it is possible to avoid it coming to fisticuffs. Actually thinking about it... Is there anyone outside of Beijing or Pyongyang who would like the PRC to take the RoC?

10 September, 2021 03:43  
Blogger NickM said...

There is of course also the elephant in the room* - India.


*I did think for a while if that was a suitable metaphor but thought - "What the Hell!"

10 September, 2021 03:56  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

NickM: Thanks. I think a lot of people will be looking at alternatives to made-in-China, especially since there have often been serious quality problems there, and the pandemic has shown that over-reliance on long international supply chains is dangerous.

The similarity between Taiwan today and Austria as a target of Hitler's ambitions has long been apparent to me, except that in Austria there was a considerable segment of public opinion that wanted annexation to Germany, but there doesn't seem to be any such support in Taiwan for annexation to China.

Is there anyone outside of Beijing or Pyongyang who would like the PRC to take the RoC?

Well, a few zillion PC twenty-something brats on Tumblr, but aside from that.....

We need to be paying a lot more attention to India. China's one-child policy was a catastrophe whose full effects are only now starting to emerge. Unfortunately the narcissistic American brain seems capable of registering the existence of only one major foreign country at a time, and right now it's China.

10 September, 2021 05:34  
Blogger Mike said...

He mentions at the end, "how did those turn out?" They obviously failed but there was a lot of death and destruction beforehand.

10 September, 2021 12:11  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

True -- see my reply to SickoRicko -- I hope that this time the democracies stand up to China and neutralize the threat before it gets so big that a major war is unavoidable.

11 September, 2021 00:25  
Blogger Kay said...

And yet, he's planning to run again and he's got a portion of the U.S. who somehow still believe he's the leader of their cult.

11 September, 2021 14:43  
Blogger CAS said...

Thanks for the video. Nice to have a more optimistic view (at least from our side of the Pacific).

11 September, 2021 17:50  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Kay: If you mean Trump, well, we'll see. I think he's just posturing to raise money, and he'll probably be in prison by 2024 anyway.

Carol: I consider it an optimistic view -- if the democracies handle things properly.

12 September, 2021 01:25  

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