China

China All Things to All Pundits: Mostly a Rhetorical Trope and Fairy-Tale Boogeyman

"They wouldn't do that in China"

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Kia

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman may be the most prominent pundit to whine publicly about why the United States government (technically a Constitutional republic) isn't operated more like the Chinese government (technically a totalitarian Communist state), because he talked to a taxi driver or something, but Friedman isn't the only one. Using China, one of the world's most populous countries and now the second largest economy in the world after the U.S., to make domestic political points is an American tradition. For example, if Chinese officials are reading Hayek to understand why their governments can be so inefficient, maybe American ones should too.

On The Washington Post op-ed page, James Palmer, who lives in Beijing, explains this phenomenon:

The people telling these tales aren't interested in complexities or, really, in China. They're making domestic arguments and expressing parochial fears. Their China isn't a real place but a rhetorical trope, less a genuine rival than a fairy-tale bogeyman…

And because China is so vast, its successes can be attributed to whatever your pet cause is. Do you oppose free markets and privatization, like John Ross, former economic policy adviser for the city of London? Then China's success is because of the role of the state. Do you favor free markets, like the libertarian Cato Institute? Then China's success is because of its opening up. Are you an environmentalist? China is working on huge green-energy projects. Are you an energy lobbyist? China's building gigantic pipeline projects. Are you an enthusiast for the Protestant work ethic, like historian Niall Ferguson, who describes it as one of his "killer apps" for civilizations? Then credit China's manufacturing boom to its 40 million Protestants — even though they're less than 5 percent of its 1.3 billion people.

With a massively changing country, correlation and causation are easily confused. China's boom years in the 2000s, for instance, correspond nicely with an explosion in the number of pet dogs; perhaps some canine enthusiast is even now explaining how this is evidence that Bo, not Barack, should be making policy.

That gives me an idea. Read the whole column here.

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  1. “Them Chinks, now; they shore kin make thIngs happen.”

  2. That Friedman generator never disappoints.

    Yesterday’s news from Fiji is unbelievable, and it raises questions about whether there might just be light at the end of the tunnel. What’s important, however, is that we focus on what this means on the street. The media seems too caught up in spinning the facts to pay attention to the important effects on daily life. Just call it missing the tables for the wood.

    When thinking about the ongoing problems, it’s important to remember three things: One, people don’t behave like billiard balls, so attempts to treat them as such are going to come across as foreign. Billiard balls never suddenly blow themselves up. Two, Fiji has spent decades being batted back and forth between colonial powers, so a mindset of peace and stability will seem foreign and strange. And three, hope is an extraordinarily powerful idea: If authoritarianism is Fiji’s curtain rod, then hope is certainly its tabletop.

    1. Maybe I’m just dense, but I don’t get the curtain rod and tabletop metaphors.

      1. You’re not supposed to understand.

      2. It’s a Freidman article generator that spits out nonsensical metaphors like Freidman does.

  3. Some peeps sure do like their blank slates. Obama was an empty chalk board on which we all wrote our hopes and dreams. China is the tabula rasa that could contain all the answers. Also, what Chinese successes?

    And then there’s this:

    Do you come with the car?

    Oh, you. [giggle]

    1. “Also, what Chinese successes?”

      They are at peace with their neighbours and the rest of the world. They seem to be successful in prying Pakistan away from the US, investing billions there to ensure access to oil supplies in the Middle East.

      1. i’m sure Tibet and Taiwan feel at peace. On the other hand, no Muhammad cartoon-drawing festivals or protests.

        1. “i’m sure Tibet and Taiwan feel at peace”

          They feel peaceful and secure enough to do business with the PRC. That’s what counts, isn’t it? And you are right, since the Communists took over, the state affords some protections to the recognized minorities.

          1. the state affords some protections to the recognized minorities

            Sarc?

            1. During the pre-communist imperial era, minorities like the Hmong etc were seen as sub-human. Communist policies are more inclusive, as you would expect. For example, during the imperialist era, the Chinese word for “Yao,” an ethnic minority in the south was written: ?. Notice the beast or dog radical on the left. Under the communist reforms the character became ?. The human radical was used. The state recognizes ethnic minorities to be human beings, though it also carries on a policy of ??, or sinicization, and makes an effort to turn these groups into normal Han Chinese.

              1. That’s nice. They are still extremely oppressive, especially of the Uighurs.

                1. “They are still extremely oppressive, especially of the Uighurs.”

                  They shoot Uighur demonstrators, that’s true. And they certainly have no time for separatist sentiment. In Xinjiang you can see Uighars carrying out their businesses much like the Han. They have legitimate beefs to be sure, but it’s stretching it to say they are under extreme oppression. You want to find extremely oppressive actions taken by communists against ethnic minorities, I don’t think China makes for good hunting grounds. Try neighbouring Laos and check out their decades long efforts to bring the Hmong to heel.

                  1. You want to find extremely oppressive actions taken by communists against ethnic minorities, I don’t think China makes for good hunting grounds.

                    Wait, you hear that mtruefalseman? That’s the sound of about 8 million Tibetans telling you to go fuck yourself.

                    1. “That’s the sound of about 8 million Tibetans telling you to go fuck yourself.”

                      The Tibetans do resent the Han people. They resent the Muslims even more. And Tibetans can be taken up and held by police for questioning indefinitely for little reason, just like any one else in China. But extreme oppression? That was the charge. To me it means subject to ethnic cleansing, population transfer and pogroms. That is not part of life in Tibet or anywhere else in China today.

                2. But they’re not called dogs anymore – they should be grateful!

                  1. “they should be grateful”

                    As humans, they deserve to be recognized as humans. Gratitude doesn’t enter into it.

      2. investing billions there to ensure access to oil supplies in the Middle East.

        How does throwing money at Pakistan insure access to oil supplies that China would get anyway?

        They are at peace with their neighbours

        Except the ones they antagonize with oceanic imperialism ex all of them.

        1. “How does throwing money at Pakistan insure access to oil supplies that China would get anyway?”

          You should look into the Karakoram Corridor. A second supply route might be handy if the choke point at Singapore were blocked for any reason. The Chinese don’t take these things for granted. Point is, they’ve enlisted the help of the Pakistanis in their geo-strategic manoeuvring without firing even one drone at one wedding party. That’s success in my books.

          “Except the ones they antagonize with oceanic imperialism ex all of them.”

          Being at peace doesn’t mean there aren’t any antagonisms. It means that Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese and Korean business persons can travel back and forth with ease and peace of mind.

          1. So … mass shootings of protesters is better than droning wedding parties … just how far up Friedman’s colon are you?

            1. “just how far up Friedman’s colon are you”

              I’m not familiar with Friedman’s work or his colon. Fist of Etiquete asked for an example of a Chinese success. I gave the Karakoram Corridor as an example. The Chinese are now in Pakistan in a big way. Just like they are in Africa. They are not killing anyone there, but making investments.

              You aren’t Chinese, are you. My guess is that you are American. Only an American would think about making light of droning wedding parties. The Pakistanis certainly don’t. Neither do the Chinese.

              1. Ah, I think we have met one of China’s internet-cotta web army.

                Whenever an article about China pops up, they are sure to come, and they sure to tell you why China is Number 1 best state

                1. “and they sure to tell you why China is Number 1 best state”

                  China’s success is avoiding America’s bellicosity. They can get security without going to war. Does that make China world’s No.1 best state? No. It’s an authoritarian police state. China’s greatest hope is her people. They are tough and resourceful. Believe me, the Chinese government fears its own people far more than it does anything the Americans can threaten.

        2. Nepal just underwent a Maoist insurgency that seems to have been ignored. Is there actually a nation near them where they are not engaged in old-school imperialism?

          1. Bet you weren’t aware that India today is home to a Maoist insurgency too.

            By the way, whatever you know or don’t know about Nepal’s insurgency, you should know that Maoists and the Gang of Four have not held any power in Beijing since the 1980s.

            1. Nice to meet the arbiter of everything I am unaware of. Tell me another one, let’s see if you can get one right in a row.

              1. If you have any questions or comments, even if they are only vaguely worded objections, go ahead. You don’t need my permission to post them here.

  4. OT:Meanwhile…I’d like to be 16 or 17 again and bone my milfy high school English teacher. Gentlemen don’t kiss and tell, so she wouldn’t be getting 3-45 yrs on account of me. Seriously WTF? Sixteen and seventeen year old boys (men really): just innocent exploitable sex objects. Huh? What?!!!

    1. I’m not sure what you’re talking about but I do believe in the double standard as far as HS boys nailing cougar teachers. As a former HS boy myself, I can say with authority that we aren’t/weren’t fragile and sex doesn’t have the same consequences for the male of the species.

  5. The NYT, surprisingly, has a pretty good opinion piece from a Justice Department lawyer about police unions, contracts and the need to reform them in order to make police accountable for their actions.
    *too lazy to go back and link.

  6. All these people that talk about China’s fast growth never mention that they started from almost zero,same with all their ‘infrastructure .An having a ‘large’ economy where most people live on about 5000 a year is nothing to crow about.

    1. sorry I guess it’s over 6000,about 900 more than CUBA!!

      1. ie Practically Utopia

    2. They also talk about it being the “second biggest economy” along with other statist jive. Per person, their “second largest economy” averages out to something close to Venezuela, even without taking into account income inequality.

  7. Those little yellow bastards are certainly inscrutable.

    1. That model doesn’t look yellow on my screen. She is white as Krugman!

  8. China’s boom years in the 2000s, for instance, correspond nicely with an explosion in the number of pet dogs;

    Always amusing.

    1. How about cats?

      1. They were delicious. Also Nicholas cage is a monster who must be stopped!

        1. He’ll stop himself,give it time.

          1. Hope you don’t own a pool with that kind of attitude.

  9. 1. China is a mess, and started from a very low base, thanks to socialism.

    2. Having said that, those who do, learn, and those who learn, succeed (you can add this phrase to Friedman generator).

    If it takes US 5 years to do environmental review for the airport, and it takes China 5 years to actually build an airport, US will learn how to do environmental reviews, and Chinese will how to actually build airports.

    Sure, first few Chinese airports will fall apart a year after construction, but it’s inevitable they’ll learn and get better over time. So even though they are relatively poor now, i can see Chinese getting competitive over time.

    1. Of course China can just evict people and bulldoze there buildings in one day. There are no true property rights there. Ask all the people rounded up and moved for the 3 Gorge dam. Hell,the USSR could build things almost over night.

      1. America used to be able to both respect property rights and get things built quickly.

      2. Well it did take a while to starve all the Ukrainians …

        1. That was a bullet conservation measure. Since they didn’t keep inventory like the Germans, they did not have to bother with corpse production quotas either.

      3. The entire 450+ station NYC subway was built by roughly 1940. It started in 1904 (not accounting for some pre-existing train lines in the outer boroughs which were taken over by the subway).

        In the last 40 years, we have managed to add 2 or 3 stations, with another 3 coming online next year (?) that have been in the planning stages for 80 years and under construction on and off for 40 years. This pace has nothing to do with property rights.

  10. Friedman should have live tot he life of a Chinese peasant for writing the article linked above. Same with the other hacks.

    Wind and solar are totally the wave of the future, but only benevolent top men can see it. Not those evil corporations who only care about profits they can reap like tomorrow.

    1. yep,wind and solar.No big trucks,planes,cargo ships or petrochemicals..I can’t wait.

  11. People should constantly e-mail the NY Times commenting on the random articles.

  12. Do you oppose free markets and privatization, like John Ross, former economic policy adviser for the city of London? Then China’s success is because of the role of the state. Do you favor free markets, like the libertarian Cato Institute? Then China’s success is because of its opening up.

    Gotta love the genius of this (presumably leftist) writer. The Chinese state has been around since 1949, while the opening up has really only been going on since the 1990s, coterminous with the economic expansion. And yet the two claims are treated as equally fallacious. The parting line about dog ownership shows his real objective…. discrediting the idea that freer markets bring prosperity, of which China (with all its warts) is the shining example.

  13. My buddy’s step-sister makes $63 hourly on the internet . She has been unemployed for 10 months but last month her payment was $19497 just working on the internet for a few hours.
    read more ?????????? http://www.BuzzReport20.com

  14. Then credit China’s manufacturing boom to its 40 million Protestants ? even though they’re less than 5 percent of its 1.3 billion people.

    That might be okay for the Protestants, bit the 1 billion PEASANTS don’t seem to be getting such a sweet deal.

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