Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The China Syndrome: Could the PRC Have a Meltdown?

Friends, this week's Newsmaker Show covers a lot of important ground.  Most importantly, Brian and I talk about the unrest in Hong Kong and the ongoing US-China trade war, and how these developments might play out.  The Chinese autocracy is playing with fire!  Let's hope the whole world doesn't get burned.

In addition, Brian and I talk about the Jeffrey Epstein suicide debacle, plus Elizabeth Warren's racial incitement.  In terms of history, Brian and I cover the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, China's belligerence in World War I, the massive blackout in 2003, and the historic announcement of Japan's surrender by Emperor Hirohito in August 1945.  This show is action-packed!  Don't miss it.


  1. Power Outage: Try living down south where hurricanes and tornadoes rule. We spent 2 weeks in 100*+ temps without power after Katrina hit, and again 2011 when an EF 5 tornado hit Tuscaloosa, Al. Indeed, we rely on our power grid(s). I simply don't know how people in the past did without electricity.

    Pizza Bomber: Ah, yes. Had to do with one Brian Wells who was involved in odd plot involving some sort of bizarre scavenger hunt, a bank robbery and a explosive device around his neck. It was riveting "reality" TV. Your comments had me laughing. They were just so "blasé"-grin. You must look that topic up, Dr. Waddy. It was quite something in the summer of 2003.

    FDR/Social Security: A very sore subject to many. Americans pay into the system as they are employed. Social Security is not just for seniors. It is also for folks who can longer work due to illness or physical/ mental incapacitation, some who are under the age of 65. Is it a form of a social program? Some would argue yes. Difficult decisions, yes. I am not quite sure how to overhaul the program. One suggestion would be that the politicians need to quit dipping into the program to pay for other things-that is another topic. The law is very complicated, indeed. I wonder how changes will effect those who have too collect early? It might be a bitter pill (no pun intended) to swallow.

    Hong Kong- A very volatile subject. Let me see if I can put this in perspective. This was a British colony for 150 years and Great Britain leased Hong Kong for 99 years up until 1997 from China. Post handover from GB Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region (SAR). Hong Kong was supposedly allowed to be ran as such; independent from China for the next 50 years. In all intent and purposes, Hong Kong is suppose to be allowed to be run as such. Unfort. China has elected to "push the envelope" and not allow this to happen. My personal thoughts on this; one simply can not live free/in a democracy that Hong Kong has been doing for all these years and then China come in with the sickle and crack down/ break whatever agreement(s) that were in place. Hence, the protests. Hong Kong’s Basic Law, as agreed between China and Britain, means Hong Kong will retain its own currency, legal system, and parliamentary system. China would be wise to step back. I do believe this will turn much uglier. However, trade and intellectual property needs to be addressed with China. China needs to learn boundaries, and for that matter, so does the USA. No simple solution. Is the President so far going about this correctly? Yes. President Trump would be wise to stick with Gordan Chang, if you ever watch Lou Dobbs in the evening, pay close to attention to the exchanges that are being made with Dobbs and Chang (when Chang is on). Chang has never steered this topic wrongly, like I said, the President would be wise to listen. Yes, we need to respect one another and it would wise to allow China to be their own country as well as the USA.

    Epstein: I'll refrain from that subject. There sure seems to be a lot of odd things going on there (don't mistake that for a conspiracy theory). I read the news reports and comments. It seems a lot of people have thoughts. I am with you, just wait and see.

    ICE/Riots: Indeed, we all need to take a deep breath.

  2. Dr. Waddy and Linda: A significant factor in China's declaring war on Germany in August 1917 was a desire to reacquire their port of Tsing Tao in Shantung province. They had "leased" it to a Germany clearly set on a foreign empire in the 1890's, when China was almost prostrate. By 1917 Germany had possibly the second most powerful Navy in the world, after great Britain and a WWI triumphant Germany could have been expected to extend its power in the Far East. They might well have started with Shantung province, which is very special to the Chinese because it has Tai Shan, their sacred mountain and is a maritime asset . With the U.S. by then in the war against Germany, China might well have foreseen a reasonable chance of Germany's defeat and by siding with the Allies (most of them countries China had good reason to hate and fear) gained, nonetheless, some favor in a post war settlement,if only the return of Tsing Tao.

  3. Dr. Waddy and Linda: In the event, the Versailles Treaty gave Tsing Tao to Japan and this infuriated the Chinese. Japan of course lost little time in visiting on China rapine even worse than what it had endured from the West.

    Hong Kong: Britain acquired it by fighting two "Opium Wars" with China to force China to accept Indian grown opium in a China already ravaged by, yes, smuggled opium. Think we have an opiate problem? And it was but one of a host of catastrophes China endured during its relentless 19th and 20th centuries agony, which it knew to be largely because it was uncharacteristically weak. They are determined never to be so again.

    For China, I think Hong Kong remains a sore point, exemplary as it was of China's shame. I think the agreement with Britain upon the repatriation of Hong Kong was a grudging concession to Britain. They could have just taken it but why, I suppose? I think China's view of Hong Kong is: "they were lucky we allowed that and now they complain?"

  4. Dr. Waddy and Linda: What will China do now? Your observation that Hong Kong's resistance could foster widespread unrest in China is astonishing to me but very plausible. Could China, because of this, its troubled economy and perhaps its troubles in Sinkiang province, actually follow the Soviet Union into dissolution? I know you haven't suggested THAT but. . . .

    What you have already suggested is far more probable: an army occupation of Hong Kong with orders to use minimal force but to intimidate. And it probably would succeed.I think the Tien an Men massacre was motivated by the now passed Teng Hsiao Ping's resolve to never again allow the humiliation and brutality visited on him by the young Red Guards of the '60's. Its ravages of the elderly and experienced in the leadership and perceived elite was unspeakably shocking in a culture which reveres the aged, despite all futile Marxist effort to expunge the past.Had it been to establish democracy it would have been creditable but no, its purpose was but to tighten the totalitarian grip and deliver it to consummate insanity.

    China's leadership now did not experience that and that may restrain them. But whenever I see pictures of them I see the evidence on their faces of four hours of sleep, day after day, of "bitter study", of years of ascetic living, of unstinting effort, to earn their power. Traditional China was a remarkably meritocratic society (villages would pool all their resources to send a candidate to the arduous civil service exams which admitted the successful to the Mandarinate, which assured power and influence).

  5. Dr. Waddy and Linda: I have an unusual perspective on electric power, having lived without it for 8 years (except for a cranky generator). Its a blessing; how fortunate we are to have it, as we do now, our quasi pioneer days over! What amazed me about 2003 and the 1965 blackout which I experienced in a dormful of New Yorkers worried about their families, was how fast the system recovered. What an advanced civilization we live in, to our incalculable benefit!

  6. Dr. Waddy and Linda: Just imagine the joy of VJ Day! For one thing, hundreds of thousands of combat veterans in Europe (and their relatives) knew then they would NOT would be transferred to the miasmic Pacific to storm Japanese beaches. My father, aboard a Destroyer Escort bound for the Pacific (such ships were favorite targets of the Kamikaze, 2000 of which waited on mainland Japan to ravage an invasion or blockade fleet) was spared.Imagine their joy and relief! Imagine even, the muted consolation experienced by Japanese people at the end of their unrelenting assault from the skies. These are depicted in Kurosawa's and Ozu's films of post warlife in Japan. Imagine for them rule of ANY country excepting the U. S. and the brilliant MacArthur .What a confirmation of the humanity of American civilization, after redeeming trials.

  7. Linda, I must admit I have no recollection of the pizza bomber. Not sure how I missed that one!

    You're right about Social Security -- it's a very complicated system, and not easy to reform, especially given the political reality that old people VOTE and young people don't. Personally, I don't think Social Security is in grave danger, but there may have to be increases in the eligibility age, a revision to how much the benefits are taxed, and perhaps even a reduction in benefits, at some stage. Basically, though, our government will never default on seniors -- the most important voting demo by far. Congress would sooner sell all children under 5 to Chinese sweatshops than cross the AARP!

    You're right to provide the necessary context on Hong Kong. The people there WERE promised autonomy, it's true, so they have a right to feel betrayed. On the other hand, anyone who thought Hong Kong's freedoms could be preserved under Red Chinese rule was being very naïve, in my opinion. Bottom line: Hong Kong is Chinese territory now. If the West wanted to run Hong Kong indefinitely, it should never have surrendered sovereignty.

    Jack, what you say about Tsing Tao makes sense, BUT as you noted the Japanese occupied it in 1914, so China would not have expected to capture it by joining the war in 1917. A seat at the peace table, post-war, though, might have given them some (false) hope of obtaining territorial concessions. If nothing else, they had little to lose by issuing an essentially meaningless declaration of war.

    Jack, I think you may be exaggerating when you suggest that China could simply have taken Hong Kong by force circa 1997. Militarily, China vs. Britain, you may be right, but politically, strategically, and economically that would have been disastrous for China. In the end it was in both sides' interests to transfer power there -- and the well-being of the people of Hong Kong would not have been paramount for either country.

    Jack, I don't raise the specter of mass demonstrations in China lightly. I don't claim any special insight into the Chinese mind, to be sure, but I do believe that, once an established order begins to show cracks, a collapse can come with stunning speed. Autocratic systems generally persist because no effective opposition can form -- dissent is simply smothered -- so if I was the Chinese leadership right now I would be watching events in Hong Kong with considerable trepidation. Images of Qaddafi, Saddam, and/or Ceausescu would be flashing through my mind... I would bring the rioters to heel.

    Jack, thanks for reminding us of the tremendous relief that American servicemen -- and the whole world -- experienced upon Japan's surrender in August 1945. it was indeed unexpected, and the alternative would have been very bloody and possibly protracted. It's to our credit as Americans that, despite the fact that we bombed hundreds of thousands of civilians to oblivion in WWII, both the Germans and Japanese could plainly see that they were better off surrendering to us than to the Russians (or indeed the British). We were militarily and industrially strong, yes, but we were also humane -- and that can be a source of a different kind of strength.

  8. Dr. Waddy: Your analysis of the improbability of China getting Tsing Tao back is plausible; still, I would note that its confirmation to Japan after the war caused great outrage in China, which would suggest some hope on their part that they were going to get it back. Both Great Britain and China had strong concerns about Japan's growing power and might have sought to appease them. To Chinese eyes, yet another betrayal by westerners (?)

  9. Dr. Waddy: I meant to say above "Both Great Britain and the U.S."

  10. Jack, I'm sure you're right that China expected to be rewarded in some form for its belligerence in WWI -- and no doubt it expected more help from the West in keeping the Japanese at bay. In both respects the Chinese were being naïve, but everything is clear in retrospect...