David W Ferguson
I generally describe Western attitudes to China as “a great big bag of arrogance, stuffed to the brim with ignorance, and tied with the string of prejudice”. Nothing embodies this better than Tian’anmen.
Nobody really knows exactly what happened around Tian’anmen, and it is quite possible that we never will. But its anniversaries invariably provide a golden opportunity for Western middle-class posturing and sanctimony. Not once have I ever seen a Western journalist attempt to consider the incident from a Chinese perspective – then and now.
The Guardian does not disappoint. This past weekend (Saturday 1st June), it provides us with the customary helping of hypocrisy and cant.
Incredibly, the editorial is actually open for comments – always a sign that the editors are confident that the readership will toe the party line and parrot the party narrative.
One small point: a reader (Solentbound) asked if it was possible to access the Guardian and read the article in China without a VPN. Nobody actually bothered answering the question. Speaking as someone in China who read the article without my VPN, the answer is “Yes”.
Looking back at the time, it is an uncomfortable fact that China’s leadership had every reason to be deeply sceptical about the Tian’anmen students and their demands.
In 1989, China was barely ten years out of the Cultural Revolution – a decade-long horror that destroyed thousands of lives and threatened the very existence of the country.
When I ask Westerners who made up the Red Guard – the vanguard of the Cultural Revolution – they never get the answer right. It wasn’t peasants. It wasn’t workers. It wasn’t Communist Party members. It wasn’t the soldiers of the PLA. It was radical idealistic students.
It was radical idealistic students who kicked the whole thing off by pouring boiling water over a teacher to punish her for her ‘rightist tendencies’.
It was radical idealistic students who forced communist veterans – brave and principled people who had devoted their lives to the cause of the underprivileged – to stand up in front of baying mobs (of radical idealistic students) and invent crimes they had committed so they could then beg for mercy.
It was radical idealistic students who transformed China’s main industrial activity from producing stuff that people needed into producing badly-scrawled placards and inane slogans.
Yeah but no but, I hear you say. Yeah but no but these were bad radical idealistic students. The Tian’anmen students were good radical idealistic students! They were in favour of good radical idealistic things, like Western democracy and freedom and everything…
Unfortunately, you can never be sure where even the goodest radical idealistic student might end up. Tony Blair and Jack Straw were both radical and idealistic young students. They grew into two of the 21st century’s leading warmongers and torturers – in comparison with their death toll, Tian’anmen was a fleabite.
It fell on Deng Xiaoping to make the decision to end the Tian’anmen protest with violence. Everything I know about Deng paints him as a brave, decent, and principled man. He joined the CPC in 1923.
He fought the fascist Chiang Kai Shek. He fought the Japanese war machine. Then he fought the fascist Chiang Kai Shek again. He was one of the leading figures in the fight against the Cultural Revolution. He himself was purged twice.
But the Cultural Revolution affected Deng on a more personal level. His son Pufang was taken prisoner by his fellow students at Peking University, to punish him for his father’s ‘rightist tendencies’.
Pufang was held in a student dorm and tortured so badly that eventually he tried to end his own life by jumping out of a window. He did not succeed in killing himself, but he did succeed in breaking his back, and he has lived the rest of his life as a paraplegic.
So Deng Xiaoping had better reasons than most for doubting the wisdom of radical idealistic students.
Moving on to today, there is the vexed question of what would have happened if the Tian’anmen reformers had succeeded. What guarantee is there that ordinary Chinese people would be better off today?
Well, let’s take a look at a place where they did succeed. Russia. How well did it work out for the Russians? In the five years following Russia’s successful democratic reform the country’s GDP plummeted by half.
The economy was raped and looted by a combination of local oligarchs and greed-maddened Wall Street bankers. Russia is now our sworn enemy, apparently, governed by the most evil man on the planet, apparently. That’s how well it has worked out for the Russians.
The guarantee actually works the other way around. Although its economy ranks second in the world, China is still a developing country. Per capita GDP ranks only 73rd in the world.
In 1989 China was thirty or forty times poorer than it is today. And here is an interesting fact. Not many people know this, because not many people have ever asked themselves the question: There is not one single example in all of human history of a country that was impoverished and destitute, and became a Western-style democracy, and is now successful and prosperous.
India is a relevant case in point. India and China are the only two counties with which the other can reasonably be compared, and they share a number of things in common. They are both far bigger than any other country.
They both took on their current political form just after World War II. They were both desperately poor after endless years of occupation, oppression and exploitation by foreign powers. In 1950, the two countries’ per capita GDP was almost identical.
China, in addition, had been ravaged by almost twenty years of war, and tens of millions of its population had been killed. India became a Western-style democracy; China came under the rule of the CPC.
Seventy years on, it is hard to come up with any worthwhile social or economic indicator against which India has outperformed China. In many cases, China is miles ahead. According to the Credit Suisse yearly analysis, China’s mean wealth per adult was $47,810 in 2018. India’s was $7,024.
There is no rationale to support the belief that had the Tian’anmen reformers won out, China today would be anything other than a combination of India and the former Soviet Union – a ragbag of broken, impoverished, and conflict-ridden statelets, many of them dictatorships, their economies hollowed-out by greed-maddened Wall Street bankers. No ordinary Chinese would have benefited in any way.
Tian’anmen was not a ‘good thing’. Unfortunately, leaders do not always have the luxury of choosing between a good thing and a bad thing. Sometimes they have to make a choice between the lesser of two evils, and hope that their judgment was right. Tian’anmen was a personal tragedy for a few hundred people who lost their lives, and for their families. I’m sure that, with a very small number of exceptions, they only ever meant well for their country.
But in the annals of all the killings that have been inflicted on the world in the past thirty years, Tian’anmen barely even registers as a click on the dial. And it almost certainly saved China from a much bigger tragedy that would have brought devastation to hundreds of millions.
Try explaining that to the sanctimonious prigs in Guardian Land.
 The closest you will probably come to one is Botswana. Botswana became independent in 1966 and to its credit has remained a democracy ever since. Its economy has grown significantly. But with a population one seven hundredth of China’s, a population density one fortieth of China’s, and an economy that is largely dependent on diamond mining, it doesn’t offer much of a benchmark for China. And Botswana has its own issues. Additionally, its per capita GDP is almost the same as China’s, so it hasn’t become any more successful and prosperous than China has.
David W Ferguson has had a long and varied career in the law, business and the media, as well as various less professional sounding fields. He has spent much of the last 13 years in China, where he works as an editor, a writer and an occasional journalist. His published books include works on contemporary China, teaching guides for Chinese trying to write in English, and illustrated fiction for young children.
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“One small point: a reader (Solentbound) asked if it was possible to access the Guardian and read the article in China without a VPN. Nobody actually bothered answering the question.”
1) To be fair, you could have answered the question yourself. 😛
2) Several actually did answer the question! You might need to click the button to see all replies?
Thanks for writing this informative article. I just wanted to clarify that one small point. 😉
A very reactionary article. The typical dribble from a ‘little whitey’ that lives in China and pretends to ‘ingratiate’ himself with the authorities that control and censure internet and the press, more than the sanctimonious Nazis from The Guardian, Facebook or Twitter… The author not only demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of Tianamen’s protests (and their very important spread to Shanghai), protests organised by COMMUNIST students and workers in search of a revival of Leninist principles and methods (in the spirit of the Perestroika in the USSR), but shows also a complete lack of awareness of the meaning, causes and processes of the Cultural Revolution (that still has a considerable popular following and ‘sweet’ recollection among the workers of China) or the traditional revolutionary role of ‘radical idealistic students’ in the history of China, like the May Fourth Movement that went on to give birth to the Communist Party. This poor author is a sorrowful victim of both, the bourgeois propaganda of the ‘West’ and the Feudal hogwash of the ‘East’.
What really happened? Chinese citizens repressed by totalitarians for decades got hacked off and began to kill a few of their repressors.
In retaliation hundreds of protesters were killed by the totalitarians. Repression continues to this day.
Incredible that privileged westerners here and elsewhere support these totalitarians.
Fascinating and thought provoking article; I share the opinion of many BTL that whatever the truth of Tiananmen it is being foregrounded right now for very clear propaganda purposes.
A quick couple of comments on Botswana. The stats do look good but the dependence on mineral wealth and European, US, and Israeli corporations in extracting and monetising this makes it a fragile veneer in my opinion. But the key issue in Gaborone in particular (very like Milton Keynes funnily enough, except much much hotter) is water shortage. It has expanded exponentially and the dams are running dry.
From what I was able to see on a visit there 4 yes ago there’s a rather clear trend towards gated communities for mainly white professionals, with a heavy proportion of ex pats from South Africa and Zimbabwe, with shanty town slums plus genteel poverty just down the road. However it’s a largely safe place due to very firm policing.
You will search in vain for the idyll depicted in the Alexander McCall Smith books by the way.
My stepfather commutes there from KZN: two weeks at home near Durban where he can still get away with his overt racism and being the ‘baas’, then two weeks in Gabs on his best behaviour. Works for Israelis, in the diamond trade need I add?
Botswana is still rather locked in to the colonial mindset IMO, where people know their place and if they step out of line they get a good beating from the cops. The Khama dynasty, whatever their faults, did provide some very firm social cement. This seems to have unraveled (the Khamas controlled the region way before the Brits ever showed up).
Whichever runs out first, water or diamonds, will shape how the thing plays out but I think there’s regime change dynamics simmering away too.
“But in the annals of all the killings that have been inflicted on the world in the past thirty years, Tian’anmen barely even registers as a click on the dial. And it almost certainly saved China from a much bigger tragedy that would have brought devastation to hundreds of millions.”
Tian’anment was a big deal, and you cannot assume that those students were of the same ilk as those of the Cultural Revoltion. In fact, you are contradicting yourself since those of the CR were against capitalism and apparently the Tian’anmen ones were the opposite and would usher in a period of dismantling of the CCP and the whole system would come crashing down. Yeah, right.
You are also wrong regarding Russia, the revolution at the end of Communism had little to do with students whatsoever. You are not even comparing apples with oranges, you are comparing pommes with pommes de terre (apples versus potatoes)
For sure, China has to be applauded for bringing hundreds of millions of people out of abject poverty, that I fully agree with, but that has happened because of the application of capitalism in a controlled framework. It has created countless billionaires too…how charmingly Communist is that?
China is at a crossroads now, the capitalist cat is out of the bag and the greedy will want much more of it, much more than the CCP and controllers will allow. That’s what the US Neocons and Neoliberals know, they can smell blood and the shitting of the pants of the CCP as they now struggle to contain a monster that they have created. I wish China the best, but it will be tough for them. On the one hand it was perfectly right that they reformed and allowed some capitalism, but on the other hand it’s all been too much too soon. The CCP are stuck between a rock and a hard place, they don’t need antagonising by Neocons, but they also should not be left off the hook and regarded as unblemished heros,
Check out the Pew poll on whether the government is taking the country in the right direction for China and the US.
I agree with you. It was a huge deal in the sense that it probably saved the whole of China from becoming a collection of broken satrapies having their bones picked clean by Wall Street bankers. But in terms of numbers, relative to the casualties in other incidents around the world in the past thirty years, it was a fleabite.
I didn’t make that assumption Frank. I simply invited readers to consider things from the perspective of the Chinese leadership, who had to decide what to do. Ten years out of the Cultural Revolution, which was driven by idealistic student zealots, the leadership would have been fools not to be asking themselves “Are we kicking off a new Cultural Revolution?”
I know it didn’t, which is why I never said it did. I never even said anything close to that. You really should take the trouble to read what people say before you start telling them they’re wrong.
They haven’t created a monster. In the West, particularly the US, the billionaires tell the politicians what to do. In China, the politicians tell the billionaires what to do. And China’s leadership has learned very clearly from the errors of the West. They will never allow the real economy to be hijacked by the financial economy. And they’re not “shitting their pants” either. That’s just a silly fantasy, constantly trotted out by the western media.
“They will never allow the real economy to be hijacked by the financial economy”
Sorry, but China’s Government Debt to GDP is at it’s highest levels ever and alarm bells are ringing all over the place. China does have the advantage of being able to enfoce collective actions to try and manage this adverse situation as it whips people into compliance and jails those who disagree.
But in terms of numbers, relative to the casualties in other incidents around the world in the past thirty years, it was a fleabite.
Those are the kind of sociopathic arguments made by left (and right) wing totalitarians to justify their motives, actions and disregard for humans, they are just numbers after all, a mere “fleabite”. Sit down with the families of those affected and tell them their suffering is just a “fleabite” and that they should grow a pair.
Enough said, you’ve exposed yourself for what you really are.
China’s government debt is less than half of GDP. So it’s about half of the UK’s, and less than half of the US. But let’s go with BigB’s analysis, that the Chinese government is hiding half of its real debt. So it’s actually about the same as the UK and still less than the US.
And unlike the UK, where personal debt is about 100% of GDP, most Chinese are still net savers.
And you have absolutely no idea what the real economy being hijacked by the financial economy actually means.
Apart from that, good post.
Yes, must get our priorities right. Focus on those evil commies who may/ may not have killed a few dozen/ few hundred people 30 years ago,
They clearly need some lofty sermons and pious lectures from western politician and MSM folk about how they need to pull their socks up to match our exalted human rights standards and rules based order.
No need to bother about trivia like 2 million dead Iraqis, 20 million starving Yemenis, 1.2 million cholera cases, or the thousands gunned down in Gaza by IDF kiddie killers
No need to bother about trivia like 2 million dead Iraqis, 20 million starving Yemenis, 1.2 million cholera cases, or the thousands gunned down in Gaza by IDF kiddie killers
It’s all binary with you Mark. I am equally appalled by what “our side” has done and what the CCP and others have done.
The author, and apparently you, diminishing the deaths of hundreds of student protesters as some kind of sacrifice for the “greater good” is no less than cold blooded psychopathy.
No, just very wary of the motivations of people hyperventilating about the evil commies and “a million Uighurs in concentration camps” given the proven track record of the same people.
Russia did not do so bad .It is now a thriving democracy with an economy that is improving every year .
Just saying as the article mentioned Russia but did not complete the picture.
China has done marvels in terms of quality of life for more people every year as it just keeps getting better for them.
Yeah, superb quality of life, as long as you don’t open your mouth and say anything to disagree with the government.
Yep, you might end up like Assange or Manning.
Person living and working in China writes very complimentary things about China concerning their stained past. Well done, you will have received very many social credits for doing so.
Maybe they should have gone down the Ukraine/ Latvia/ Yeltsin route. That would have got them a few glowing editorials in the NYT and Guardian if nothing else.
Why offer another extreme Mark? Other pathways are available.
Totalitarianism is not something to be condoned, on the left nor right, neither is anarchy.
China already had available some form of initial template of limited democracy in Hong Kong, instead they have tried to eradicate that, as well as Formosa/Taiwan. China has some right to be paranoid about US style rabid neoliberalism, but other pathways are possible.
The ” limited democracy” in Hong Kong consisted of colonial governors in plumed pith helmets telling the silly little natives what to do. There was no need to bother with any of that democracy malarkey when the natives were part of the Great British Empire. It was only when the lease expired that the colonial overlords developed a most commendable, if somewhat belated, interest in all that democracy shit, and the National Endowment for Democracy promptly parachuted its stooges n with millions of $ for Umbrella Revolutions and all their regime change projects.
After what has happened in Ukraine, Venezuela, and a hundred other places, I have become reluctantly convinced that there may often be a need for some form of authoritarian rule. Otherwise these countries are wide open to Soros and the Regime Change Merchants, who just move their bought and paid for whores and terrorist mercenaries in to foment unrest, subvert the country, and create chaos and war, for Wall Street to loot those places of their wealth. If the DPRK had been as open as, say Iran, then it too would have been subject to attacks by Washington sponsored mercenaries like the MEK. With $600 million being poured in to cause chaos and unrest and bring about regime change. If some Gweedo like stooge appointed himself President of the DPRK instead of Kim, he would be well advised to make sure his life insurance was fully paid up first. This is just not possible with the DPRK’s tight internal control.
That doesn’t mean I’d want to live there or it’s an ideal place to live. But I think I’d prefer to live in a DPRK that can resist US terrorist subversion and slaughter, rather than an Iraq, Libya or Syria, which can’t.
You support totalitatianism, so which one is the best? HK governors? CCP? Pol Pot? Hitler? Stalin? You?
No, I just want to avoid the bog standard genocidal slaughter, starvation and misery the Exceptional And Indispensable People have wrought in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Ukraine, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, and half a hundred other places. Countries like Cuba and DPRK have thus far avoided that fate. If and when they open up their political systems, they may well suffer the same fate.
Smug middle-class person dons their impenetrable lead blinkers of Western moral superiority, kindly provided for them free of charge by the Western MSM, peers at China, and finds it wanting…
See Frank I can do shallow ad hominems as well, and I’m probably better at it than you, since you don’t seem to have anything more to offer than weary cliches.
Piece of advice. Either: (1) present a case and make your arguments, or (2) steer clear of OffG, where you might find yourself faced with a range of views that challenge your preconceptions. I recommend the Guardian, where you can be sure to have your prejudices reinforced on a daily basis. Other advantage is that you won’t have to think up many comments, since nothing is ever open for comment unless the paper can be certain its readers are going to parrot the party line.
No I will not steer clear of OffG you plonker, I’ve been here for a couple of years and enyjoy many of the articles immensely. I will not, however, swallow CCP propaganda pieces hook, line and sinker as you apparently do. I always have an open mind, but no so open that I allow any old crap to pour in unfiltered.
I really object to you describing my article as a “CCP propaganda piece” Frank. I’m inviting readers to consider why the CPC might have acted as it did from their perspective, and what the consequences might have been for the billion and a bit odd Chinese who weren’t campaigning for Western democracy on Tian’anmen Square, had the demonstrators succeeded in their aims. An intelligent open-minded person would understand that, even if they didn’t agree with my arguments.
Ok, let’s keep it simple: I don’t agree with most of your arguments.
Furthermore, describing the number of demonstrators killed as a “fleabite” is not what I would call a point of decent, moral debate and it comes across, to me, as an apology for the CCP actions, and also typical of other totalitarian viewpoints. To be clear, I’m not saying that’s necessarily your actual intention, but some of it does come across that way.
Like everyone else, I do not know what happened in Tian’anmen Square. Knowing the format: I suspect it was a precursor Colour Revolution …but I do not know. But it was OK: because the deaths were for a good cause – China progressed.
True: if you equate consciousness with capital – and measure it in GDP. The greater the GDP per capita: the greater the quality of consciousness? Or is it quantity? China’s per capita energy consumption, as measured by total primary energy supply (TPES), has increased from 31% of the world average levels in 1970 to over 74% of the world average in 2005 and 95% in 2009. That’s a lot of very happy people: if we can commodify consciousness and reduce it to a statistical expression equated to capital. What is a life compared to all those happy people? Or their capital statistical equivalent?
So, limitless growth is good: the odd sacrificial life or two in the name of unlimited progress can be offset by statistical accounting? What if progress is very much limited by entropy, waste pollution, and primary resource depletion: is that still OK?
China’s main product is debt – since 2007/8 in particular (Keen’s “the largest private debt bubble in capitalist history”) …debt for death; death for fictitious GDP growth; death for mineral depletions and extractivist pollutions …all for conceptualised imaginary illusions of growth: commodifying capital for life and consciousness and debt. Priggish talk of sanctimony and cant.
I don’t. I simply picked one metric that happens to relate to GDP because it demonstrates the size of the gap. I could have chosen hundreds of others that don’t – life expectancy, literacy, crime rates, maternity benefits, years in compulsory schooling, child mortality, state pension provision, proportion of energy from renewable resources, air pollution in cities, ethnic hate crime, and on and on.
I could also have been more blunt in the article – in all the reading and writing I’ve done, I’ve never once encountered any worthwhile economic or social indicator against which China isn’t outperforming India. Anyone who can think of one is welcome to point it out to me.
Their main product isn’t debt, and their GDP growth isn’t fictitious. It has proper infrastructure, and a lot of people making stuff that other people need and want. If you want to see fictitious GDP growth, try looking a little closer to home – at an economy running on personal debt-fueled consumer spending and London property price inflation.
If you think people around the world should be entitled to enjoy a decent standard of living, then there are going to have to be technological and scientific solutions to problems like resource depletion and environmental damage, and China is a hell of a lot more likely to produce these than any western country. And if you don’t, kindly confirm for me that you are living in a yurt empty of any mod cons that is five minutes from you work, and typing your comments on a bicycle-powered computer that you made yourself out of papier-mache and recycled yogurt cartons.
China’s debt problem is real: it cannot be overlooked by the fact the Western media use sensationalist headlines like “China’s debt bomb”. It is a debt bomb: posited on limitless future expansion …except we live in a very much limited and resource finite world. Steve Keen has all the statistics on one of his sites (Debtwatch?). He has also identified China as most likely to have a ‘Minsky Moment’ when debt inertia overcomes the ability, not to repay, but even to service that debt. You can see indications of the likelihood of that, if you look, such as the recent bank seizure of the Baoshang Bank.
Those debts can never be repaid, as Michael Hudson for one will testify. China has been hiding the magnitude of the problem by keeping much of it ‘off-book’: 253tn CNY (around $37tn I believe) or 109% of on-sheet balances. Most of this is from the over-development and public works projects the used to build their way out of the GFC. Money raised as Local Government Finance Vehicles: bonds bought from the China Development Bank. The data came from the PBOC’s own Financial Stability Report 2017. Nothing had improved by 2018.
China’s debt is double: and creative accounting, ever more exotic financing, and ‘easing’ (creating debt to pay debt) has been hiding this for a decade. Jack Rasmus devotes a whole chapter in “Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy” detailing the juggling of China’s “triple bubble machine” if you are interested in the nitty gritty.
Debts matter: unless you are an Neo-Classical economist. Infinite expansion of balance sheets is a capitalist imaginary. Monetising debt to service debt is unsustainable. Then there is entropy and resource depletion to account for. The marginal cost of energy rises (measured as EROI) and the amount of energy left for living and economic activity (exergy) decreases: becoming a hidden drag on the economy – especially a primary resource hungry economy like China’s.
I could go on: but the phenomena are global. Personally, I’d rather look at the World System Ecology: but people keep putting China forward as some sort of capitalist exemplary. Others even portray China as a model of an Ecological Civilisation: which shows zero knowledge of ecology. China is not only part of the global economy: it is the economic engine. So much guff is written comparing China and America: when even a small portion of economic research shows that their economies are integral: right down to the CNY/USD unnoficial peg they say they do not use. Which fools absolutely no one.
I won’t go into detail: but the world ecology is in overshoot – to an amount of 1.7 of its bio-capacity. Which at a 3% growth rate (a statistic David Harvey uses) capitalism requires a 23 year doubling, and a 46 year doubling of the doubling. I’m saying all this to put my comment in some sort of a real world context: which exposes the fantasy imaginary of all this infinite expansion nonsense.
Debt and debt deflation are real. Entropy is real. Pollution is real (I notice you highlight the clean air only in cities). Waste is real. Resource depletion is real. Species extinction is real. The evidence is mounting, way past the incontrovertible conclusion we are killing the planet …murder by debt money. Yet the common imaginary is that we will build, invent, and resource intensively continue to economically expand forever …doubling the doubling of the doubling without limits. And if we don’t: the accumulated debt deflation will cause an economic collapse …from which we will have to ease the easing: and drop the interest rates below zero (going cashless) to ‘recover’ for another decade or so of ecological cannibalism. Then where will we be?
It may seem good while it lasts: but when we engage in moral relativism – human life for imaginary prosperity and pseudo-progress …what happens to our humanity? China and India are among the oldest of civilisations who, not without problems (the Indian Caste system for instance) lived in ecological equilibrium from the Bronze Age …to almost present, in China’s case. Long before Western surplus capital colonised the pre-capitalist ways of life with desire-dreams of ‘progress’. I have no rose coloured specs to call this utopic: but I do seriously question how far do we think we have come? Celebrating greed: which is in fact debt, resource depletion, planetary wide waste and pollution, species extinction, expolitation, alienation, and dehumanisation …seems unnecessary to me. The real telos of all this debt deflationary expansion is collapse. Then we will find the true value of everything; including consciousness. Which, by the way: the Indians and Chinese knew for 4,000 years – before they decided to ‘progress’ into unrepayable debt funded ‘prosperity’. For how much longer?
Excellent post Big B, spot-on.
Excellent post Frank, considering you didn’t understand a word of what he was talking about…
David, so catty of you!
I do fully understand what Big B is writing about in both his/her posts. I won’t go into my background and current professional role, suffice to say, I’m more than experienced and qualified to be able to have a reasonable dialogue with Big B on most of their points.
Love and kisses,
Who does China owe the money to BigB?
Its own people. It doesn’t borrow $4 billion a day from the rest of the planet like Uncle Sam, the biggest leech and parasite in history. Uncle Sam is the Daddy Parasite and Panhandler.
If China only owes money to itself: why are they experiencing a dollar shortage? And why have they seized the Baoshang Bank?
To my knowledge: they have yet to forgive any debt: ever. They rollover, restructure, reshuffle. Read Dr Rasmus: he goes into full depth.
It is way to late here to get into how the integrated global economy really works: but there are no isolated countries dealing within hermetically sealed nation state boundaries in local currencies. Nearly all international trade – and China exports – is mediated through the trans-national eurodollar markets – offshore. China owes and is owed – the whole system has to keep servicing its debt …or interbank lending – mediated in euro$ – collapses.
This is what happened in 2007. China bailed out the world economy – but it cost them. Why do you think they ended up with 3.2tn USTs? Forget the so-called trade war – the USD and CNY are intertwined by the euro$ …the world reserve currency. Both share the same fate. The UK – via the HSBC – is unusually heavily exposed. As are South America, Australia, Asia Pacific. Moral hazard affects all countries to a degree.
Forget the CNY as a local currency: it is integrated into the systemically fragile global economy. China has the resources to firefight with easing indefinitely: but that is not how it works. They can pull the Baoshang and administer it – like Bear Stearns – but they cannot control what is occurring elsewhere. Taleb’s Black Swan is swimming in full view. Some little tinpot mining company in Botswana folds: it causes contagion in Chile, Gabon, Virgin Isles, Iceland, pretty soon the offshore markets implode and the TBTFs and SIFIs get pulled in …that’s how it works.
That’s what happened in 2007. That’s why banks in countries that never sold a securitised mortgage have to be bailed out in USDs. That is what is reduxing now.
Only a fool would put any timescale to it. Only a bigger fool would want it to prove a point. But, only the biggest fool of all would deny it. Debts matter.
Thanks for this informative and revealing article.I remember very well the Tiananmen protests and the reporting about it here in Germany.When I was a school boy we discussed extensively the culture revolution and the red guards in school.Some of the young teachers were quite sympathetic to the Red Guards and Mao’s “Reich”.Those were the days.
Good article with right quetions and aswers.
China is still a communist country. It started a revolution with Mao and it is still ongoing.
We cannot simplify the purposes for this country, what some would wish.
We live, as General de Gaulle told, in a multipolar world. We have to live with it, trying to find harmony. Most of the people today in China are happy, you hear them laugh, if you visit the country.
We may not focus on Huawei alone or Tian’anmen, but we have to see and hear on the contrary all about their culture, which is actually exploding and this not relayed in the West (It can mean US with Europe), dominated by the few cultural multinationals (Guess in the hands of who, and for them their power is yetbig enough.) This brings to the West a completely distorted view of what China is, obliterated by powerfull, permanent, should we write, brainwashing flickerring screens, with their abusive advertisements, even in China today.
There is a book, free to dowwnload, called “War with China”, from the Rand Corporation, with a very shilling advice, to have a preemtive strike with nukes on China. I won’t write why, but you can find the reasons, for me, of their monstruous advice, in that book. It explains clearly the behavior of some politicals today.
We live on a very tight rope, if we do not share and exhange our differences and accept to live with it to make it better, some are ready, as written in the book, to launch preemptive nukes, and let us not use euphemistic words, for what is in fact really, a blitzkrieg. It can start again.
The Chinese – should they be talked of as a single homogenous group? Bit racist, no? – are on the move with their disposable incomes.
I know not of any starvation and lack of access to basics in that continental country.
They escaped the Sasoon yoke of forced opium consumption – which the drug dealing overlords have not given up hope of regaining.
I have seen with my own eyes, the Chinese evolve into the likes of British package tourist locusts of the costa’s of the 70’s – 00’s. Not much difference – they don’t bother learning the local languages; they like to eat what they have at home; they take selfies; they pollute and destroy, uncaringly, because they worked hard and deserve to have fun they paid for when booking the package tour in China – they don’t care that most of their money never goes to the localities they despoil – exactly like our traditional Brits are famous for!
Indians don’t move in the same manner of plane and coach loads, yet. There is certainly more inequality there than China, look at the suicide rates. They too will descend upon vacation spots in droves as their disposable incomes increase – at least most of them can speak lingua franca!
Ultimately it will be Africans who will inherit the tourist kingdoms by virtue of being the most populace continent and largest group of Humans. Forming the largest ‘middle classes’.
Little Englanders, with our castles and cor blimey gov act, will be lining up to serve them all their national dishes, speak to them in their own languages and hope to marry into money to escape from the existence of servitude that we are being groomed into – these cookery / talent / sexual predation, TV shows are the grooming.
As Hunt, the Complete and Utter C…, moves out of the shadows as the lead string puller, and crowns himself PM to put the final nails into the coffin of the NHS as a free public service (burying it alive, mwahahaha) and delivers the people out of a shared commitment to rights and regulations with our closest neighbours and relations, and time travels the country back to the good old days of Upstairs/Downstairs, Downton Abbey, Aristocracy worshipping, that was seemingly put behind us at the end of WWII, by that glorious clear eyed Labour social democratic government.
History repeats because WE LET IT.
Stop the rot here at home.
Throw back the Aristos resurgence.
Prepare to meet the blows as they deploy overwhelming force to force us back a hundred years!
There is only one party which is offering a manifesto as clear and great as that 1945 one.
That is the real message of this 75th anniversary that is being wilfully ignored and re-imagined.
Downton Abbey would actually be an improvement on what we’ve got now. There was less inequality then than there is now. You have to go back to the mid 19th century when Charles Dickens was doing his stuff for a time when there was more inequality. Welcome to the New Feudalism.
So true. I admit I bought into all that Tiananmen stuff 30 years ago, but I have definitely seen the light since then.
Funny, the US is now the country saddled with the problem of all these ‘radicalized students’ outing people and pushing political correctness. I wonder what older Chinese people would think of that!
Do you think the USA would be a better society if “political correctness” were to be abandoned? What of the past do you wish were still present? The KKK, Jim Crow laws, gross sexual inequality, marital rape permitted…?
Couldn’t be any worse than Globo Homo, brainwashing 4 year olds with trannie shit, cross dressing days for primary school kids, abortion holocausts, millions of rapefugees and gimmegrants, gimmegrant No Go areas, mass gang rapes, muzzie paedo rape gangs in every crappy little town, sharia law, law and order a joke,paedophilia, incest and bestiality in the pipeline, with blanket snooping and surveillance from the 30 shekel whores organising it all, just in case anyone objects.
Sounds good, man.
Is this what passes for debate on this site? I think I much prefer The Guardian. Your comment is riddled with racism.
Have the Japs ever apologised for the ‘Rape of Nanjing’?
At least it was Chinese killing Chinese…
The students were told to clear the square- they had time, but thought
Western eyes would save them(!)…
”At least it was Chinese killing Chinese..”
But who paid them to revolt?
Did you mean to say, they thought Five Eyes would save them? After all it is clear that their vultures would be the ones to pick over the carcass in the event of a ‘revolution.’
The CIA/MI6 have been lying through their teeth and fomenting trouble ever since and are determined to have control of Chinese, and Russian resources.
See: Japan/Iraq/Libya/Ukraine/Somalia/Lebanon/Yemen/Syria to name but a few, and are desperate for Venezuela.
It seems that British hypocrisy knows no bounds. Take the Indian (or Sepoy) mutiny of 1857-58. The methods to put down the uprising resulted in the deaths of 1 in 7 of 40,000 European living in India, but this figure was dwarfed by up to 800,000 (rpt 800,000) Indian deaths during the rebellion and the famine that followed.
Furthermore the British continued this imperial slaughter in Afghanistan with three unsuccessful wars, China, the opium wars, Egypt, where the bombardment of Alexandria carried out by British and French warships led to the deaths of 2000 killed and wounded hapless Egyptians, Southern Africa and the Zulu Wars to be followed by the wars against the Dutch settlers, the Boers, where concentration camps were invented.
During the 20th century wars in Palestine to put down an arab rebellion in the late 30s, In India, Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus, with the usual horror stories, the latter group in the 1950s I remember as a kid. But that was okay these ‘people’ were just ‘niggers, coons’ and wogs’ so the atrocities involved in the ‘White Man’s Burden’ was apparently acceptable. Oh, and I almost forgot, Ireland, still a festering sore to this day.
Yep, no-one does hypocrisy better than the Brits. They could justifiably claim to have invented it.
If there were gold medals for hypocrisy, Britain would have a chest full of them.
What amazes me is that when you go to Africa or India, they still really like British people.
In the mid 17th century, Ireland had a population of 1.5 million. 500,000 were killed and another 400,000 were enslaved and freighted off to the West Indian plantations, herded like cattle, chained and branded.
Maybe it wasn’t quite so racist. There was an element of equal opportunity in British slaughter and enslavement.
In my experience that is true. I had a Bengali friend who moved to London and spoke of his homeland with contempt. Why? I was unable to plumb the depths of his attitude.
When I was in India and Africa, people would sometimes ask for a photograph. I’d say sure, give me the camera and stand there. They’d say no, we want to take a photo with you, we want a photo with a white person. Women in particular would tell me they wished they had white or light skins, though their skin was smooth and silky and very attractive. Some of them used those stupid bleaching creams.
Mohammed Marandi made some interesting points in a lecture he gave. He pointed out that from the 18th to 2oth centuries, western travellers in Turkey/ Persia/ Arabia/ North Africa noted that at that time those places had a far more tolerant attitude towards homosexuality than European countries, where it was criminalised and suppressed. And that women in those places dressed in a far more revealing way than in Europe, where women covered everything except their faces. These were both taken as evidence of western cultural superiority, that “we’re superior to these filthy foreigners.”
Now the positions are reversed. Western countries are far more tolerant of homosexuality, and western women dress far less modestly. These things are now taken as evidence of western superiority. Whatever is the norm in the west at the time is automatically assumed to be superior.
It was the same with colour. When the Spaniards first arrived in Central America, they found the copper colouring of the inhabitants attractive, and commented favourably upon it. At the same time, the Natives found the paler colouring of the Spaniards unattractive, though they would have had a relatively dark Mediterranean complexion. Probably a case of cultural imperialism over a long period.
Very interesting and informative view of the Chinese Cultural Revolution can be found at this link:
For the complete series of articles, go to the bottom, where all the links can be found.
I’ve read some of Ramin’s work on the Cultural Revolution, and with the best will in the world I think it needs to be taken with a huge pinch of salt. I’m not going to challenge his statistical claims because I haven’t checked his numbers or sources, but some of them appear, frankly, outlandish.
I have no doubt that China continued to make progress during the Cultural Revolution, but the suggestion that this was because of, rather than in spite of the Cultural Revolution is an enormous leap of “co-existence = causation” faith.
The Cultural Revolution was an ideological crusade. One of the specific things it did was to target the most industrious and hardest-working party officials and purge them as “capitalist roaders” because they were too concerned with the material wellbeing of the locals and not concerned enough with ideological purity. I’m not sure how it managed to do that while achieving massive and unprecedented gains in output and productivity.
I’ve edited several memoirs by “urban youth” who were sent out to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution (one of whom I know personally), and a book containing dozens of interviews with urban youth and rural peasants, and they all tell the same story. The farther you went out into the rural areas (where Ramin believes the Cultural Revolution achieved its greatest successes), the less it had any relevance, because when you had to spend your whole day toiling in the fields just to put together enough food to survive, then it didn’t really matter what the big character posters on the streets of Beijing were demanding. Nobody had the time or energy to organise or participate in six-hour meetings devoted to denouncing “rightist tendencies”, purging “capitalist roaders”, and forcing miscreants to engage in bouts of “self-criticism”. And there just weren’t enough zealots in the country to uncover and punish all the “backsliders”. So you just kind of got on with things, and ignored it.
I have also interviewed a large number of people whose formative years were spent in urban areas during the Cultural Revolution. None of them noticed any of the great things the Cultural Revolution is supposed to have achieved around their localities either.
Thanks for your input. Coming from someone who has a lot more intimate knowledge of what the CR was all about than I do, I’ll take your advice.
Nice to see it is your turn in the never great again kingdom to be the arse bitch of the US.! Bravo peeps.!
Want to have a laugh.? Consider the risible charges made against Huawei by the big sherrif you are currently gagging on. Do it…you know you love…
I simply don’t know enough about what happened at Tian’anmen to comment on the radical bourgeois student thing, but I do know that the cultural revolution was much more than that and I for one am disappointed that rightist elements came back and took control after Mao’s death simply because now the PRC has some similar issues with a wealth gap, environmental degradation and access to healthcare being income dependent as the western societies many of us find wanting.
For me the most interesting issue about all this current beat up is: “Who decided that 30 was going to be a big one?” I don’t remember 25 which is normally considered some type of ‘milestone’ passing without an nth of this carry-on.
Just about every organ of western media has clambered aboard the Tian’anmen was a massacre debacle, the stories are now much more exaggerated than they were at the time. Now were are told ‘thousands were murdered’ yet I have no recollection of much more than tankman pix and the allegations that a handful of people got crushed.
For some reason the west has decided to declare war on China when 12 months ago all was pretty copacetic, american imperialists ranted about PRC having the gall to navigate their navy through the South China sea and the orangutan was spouting about a ‘trade imbalance’ but generally copping short shrift for it from the neolib media outlets.
I have my own theories especially in view of the demonisation of the corporation which has done more to ensure the less industrialized parts of this planet can also easily access tech, Huawei. The thing that Huawei does which most earns my respect is their ability to roll out leading edge tech, the result of their big investment in R&D, for a fraction of the price american gadgets made by apple or even korean samsungs. Initially they were just offering the same for a lesser price but now Huawei is producing a superior product for much less than their competitors it seems that they have been declared total pariahs.
To me this is the motive behind this Tian’anmen hysteria, it is going to get much worse as Trump/Pelosi et al seem to be in agreement that FB, Google and Apple haven’t gone far enough in their blacklisting of Huawei as the sleazy graun is running a story today that Apple, Facebook and Google are all to be hit with anti-trust investigations.
It looks like the zionists at FB are likely to only cop a light going over from the Federal Trade Commission, but the goys at Google and Apple are gonna cop the full beatdown from the Justice Department. Interesting differentiation, what?
I mean we all know these are the worst sort of monopolies so the act in itself isn’t a surprise but the timing – right when Huawei is being hit in the name of aiding american enterprises such as these three is a bit of a shock.
They have been threatened with this before, but a deus ex machina, the old ‘hand of god’ has always & mysteriously protected them in the past. Will it do so now? Will it be after Huawei is completely cut off from all of these corporations ‘apps’? We shall see.
I guess the purpose of all the China hate is to encourage people to merely shrug their shoulders with a “well you get that” when a couple of months after they cut Huawei off at the knees, investigation of all three corps just peters out.
Big picture from a human who was appalled at the way virtually every manufacturing job was exported from so called western economies to China, Vietnam, Indonesia et al resulting in an obscene concentration of pollution in one spot along with mass unemployment elsewhere. If the manufacturing ‘comes home’ does anyone really imagine it will be to the same environmental standards and employment conditions as before?
Have we all cried uncle, so now the benevolent billionaires are gonna kiss and make up just like before?
Hmm, I think not.
What I’m really worried about is that China, the Philippines, Malaysia and West Africa are going to send back to us all the garbage we’ve exported there, Duterte style.
” the Cultural Revolution – a decade-long horror that destroyed thousands of lives and threatened the very existence of the country.”
That’s the received wisdom of elites in China and abroad, but does not accord with Chinese public sentiment or memory. Had that judgement contained any truth we would not see 10,000,000 people visiting Mao’s birthplace each year.
Mao initiated the Cultural Revolution for the reasons he gave to the Central Committee and with which they agreed. The Cultural Revolution was not a one-man show; it required the entire government to approve of it, even though many had reservations.
Mao initiated the Cultural Revolution to emancipate 400,000,000 voiceless peasants whose social status had not changed in 3,000 years and was still unchanged 16 years after the Communists took power. He was dismayed by the rising tendency among the Communist Party official ranks to live a life of privileges once the Communist Party came to power in 1949. As soon as the Communist Party came to power, Chairman Mao launched numerous political campaigns to fight tendencies toward official corruption within the Communist Party. He ordered the execution of high officials like Zhang Zishan and Liu Qingshan, in order to send a signal to his former comrades. But these political campaigns and executions were not effective enough in fighting the tendency toward official corruption.
The Cultural Revolution succeeded in emancipating those 400,000,000 voiceless peasants and was the only popular revolution of the 1960s to succeed in all its goals.
I think you’re looking at the Cultural Revolution through very rose-tinted spectacles. When you say that the Cultural Revolution “succeeded in emancipating 400 million voiceless peasants”, what exactly do you mean by “emancipating”, and why do you think that was important? They needed decent tools, equipment, utilities, roads and housing, and modern crops and farming techniques, and I’m not sure the Cultural Revolution was too concerned with any of that.
I’ve investigated it pretty thoroughly and concluded that we’ve only heard the opinions of the elites who were (temporarily) disadvantaged by it.
By 1966, the Communist Party had been in power for sixteen years but, behind its successes lurked a guilty secret: eighty percent of rural Chinese remained semi-destitute, illiterate, without access to basic needs, education or medical care. The Revolution had changed little beyond ownership of their tiny plots, which remained subject to the vicissitudes of weather and fortune. As Chungwu Kung observed, “China was a people’s democratic dictatorship in theory only; in practice, political and cultural power was held by scholarly and bureaucratic intellectuals who commanded vast influence and prestige”.
Mao proposed giving five hundred million peasants equality, democracy, justice and dignity. He would direct their frustration ‘outward, through the force of ideology expressed in a political slogan, breaking the shackles of repression through study and converting their thought into creative action’.
You can read a brief summary of what happened here: http://www.unz.com/article/the-great-proletarian-cultural-revolution/
But I really recommend reading a full account written by one of the liberated peasants, now an American Professor, Donping Han, in his book (available from Amazon) The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village.
As to ‘They needed decent tools, equipment, utilities, roads and housing, and modern crops and farming techniques, and I’m not sure the Cultural Revolution was too concerned with any of that’?
Said famous plant geneticist and father of the Green Revolution, Sterling Wortman, who led a visiting American delegation, “The rice crop is really first rate. There was just field after field that was as good as anything you can see. They’re all being brought up to the level of skills of the best people. They all share the available inputs.” American agronomist and Nobel Laureate Norman Borlaug added, “You had to look hard to find a bad field. Everything was green and nice everywhere we traveled. I felt the progress had been much more remarkable than I expected.”
Wortman’s Green Revolution was then crushing world grain prices, destroying millions of the developing world’s farms, ruining the farmers and their communities, causing millions of suicides and creating vast shanty towns of rural immigrants that persist to this day. Mao compared this to the USSR’s centralized industrialization which, because it had located gigantic cement and fertilizer plants in cities, was forced to build expensive highways to deliver their products to the country. China, he insisted, would build small plants locally, save money and create local jobs and teams of peasants, workers and technicians created thousands of chemical fertilizer plants and farm machinery factories where, without leaving their communities, they learned industrial skills. Nicholas Lardy explains, “Socialism eliminates the barrier of private ownership. Innovations and knowledge become social property. One task of the planning system in China was exactly to socialize such knowledge.” Industrial output rose fifty-eight percent (far outpacing Germany’s thirty-three percent and Japan’s forty-four percent growth during their takeoffs) and social morality–almost destroyed in the century of chaos and starvation–improved.
 New York Times, September 24, 1974
So your evidence for the enduring popularity of the Great Cultural Revolution is that a large number of Chinese people visit Mao’s tomb each year? Really? Mao’s leadership of the Communist Party spanned well over 40 years and he’s known for many achievements; but you think he’s popular merely because of a ten-year period that occurred towards the end of his tenure? That’d be like explaining the enduring popularity of George Washington in the US as a nostalgia for slavery. (Come to think of it, some of our own ‘radical students’ would now do just that!)
No, you can read my evidence in my reply to Stonky, below.
The Australian Brainwash Cororation?
The ABC has had at least 5 Tiananmen Square articles in 3 days. None of them give any view of what happened other than the standard Western media one.
This is very true. If you looked at the demonstrators at the time, they were obviously impressionable young middle class fodder parroting the slogans they were fed by the National Endowment for Democracy, complete with a Statue of Liberty. This was just an attempt to destabilise China like Maidan or the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong that was stopped. Washington’s fingerprints were all over it. It was just another Colour Revolution. The demonstrators were treated with a lot of tolerance and restraint, but when they were cleared out of the Square another Ukraine, another Syria, was prevented. Some of the troops were brutally murdered by the “peaceful demonstrators.”
There is a long history of western instigated mayhem in China. Missionaries were allowed to operate freely in China. The result was the Taiping Rebellion of the mid 19th century, with a minimum of 20 million deaths. A Chinese man who was some kind of nutter converted to Christianity and declared himself to be the brother of Jesus Christ. The result was a terrible civil war that lasted for years and was only put down with great difficulty.
Thanks for this. The audacity of the propaganda at the moment strikes me as off the charts but every time I glance backwards I’m astonished by how ill-informed I’ve been. It shouldn’t surprise me but still does.
I found this article astonishing:
Any thoughts on its validity would be useful. I asked the same of a Chinese-American podcaster Carl Zha and he recommended a documentary here:
Any comments on either would be welcome.
I’m not so sure ‘radical, idealistic students’ brought about the end of the Soviet Union. That state collapsed because of its unsuccessful attempt to keep up with a western-imposed arms race, and because of its own internal contradictions.
The Tienanmen Square crackdown was one of countless crimes against humanity that besmirched the twentieth century.
That said, western double-standards are on conspicuous display. The Australian prime minister at the time shed tears over Tienanmen, but had nothing to say about Indonesia’s brutal occupation of East Timor – Australia’s world war II ally – which resulted in the death of an estimated 200,000 civilians.
To be accurate, not all the 200,000 dead East Timorese were civilians. Some were involved in armed resistance, which they were entitled to be under international law.
What happened in China paled into insignificance compared to the routine slaughter and brutality in Gaza.
Agreed, Mark. That’s where western double-standards are again in evidence.
I much respect the Chinese people and their achievements. Surely the progressive approach to human rights is to insist on human rights for ALL peoples, regardless of which countries they live in.
That’s right. It’s clear that China is authoritarian, with one party rule and problems of inequality and corruption. But like Russia, whenever China has been weak, it has been preyed upon by foreign powers and the country has fallen apart, and millions and tens of millions have died. When it has had a strong central government, it has been stable and prosperous.
It’s quite legitimate to criticise these shortcomings, so long as the motivation is genuine. Human rights are weaponised by people who have no problems at all in supplying tens of billions of arms to the Saudi and Zionist regimes.
See my post above about the Pew polls. Which country is democratic and which is authoritarian? When did you last get a vote on whether your country goes to war?
Mark: my reply (agreeing with you) simply disappeared from this page. I try again.
I respect China and the achievements of her people. My point is simply that human rights are indivisible and should apply to all peoples, everywhere.
I didn’t intend in any way to suggest that they did (although it seems I may not have been clear). That wasn’t the point of the analogies with the Soviet Union and Russia. The point of these analogies was to suggest what might have happened in the aftermath of a glorious colour revolution in China – that it probably wouldn’t have been all sunny uplands and milk and honey.
The MIC lusts, salivates and ‘creates’ enemies.
Hordes of them.
“Look!! The bad guys are over there!”
No. The bad guys wear suits and plot in corporate towers.