Time for Consolidation (i.e., I’m still posting, but not *here*)

Parting is “such sweet sorrow;” luckily I’m not actually doing that.

However, as you, dear reader, have probably noticed, I’m not very good at maintaining several blogs at once these days. For that reason, I have decided to consolidate my posting to the Bearing Drift blog (where I’ve been posting since 2010 or so). Therefore, for the foreseeable future (i.e., until something remarkably unexpected happens to BD), I will no longer be posting here.

Still, the things that drove me to start this blog so many years ago will still have me posting over there…so feel free to follow me over.

CCP tries Iranian election dodge in Hong Kong, gets its own Green Revolution instead

It must have seemed so simple.

As the world was transfixed on Islamic State, the Chinesw Communist Party could pull its long expected dodge on the people of Hong Kong. Universal suffrage would be granted as promised, but when it came to the city’s Chief Executive (i.e., Mayor), only candidates vetted by Zhongnanhai would be allowed to run. It was a scheme the mullahs if Iran have used for years, so there was no reason their chief ally and benefactor couldn’t borrow it.

There was just one problem: Iranians caught on to the scheme and took to the streets in 2009. Somehow, the CCP missed that part, but the people of Hong Kong didn’t. The city is still at a standstill as I write, although the Comnunist-run city police are beefing up for a crackdown (Taipei Times).

There is so much to say about the bravery of ordinary Hong Kong citizens, and the utter uselessness of the leaders of the democratic world who have chosen to all but ignore them. One thing should be clear, however: democracy – long a battered and bruised concept to the modern elite – is still pretty popular. Conventional Wisdom has held for decades that the CCP figured out how to do authoritarianism right, and that the money-mad people of HK would go along eagerly. Instead, the city has been a constant political headache for the regime – and has even inspired much quieter Macau to speak up for itself.

As for the CCP, they’re in a tricky spot. Sure, a crackdown would probably be enough to keep the people quiet (for now), but Taiwan – long the real prize for the regime – holds its own presidential election in less than 18 months. The pro-independence, anti-Communist Democrat Progressive Party (full disclosure: my endorsee for the last three presidential votes), is already in good political position. The more blood on the streets of HK, the more votes for the DPP.

Finally, I must address the near complete silence in the democratic world. It’s painful to watch, albeit not a surprise.

As for conclusions, it is too early to draw any. We can only hope that out fears will not be confirmed, but we must prepare for them, and remember that this is what tyrants do, and it’s why we should do our utmost to help the peoples they oppress get rid of them.

As the world watches Ukraine…

…the Chinese Communist Party is trying to apply lessons, which is not good for the democratic world.

Already the CCP is trying “salami-slicing tactics” (Gordon Chang, Gatestone Institute) against the Philippines, seizing control of Scarborough Shoal and trying to squeeze their democratic neighbor and rival out of Second Thomas Shoal. As Chang himself ruefully notes:

Washington, not wanting to antagonize Beijing and hoping to avoid a confrontation, did nothing to stop the Chinese taking over the shoal despite our mutual defense treaty with Manila.

As Chang notes, the Philippines don’t have the luxury of “hoping to avoid a confrontation.” Their ability to hang on to Second Thomas has been creative (Denis Halpin, Weekly Standard), but that doesn’t justify the silence in our nation’s capital. Halpin is convinced this is in no small part due to the Administration’s weakness in Ukraine, and notes that the consequences could be terrible.

Beijing could also draw a dangerous lesson from the chopping up of Ukraine under the excuse of unifying ethnic Russian peoples. It has long advocated its own ethnic Chinese revanchism with regard to Taiwan. With Taiwanese experts estimating that the PLA has more than 1,600 missiles targeting the island, any calculation of a lack of American resolve could possibly encourage further adventurism in East Asia.

Still, would the CCP really risk their growing economy and relative stability by starting a war?

Well, as Chang sees it, the economy is not what it seems…

Everyone knows China’s growth is slowing. Yet what is not obvious is that it is slowing so fast that the economy could fail.

The Chinese economy almost failed in June. There were extraordinary events that month including two waves of bank defaults. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country’s largest bank—the world’s largest bank—was obviously in distress: it even had to shut down its ATMs and online banking platforms to conserve cash. The Bank of China, the country’s third-largest lender, was also on the edge of default.

There was panic in China in June, but central government technocrats were able to rescue the economy by pouring even more state money into “ghost cities” and high-speed-rail-lines-to-nowhere.

Doing so created gross domestic product—economic output—but that was the last thing Beijing should have been doing at that—or this—moment. China, at every level of government, is funding all its construction with new debt. You think America has a debt problem; China’s is worse.

As one economist told us recently, every province in China is a Greece.

China, after the biggest boom in history, is heading into what could end up as the biggest debt crisis in history. This is not a coincidence.

…and neither is the stability (from Chang’s World Affairs Journal Blog)…

Chinese leader Xi Jinping in fact says no one is immune from his corruption probes and that he is going after both “tigers” and “flies,” party lingo for officials high and low. Few in China actually believe that Xi is trying to rid China of that evil, however. After all, the Communist Party has become completely infested, and the president appears to be targeting only political adversaries, such as the infamous Zhou Yongkang, the former security czar, using “corruption” as an excuse.

Yet Xi’s purges are wide-ranging, touching hundreds of officials, and they have gone so far that former leaders Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao are now asking him to slow the effort, in part because he is threatening their extensive patronage networks and also because his investigations could shake the foundations of the party itself.

At this moment, it looks like fear pervades Chinese officialdom, and that some officials are choosing the easy way out by taking their own lives. As the purges continue, we can expect more unnatural deaths—and perhaps even political instability.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s anti-Communists are growing more assertive (Taipei Times and Chang), which could slow down or even kill Ma Ying-jeou’s cross-straits services trade agreement with the CCP.

In short, the CCP’s democratic neighbors are asserting themselves…while Zhongnanhai watches an angry Vladimir Putin threaten, chop up, and intimidate Ukraine…without serious repercussions.

For what it’s worth, I have presented some recommendations for action regarding Ukraine. I still consider them vaild…if anything, even more so now.

The anti-Communist majority in Taiwan speaks up

While the rest of the world has been preoccupied with the Crimean coup (and not without some justification), politics in Taiwan has taken a critical turn, one that shouldn’t be ignored.

For nearly six decades since Chiang Kai-shek sought refuge on the island in 1949, Taiwan’s leaders have been strongly anti-Communist. After the Chiang family’s reign ended in 1988, President Lee Teng-hui democratized the islands (Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu), including winning a mandate from the voters for his final four-year-term in 1996. Lee’s anti-Communism was never questioned, and the voters maintained that by electing Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party to succeed him.

In 2008, Ma Ying-jeou was elected on the Kuomintang banner (Chiang and Lee’s party – although Lee left to form the anti-Communist Taiwan Solidarity Union), ostensibly as a fellow anti-Communist. However, after his re-election in 2012, Ma signed a cross-straits trade agreement on services with the Chinese Communist Party. It is an agreement that has led to great concern among many Taiwanese about CCP influence in Taiwan’s economy.

This is where things went off the rails.

Ma’s allies in the legislature appeared to turn back on their agreement to conduct a detailed review of the pact (among its many problems, it might run afoul of the World Trade Organization agreement – Taipei Times). In response, a group of anti-Communist students seized control of the legislature, and ground all business to a halt.

For those manning the protest (and the half-million who supported them over the weekend – Taipei Times), it is a shining moment in popular democracy. I’m guessing the Kuomintang backers see it more as a lawless mob.

For us in “the west” – who are more used to legislatures acting without large protests shutting them down – it may all seem a bit confusing. It shouldn’t be.

The key fact is this: Taiwan’s voters have never openly selected a pro-CCP candidate. Ma was widely perceived as a strong anti-Communist in 2008, and he had yet to really shed that image in 2012. Those of us inside and outside Taiwan who simply stopped trusting Kuomintang as a matter of principle had a hard time convincing the voters (I include myself because I have long supported the DPP).

Unfortunately, we are being proven right, and the Taiwanese people have clearly decided enough is enough.

Ma has no political mandate for the services deal with the CCP. He should recognize that and withdraw it from the legislature.

News of the Day: 13 March 2014

Top Story – Taiwanese still leery of cross-strait services trade with Communist China: As the island democracy’s legislature continued its hectic review of thew services trade agreement with Communist China signed by President Ma Ying-jeou (Taipei Times), a poll by Taiwan Indicator Survey Research found that less than a third of Taiwanese support the deal. Forty-four percent opposed it (Taipei Times).

Remember when the Chinese Communists said they would phase out organ harvesting? Because they don’t: In fact, Huang Jiefu – the Communists’ current organ donation chief – wants more organs from executed prisoners (Epoch Times).

Arrests made in attack on anti-Communist Hong Kong journalist: Kevin Lau, who was editor at Ming Pao until he was fired in January, was attacked by thugs last month. Both misfortunes are presumed to be for his hard-hitting articles criticizing Communist rule (Gordon Chang). Nine arrests were made, but it is generally believed those who ordered the attack were not among them (Epoch Times).

Has Communist China had it with their Korean Viceroy? Gordon Chang seems to think it is a possibility. What is certain, however, is that Chang himself has had enough.

News of the Week: 3-10 December 2013

Top Story: South Korea and Japan push back against Communist Chinese “air defense zone”, rest of the world more skittish: As Japan ” called on the international community to oppose China’s recently declared maritime air defense zone” (Taipei Times), South Korea did them one better and expanded its own ADIZ (air defense identification zone) to include area claimed by the Chinese Communist Party (Taipei Times). The CCP’s zone includes the air over Japan’s Senkaku Islands, which the CCP claims as its own despite having never set foot there.

Meanwhile, Washington seems to be talking about of both sides of its mouth (NRO – The Corner, Weekly Standard). Even worse, Taiwan’s government, which made its name cozying up to the CCP, is refusing to back up Tokyo and Seoul (Taipei Times), but on the plus side, the people of Taiwan are much more ready to stand up to Zhongnanhai (Taipei Times).

More Taiwan news: Under pressure from the anti-Communist opposition, Taiwan’s government is considering a crackdown on civil servants studying in Communist China – which is illegal (Taipei Times). The opposition also called for the cross-straits-service treaty with the CCP to be torn up (Taipei Times).

British Prime Minister visits Communist China, meets scorn both there and at home: David Cameron’s attempt to present his country as a suitable place for Communist Chinese investment brought derision from his fellow Britons (Conservative HomeSpectator Coffee House)…and his hosts (Coffee House).

Communist crackdown on free press extends to Bloomberg and New York TimesThe American media companies for “investigative stories on wealth accumulated by leaders’ families” (Epoch Times). After all, we can’t have anyone know how much of stolen wealth the cadres have squirreled away (Epoch Times).

CCTV reporter forced out after criticizing censorship: Wang Qinglei was driven out of China Central Television (CCTV – the Communists’ TV propaganda arm) because he disagreed with the networks attack on anti-Communist bloggers. He made his feelings known on his own blog. The post was wiped out the next day (Epoch Times).

Remember when the CCP said they’d get rid of organ harvesting? Well, it’s easy to do that if no one is holding you accountable and the data is secret (Epoch Times).

More Human Rights News: Five women speak to a congressional committee about life without their fathers, all of whom are political prisoners in Communist China (Epoch Times). Li Lanqing would like to be known as an artist, but those who know this bloodthirsty cadre’s victims have other plans (Epoch Times). Finally, Joshua Phillip (Epoch Times) examines the CCP’s web propaganda wing.

American food safety inspectors having trouble checking Communist Chinese exports: Among the games the cadres play are visa delays, access restrictions, and three-factory-monty (Epoch Times).

Regime;s new anti-corruption laws violated 20,000 times last year, and those are just the one to which the CCP will admit (Epoch Times).

Smog hits “nearly half of China”: At least that’s how it was reported in the Epoch Times. Still, the regime itself admitted that air levels were bad in over 100 cities on Sunday, another consequence of the regime’s massive overdevelopment that would never have occurred in a genuinely free market.

Hong Kong regime bungling so badly even Li Ka-Shing speaks out against it: As someone who has warily eyed the Hutchison Whampoa chief for years, I am growing increasingly shocked at Li’s subtle but unmistakable shift against the Communists’ Hong Kong crew (Epoch Times). While it appears that Li is playing factional politics within the CCP, rather than openly opposing the entire regime, it is a sign of how unpopular the city’s cadres have become. Of course, their response is to make it harder for people to complain (Epoch Times) while finding ways to back out of their promise of a fully democratic Hong Kong (Gordon Chang).

Korean colony working with Tehran on ICBM: It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the CCP’s oldest Middle East ally and its Korean colony are military partners, but it will anyway. Report: One Free Korea

Viceroy erases uncle from the record, revealing disarray: While there has been much speculation and concern over Kim Jong-un (a.k.a., the Viceroy) declaring his uncle persona non grata (Epoch Times, One Free Korea), things are actually much worse in the colony, to the point where “security forces (are) shooting each others’ officers” (One Free Korea). Sadly, the forced starvation, prison camps, and games with unpopular foreigners are still going strong (One Free Korea).

News of the Week: 28 November – 2 December 2013

Top Story – Japan and South Korea join US in defying Communist Chinese “air defense zone”, while Taiwan’s government wilts: America’s two most prominent allies in East Asia sent their own planes through the area claimed by Communist China as an “air defense and identification zone” (ADIZ) last week (Epoch Times and The Wall Street Journal). Sadly, the CCP-friendly government of Taiwan did not join in, choosing instead to call for talks on the matter (Taipei Times). Even worse, President Ma Ying-jeou himself seemed to accidentally affirm the CCP’s claim to the Senkaku Islands (controlled by Japan, claimed by the CCP and Taiwan, and at the heart of the ADIZ dispute) over the weekend (Taipei Times).

Communist Chinese censorship impacting foreign press: Bloomberg’s treatment of Michael Forsythe has media analysts talking, and sounding the alarm about Zhongnanhai’s efforts to censor foreign reporters (Epoch Times).

Other International News: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced the arrest of Qing Quentin Huang for “taking steps to supply classified information to China related to Canada’s shipbuilding procurement strategy” (CBC). British Prime Minister David Cameron visits Communist China, and the Telegraph presents differing views on the trip. South Korea is becoming a growing haven for CCP cadres’ money (Epoch Times).

Is the economy in Communist China headed for a cliff? There are quite a few data points showing such a future. The disastrous demographic effects of the Communists’ hideous “one child” policy are detailed in the Telegraph. Banks are tightening their loan issuing (Epoch Times). Then again, this shouldn’t be a surprise in a land run by a self-absorbed, corrupt, and brutal elite (Epoch Times).

CCP’s Korean Viceroy puts octagenarian American through a show trial: The arrest and trial of Merrill Newman, an 85-year-old tourist to the Korean colony from the United States, has led Gordon Chang to ponder the cruelty of the Viceroy, and Joshua Stanton (One Free Korea) to ponder why anyone would visit the colony in the first place.

News of the Day(s): 26-27 November 2013

Top Story – US defies Communist China’s Senkaku “Air Defense Zone” by flying B-52s right through it: In a show of defiance that was seen the world over, the American military responded to Communist China’s new “air defense zone” by flying two B-52s through the zone without doing any of the “requirements” demanded by the Communist Chinese regime (National Review Online – The Corner). The planes flew right over the Senkaku Islands, which Zhongnanhai included in the zone despite the fact that the islands are under Japanese control (BBC). Meanwhile, both Japan and South Korea castigated the Chinese Communist Party for the zone declaration (Epoch Times), but the CCP-friendly government on Taiwan knuckled under to the demands (Taipei Times), much to the opposition’s chagrin.

U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission recommends American naval buildup to counter Communist China: The recommendation came in the Commission’s latest report, which cast a wary eye toward the Communist regime’s naval and cyber-spying activities. Report: Epoch Times

Cadres moving money overseas as Xi Jinping’s “corruption” crackdown continues: The Communist party boos is taking his public fight against corruption to the military and the family of Li Changchun (Epoch Times), while those still outside his grasp are moving their money anywhere outside of the CCP’s reach (CNBC). However, as He Qinglian notes in the Epoch Times, Xi is doing all of this not to clean up the system, but to enforce greater control over it for himself. Thus, my Three Rules still apply.

Pipeline Explosion? What Pipeline Explosion? The CCP’s media control is once again in force, this time regarding a pipeline explosion is Qingdao (Epoch Times). Apparently the straitjacket is so tight that local reporters have come to call orders from Zhongnanhai to be “Directives from the Ministry of Truth.” Ouch.

Debate continues in Taiwan on cross-straits service agreement: Larger business have lined up in favor of the pact, while the pan-green Taiwan Solidarity Union (usual ally to the Democratic Progressives) continues to rail against it (Taipei Times).

News from the CCP’s Korean Colony: More women are turning to prostitution to stay alive – despite word of a decent harvest – while the Viceroy faces more sanctions…and plots new nonsense (One Free Korea).

News of the Weekend: 22-25 November 2013

Top Story – Communist China creates “air defense zone” above Senkaku Islands: The Japanese were none too happy with their islands being roped into the Chinese Communist regime’s zone (Japan Times). American officials also expressed alarm (Politico), as did Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party (Taipei Times). It should be noted (but, sadly, it’s not) that Zhongnanhai made this move as the rest of the world occupied by nuclear talks with the regime’s allies in Tehran. Also reporting: BBC, Epoch Times, Ricochet

Communist China turning the economic screws on Taiwan: The regime is pushing Taiwan to approve the cross-strait services agreement, despite it having been rushed before the true effect on Taiwan’s economy was known (Taipei Times).

News of the Week: 15-21 November 2013

Events are making blogging less frequent, but I will continue to post, perhaps more weekly than daily. That said, onward.

Top Story – “Made in China” now means “made for cyberattack”: Products made in Communist China “from kettles to laptops, from USB keys to cameras, and from consumer software right up to military components” (Epoch Times) are coming with installed cyber back-doors or surveillance devices. One cyber-security expert called it “a generation beyond what we’ve seen before.” On the IT side, the biggest culprits were Huawei and ZTE.

About those nuclear submarines…Admiral John Greenert is not very concerned about the Chinese Communist Party’s nuclear submarine fleet, noting several flaws and problems. Report: Epoch Times

Other American-Related News: Gordon Chang explains why America is so much more generous around the world than the CCP. One Free Korea discusses how the CCP and its Korean colony manipulate the foreign press.

CCP rearranges the chairs, with more power for Xi Jinping: The party boss will likely use the new State Security Committee to ” integrate the activities of the Party, military, judiciary, domestic security, and intelligence agencies” (Epoch Times). The Chinese people, of course, will still be powerless (Epoch Times, more Epoch Times).

Violent incidences on the rise in Communist China, a direct result of the regime’s refusal to allow peaceful decent, so believes Gordon Chang.

Former Hong Kong Jurist tells CCP to stay out of judicial rulings: Andrew Li called on the CCP to respect the rule of law. Something tells me they won’t be listening in Zhongnanhai. Report: Epoch Times

Communist press rips Chris Patten for talking about democracy in Hong Kong: Patten was the last British governor of the city, and the one who democratized it. The latter has infuriated the regime (Epoch Times).

Taiwan wants in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is getting frigates: Ex-Vice President began the lobbying effort for the island democracy to join the TPP (Taipei Times). Meanwhile, two Perry-class American frigates will be headed Taiwan’s way in 2015 (Taipei Times).