Like China in your hand

History doesn’t repeat itself but often rhymes…..

Here’s a little potted history lesson for those who are too young to remember:


Once upon a time, there was a large superpower that was, in many ways, the antithesis of what the western democracies stood for, or at least claimed to stand for. The west claimed to stand for values such as the rule of law, property rights, freedom of speech, restricted government powers, open and free elections, free men to be judged in a court of law by their peers, non-coerced contracts, etc.

The west and this superpower weren’t at a state of official war but interaction, particularly trade, was extremely limited. A company in the UK, for example, could import or export goods with this hostile superpower and its representatives could travel to and from its territory but there were caveats and restrictions to this.

At a minimum, the traveller would have a safety briefing. In some cases, the security services might give a briefing and require a post-trip debriefing to glean valuable information.

At the extreme, travellers might be wise to follow an informal form of “Moscow Rules”, even if they weren’t spooks themselves.

Why? Because the hostile superpower was a) hostile, and b) open in its disregard for those values we listed in the paragraph above. If you are visiting a country with a total disregard for the rights of the individual, you’d be a fool to wander around blithely assuming you weren’t always in danger.

That country was Russia and its associated satellite states, of course.

In 2019, we have exponentially more trade with a country that shows a similar disregard for the rule of law, property rights, etc., yet we hop on flights to Shanghai and Beijing without a second thought as to the personal, corporate or national risk we are taking. Why? Because, for most cases, we have not had reason to think they are hostile.

Sure, we know they have “re-education camps” where they have sent thousands of their own citizens in internal exile. Yes, we see the increasing use of “social credit” to bully their citizens into silence and conformity. We watch with interest as man-made islands are created in the South China Sea to secure and expand the country’s maritime territories. We witness the implementation of the One Belt and Road trading route with land purchases and infrastructure. We see huge areas of Africa being bought by Chinese government corporations. We point at strange sights such as Chinese Police-branded cars driving around the streets of Australian cities. Finally, this year we can watch on live-streaming feeds, the protests by residents of Hong Kong against changes to the legal system being met with increasingly authoritarian means, in direct violation of the international treaty promising not to do so.


The evidence is compelling that, whatever you might call the Chinese state; Communist, “post-Communist”, mercantilist, or some other suitable noun, it is far from being a free society as a citizen of a western democracy would know the term.

And yet…. corporations and governments have increased the level of trade and interaction on our behalf with the Chinese state without seemingly any commensurate increase in vigilance or precautions.

Why might that be?

Why might a country, say, Australia, be unwilling to publicly criticise any one of the nefarious activities (and more) described above, particularly in the case of clear hostile activities on Australian soil?

Bill’s Opinion

Much is written about cultural differences and how people in the west should treat other cultures respectfully. The classic is example revolves around the concept of Asian cultures setting a higher value on “face” than we in the west might.


Here’s an idea; that is a truly racist attitude. Why? Because the Chinese are an intelligent people with personal and national “agency”. They can observe our culture as much as we observe theirs. In fact, they do, and they choose to still act the way they do.

Pretending the Chinese leaders are delicate flowers whose feelings might be hurt if we publicly and regularly told them to rein in their activities and act in accordance with international law is the ultimate in weakness.

And that’s another cultural observation; the Chinese don’t respect weakness.

Why would we, therefore, constantly offer this as our response?

Of course, the elephant in the room for Australia is the economic master/servant relationship. China could ruin Australia’s economy for a generation simply by deliberately reducing the Chinese GDP by one or two percentage points and pivoting to African countries to satisfy its demand for minerals and resources. In fact, the land grabs in Africa are presumably part of a strategy to reduce reliance on pesky western economies and their annoying conversations about human rights.

Perhaps it won’t be long before our one reason for not standing up (diplomatically, I’m not suggesting warfare) to China is removed by China anyway?


At which point, we will be simply a weak parody of Neville Chamberlain.

39 Replies to “Like China in your hand”

  1. A, “reign in activities” is such a frequent schoolboy howler that this time I don’t think I’ll mention it at all. B, by buying land and developing it in Africa the Chinese are taking on onerous responsibility with the ever-present likelihood of expropriation without compensation. Xenophobia is big business in Africa. In my fair city the latest round of foreign shops being burned and looted and local politicians delivering soothing speeches has just happened for the umpteenth time since freedom. The black-owned shops don’t get off any lighter (tasteless pun) than those owned by Chinese or Indians.

    We as outsiders shouldn’t have a problem with China. We get a good deal out of them including much lower prices on clothing (usually good quality), consumer goods (very good) and motor spares (not always so very good). The people who live in the fucking place have the right to complain, following recent crackdowns which not only enforce social credits, shame, but look like reversing decades of strong economic growth into de-growth. And according to our mutual friend Mick Hartley it’s several million who have been packed off to the gulags.

    1. Argh. A part of me dies when I make grammatical errors. Corrected.

      I take issue with this statement; “We as outsiders shouldn’t have a problem with China.”.

      My question would be, at what stage does a humanitarian issue in a foreign land become a morality issue for us?

      To use the Soviet example again, if Walter Duranty had written the truth about Stalin’s Russia, rather than the Pulitzer Prize-winning lies, perhaps a few million fewer murders might have occurred.

      At what point does it become our business? China’s government is saying never. Do you agree with that position?

    2. @MvR

      As a Saffa what is your view on which empirical model, so to speak, that you would prefer, if you had to pick one, to apply over greater Africa?

      The one envisioned by Cecil Rhodes and his legacy Milner’s Kindergarten followed by Chatham House, or the current Chinese outward investment methodology without representation?

      1. The Chinese that I run into are non-politicals out to make money. I don’t know that China really wants vassal states and hegemony. They want to secure their lines of supply. They haven’t even established military bases in Africa that I know of. Africa is no longer the destination of choice for empire-builders. Even Rhodes wasn’t interested in Africa’s mineral wealth so much as an ambition to paint the world map British Pink. Milner may have been paternalistic, to Blacks as well as to Boers, but he wanted Africa to be run on principles of good government and good economics. Perhaps he was in the Randlords’ pocket. He laissez-faired the heck out of them and by George did the place grow. Your Chatham House reference escapes me, sorry.

        1. Cheers for that, that is my observation of the Chinese in Africa as well.

          I hope to live to see the day when the benefits of a single party political system are acknowledged in democratic nations. The common man cannot participate in the political discourse in multi-party states, due to the endless partisan bickering, this is intentional. Whereas in the single party state this is all removed and the discourse is between the common man and the state, you never get this in democracies.

          The reality of any political system is that it we should recognize that there is an elite, there is a collective and the issues should be between the individual and the state eg more freedom or transparency, partisan politics prevent this type of discussion happening.

          If you look at the current political discourse in the West it is very much about the left and the right, with conflicting partisan views cited as fact, I dont know if it is just me but it seems to be more overbearing than ever, we cant and wont get to the crux of the issue which is what do we want more of and what do we want less of as we are to busy bickering between ourselves.

  2. China has sailed warships into Sydney Harbour, a government newspaper has suggesting bombing us for some offense I can no longer recall, and they have threatened that our Chinese community would be ‘angered’ by another of our sins I also cannot recall, maybe the Huawei one. Nationalists beat up opposing protesters with apparent immunity, and will probably end up our citizens once they finish their studies. Government snouts intimidate anyone in the diaspora, even Australian citizens of Taiwanese or Malaysian heritage, if they involve themselves in any opposition-smelling activities like Falong Gong. And there is pretty open spying and leaning on Australian academics who publish not entirely pro-Chinese article.
    China is not so strong that we cannot resist. Rather, we seem like a people that has given up.

    1. “Rather, we seem like a people that has given up.”

      Yes, my conclusion also. Hence the Chamberlain analogy.

      It’s very similar to those who use a potential 2 percent hit to GDP because of Brexit as being a reason to remain a vassal state. They don’t deserve freedom.

  3. What are the “clear hostile activities on Australian soil” you refer to? Genuine question, not taking issue with the point.

    1. The anti-HK protest protests (if you follow my grammar) in Sydney are fairly obviously funded and encouraged by the Chinese authorities. Similarly, there are several interesting developments on university campuses. Also, half of the list Nikolai has just posted.

      I think the jury is out on the fake police cars; it feels like the actions of a couple of overzealous Chinese patriots but I’ll await further evidence before being certain.

  4. Considering what the poor bastards have just come out of during the horrors of the recent western backed communist totalitarian state after it was gifted to them as a spoil of WWII. We should hold China in awe in what it has achieved with respect to lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty, with a target to get the rest out of poverty in world record time. Is it any wonder that their new found ancient culture is on the rise aaa move that is in the exact opposite direction to that to the west, their outward investment is so much sought after as opposed to troops on ground and endless bloodshed and Christianity as are all of their religions rising therer as well, we would do well to emulate how they treat would be jihadis and real terrorists and fend off colour revolutions as well.

    They are proud of their nation, not queering it up, their elders are respected, they have strong family bonds across the generations, they got talent, they got mass transit, their cost of living is very low and 70% of millennials are house owners.

    Their system is communist in name only, it reminds me a bit of the German system in the thirties, one of the best in history. A kind of fascism with a benevolent dictator, which to me is probably the most preferred of the current modern political systems available, it shits all over democracy.

    The one Belt One Road initiative has all the hallmarks of being one of the most significant economic development initiative of this century. The fact that Trump has said that China is the US’s biggest threat, is also a good thing for Australia as well. Brzezinski would be turning in his grave as he sees his pivot to Asia having a Chinese commerce corridor smashing right through the guts of it.

    China rocks is what the yanks should be transmitting out of Pine Gap if you ask me.

    And let’s hope to fuck that we learn from the mistakes of history and don’t go declaring war of sorts on them or resisting their overtures for peace, just as Hitler pleaded on many occasions with the UK and France for that matter, to withdraw their unilateral declaration for a needless war that their masters were hell bent on getting us all into. Just think how good Europe would have been now if they didn’t, the Soviets wouldn’t have got half of it, and we wouldn’t have got war debt, the UN, end of empire and the bastardised EU melting pot either, plus the German folk wouldn’t have been deballed either.

    At least the Chinese admit that their mechanised war military strategy is defensive and not to be taken that seriously and that they will fight their wars their way, with their Three War principle which they appear to be winning hands down.

    Fat lot of good WWII did for Britain when you see what it has descened into since that point in time.

    1. I made a bet with myself that you’d take the economic expedient position.

      I win!

      On the downside, I’d also assumed there’d be a mention of Kondratiev waves and the Rothschilds. So I’ll only give myself a half point.

      1. I don’t think I have ever mentioned the Rothschilds on here, yes maybe the K-wave as part of your edcuation (not sure what that has to do with anti-Chinese propaganda being lapped up though) but not the Rothschilds and in Chinas case not even their very own David Sassoon the Rothschild of the East.

        The Chinese have every right to teach the Jihadist how to speak the local lingo, after all it’s mostly radical Islamists that have committed terrorists’ atrocities in their land. In many a person’s book, how China are combatting confirmed terrorists is far more effective than whining about what the sms aren’t saying about them.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorism_in_China

        1. If you have to start a sentence denying mentioning a Rothschild conspiracy with the words, “I don’t think I have ever mentioned…” there might be a clue.

          1. Okay so I havent then, but by all means keep pumping up the Rothschilds conspircay theories on here, best of luck trying to find one, as their history is pretty well documented.

    2. I think Billy was criticizing Australia rather than China. China is like the scorpion on the frog’s back – she will do what she will do, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it – not even China. The important thing to consider is how we react.

  5. Has Bardon just revealed himself as some of sort of communist bastard son of Lord Haw-Haw?

    There are other options for his forebears, but they may not be alive in a utopian ideal.

    If we follow the logic, when would the Allies cease not declaring war on Hitler?

    The Chinese subjects want our way of life. Their rulers want our wealth and lebensraum.

    1. I’m a little more sympathetic to people with Bardon’s attitude, it’s the one they’ve been taught by all major news to have, after all.

      The front page of today’s paper has comments by the governor of the RBA where he expresses concern about the economy because of America’s drawing of lines with China.

      The question not asked is similar to the one Harry Lime asks in The Third Man, “If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare?”.

    2. “If we follow the logic, when would the Allies cease not declaring war on Hitler?”

      You have to go back to the build-up and backers of the Great War to establish when it could all have been avoided.

  6. The Chinese just love it when the learned Clintons, Bernie Sanders, Oslo Freedom Forum, CNN, BBC & Yankee op eds of the world tell them and tweet to them about how it is in Hong Kong and China. Maybe it will quieten down a bit when the school holidays finish, judging by their demands at the airport they may have forgotten what it is they are rioting about, now that fugitives can no longer be deported to Macau, Taiwan and China.

    This CNN chick below in her zeal in covering the biggest human rights story on earth, wont rest util she find the ovens at the Weegar concentration camps. Shame that the pommy journalist can’t help her out this time around though and says that the Chinese think that the West could learn a lot from them in preventing radicalisation. Cheeky fucking savages that they are.

    1. But here’s the dichotomy that I’m enjoying; the same media who are covering the human rights abuses are also decrying the trade war because it might shave a couple of bips off GDP.

      That’s the point I am trying to make on this post; at what point do we care less about the dollar in our wallet and more about being consistent with the morals we claim to be guided by?

      1. Each to their own, I have no problem whatsoever with China and them buying stuff from us or anyone else for that matter.

        Like I said before I am very impressed with what they have achieved as a society which is unparalleled in history with respect to lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty and a plan for the rest, and their restoration of culture, especially after the fark days of Mao.

        As for their initiatives in preventing the outlawed Wahhabi head choppers Weegars potential insurgency, especially given their murderous attacks on Hans, well done, keep up the good work. The Turkic Islamic folk in that province have lived peacefully alongside non-belivers for a very long time, up until the recent radicalisation toerags creeping in. The Chinese method of tackling the problem at its roots, may seem improper to the West, but I agree with them when they say that the West could learn by it. Plus, they know that they need jobs and income as well to prevent radicalization, not just language.

        As for the HK rioting kids that have been brought up post-independence, crims cant now be deported so what is their beef, maybe they just want to get affordable housing just like their hated neighbours in China have, if that is the case then not much point in asking Beijing to fix it, what about their very own home-grown oligarchs, what say they.

        Stranded Australian passenger: ‘You need to be working. Go get a job.’

        1. “Like I said before I am very impressed with what they have achieved as a society which is unparalleled in history with respect to lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty”.

          Erm, India?

          1. I like India too, and I am quite happy to sell them coal as well, but they don’t even touch the sides in comparison to China with respect to the quantum and velocity of the eradication of poverty.

          2. “they don’t even touch the sides in comparison to China with respect to the quantum and velocity of the eradication of poverty.”

            Got any data points for that statement?

            As always, there’s a slightly autistic reframing of the point being discussed here so you can feel you’ve “won” on the Internet.

            Back to the original question; at what point do we find our version of morality conflicts with the economic benefits of ignoring our version of morality? Take your time, I’m genuinely interested in different views on this.

          3. I’ll get you, your data point later, I am working today! But I am genuinely surprised that you were not aware of this Chinese miracle, you will thank me once I enlighten you.

            On morality and back to your OP.

            Well before that queer Duranty tried to hide the Bolshevik shenanigans, the collectivists in the West were hard at work financing and enabling the Soviets, behind the scenes, that is immoral. Judging by your idealist OP you were not aware of this either, but the fact of the matter is that they did.

            On China, when the Soviets were gifted Manchuria and Chiang Kai Shek was thrown under the bus and conceded to set up a free and prosperous China in Taiwan, whilst the mainland descended into a communist hell hole backed by Stalin and US arms, that is immoral.

            So, I am not a big fan of collectivism, but I accept that many are, I do find it immoral when they create enemies, for enemy’s sake, start wars and make a motza doing it.

          4. “Judging by your idealist OP you were not aware of this either”.

            Au contraire, I’ve read extensively about the subject and the purpose of this post is to make the point that, on the journey, we all make our decision at different points.

            The British left, for example, had few moral issues with Hitler until about June 1941.

            I’m just curious as where other people’s jumping off points are on China? What would they have to do before you felt the GDP argument had veered off your personal moral compass?

          5. I don’t see the gdp argument as having any bearing on moral issues. My take on it is that tarrifs are a mugs game for both sides for starters. Then we here in Australia being a commodity country get caught up in the cross fire, which is bad for my net worth so I would rather it wasn’t happening for me or for Oz.

            I also still subscribe to the rules of diplomacy and of course China will be up to no good in other areas but that’s normal and should be dealt with in the way that spooks and military strategists have always arm wrestled, which is a seperate matter from commercial dealings, in the current setting anyway.

            Misinformed moral judgements and high ground taking don’t help either side. Best to mind your fence and keep your own house in order until the barbarians come banging on your door as a general rule for any civilian.

          6. “Misinformed moral judgements and high ground taking don’t help either side.”

            Still not answering the question though, are you? At what point would you prefer your country to not do business with another country’s government? What would they have to do to cross that line for you?

            Pick a country and time from history that would be beyond the pale, if that’s an easier way of answering.

          7. As I said before in my examples of immoral dealings which are as follows.

            When we are at war with them.
            When we are on a war footing with them.
            When the business relationship ought to be disclosed, but is concealed, ie equipping and financing the Soviets and keeping it quiet because there is a definite moral conflict.

          8. The stats on poverty reduction.

            Since initiating market reforms in 1978, China has shifted from a centrally-planned to a more market-based economy and has experienced rapid economic and social development. GDP growth has averaged nearly 10% a year—the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history—and more than 850 million people have lifted themselves out of poverty.

            https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/china/overview

          9. That’s half of the data you’d need to show a comparison. We’re looking for the concomitant insipid Indian version in order to confirm your “doesn’t touch the sides” assertion.

          10. Your wish is my command.

            See the comparative poverty reduction rates between 1990 and 2013, India was 170m and China was 730m over the period, so India reduced poverty at approximately a quarter of the rate that China did. So if I were 6″ then you would be 1.5″ and hence the not touch the sides analogy assuming the girth was equally reduced.

            I know the comparison is a bit dated but feel free to find one that doesn’t support my analogy, you will also see that as of the end of last years India’s current working poor is 42% as compared to China’s 9.7% another quartering right there.

            https://s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/qz-production-atlas-assets/charts/atlas_HkZDSC4uQ@2x.png

          11. Thanks. You are correct, the Chinese have reduced more poverty than the Indians.

            More recent data suggests India are catching up on the rate of poverty reduction – http://www.in.undp.org/content/india/en/home/sustainable-development/successstories/MultiDimesnionalPovertyIndex.html

            Crudely, 27m a year for the last ten years. Your China data shows 56m a year for a different 13 year period.

            While I’m sure the millions of Chinese lifted out of poverty are stoked about it, their Indian counterparts are subject to far fewer restrictions on their personal freedom, having a functioning legal system based on 800 years of Common Law.

            Back to my original post, one of those two countries shares far more cultural and moral values with ours than the other.

            At what point does China’s actions, particularly in foreign jurisdictions, result in a hardening of our response?

            You suggest war or a “war footing”. Is active interference in Australian citizens’ lives in Australia not the latter then?

          12. Yes Common Law was a good legacy of the Raj but I think India’s strength lies in its far richer and ancient culture than its short bit of Anglo induced colonial culture. Similarly with China its their ancient culture and civilization that is their strength, something that the Anglo culture wouldn’t touch the sides with in comparison. We know from Marco Polo’s comparison with the Venetians how advanced and ancient their culture was back then.

            China certainly took a back seat in the Industrial Revolution and got its ass kicked with gun boat diplomacy ( as did India) and opium wars, but in the fullness of time this small period of time will only be viewed as a small blip on the Chinese civilization track record and now that it is getting its Mojo back it will be onward and upwards from here on in, which is what we are seeing unfolding now in this Asian century.

            And no I am not aware of anything that China is doing that I would consider remotely like trading with the enemy.

          13. “And no I am not aware of anything that China is doing that I would consider remotely like trading with the enemy.”

            And that’s our point of difference. I believe they are clearly not acting in good faith and, as such, we would be wise to be far more cautious at a national, corporate and personal level.

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