Wednesday, March 18, 2020

UPDATED: On Rethinking China And The Crisis Of Globalization

The Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the world--it is now reported in 30 African countries, and Australia is approaching 500 cases--has quickly developed into a crisis for the entire ideology of globalization, with China very obviously at the center of it. It's hard to imagine how things can return to "normal" after this, and that's good--because there really was nothing normal about globalization to begin with.

Gordon Chang launches a pointed attack against what he calls "the real disease": China's Real Disease: Not Coronavirus. It's an ideological disease--Communism, he says. But even in the West there was an ideological disease that led to the globalization that has brought the world economy--linked in dependence on China--to its knees. Here is a thought provoking article that addresses some of the many issues involved in globalization: Beijing Fears COVID-19 Is Turning Point for China, Globalization. (Excerpts below)

In this article a link is provided to a "leaked" video of a "line" outside a hospital in Chongqing. Watch it and you'll see why I put "line" inside quotation marks. It's more like a river of people. You'll also want to reconsider Chicom assurances that the spread of Covid-19 has been halted. Chongqing is a megacity of 30 million people governed directly from Beijing. It's upriver from Wuhan, and just downriver from the rest of Sichuan province (80 million) with its capital of Chengdu (14 million). Imagine the amount of travel up and down the Yangzi river and those vast metro areas, and on to the sea at Shanghai (Metro Shanghai, 34 million).

With that in mind, here are excerpts, beginning halfway through the article. The first half deals with "Beijing's Propaganda War", also highly recommended, and the second half has the subtitle "The Stakes for China and Globalization":

Regardless of how much some governments and global voices praise China, Xi and the Communist Party care about dominating the propaganda war because the Wuhan virus has stood their nation on a razor’s edge. Xi’s own legitimacy is not merely at stake. His government is ferociously fighting to divert blame and attention, fearing that the world rightfully may utterly reassess modern China, from its technocratic prowess to its safety. Decades of a carefully curated global image may crumble if nations around the globe start paying attention to China’s lax public health care, incompetent and intrusive government, and generally less developed domestic conditions.  
Xi’s fears are well founded, as a global reconsideration of China is long overdue. Legitimate criticisms and doubts about China’s governance and growth model were long suppressed by Chinese pressure and the willingness of many to buy into the Communist Party’s public line. Public shaming of foreign corporations, global influence operations, and “elite capture” -- all are policies Beijing has deployed to maintain China’s public image.  
That carefully tended image is now cracked. Those concerned with global health issues may wonder why it is that China is wracked regularly by viral epidemics in addition to coronavirus, such as SARS, African Swine Fever, and avian flu (another outbreak is happening right now). Others may begin to look more carefully at China’s environmental devastation and the hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year from air and water pollution.   
On the trade side, many foreign corporations already have been reconsidering their operations in China, due to rampant intellectual property theft and rising production costs; now, they may seriously question how safe it is to continue to do business in China. Not only is the health of their employees at risk, but they no longer can be assured that China will be a stable supplier. If coronavirus becomes a seasonal phenomenon, as some experts predict, then even with a vaccine, new strains of the pathogen will always raise the specter of another out-of-control epidemic overwhelming the party-state’s capabilities and infecting the rest of the world.  
More broadly, the pandemic of 2020 has brought doubts about globalization into the mainstream. Decades of open borders, unceasing intercontinental travel, study abroad, just-in-time inventory systems, and the like have created unexpected vulnerabilities in populations and economies thanks to unfettered openness. To worry about such weaknesses is not to adopt a Luddite reactionary stance, but to try and salvage the bases of the post-World War II global economic architecture.   
Those who assumed that global markets were the optimal economic model and would always work, now have to consider whether globalization is the best system for dealing with pandemics like coronavirus, let alone old-fashioned state power plays like China imposed on Japan back in 2010, when it blocked the export of rare-earth minerals over territorial disputes in the East China Sea. Perhaps the biggest long-term economic effect of coronavirus will be on long-standing assumptions about global supply chains.  
Because of the way the global economy has developed since 1980, to question globalization today is in large part to question the world’s relationship to China. As Sens. Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton have pointed out, America and the world have a prudential responsibility to reconsider their dependence on China.  

The article ends with a section titled "Rethinking the Chinese Model and Globalization", from which I select just one paragraph:

The world never should have been put at risk by the coronavirus. Equally, it never should have let itself become so economically dependent on China. The uniqueness of the coronavirus epidemic is to bring the two seemingly separate issues together. That is why Beijing is desperate to evade blame, not merely for its initial incompetence, but because the costs of the system it has built since 1980 are now coming into long-delayed focus. Coronavirus is a diabolus ex machina that threatens the bases of China’s modern interaction with foreign nations, from tourism to trade, and from cultural exchange to scientific collaboration. 

UPDATE: I can't embed it, but you can listen to Michael Auslin, the author of this article, being interviewed by Steve Hayward of Powerline at the link below. The interview goes about 45 minutes:

A Beat Down on China, with Michael Auslin

Hosted by Steve Hayward
With guest Michael Auslin


  1. Folks like P. Buchanan, who warned that these policies
    would create unexpected vulnerabilities in populations and economies,were all-but systematically trashed as Luddite reactionaries, or as Rayciss, by the Elites who now expect us to trust, that they *really* know enough, to know how to get a handle on this virus, without thereby turning us into serfs (as happened in Diocletian's day).

    However, folks like Ron Paul urge no such trust, see :

    "... Governments love crises, because when the people are fearful, they are more willing to give up freedoms, for promises that the government will take care of them. After 9/11, for example, Americans accepted the near-total destruction of their civil liberties, in the PATRIOT Act’s hollow promises of security....
    The chief fearmonger of the Trump Administration is, without a doubt, Anthony Fauci....
    Fauci is all over the media, serving up outright falsehoods, to stir up even more panic. He testified to Congress, that the death rate for the coronavirus is ten times that of the seasonal flu, a claim *without any* scientific basis...."

    Much hinges on whether Dr. Paul is right, about Fauci's claim being without any scientific basis.

  2. Apologies for going off topic...

    I can't get it out of my head that the Dems (who I really don't feel sorry for) are now 'all in' to nominate a seriously vulnerable Presidential candidate.

    I have long felt that Trump won in 2016 in large measure because the Dems ran a seriously flawed candidate. A candidate with substantial individual flaws and short-comings. Benghazi, the Clinton Foundation, her husband's flaws, the private server, the destroyed emails, her Labor Day collapse. Surely thousands of voters on the fence must have decided to stay home, vote for Trump, or vote for a third party candidate. Anything but vote for Mrs Clinton. Were some of these voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania or Michigan? They had to be.

    It seems like the Dems are doing it all over again. Rather than nominate an intact candidate who could take Trump on on the merits, it seems they will nominate a 77 year old man who is clearly experiencing some degree of cognitive decline, who is undoubtedly compromised by actions he took giving rise to conflicts in Ukraine and China, and who will undoubtedly be compromised for other actions taken during the Obama years which he won't be able to distance himself from. Will this not persuade a fraction of potential Dem and independent voters to not vote for him? In what could well be another very close election...Again, why not nominate a candidate without all this baggage? Was there no one else from the original field of 23...or anyone else...available?

    A conspiracy theorist could have a field day!

    1. It is remarkable. They can't hide him or his baggage. Up till now, the China angle has got virtually no play at all. But it sure will now.

  3. I had commented at Steve Sailer's site, when he first posted a Chinese study ("Stats from Wuhan," March 7) documenting the halt in the number of Wuhan cases (infections) having occurred at around February 2. The data used in the study completely ignored the fact that 5 million people evacuated Wuhan prior to the quarantine on January 23. With nearly 40% of the population departing, so did (potentially) 40% of the infections then percolating (not yet tested, asymptomatic, and symptomatic).

    It also seems obvious that the counting of infection cases can be fudged, as opposed to deaths--where other parties (family, friends, co-workers) are likely to notice. Just as counting murders are harder to fudge so long as there's a body to be accounted.

    Chinese government data has never been reliable--not so much suspected of being fudged, but entirely invented. I don't see why this should be any different.

    1. Something like 1/3 of Chinese live in the Yangzi basin. It's a center of business and industry, as well as transportation. The notion that from late November to late January there was little to no exfiltration of the virus is pretty silly. Michael Auslin pretty much begins by saying: You can't trust the PRC's numbers.

    2. China better hope that they built the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River to proper engineering standards. Otherwise that 1/3 of the Chinese that you mention will be wiped out.

    3. True. If they're infrastructure quality control is anything like their epidemic response ...

  4. The critique of China and globalization is a curious one that I doubt will be re-evaluated by prog-lefties and neoliberals. With any luck, they'll slink away with their tails between their legs. (Doubtful, I know.)

    Their stance marks a complete contradiction: the advocacy of health, safety, and labor standards in the West, combined with a never-ending critique of greedy capitalists utilizing "sweat shop" conditions in the Third World, contrasted with their flocking to China to avoid the same standards, while using the Chinese Communist Party as political cover for the Third World "sweat shop" conditions employed.

    It's always about The Narrative--until The Narrative collapses. Their policies were devastating--and that's how you got Trump. Their policies are devastating--and that's how globalism gets turned around.

    1. Culture matters. The Establishment doesn't want you to think about that.

    2. @ Forbes

      "Their policies were devastating--and that's how you got Trump."

      I so agree. I often try to explain to others, often adamantly anti-Trump folk, that Trump is in fact not the problem. He is, as you say, the result of the problem. If you want constructive change, you need to address the real problems. So far, the Left, the Dems, the Progressives, the Deep State, the Never Trumpers, can't bring themselves to do this. So they blame Trump.

      To some extent, addressing the real problems might bring with it responsibility and culpability, and so reluctance is understandable. But there is ultimately no avoiding it.

    3. "one that I doubt will be re-evaluated by prog-lefties and neoliberals."

      Of course, prog-lefties are hopeless, but neoliberals may be swayed, if they're anywhere near the Dersh mold.

    4. That's why I like Lou Dobbs: his guests. Gordon Chang is on a lot, as is Ed Rollins. I stop what I'm doing to listen to Rollins. Dobbs should too (i.e., talking over him).

      I thought this virus would have a dreadful effect on Trump. It keeps him off the stump, etc. I'm rethinking. Jobs are going to come back to America as a result of this. Made in China will be a mark of Cain. In effect, this virus is doing what Trump would have found almost impossible to do in the time he had. The virus did it for him.

      Everything he's been saying about globalization is going to be vindicated.

      All those progressives, happy as they are now, waiting for the death of old climate change deniers, they are going to understand, good and hard, exactly how a boomerang comes back and cuts off the top of your head.

      Makes me glad. Culture matters is right. And not the culture of Ta Nehisi Coates (that fraud).

  5. I'm sitting here listening to Hayward and Auslin yack. Very interesting. Auslin has a lot to say on the PRC's use of technology to exercise near total surveillance over its subjects. He's very frightened that some in the West see that as being very useful in tracking the Wuhan virus--which is true. The problem, of course, is that that's merely a by-product--it's not what the Chinese total surveillance state was designed for. It was designed to keep the population subject. What we can see from the current FISA debate and its application to the Russia Hoax is that our Deep State seems enamored with that. I also pointed out the thinking of the FBI in attempting to define 'conspiracy theory' as domestic terrorism. That's something you can actually address with a total surveillance state. Much to learn about ourselves from this crisis.

  6. There's a giant problem with Auslin's approach:
    -->To worry about such weaknesses is not to adopt a Luddite reactionary stance, but to try and salvage the bases of the post-World War II global economic architecture.<--

    Ah yes, "salvaging the basis of the post-WW2 global economic architecture." What a load of manure. We're three-quarters of a century removed from the conflict--you'd be excused for thinking that many of the underlying conditions and assumptions that gave rise to the post-WW2 era no longer obtain. The post-WW2 "global economic architecture" was Bretton Woods, and that was torn up in 1971 by Richard Nixon and Milton Friedman. What followed was $20+ trillion in US federal debt and another $100 trillion in unfunded entitlements.

    But remember, you're the Luddite for recognizing reality, i.e. the failures of the existing order, while he's the hero for salvaging an "architecture" that is collapsing under the weight of assumptions that no longer work with the existing realities.

    My apologies for the multiple comments--there was a lot in the post.

    1. Are you sure you're understanding him correctly? Is he perhaps saying, somewhat awkwardly, that to criticize, i.e., 'worry about', the weaknesses of globalization is not to be reactionary. Rather it's an impulse to return to the bases of Bretton Woods--before it was torn up by Nixon and Friedman?

      If he were calling people "Luddite[s] for recognizing reality, i.e., the failures of the existing order," wouldn't he be calling himself a Luddite--because he's surely doing exactly that?

    2. Let me repunctuate that and make it a bit more clear:

      Are you sure you're understanding him correctly? Is he perhaps saying, somewhat awkwardly, that to criticize, i.e., 'worry about', the weaknesses of globalization is not to be a simple reactionary? Rather it's an impulse to return to the bases of Bretton Woods--before it was torn up by Nixon and Friedman--which he views as good?

      If he were calling people "Luddite[s] for recognizing reality, i.e., the failures of the existing order," wouldn't he be calling himself a Luddite? Because he's surely doing exactly that--recognizing the failures of the existing order.

    3. You have the benefit of listening to the podcast--which I haven't. And it's certainly possible I don't fully understand what Auslin "thinks." However, a frequent argument proffered by establishment types is about saving the post-WW2 conditions/world order--as contrasted with Luddites or reactionaries or what not.

      I guess I'm a reactionary to globalism. I can't speak for him. Cheers.

  7. Yeah Forbes, post Bretton Woods became an orgy of
    federal debt/ unfunded entitlements growth.
    However, I don't expect an outright return to Bretton.
    Instead, I expect a new system, by which these debts will be "paid" without (or after) commodity hyperinflation, by a major hike in the price of the one "commodity", whose price spike would be most easily tolerated by the world economy.

    That "commodity" is gold, but its price spike need not require a return to the gold standard.
    Various scholars, from controversial financier Larry Edelson, to Lefty economist Michael Hudson, to mysterious European central banker "Another", have explained how (a major price hike in) gold must have a major (tho likely informal?) role in re-stabilizing the world economy, even while being given no *formal* role in the domestic economy.

    For starters, see ,
    starting where Hudson recalls "In 1976, Herman Kahn and I went to the Treasury...."

  8. Ordinarily, we don't expect Lefty economists to say nice stuff about gold, or be vs. the U.S. gov't. moving to protect dollar hegemony, but check this part of the Hudson link I posted above:

    "... gold is manipulated downwards today by the U.S. – essentially the plunge protection team acting internationally, to keep the price of gold down, to discourage other countries and populations, from buying it as protection against collapse of the financial system."

  9. Meanwhile, the young people are on spring break in Florida, yucking it up, in close quarters.