Tuesday 26 May 2020

China's very real fear of internal dissent & rebellion

There's stuff in the news about how the Chinese state's greatest fear is it's own people and internal dissent, and this the reason for the Hong Kong crackdown. I'm not defending China's actions, but if you look at the history of China over the last 400 years you see time and time again an internal rebellion leading to political turmoil, followed by invasion by an external power leading to humiliation or the capitulation of the state.
There's only been four regimes (if you include Chiang Kai-shek's nationalists) in China in the last 400 years with each ending due to internal rebellion followed by foreign invasion.
Ming Dynasty -> Peasant Rebellion -> Manchu invasion -> Qing Dynasty
Late Ming dynasty peasant rebellions 1628–1644, helped end the Ming Dynasty and replace it with the Qing as part of Manchu invasion (leading to the Han being ruled by Manchu's for 300 years). A lot of Ming military switched sides due to inept Ming leaders.. the Manchurian's didn't conquer China all by themselves.

Qing Dynasty -> opium wars with britain -> multiple rebellions -> Republic of China (nationalists)
Rebellions in the Qing dynasty, leading to its eventual collapse not to mention the opium wars & 100 years of humiliation with unequal trade deals being replaced with a republic.

Republic of China -> communist rebellion -> Japanese Invasion -> People's liberation Army (Mao) -> People's republic of China (1927-1949)
Now we have two western government ideologies fighting for supremacy (communism & republicanism). What may come as a surprise is that the Japanese inadvertently helped the communists win. Firstly by weakening the republic in the Sino-Japanese war and then when they surrendered in Manchuria to the Russians, as the Russians gave all the Japanese weaponry to Mao's forces.

Here's a bit more info on the Opium wars and associated rebellions:

Opium wars: Qing vs British east india company (1839 - 1860)
Destabilization begins with the first and second Opium wars with the British, which could be viewed as a "trade dispute". The Chinese only accepted payment for tea in silver (rejecting even offers of industrialisation, due to conservative confucianist mandarins). Forcing a country to buy opium against its will in order to correct a balance of trade deficit would be considered morally hazardous by today's standards.

As a counterpoint however, the British had offered to sell them equipment to industrialise the country which the conservative Mandarin administrators of China rejected demanding payment only in silver. These canny british entrepreneurs managed to do this by selling opium to the people for silver, and then using the silver to buy tea.

The Qing were smart enough to realise allowing their people to become addicted to opium was a bad idea and tried to confiscate it, leading to naval battles which the technologically backward Qing couldn't win. During the war they then continued the confucius mandarin tradition of bullshitting the guy above them (ultimately the Emperor) about how the war was going. This trend of administrators lying to save face with superiors is still alive and well in China, just look at Wuhan.

Taiping Rebellion: Qing vs religious fanatics (1850 – 1864)
Next the Taiping rebellion, triggered in some ways by western religious influence: the leader Hong Xiuquan claims to be the brother of Jesus..personality cult based on western literature.. sound familiar? He wanted to overthrow the corrupt Manchu Qing leadership which had lost a lot of face against the British and replace it with a Heavenly Kingdom.. I guess translations of the bible were more accessible than the teachings of Marx. If my government & its confucianist system had messed up so badly against the west, I'd probably be looking to shake things up with western virtues as well.

Boxer Rebellion: Qing & boxers vs Europeans & Japan (1899 - 1901)
Boxers can be seen as reactionaries against European influence, the right to allow Christian missionaries in and unequal trade treaties. They started out burning Churches as well as being anti-imperialist. The Qing decided to try use them against the Europeans but lost.

Mao and the Great famine - neo-confucianism's lack of transparency & fake reporting upwards is its weak point
Just like I mentioned above, Chinese administrators kept up their tradition of misreporting things to save face with superiors. This lead to disastrous consequences with the great leap forward. The great leap forward had two main goals. Collectivise farming & increase industrial output copying the Soviet model. Farm collectivisation was disastrous leading to a fall in food production, however each Mandarin provided numbers to his superior showing better results than actually occurred. By the time this reporting got aggregated up to Mao it looked like China had a surplus of food, so Mao continued exporting it to get hard currency for industrialisation. This all lead to famine..
I don't know enough about modern China to know whether this is a problem presently. China appears to be in the ascendence.

Sunday 9 February 2020

No Empire at the expense of the people - review

I wrote a review of an article I wrote 5 years ago, now moving across to medium to give it a go

Republish of something I wrote in 2015, here on blogger. I feel the article has stood the test of time for the most part, here were the questions I posed and some feedback on what the Trump administration has done… Steve Bannon’s political legacy?
the election of 2016 should be about answering these two questions:
  1. Should the U.S. continue to act as global hegemon, which includes providing the reserve currency?Partial Yes. Just enough global hegemon reduction to retain reserve currency status for now. In the middle east, attempt to create new regional balances of power without U.S. blood and treasure. U.S. Troop withdraw with enough brinkmanship to obtain a right balance of power between Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel with regards to the Iraq/Syria ‘spoils of war’.
  2. If the answer to 1. is yes, then how should the economy be restructured in order to fulfill the hegemon role in a sustainable fashion?Endevering to get allies to pay for more of their defence against Russia & China.. think NATO funding, U.S. Korean troops, etc. as well as rebalancing trade to be more favourable to the U.S. especially with China. This is an attempt to correct some of the trade imbalances introduced by the Brent Woods system in the 1950s. The system set the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency but conceded favourable trade privileges to defeated foes to ensure peace with Germany and Japan. The primary issue being addressed is that China’s introduction to the same trading system put the U.S. at a big disadvantage in the long term, and would be heading the same way as the British empire did with lot’s of rich bankers in a country slowly losing it’s industrial advantage to more protected economies (at the time the USA, Germany). The problem with the rich banker imperial hegenomy model is you’re only one bad war away from losing everything.. just ask the British.

Wednesday 1 January 2020

Steel production was key to great power status

In recent history steel was the most important thing for winning wars. Notice how the top four producers of steel from 200 years ago are permanent members of the UN security council?

The missing permanent member is China, which now produces quite alot:
Image result for country comparison steel production

However these days steel isn't the most important thing for winning wars. Information technology for intelligence gathering, disimformation, smart weapons command and control and many other things is critical. This is why a lot of the China - US trade war revolves around the US trying to prevent too much information technology transfers (as well as protecting strategic US steel & alumunium industries from Chinese undercutting). More to follow.

My health routine