Thursday, December 5, 2019

Xi Jinping Thought Fails The Test Of Fighting Man-Made, Global Warming, Climate Change

Xi Jinping Thought consists of fourteen basic policies.

Number 4:  “Adopting new science-based ideas for ‘innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development.’”  (bold added)

Number 9:  “Coexist well with nature with ‘energy conservation and environmental protection’ policies and ‘contribute to global ecological safety.’”  (bold added)

Coal is the dirtiest source of greenhouse gas emissions.  China is the world’s greatest user of coal and continues to add new plants at an enormous pace.

Here are the data.

Between 2006 and July 2019, China added 761,417 MW of new coal-fired capacity.  India is in second place with 164,814 MW.  The rest of the world outside China and India only added 167,037 MW of new coal-fired capacity.

The amount of new capacity added in China from January 1 through July 31 is 17,890 MW (annualized at 30,668 MW), again more than the rest of the world together.  This trend will continue for years to come.

A detailed analysis of China’s coal-fired capacity, showing it is out of step with the rest of the world, can be read here.

Watch what people or countries do, not what people or countries say.  As I have oft stated, I’m from Missouri, the “Show Me” State.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Xi Jinping Thought Fails The Test Of Diversity And Inclusion

Xi Jinping is the “core” of China’s leadership.  Xi Jinping Thought is the political foundation of the Chinese Communist Party and constitutes the governing principles of the Chinese government.  Xi Jinping’s leadership and Thought are not to be questioned or challenged in any way by the Chinese people.  It is only to be studied and elaborated in accordance with the Central Party School’s instructions.

Let’s change venues before explaining how Xi Jinping Thought fails the test of Diversity and Inclusion.  Open the web site of any American university and you will find a web page devoted to Diversity and Inclusion.  At Stanford, that page includes a statement by President Marc Tessier-Lavigne:

“Diversity and inclusion are essential to Stanford’s strength.  A university depends, at its core, on the free and open exchange of ideas in a culture of mutual respect.  It also depends upon the participation and inclusion of people of all backgrounds, races, genders, abilities, identities, ideologies, and ways of thinking.”  (bold added)

The free and open exchange of ideas is completely rejected in Xi Jinping Thought.  Western-styled democracy cannot be considered as an alternative to absolute rule by the Chinese Communist Party.

Xi Jinping Thought consists of fourteen basic principles. 

Number 1:  “Ensuring Communist Party of China (CPC) leadership over all forms of work in China.”  That is about as all-encompassing of a doctrine that can be formalized.  There is no sector of “work” that is or can be separate from CPC leadership.

Number 7:  “’Practice socialist core values,’ including Marxism, Communism, and Socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Number 11:  “The Communist Party of China should have ‘absolute leadership’ over Chinas People’s Liberation Army.”

Number 14:  “Improve party discipline in the Communist Party of China.”

Are these four principles of Xi Jinping Thought compatible with President Tessier-Lavigne’s statement on the free and open exchange of ideas, which is the core of a university?  (bold added)

Stanford’s motto is “Die Luft der Freiheit Weht,” “The Wind of Freedom Blows.”  Can that motto be practiced by faculty and students studying or conducting research at Stanford Center at Peking University (SCPKU)? Can Stanford faculty give a lecture or organize a conference at SCPKU on criticizing Xi Jinping Thought?  Will Chinese participants at SCPKU events be willing to speak freely or even attend such an event?  Or will Xi Jinping Thought be strictly off limits?

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Xi Jinping Thought Fails Its First Major Test

Xi Jinping Thought, short for Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, which has been incorporated in China’s Constitution, consists of 14 basic policies.

Number 12:  Promoting the “one country, two systems” model for Hong Kong and Macao with a future of “complete national reunification” and to follow the One-China policy and 1992 Consensus for Taiwan. 

The introduction by the Hong Kong government, most likely at the urging of the Central Government in Beijing, of an Extradition bill on March 29, 2019, set off a storm of protests now entering its ninth month. (seeprevious post)  Xi Jinping must have been appalled to see Hong Kongers waving American, British, and even former Hong Kong colonial flags on Thanksgiving after President Donald Trump signed a Hong Kong bill.

The Extradition bill was a bridge too far.  It set back the harmonious working of the “one country, two systems” model designed by Deng Xiaoping.  It deeply alienated Hong Kongers.  China’s hand-picked Chief Executive and Executive Councilors now face an unending period of anger and hostility from the people they try to govern.  The Extradition bill confirmed fears of what “one country, two systems” would mean for Taiwan people.

Someone or some people gave Xi Jinping bad advice on dealing with Hong Kong.  Or perhaps Xi decided on his own to force an Extradition bill on Hong Kong.  Regardless, he failed.

Will the scholars in any of the hundreds of Xi Jinping Thought Institutes in China report on this failure and recommend corrective measures?  Not likely.

Looking ahead to possible future failures, four of the fourteen principles in Xi Jinping Thought concern the centrality of the Chinese Communist Party over all walks of life in China and strengthening the Party’s internal discipline.  One of the four declares “people as the masters of the country,” the exact opposite of China’s top-down ruling system.  Two concern socialist core values of Marxism, Communism, and Socialism with Chinese characteristics.  Two are Xi’s version of the “Green New Deal (numbers 4 and 9),” which is hardly consistent with China opening a coal-fired power plant every week.

Authoritarian ideologies come and go.  Xi Jinping Thought is no exception.  Ask the former rulers of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Hong Kong People Vote Overwhelmingly For Freedom And Democracy, Repudiating Pro-China Establishment Politicians and Business Elites

On November 24, 2019, Hong Kongers went to the polls to elect 452 members who serve on 16 District Councils.  Turnout was 71% compared with 47% in 2015.  Compared with 2015, Pro-democracy candidates won 388 seats (+262), Pro-Beijing candidates 59 seats (-239), and Unaligned candidates 5 seats (-2).  Pro-democracy candidates won a majority in 15 of the 16 District Councils (+15).

On March 29, 2019, China’s hand-picked Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her appointed Councilors published an Extradition bill in the Legislative Council, which would allow the Hong Kong Government to extradite Hong Kong residents to China for trial. Hong Kongers first demonstrated two days later and continued demonstrating every week demanding the bill be withdrawn.  Hong Kongers know the difference between the Anglo-American “rule of law” and Chinese-Communist tyranny.

To put 2019 in perspective, Britain transferred sovereignty over Hong Kong to China at the stroke of midnight on June 30, 1997.  The demonstrations broke out three months before the 22nd anniversary of the handover.  This means that every Hong Konger under 22 years of age had not lived under British administration.  Everyone under 32 was aged 10 and under in the new Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).  Everyone 40 years and under was no more than a teenager under British administration.

Amazingly, the youth of Hong Kong led the demonstrations.  The Joint Declaration and Basic Law of Hong Kong promised that Hong Kong people would govern Hong Kong, and that Hong Kong would maintain its separate social, economic, and political systems unchanged for 50 years to 2047.  In Xi Jinping’s worldview, Hong Kongers were supposed to welcome Chinese sovereignty.  Instead, they waved British and American flags, defaced the Communist Party’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong, and burned Chinese flags.

Let me repeat this.  Hong Kongers with little or no experience living under British rule clamored for the maintenance of British institutions.  They want universal suffrage which they were promised.  They want Western law and order.  They want private property, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and all the other Western freedoms stipulated in the Basic Law.  Hong Kong voters repudiated the Chinese Communist Party.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam is tone deaf.  She reluctantly withdrew the proposed Extradition bill on October 23, 2019, after nearly six months of demonstrations.  Had she withdrawn it immediately, calm might have been quickly restored. Following the huge victory of the Pro-democracy candidates, she has again displayed tone deafness, only wanting to dialogue with the protestors.  Let’s face it.  She is a toady, having no authority except what Beijing allows her to exercise.  Her best option is to go abroad for medical care and not return.

Beijing’s best option is to restore the spirit and letter of the Joint Declaration and Basic Law and wait out the 50 years of autonomy until July 1, 2047.  Why provoke the world over a small territory that is steadily becoming less important to China?  Think of the long-term benefits to China if the nations of the world actually believe China’s promises and agreements.

Is there any way to persuade Xi Jinping to honor the Joint Declaration and Basic Law?  Would it be possible to assemble a coalition of leaders of a hundred countries to sign a statement endorsing a live and let live approach to Hong Kong?  That would be the ultimate win for everyone.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Our Strength And Our Prosperity Depend On Our Diversity: Reality Or Ideology?

Economic growth is driven by increases in productivity and labor.  However, not all labor is the same.  Some is low-skilled, low-valued-added, while other labor is high-skilled, high-value-added.  It makes a big difference in the rate of growth if the increase in labor is low-skilled or high-skilled.

The data below show the changing racial and ethnic demographics of the United States by decade, 1940-2020, in percent.  The far-right column shows the annual average rate of economic growth for each decade beginning with the year in the first column.

Racial and Ethnic Demographics of the United States, 1940-2060
Percent
Average
Annual
Growth
Year
White
Hispanic
Black
Asian
Mixed
By Decade
1940
88.3
1.5
9.8
0.2
6.0
1950
87.5
2.1
10.0
0.2
4.4
1960
85.4
3.2
10.5
0.5
4.5
1970
83.5
4.4
11.1
0.8
3.3
1980
79.8
6.4
11.7
1.5
3.1
1990
75.6
9.0
12.1
2.9
3.4
2000
69.1
12.5
12.3
3.8
2.4
1.8
2010
63.7
18.3
12.6
4.9
2.9
2.3
2020
59.7
19.1
13.4
5.9
2.9


Two numbers immediately pop out.  One is the increase in the share of Hispanics (Mexicans, Central Americans, South Americans, and some Caribbean islanders)  The other is the decade average declining rate of growth.  Correlation is not causation.  But the data make it hard to argue that large numbers of Hispanic immigrants, whether legal or illegal, increase the rate of growth.

Could we argue the counterfactual, that the rate of growth would be lower still without large-scale Hispanic immigration?  No.  Studies show that first generation Hispanic immigrants in America are disproportionately low-skilled.

It’s hard to go a day without hearing an economist say that the United States needs both kinds of immigrants.  High-skilled immigrants help drive innovation, while low-skilled immigrants do the jobs Americans don’t want to do.  But wanting low-skilled immigrants is not the same thing as needing them.  Let middle-income and upper-income households mow their own lawns and do their own household chores.  Let agriculture invest in automation and mechanization instead of relying on low-cost, backbreaking immigrant labor.  (E.g., Australia).  Let industry continue to invest in automation.  Let the middle class pay a bit more to eat out, or stay in a hotel, or pay more for other services that use low-cost labor.  Importing low-cost labor for the economic comfort of middle- and upper-income households does not have any moral basis, while it simultaneously increases the income gap between the top 10% and the bottom third of the income scale, which has become an issue of national concern.

The implication for immigration policy is clear.  Our strength and our prosperity benefit from high-skilled immigrants.  We should also increase the skills of resident Americans!

Politics and economics often conflict.  The Democrat Party wants more low-skilled immigrants, who vote Democrat when they become citizens.  Try a thought experiment.  If the vast majority of Hispanic immigrants voted Republican, would the clamor for low-skilled immigrants continue or decline?  Be honest.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Why It’s So Hard To Withdraw U.S. Troops From Afghanistan, The Middle East, And Other Regions

First, some facts, based on U.S. Department of Defense statistics as of June 30, 2019.  The data are by region, identifying the most important countries.

Europe:  (NATO):  64,702
            Germany:  35,232  (20 U.S. military bases in Germany)
            Italy:  12,843

East Asia (Excluding Hawaii and Guam):  84,593
            Japan:   55,327
            South Korea:  26,086

West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, Africa, and Indian Ocean:  10,683
            Bahrain:  4,371

Unspecified:  9,076
           
Afghanistan (Q4 2017):  11,100

Iraq (Q1 2012):  11,445

U.S. troops have been in post-war Europe for 74 years, providing stability and preventing Soviet (Russian) expansion into Western Europe.  U.S. troops have been in Japan for 74 years and in South Korea for 59 years, protecting Japan from Russian encroachment and helping to secure stability and prosperity in South Korea.  Since 2001, U.S. troops have fought wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya, and are stationed in bases in Bahrain and Qatar.

The annual cost of maintaining U.S. troops in Europe, Japan, and South Korea is relatively modest compared with the past two decades of “hot” wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

An official estimate of the cost of the war in Afghanistan between 2001-19 is $975 billion in overseas contingency operations dedicated specifically to the war.  During 2001-14, Operation Iraqi Freedom cost $815 billion.  In addition, the base budget for the Department of Defense increased about $250 billion and the Veterans Affairs budget increased by more than $50 billion since 2001.

A Brown University study estimated the direct cost of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria between 2001 and 2016 at about $3.6 trillion.  Adding in money appropriated for war spending and on homeland security for 2017-19, the total surpasses $5 trillion (includes future obligations of $1 trillion through 2053 for veterans medical and disability costs, as well as interest on borrowing for wars).

Should the United States continue to deploy over 100,000 troops and spend hundreds of billions of dollars to stabilize Europe and East Asia?  A case can be made that the U.S. has benefitted from a stable global economic order.  A case can also be made that fewer troops in Germany, Japan, and South Korea could also do the job.

In contrast, the Middle East and Afghanistan lack the stability of Europe, Japan, and South Korea.  Without a major U.S. presence, the Taliban might be able to take over Afghanistan, an aggressive Iran could threaten Iraq and other Arab countries, and ISIS could resurface.

But it can also be asked if thousands of casualties and the expenditure of trillions of dollars since 2001 have brought security, stability, democracy, and prosperity to these countries.  Those who served in political, diplomatic, or military office in the Bush and Obama years are generally opposed to even minor withdrawals of U.S. troops.  Apart from President Trump, antiwar activists, and  those who believe the money should be spent on domestic programs, there are few influential interests advocating a significant withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East and Afghanistan.  They are no match for the Diplomatic, Military, Industrial, Political Complex.

The Diplomatic, Military, Industrial, Political Complex

Before naming names, let’s start with an overview.  The Project on Government Oversight has documented that as many as 380 high-ranking Defense Department Officials and officers over the past decade have left government to become lobbyists, corporate board members, and defense contractor consultants.  The list includes 25 four-star generals, 9 admirals, 43 three-star lieutenant generals and 23 vice admirals.  A quarter went to work for the top five defense contractors (Boeing, General Dynamics, United Technologies, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman).

Former Defense Department officials and officers are only a part of the DMIPC.  Prominent consulting groups generally support continued involvement in the Middle East and Afghanistan.  

Let’s take a look.  (Rather than list all the important names affiliated with each group, I think you would benefit from the research exercise of looking up each group, examining the scope of their global operations and personnel, and letting the information sink in.  I’m not being lazy.)

Albright Stonebridge Group.  ASG was founded by former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and merged with Stonebridge international.  Its heavy hitters include the former U.S. Commerce Secretary, former foreign ministers from Spain, Germany, and Portugal, and a former Swedish Minister of Finance.

Kissinger Associates, Inc.  It’s a Who’s Who of the powerful and influential.

The Cohen Group.  TCG was founded by former U.S. Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen.  Its staff and counselors come from the White House, the departments of State, Defense, and Commerce, and Congress.

Rice Hadley Gates.  RHG was founded by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and former Assistant to the President for National Security Stephen Hadley.

The Clinton Foundation.

Members of Congress generally support large defense appropriations and military bases in their districts to provide jobs and income for their constituents.

Several important think tanks concentrate on defense and foreign affairs.  The majority of their experts do not support withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Several of my military and diplomatic Hoover colleagues serve on the boards of directors of top defense contractors and are principals and counselors of global consulting groups.  Do not construe this post as criticism of their activities.  These individuals can bring their vast experience and expertise to bear upon important matters of foreign policy and national security.

My point is that they and their employers have little incentive to support reduced military expenditure and involvement in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Europe, East Asia, and other real and potential trouble spots.

It takes a major shock (e.g., Kent State) to reverse military policy.  Any major shock that occurs in the near future is likely to strengthen the argument for continued or even increased U.S. military involvement in geostrategically important regions. Iran, Russia, and China loom on the horizon.