Beijing (AFP) – China protested to Washington Saturday after US President-elect Donald Trump broke with decades of foreign policy and spoke with the president of Taiwan.
“It was not immediately clear whether Trump’s telephone call with Tsai Ing-wen marked a deliberate pivot away from Washington’s official ‘One China’ stance, but it fuelled fears he is improvising on international affairs.”
It was not immediately clear whether Trump’s telephone call with Tsai Ing-wen marked a deliberate pivot away from Washington’s official “One China” stance, but it fuelled fears he is improvising on international affairs.
Zhang Wensheng, of Xiamen University, was more circumspect, dismissing Trump’s use of the term ‘president’ as ‘personal greetings’ that ‘do not reflect a political position whatsoever’.
China regards self-ruling Taiwan as part of its own territory awaiting reunification under Beijing’s rule, and any US move that would imply support for independence would likely trigger fury.
During Friday’s discussion, Trump and Tsai noted “the close economic, political and security ties” between Taiwan and the United States, according to the president-elect’s office.
Even before the call with Taiwan, Trump’s unorthodox diplomatic outreach had raised eyebrows, and, for some critics, in extending his hand to Taiwan, Trump crossed a dangerous line.
“President-elect Trump also congratulated President Tsai on becoming President of Taiwan earlier this year,” it said.
Beijing on Saturday offered a robust response.
“We have already made solemn representations about it to the relevant US side,” the Chinese foreign ministry said.
“There is no change to our longstanding policy on cross-Strait issues. We remain firmly committed to our ‘One China’ policy,” she added. “Our fundamental interest is in peaceful and stable cross-Strait relations.”
— National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne
“It must be pointed out that there is only one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory,”
China also urged “relevant parties in the US… to handle Taiwan-related issues with caution and care to avoid unnecessarily interfering with the overall situation of Sino-US relations.”
Trump, who had come under fire for the telephone call, hit back — on Twitter.
“Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call,” Trump tweeted.
– ‘How wars start’ –
President Barack Obama’s White House said the outgoing US administration had not changed its stance on China-Taiwan issues.
“There is no change to our longstanding policy on cross-Strait issues,” National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne told reporters. Read the rest of this entry »
A café in the central Chinese city of Xi’an has become a place of pilgrimage for students after its owner installed a giant artwork made of books as a symbol of the crushing workload that many of China’s schools impose on youngsters. At 7.5 meters tall with a diameter of 1.5 meters, the hollow edifice is made of over four tons of unwanted textbooks bought by Li from a nearby university. Read the rest of this entry »
Even socialists who traveled to the Soviet Union and saw its immense poverty with their own eyes could not be shaken from their faith.
To explain our insane fascination with socialism, I have pointed to a growing body of academic research, which suggests that we are, by nature, envious of and resentful toward people who amass “disproportionate” wealth and power.
Moreover, research suggests that we find it difficult to comprehend, let alone appreciate, what Friedrich Hayek called extended order — or the use of specialization and trade to create “an information gathering process, able to call up, and put to use, widely dispersed information that no central planning agency, let alone any individual, could know as a whole, possess or control.”
Our minds have evolved to deal with issues faced by our hunting and gathering ancestors (e.g., an exchange of meat for favors), not to deal with issues facing us today (e.g., outsourcing the assembly of the iPhone to China to make it more affordable in America). The extended order, in other words, has evolved in spite of, not because of, our best efforts.
Today, I want to address another reason behind the persistent appeal of socialism: the power of self-delusion, or our ability and willingness to go on believing in things that are patently not true.
Consider the following two examples. In 1985, my Czechoslovak aunt Kate visited the USSR. She was a committed Communist Party member all of her adult life, and, as a reward, she was given a chance to spend a couple of weeks in the workers’ paradise. When she returned, I impetuously asked her if she had brought me anything. “Nothing,” she replied much to my disappointment, “the USSR is a very poor country.” Yet Kate never wavered in her commitment to the principles of communism and remained a party member until 1989, when her entire value system came crumbling down along with the Berlin Wall.
Some ten years later, an American college professor of mine recalled his own visit to the USSR. In 1970, he and his wife spent two weeks in Leningrad, Moscow, and Kiev. During their stay in the communist country, he was shocked by the poverty and inefficiency he saw. (From Kiev, he wrote a letter to his parents in New York, which I have transcribed, with his permission, below.) All the other tourists that he met expressed similar sentiments.
When he returned to the United States, however, he kept on reading reports in mainstream publications, including Time magazine and The New York Times, which maintained that the Soviet economy was working. These reports were written by people who lived in the USSR, spoke Russian and had Soviet friends. As such, he concluded that the impressions he had made during his stay in the USSR were not valid.
If the above two examples failed to convince you of the power of self-delusion, consider our Nobel Prize-winning physicist from Ulm.
Einstein was a self-declared socialist. In 1949, he even published an essay titled “Why Socialism?” In it, Einstein wrote, “The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil [of human suffering]… I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate… [this evil], namely through the establishment of a socialist economy.”
It is striking that the most brilliant scientist of the 20th century, who escaped from national socialist Germany (Hitler called his party “socialist” for a reason) and moved to the capitalist United States, published an essay castigating capitalism and calling for socialism — while Stalin was still alive and busy butchering millions of Soviet citizens. Read the rest of this entry »
Japan Prepares for Nuclear War with North Korea by Warning Citizens to Shelter in Event of Kim Jong-Un Bomb AttackPosted: November 25, 2016
Japanese people are bracing themselves for nuclear attack with chilling advise on what to do if Kim Jong-un presses the red button.
For the first time since North Korea began a series of nuke tests, people in Japan are being issued with terrifying instruction on how to deal with nuclear war.
A downloadable pamphlet is now available on the island nation’s civil defence website.
Called “Protecting Ourselves against Armed Attacks and Terrorism,” it outlines emergency measures in the event North Korean missiles are fired at the country.
Like the UK’s booklet it give top-tips on how to avoid being fried and radiated. Read the rest of this entry »
As of the close of business, on Wednesday, Oct. 5—the latest day for which the Treasury has reported—the total federal debt was $19,663,411,497,797.40. That means that so far in Obama’s presidency, the federal debt has increased $9,036,534,448,884.32.
Terence P. Jeffrey reports: The federal government passed a fiscal milestone on the first business day of fiscal 2017—which was Monday, Oct. 3—when the total federal debt accumulated during the presidency of Barack Obama topped $9,000,000,000,000 for the first time.
On Jan. 20, 2009, when Obama was inaugurated, the total debt of the federal government was $10,626,877,048,913.08, according to data published by the U.S. Treasury.
As of the close of business on Friday, Sept, 30, the last day of fiscal 2016, the total federal debt was $19,573,444,713,936.79. At that point, the total federal debt had increased under Obama by $8,946,567,665,023.71.
On Monday, Oct. 3, the first business day of fiscal 2017, the total federal debt closed at $19,642,949,742,561.51. At that point, the debt had increased under Obama by $9,016,072,693,648.43 from the $10,626,877,048,913.08 it stood at on the day of Obama’s inauguration.
As of the close of business, on Wednesday, Oct. 5—the latest day for which the Treasury has reported—the total federal debt was $19,663,411,497,797.40. That means that so far in Obama’s presidency, the federal debt has increased $9,036,534,448,884.32. Read the rest of this entry »
Winter can be brutal – so brutal that even stone sculptures need protection. In Anyang, central China’s Henan Province, the Chinese guardian lions’ stone sculptures were covered with plastic bags to guard it from extreme weather. The meteorological department had forecasted 10-14mm of snowfall in the province, and the “red scarf” was used as a protective measure to safeguard the cultural relics.
LIMA (AFP-Jiji) — U.S. President Barack Obama bid farewell to the world stage Sunday, pondering his legacy and offering advice to his successor at the end of his final foreign tour.
Spot the difference pic.twitter.com/BOvu2JinQq
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) November 18, 2016
His historic presidency and charisma have made Obama a rock star on the international scene, even at times when the daily grind of politics dimmed the glow around his election as the United States’ first black president in 2008.
Obama spoke to both the American people and the world as he gave his final foreign press conference in Lima. Read the rest of this entry »
Online experimentation doesn’t have to be limited to tech companies.
Edward Jung It’s tempting to portray the rapid growth of the Chinese Internet as just one more example of China’s efforts to catch up with the West: Alibaba is the eBay of China, Baidu is the Google of China, Didi is the Uber of China, and so on. But China is actually conducting some fascinating experiments with the Internet (see “The Best and Worst Internet Experience in the World“). You just need to look outside the tech sector to notice them.
The most significant innovation is happening not among Chinese Internet companies but in the country’s so-called “real” economy. Corporations in old-school sectors like construction, agriculture, transportation, and banking are pursuing new business models based on big data, social media, and the Internet of things.
These are some of the largest firms of their kind in the world, yet many are young enough to be helmed by their original owner/founders. They’re like Rockefeller, Ford, or Carnegie with access to smartphones.
So it’s China’s largest residential-property developer—not a tech company—that is pioneering the integration of Internet-based technology and services into fully wired communities. Vanke wants to create urban hubs that supply residents with gardens, safe food, travel, entertainment, and medical and educational services, all enabled by the Internet. Read the rest of this entry »
Ever wondered what being in space feels like? Well, in the wake of October’s launch of China’s Shenzhou-11 spacecraft, a theme park in Shunde City, Guangdong Province has given visitors the chance to experience the sensation of weightlessness. Tourists put on spacesuits before riding a capsule attached to cables. Read the rest of this entry »
Officers use pepper spray on protesters angry that Beijing will issue an interpretation of the semiautonomous city’s Basic Law.
Police used pepper spray on protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday evening as thousands rallied against Beijing’s plans to intervene in a political standoff over two local lawmakers who insulted China in the city’s legislature.
“The police was using very brutal violence to depress us. We were very angry because we think that for such an important issue, we at least have our right to protest.”
On Sunday, thousands marched in central Hong Kong to protest against China’s looming intervention. In scenes reminiscent of the city’s mass pro-democracy protests of 2014, video taken by local press showed police spraying the crowd and protesters protecting themselves with umbrellas.
“We were trying to occupy Connaught Road…but there were too many police and there were some conflicts between us. They used pepper spray. We tried to step back and fight again, but they kept on spraying.”
— Hayley Lee, 27, an airline cabin-crew member
Hong Kong Police Force senior superintendent Lewis Tse confirmed officers used pepper spray during a “chaotic” confrontation with some protesters late Sunday. He said two men—aged 39 years and 57 years—had been arrested.
Hundreds of protesters gathered near Western Street, in the city’s Sai Ying Pun district, as the march against China’s reinterpretation of the Basic Law turned into a standoff with the police. People held umbrellas aloft and wore face masks to protect themselves from the pepper spray.
“We were trying to occupy Connaught Road…but there were too many police and there were some conflicts between us,” said Hayley Lee, 27, an airline cabin-crew member. “They used pepper spray. We tried to step back and fight again, but they kept on spraying.”
In the crowd, familiar faces from the so-called Umbrella movement two years ago were present.
“The police was using very brutal violence to depress us,” said Nathan Law Kwun-chung, the 23-year-old newly elected “localist” who has advocated for greater autonomy from China. “We were very angry because we think that for such an important issue, we at least have our right to protest,” he said of police attempts to move the crowd near China’s official Liaison Office on Connaught Road.
As the night wore on, rows of police held their lines, while others looked on from the steps of the Western Police Station. Officers stood with shields, warning protesters to keep maintain control and stay calm.
Protesters continued to mill around, disorganized, and many were unsure about whether they would stay out for whole night. Still, they agreed they wanted to take a stand with Beijing’s decision expected to be made Monday. Read the rest of this entry »
Beijing’s Draft Ruling on Oath-Taking for Hong Kong Legislators ‘So Detailed it Amounts to a New Law’Posted: November 5, 2016
Constitutional expert says interpretation sets dangerous precedent for Beijing to interfere when it does not like a law, but Bar Association chairwoman believes it will have limited impact.
Joyce Ng reports: The Beijing draft ruling on how lawmakers should take their oath appears so elaborate that it amounts to making a new law for Hong Kong, lawyers say, though they differ on how much the intervention will affect the judicial system.
One professor says the ruling could set a dangerous precedent for Beijing to issue its own interpretation if it does not like a Hong Kong law or does not trust local judges in dealing with a sensitive issue. The Bar Association chief says the decision could provide clarity for lawmakers about oath-taking.
The draft interpretation, set to be voted on Monday, is likely to prescribe the format and conduct for legislators taking the oath and the consequences of non-compliance, as well as defining words like “allegiance” in Article 104 of the Basic Law, according to Basic Law Committee members who have been consulted by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.
But Johannes Chan Man-mun, an expert in constitutional law at the University of Hong Kong, said such details should not exist in or be added to a document like the Basic Law.
“It is acceptable Beijing wants to define words like ‘allegiance’ and ‘uphold’, but to add in so much other detail is not interpreting the law but making a new law, which the Standing Committee cannot do,” he said.
The controversy erupted when two localist lawmakers used derogatory language about China when taking their oaths. The chief executive and secretary for justice then launched a court bid to disqualify the two, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, from taking their Legco seats.
Under Article 18 of the Basic Law, if the Standing Committee wishes to apply a mainland law to Hong Kong, it must first consult the Hong Kong government and add it to annex 3 of the Basic Law. Chan said the Standing Committee arguably bypassed this procedure by way of interpretation.
Another possible point of the interpretation is to confirm that the Legislative Council’s secretary-general, who is in charge of administration issues, has the power to invalidate oaths.
Chan said it would be ridiculous to elevate the status of the secretary-general and put him in the constitutional document, giving him too much power. Read the rest of this entry »
A monkey kisses the cardboard cutout of US Presidential candidate Donald Trump during a selection intended to predict the result of the US election, at a park in Changsha, in China’s Hunan province on November 3, 2016. The monkey chose Republican candidate Donald Trump.
ZHUHAI, China (Reuters) –Tim Hepher and Brenda Goh report: China showed its Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter in public for the first time on Tuesday, opening the country’s biggest meeting of aircraft makers and buyers with a show of its military clout.
“It’s a change of tactics for the Chinese to publicly show off weapons that aren’t in full squadron service yet, and demonstrates a lot of confidence in the capability, and also a lot of pride.”
— Sam Roggeveen, a senior fellow at the Sydney-based Lowy Institute
Airshow China, in the southern city of Zhuhai, offers Beijing an opportunity to demonstrate its ambitions in civil aerospace and to underline its growing capability in defense. China is set to overtake the U.S. as the world’s top aviation market in the next decade.
Two J-20 jets, Zhuhai’s headline act, swept over dignitaries, hundreds of spectators and industry executives gathered at the show’s opening ceremony in a flypast that barely exceeded a minute, generating a deafening roar that was met with gasps and applause and set off car alarms in a parking lot.
“I think we learned very little. We learned it is very loud. But we can’t tell what type of engine it has, or very much about the mobility. Most importantly, we didn’t learn much about its radar cross-section.”
— Greg Waldron, Asia Managing Editor of FlightGlobal
Experts say China has been refining designs for the J-20, first glimpsed by planespotters in 2010, in the hope of narrowing a military technology gap with the United States. President Xi Jinping has pushed to toughen the armed forces as China takes a more assertive stance in Asia, particularly in the South China and East China seas.
“It is clearly a big step forward in Chinese combat capability,” said Bradley Perrett of Aviation Week, a veteran China watcher.
State-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) was also bullish on China’s appetite for new civilian planes, estimating the market would need 6,865 new aircraft worth $930 billion over the next 20 years.
The COMAC forecast – similar to long-term outlooks from well-established rivals Boeing Co and Airbus Group – said China would make up almost a fifth of global demand for close to 40,000 planes over the next two decades. Read the rest of this entry »
Our nation faces many existential challenges that our politicians refuse to address.
Victor Davis Hanson writes: The Greek city-states in the fourth-century BC, fifth-century AD Rome, and the Western European democracies after World War I all knew they could not continue as usual with their fiscal, social, political, and economic behavior. But all these states and societies feared far more the self-imposed sacrifices that might have saved them.
“We seem to be reaching that point of stasis in postmodern America. Once simple and logical solutions to our fiscal and social problems are now seen as too radical even to discuss.”
Mid-fifteenth-century Byzantium was facing endemic corruption, a radically declining birthrate and shrinking population, and the end of civic militarism—all the last-gasp symptoms of an irreversible decline. Its affluent ruling and religious orders and expansive government services could no longer be supported by disappearing agrarians and the overtaxed mercantile middle class.
Returning to the values of the Emperor Justinian’s sixth-century empire that had once ensured a vibrant Byzantine culture of stability and prosperity throughout the old Roman east remained a nostalgic daydream. Given the hardship and sacrifice that would have been required to change the late Byzantine mindset, most residents of Constantinople plodded on to their rendezvous with oblivion in 1453.
We seem to be reaching that point of stasis in postmodern America. Once simple and logical solutions to our fiscal and social problems are now seen as too radical even to discuss. Consider the $20-trillion national debt. Most Americans accept that current annual $500 billion budget deficits are not sustainable—but they also see them as less extreme than the recently more normal $1 trillion in annual red ink.
“Race relations pose comparable paradoxes. Inner-city Chicago has turned into a war zone with over 500 murders so far this year alone.”
Americans also accept that the Obama administration doubled the national debt on the expectation of permanent near-zero interest rates, which cannot continue. When interest rates return to more normal historical levels of 4-5% per annum, the costs of servicing the debt—along with unsustainable Social Security and Medicare entitlement costs—will begin to undermine the entire budget.
“Illegal immigration, like the deficits, must cease, but stopping it would be too politically incorrect and painful even to ponder. The mess in Europe—millions of indigent and illegal immigrants who have fled their own failed states to become dependent on the largess of their generous adopted countries, but without any desire to embrace their hosts’ culture—is apparently America’s future.”
Count up current local, state and federal income taxes, payroll taxes, property and sales taxes, and new health care taxes, and it will be hard to find the necessary additional revenue from a strapped and overtaxed middle class, much less from the forty-seven percent of Americans who currently pay no federal income taxes.
The Obama administration has tried to reduce the budget by issuing defense cuts and tax hikes—but it has refused to touch entitlement spending, where the real gains could be made. The result is more debt, even as, paradoxically, our military was weakened, taxes rose, revenue increased, and economic growth remained anemic at well below 2% per annum.
“…there are few multiracial societies of the past that have avoided descending into destructive ethnic chauvinism and tribalism once assimilation and integration were replaced by salad-bowl identity politics. Common words and phrases such as ‘illegal alien’ or ‘deportation’ are now considered taboo, while ‘sanctuary city’ is a euphemism for a neo-Confederate nullification of federal immigration laws by renegade states and municipalities.”
Illegal immigration poses a similar dilemma. No nation can remain stable when 10-20 million foreign nationals have crashed through what has become an open border and reside unlawfully in the United States—any more than a homeowner can have neighbors traipsing through and camping in his unfenced yard. Read the rest of this entry »