Heavy Fluff

Yes, I know it’s been more than awhile, my apologies, but Holiday did call.   You already have more than enough stuff to read though, right?   On top of that, my summer duties as “Soccer Dad” are really taking its toll.  Still, to my knowledge, I’m the only Loser putting up 2000 word posts on a regular basis about China, in general.   Nor do I put up ads or any of that stuff.   I know I don’t always put up stories you want to read…I’d say “I’m sorry abt that”, except I’m not.    Though in all honesty I’ve probably 3-4 stories that are more to your liking that in my view make credible social points, you guys would without doubt want to focus on all the “carnal content” such a story would touch on, blissfully ignoring(like feminist nazi did last time) the social point I’m trying to make.

OK, let’s get caught up.  Forgive any obvious mistakes.  I'll have to edit this later as I reread it.

First of all much thanks for the Slavs showing up.  Croatia, Serbia, Macedona, Bosnia-Herzogovina….lot of views from you guys and I appreciate it! My grandmother was a Slav and she has the facial features to prove it.  (pls don’t roll your eyes)

CHP podcast #153:

It’s one of his better ones, and I had to listen to it 2-3 times to fully appreciate the detail and content.  Basically, Laszlo debunks the view that England(the worlds truly first drug dealer), forced itself and its wares upon the innocent Heavenly Kingdom.  Rather, China had more nefarious reasons for wanting to shut out the British.  

Listening to CHP is a joy.  The world needs more passionate people on China like Mr. Montgomery.  He probably has the best podcast on China out there.   I can sense him slowing down a bit though…make sure to send him a note and stroke his ego!  Most of us are simply too lazy to do the work ourselves, that he does, to learn more about China.

Speaking of podcasts, I’m currently listening to the Hardcore History Podcast, Wrath of the Khans.  I highly recommend this podcast. 

Dan Carlin does a lot of work and his podcasts are usually multi-episode.  He covers various topics.   The guy just loves history.  I believe each episode has around 3 million downloads.   I recently finished his 6 part series on WW1.  (Let me save you the time…the Germans lose.  Still, listen to the first episode)  I’m currently on Episode 2, and it deals mostly with Genghis Khan and his attack on China.  It’s very educational.   Listening to this podcast, one is yet again reminded how little of China’s history(The Qing, for example), was actually ruled by the Han themselves.

Having so profusely praised the CHP(which I do abt every 6 months or so, I believe), I find Hardcore History a much meatier listen.  As it should be.  He only broadcasts once a quarter, and his podcasts can be 3 hours in length.  Give yourself a week to listen and digest each episode.

Meanwhile, I continue to read through Karnow’s book on the Philippines…(In Our Image, America’s Experience in the Philippines….something like that).  Again, I’m impressed with the Chinese influence on the country, not just pre Spanish times, but how they methodically over time, intermarried and thus had a very indirect if not outright dominant position in the country, over time.  Both the Philippines business and political elite both have Chinese blood poring through its veins.  

It is ironic that a nation as passively powerful and as dominant as China was right up to the 19th century had so little interest in imperialism, Western style.   Perhaps that would be because imperialism, Chinese style was so much different.  Tribute, not outright, formal occupation.    This former form of imperialism was certainly cheaper.    And what is so ironic about it?  As tribute as fallen out of favor, China has now been forced to express its own perceived gain of power through other means.  Means that are less subtle, more public, and with a “devil may care” attitude.  Because when you are bigger than everyone else, to such a degree(Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc), do you really give a fuck? 

What’s even more frightening, as I’ve alluded to in the past is the great swath of China’s educated population that agrees with this approach.   As nonsensical as it sounds, a great body of Chinese actually believe that international law simply does not apply to them.   It really is fascinating.  It is a direct application of Manifest Destiny, China Style.  It is a direct challenge to the “world order” that only China could attempt to pull off.  Maybe the “world order” as we know it is simply a farce?  After all, should not the concept of world order be a concept that everyone agrees on?  Last I looked China wasn’t at the table when the concept of World Order was created.

The entire concept of world order is a Western notion anyway, is it not?  As I’ve said in the Past, the Chinese did not read Rousseau, or Locke, or Voltaire in college.   Nor did these writers ever visit China.  But what if they had?  Would their writings have incorporated the “Chinese Condition”? 

China was a non-entity, post WW2.  Roosevelt was more than gracious to include China in the “Gang of 5”, ie the Security Council.  But he didn’t know who Mao was.   France and Britain are both somewhat diminished in presence nowadays.  But I’d prefer either of them to India.  

Well….guess what?  China is no longer a “non entity”.  It wants and deserves a seat at the table.   But just how much “leeway” will the world(America, basically) give it?  How much will China be allowed to change the concept of “world order”?  

Like I said these are fascinating times.  For the first time in 170 years, we are seeing a China that is Strong Again.  Except the powers of those times are preoccupied.  And on the other side of the globe.  Let’s face it, China, if it had the will and the design, could without the presence of the US, simply dominate all of Asia.   Such is China’s dominance of our supply chains, and manufacturing.  Such is their understanding of our Western, Capitalistic Greed. 

“To hell with Hong Kong, or this or that, can  you yet again cut the price of socks by another penny?”

We have indeed like Marx promised provided the rope with which we shall perhaps hang ourselves with.

A Quick Tale 

A few weeks ago before we went on Holiday, I noticed the friend of my wife had received a package, albeit at our residence.  She gets lots of these actually.  Finally, I actually looked at the label of one of these and it was from a high end clothing store.  A dress.    The next day my wife mailed it off to China.  I couldn’t help but ask what the deal was.

“It’s for one of my friends” in China, she replied.  

 Knowing that she has many, many friends in the textile industry in Zhejiang, ie making clothes,  I tongue in cheek chastised her about violating design patents, etc.   It was so obvious that she was sending the dress back to China at her friends’ request, so that some mysterious factory could copy its design and in turn sell it within China, without fear of penalty.

“You know you are cheating the system, right?” I mockinglyy chastised her.

China Wife simply shot back with an air of indifference……

“Everyone is always cheating someone in this world,” was her reply.

And that my friends, is China in twenty seconds.  This is the new world we live in.   It’s probably gotten to the point where online retailers probably have put out secret, albeit racist directives warning their sales teams against sending out new items, or sensitive, innovative products to people with a Chinese last name.  More than once, the buyer has simply been a front for a company in China. 

Chinese in this country have over time, as a group, developed the unfortunate reputation of “potentially untrustworthy”.  Sorry.   Yeah, it’s unfair.  But stereotypes are quickly created and only so slowly dissolve. 


While traveling on Holiday, we did of course make the rounds at several well established universities.  We just happened to “come across” them.  And Chinese were everywhere.  Tours, individual tourists, etc.   The cultural appreciation Chinese have for Education remains impressive.  Americans when in China may focus on the food, or historical monuments like the Great Wall.   In Europe architecture and art.  

China’s focus on meritocracy, albeit rote learning, over the past several centuries leading up to the 20th was both a positive and a negative.  A boon and a bane.   A rock of China’s millennia long superiority(tell that to the Mongols, right?), China’s inability to “Change” or “adopt” new ideas compares in great contrast to Japan’s decision to “learn from the West”, and probably coincides nicely with Japan’s Rise and China’s Steep Fall.   There is no doubt Japan’s societal flexibility is what eventually lead to its domination of China. 

It is ironic while China’s vaunted reputation for education remains intact, cheating on the Gaokao remains stubborn, and corruption has long since defeated any positive advantage China’s tradition for meritocracy may have given it.

“Shame our Ancestors”

China has apparently stopped its reclamation activities on the islands.  This was proudly announced.   No doubt that was only in preparation for  Xi’s visit to meet with Obama.   However, as we teach our kids, it’s not what you say, as much as what you do.  They are now slowly militarizing the islands.  Radar, lots of radar.  The rubber is soon, very soon to hit the road.   

Withdrawing from these islands would in effect “shame our ancestors”, claims China.   Once again, history will show China painting itself in a corner.   Should someone call its bluff.  Give China credit.  It has put its cards on the table for all to see.   It knows the West well enough to understand that the West simply isn’t ready to disrupt world trade and commerce over a group of rocks.   

And who could blame the West(ie America)? 

Would not drastic action simply create a 20 year period of open hostility?  A freeze in the world economy perhaps?  A new arms race?   China is all in folks.  It has no choice.  To leave those islands now the CCP would suffer far greater humiliation back home than it ever could to a Battle Fleet.

I’m thinking Xi will wait until after the Summit with Obama, before actually upping the ante.  This may turn out to be one of the more interesting summits(and downright contentious) an American president has had with a foreign leader since Gorbachev and Reagan sit down.   All the same, Obama will spend his time twenty five years from now explaining and justifying to all why he felt Iran was more of a focus than that country with nuclear weapons and a navy, with a population of over a billion people. 

As regards Zhou Yongkang

Trial? Was I the only one to notice Zhou Yongkang’s hair?  It was all white.  The guy is over 70, so obviously his hair should be white. (my assumption is here that most of you know how well groomed, and coifed his very healthy, black hair was)  The propensity for Chinese to dye their hair 染头发 has always been somewhat amusing, to say the least.  My inlaws do it, nearly everyone in China does it.   

It’s easy to see:  usually a white streak down the middle with jet black hair on either side, is a dead give away.

I cannot explain this custom.   While I saw a few Japanese do such a thing, it was not many.   With Chinese though, it appears to be universal.  As usual, the obsession with appearances overwhelms everything else. 

Zhou Yongkang being sentenced to life was nothing unusual.  What would be unusual would be his receiving a death sentence.   (again for reference, go back to my “The first Monster” post for reference.  Sad commentary)   All the same I can only wonder…..why did he not just run?  Leave China like so many others?   Methinks he simply did not believe it could happen to him.   After all, how could a man so powerful actually be put in jail?  Like many other powerful, rich people, they live shrouded in a veil of disillusionment.  They are surrounded by sycophants.  In a society where freedom to criticize someone has powerful as Zhou simply does not exist,  someone such as Zhou is never forced to eat the proverbial “humble piece of pie”. 

It would have been the richest of ironies for Zhou to flee overseas.   (I find it hard to believe his family had a billion dollars in assets.)  But if he had, he’d no doubt be walking freely on the streets somewhere today.


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