Today’s China is not the future we should want

2020-07-07

in Economics, Law, Politics, Rants, Security

China’s strategy with the Hong Kong ‘security’ law seems intended to send a global message: critics of China will be increasingly punished as the state’s global influence grows.

This is disturbing in many ways, for the welfare of people in China, the region, and around the world. The degree of authoritarian control that technology has granted over citizens’ lives is disturbing in itself, and could permanently inhibit reform or political progress. While it tries to present itself as organized and competent in comparison to chaotic democracies, there is also reason to believe that China is replicating the dysfunctional and corrupt politics of the Soviet Union, with officials at every level incentivized to conceal and misrepresent what is really happening to protect themselves and advance their personal interests. Ethnic and religious nationalism, in India as well as China, are also deeply frightening and drivers of abhorrent humanitarian abuses.

Given the expected trajectory of relative power in global politics — with North America, Europe, and Japan all in relative decline — perhaps the best that can be hoped for is a peaceful revolution within China to remove the Communist Party, potentially along the lines of the establishment of the Sixth Republic in South Korea after 1987.

China hasn’t grown richer out of the brilliance or wisdom of the communist party, but out of that party’s abandonment of communist ideology for a synthesis between export-driven industries making use of inexpensive labour and an unaccountable state willing to smash anyone who gets in the way of the big plans. The idea that there’s an appealing “China model” that other states should consider in the face of American decline is just wrong. It’s a police state rising through cynical diplomatic manipulation and a central role in the global consumerist manufacturing system, not a model for the future that any free people should embrace. Indeed, it is a model we should resist, even when the Chinese government cultivates fear over what the personal costs of doing so will be.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

. July 7, 2020 at 11:58 pm

China blackmailing dissenters in US to return home – FBI chief

Christopher Wray condemns campaign against ex-pats and says Beijing espionage is ‘greatest threat to US economic vitality’

. July 8, 2020 at 6:47 pm

Google shut down plan for cloud services in China

Google scrapped cloud initiative that sought to address China’s desire to control data within its borders: Sources.

. July 8, 2020 at 7:06 pm
. July 8, 2020 at 11:17 pm
. July 9, 2020 at 6:03 pm

Whereas past actions from Beijing chipped away at Hong Kong’s “One country, two systems” institutions, such as education, free elections and an independent judiciary, the security law eliminates free-speech protections, inserts political bodies as lawmaking authorities and grants police authority without judicial oversight, thus dismantling wholesale the legal institutions that previously insulated Hong Kong from its control

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/09/china-economic-hong-kong-financial-beijing

. July 10, 2020 at 9:32 pm
alena prazak July 13, 2020 at 8:12 pm

I witnessed a Chinese form of terrorism in Tibet when I went there with my son. It involved colonialism, brutality, arrogance and economic exploitation. Although the world has verbally supported Tibet for more than half a century, nobody has stopped China in any way. I think that only serious domestic economic problems can unsettle the leadership.

Milan July 14, 2020 at 6:47 pm

Professor Dianu Fu, whose course on contentious politics I recently audited, was interviewed about Hong Kong and the new law on the CBC:

The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright: Hong Kong’s democracy in peril and its people at a crossroads

. July 15, 2020 at 1:11 am

New York Times moves staff out of Hong Kong amid press freedom fears

New national security laws prompt US media organisation to shift a third of its operation to South Korea

. July 22, 2020 at 11:59 pm

The police can now demand that any message posted on the internet that is deemed a threat to national security be removed and that its author be banned from the host platform.

Censorship is spreading. Public libraries have removed books by politicians who have called for greater autonomy for Hong Kong. Schools have been “recommended” to do the same. The education bureau has ordered pupils not to sing the protest anthem “Glory to Hong Kong” or otherwise “express their political stance”. Mrs Lam has told foreign journalists that their freedom to report is conditional on a “100% guarantee” that they abide by the new law.

. July 30, 2020 at 3:27 am

Hong Kong University fires prominent democracy activist Benny Tai | Hong Kong protests News | Al Jazeera

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/07/hong-kong-university-fires-prominent-democracy-activist-benny-tai-200729010757678.html

. July 31, 2020 at 11:13 pm

China uses Hong Kong security law against US-based American citizen | Hong Kong | The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/31/china-hong-kong-security-law-american-citizen-exiles

. August 8, 2020 at 5:45 pm

Faith leaders join forces to warn of Uighur ‘genocide’

Statement signed by Rowan Williams, bishops, imams and rabbis says Chinese Muslim minority faces ‘human tragedy’

. September 2, 2020 at 8:10 pm

China blocks Piketty book on inequality as leadership prepares to declare victory over poverty – The Globe and Mail

Mr. Piketty’s newest research, meanwhile, has shone an unflattering light on China. Using new analytical methods, he found that the country’s top 10 per cent earned 41 per cent of all income in 2015, compared with 27 per cent in 1978, and have accumulated almost 70 per cent of all private wealth. The bottom half dropped from 27 per cent of all earnings to 15 per cent over that time

“The fact that China so quickly became so much more inegalitarian than Europe was by no means inevitable and clearly represents a failure for the regime,” Mr. Piketty writes in Capital and Ideology. “In the 1980s, the level of income inequality was close to that of the most egalitarian countries in Europe, such as Sweden.”

Thomas Piketty refuses to censor latest book for sale in China | Thomas Piketty | The Guardian

. September 7, 2020 at 4:44 pm

Furthermore, a regime’s internal dynamics often presage external behavior, so it is ominous, the New York Times reports, that Xi’s regime is directing the security agencies to “drive the blade in” and “scrape poison off the bone” as they “resolutely put absolute loyalty, absolute purity and absolute dependability into action” to make everyone “obey Xi in everything.”

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2020/09/06/commentary/world-commentary/strategic-ambiguity-taiwan-us/

. September 22, 2020 at 5:15 pm

Ren Zhiqiang: Chinese tycoon who criticized Xi Jinping’s handling of coronavirus jailed for 18 years – CNN

https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/22/asia/china-ren-zhiqiang-xi-jinping-intl-hnk/index.html

. September 26, 2020 at 10:46 pm

China has built 380 internment camps in Xinjiang, study finds | World news | The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/24/china-has-built-380-internment-camps-in-xinjiang-study-finds

. October 6, 2020 at 11:11 pm

Oxford moves to protect students from China’s Hong Kong security law | Education | The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/sep/28/oxford-moves-to-protect-students-from-chinas-hong-kong-security-law

. November 8, 2020 at 11:42 pm

Hong Kong police launch hotline for residents to inform on each other | Hong Kong | The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/05/hong-kong-police-launch-hotline-for-residents-to-inform-on

. November 12, 2020 at 9:19 pm

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers resign en masse

Beijing grants sweeping powers to disqualify local government lawmakers

Anon February 11, 2021 at 1:37 pm

Chinese censorship is enforced ignorance, and no society based on forced ignorance will prosper.

. February 15, 2021 at 6:50 pm

In Hong Kong, freedom of expression is shrinking fast | Freedom of the Press News | Al Jazeera

https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2021/2/14/in-hong-kong-freedom-of-expression-is-shrinking-fast

. March 5, 2021 at 2:13 pm

Smile for the camera: the dark side of China’s emotion-recognition tech | China | The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/mar/03/china-positive-energy-emotion-surveillance-recognition-tech

. March 11, 2021 at 7:45 pm

China’s ‘Sharp Eyes’ Program Aims To Surveil 100% of Public Space – Slashdot

https://yro.slashdot.org/story/21/03/05/1952250/chinas-sharp-eyes-program-aims-to-surveil-100-of-public-space

. March 21, 2021 at 7:32 pm

Hong Kong’s arts scene shudders as Beijing draws cultural red line | Hong Kong | The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/21/hong-kongs-arts-scene-shudders-as-beijing-draws-cultural-red-line

. April 9, 2021 at 4:17 pm

China’s Techno-Authoritarianism Has Gone Global
Washington Needs to Offer an Alternative
By Maya Wang
April 8, 2021

Nearly every week, the international news media reports on the Chinese government’s troubling use of technology to spy on its own citizens and those of other countries. China’s tech giants, Foreign Policy reported late last year, work hand in glove with the country’s spy agencies. The Guardian suggested in December that a Chinese state-owned phone operator spies on American users.

Surveillance is a fact of life for Chinese citizens and, increasingly, for those who live in countries that have adopted Chinese surveillance technology, from Ecuador to Kyrgyzstan. Even more worrisome, this ecosystem of Chinese-based technologies carries with it a set of values that undergirds the Chinese state—a form of twenty-first-century authoritarianism that marries social control and efficiency.

The United States has kneecapped Chinese technology giants in the name of national security and human rights. But the United States and its tech companies also have a checkered history with the very ideals they claim to uphold. To prevent China’s techno-authoritarianism from gaining traction, the United States must reverse course and start leading by example: it must reform its own surveillance practices, protect citizens’ privacy and security, and work with allies to set rights-respecting global standards for tech firms to follow.

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