July 20, 2005
Cato and Chinese Straw-Men
K-Lo summarizes a conversation she had with Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute concerning the Cnooc bid for Unocal.
This is why you don't ever let Cato guys anywhere near foreign policy. He's got so many straw-man arguments here that he's going to have to resurrect Ray Bolger to fill them out.
Our hostility to China's takeover of Unocal isn't based on hostility to a prosperous China. I don't know anyone who thinks this.
It's based on China's hostility to us. I don't care if this makes China more prosperous. I do care if it's China using frankly imperialist measures to lock up half the world's natural resources, making it pre-emptively harder for us to get them, especially in a crisis.
China hasn't gone to war with anyone because they have lacked the means and the motive. They're certainly not shy about threatening to incinerate half of the western US if we try to defend Taiwan. And, um, China attacks Taiwan, but we're the aggressor? How does he get there from here?
If Taylor's sick of hearing about China's attitude towards human rights, he should take it up with the Chinese. French instincts on human rights aren't mine, but I'm pretty sure French correspondents for the Washington Post haven't been tossed incommunicado into the Bastille anytime recently. Major operations, like, oh, the oil industry, are substantially government-controlled. And by my count, the number of major political parties in China is "one." Perhaps he'd like to go over there and try to form another.
Finally, US investment in China is one of the great con-games of all time. Foreigners can't outright own Chinese companies. They own assets at a minority share, and if Taylor doesn't think every vote counts, he should ask Al Gore. The government routinely demands technology transfer, and the currency isn't convertible. China knows it needs foreign direct investment, and it gets it by pointing to 1 billion Chinese and the promise of tomorrow's profits. So far, nobody's making any money over there.
I want free trade with China. I'm well aware of, and support the idea that a growing middle class is going to demand control over their lives. That's what scared the Junkers into starting WWI, too.
June 07, 2005
And You Thought the FEC Was Bad
China is requiring all websites - including blogs - to register with the government, and will use Net Crawler technology to search the web for unregistered sites. This will move blogs offshore, where the Government-sponsored filters can monitor incoming traffic as they currently do US news sites.
They've also installed surveillance cameras and begun requiring visitors to Shanghai Internet cafes to register using their official identity cards — all in an effort to keep tabs on who's seeing and saying what online.
Right. So much for that Comments section you've been keeping spam-free.
Talk about a "chilling effect." Just because a censor can't be comprehensive doesn't mean it can't be effective.
Inasmuch as business and public policy frequently intersect - especially in a "mature fascist state," as Michael Ledeen likes to call China - this is going to make honest business blogging and even honest business discussion much more difficult to carry on. I can't believe that eventually this isn't going to catch up with them.
My favorite paragraph is this:
"The Internet has profited many people but it also has brought many problems, such as sex, violence and feudal superstitions and other harmful information that has seriously poisoned people's spirits," the MII Web site said in explaining the rules, which were quietly introduced in March.
Maybe the Fraters Guys have been imbibing "seriously poisoned spirits," and I can certainly understand China wanting to defend themselves against that sort of thing. But what on earth are "feudal superstitions?" Christianity? I don't want to be disrespectful here of anyone's reigion, but what do these guys think the I Ching is?