Category Archives: China

Chinese Communism at 90

This week, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) celebrates its 90th anniversary, a milestone their Soviet counterpart never achieved. There will be parades with smiling children and banners exalting the virtues of Chinese Communism. Their success at building the world’s second largest economy will be trumpeted and their pride in one of the largest economic growth rates will be proudly hailed. Indeed the Chinese Communists will be celebrating what appears to be not only a successful past, but a bright future. This will be the narrative of the main stream media, yet as is often the case it will be disingenuously selective in its perspective.

Poster Celebrating the 90th Anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party

Buried deep in the coverage will be mention of how the Chinese Communist Party has held on to power when its older siblings in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe are now on the ash pile of history. The true nature of the Chinese Communists was demonstrated in June 1989, the same time when European Communism was falling. The Soviets under Mikhail Gorbachev when faced with massive popular unrest reacted by implementing democratic reform and learned a truism of history, when people are given freedom they will seek more. In two years the Soviet Union was a failed chapter in the history books. The CCP did not emulate their European comrade’s mistake and reacted to the prodemocracy protests with the traditional tools of totalitarian dictatorships, they sent in the tanks.

Pro-Democracy Protesters in Tiananmen Square Surround the Goddess of Democracy in May 1989

Few of us who are old enough to have lived through that day will forget the images of the tanks arriving in Tiananmen Square where hundreds of thousands of protestors had gathered since April of that year to peacefully demand democratic reforms for the Chinese People. Today’s celebrations in that very Square are certain not to contain the 10 meter tall Goddess of Democracy created from wire, foam and paper mache by student which came to symbolize their desire for freedom. It is unlikely we will ever know how many people died that day, official government numbers were 241 and said to be mostly soldiers supposedly killed by those dangerous unarmed student protesters. The Red Cross initially reported 2,600 dead and countless wounded. Graphic video surfaced showing the effects tank tracks can have on unarmed protesters. While the Chinese Communist Party will flood the streets with protesters chanting of the greatness of modern China; the real symbol of the strength of the Chinese people is a single solitary man, who had been walking home with a bag in one hand and a packsack in the other who stepped out onto the streets alone and simply stood before the advancing tanks, moving when they move, and stopped them. He was later identified as 19 year old Wang Weilin whose fate has never been determined with certainty, however it has been reported he was executed 14 days later.

Lone Chinese Man Faces Down Advancing Communist Tank Column in Tiananmen Square June 1989

Lone Chinese Man Faces Down Advancing Communist Tank Column in Tiananmen Square June 1989

Twenty years later we are bombarded by the media’s message of a Chinese economic miracle and the inevitability of China emerging as the largest economy in the world. Indeed the west has been a willing participant in china’s development with massive technology transfers by companies like General Electric who just this January contributed its global avionics business into a joint venture with a Chinese state controlled firm (GE’s Chairman Jeffrey Immelt is also Chairman of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board). In doing so GE is working to build the Chinese aerospace industry in the naive hope of securing short term sales in china, a goal western firms are finding increasingly difficult. One can only imagine how much of the avionics technical knowhow being given to the Chinese Communists will ultimately find its way to the new Chengdu J-20 Fifth Generation Tactical Fighter which according to reports from the CIA rivals the performance of our own F22 Raptor. Yet much of the credit for China’s economic miracle has to go to the everyday westerner who enjoys the $600 iPad without consideration to the Chinese workers who live in near prison conditions in factory towns to produce cheap export goods fueling China’s economy. Maybe it is time for individual western citizens and corporations to take a look at how their own actions are impacting others in the world.

It is far from clear what the future holds for Chinese Communism and the impact it will ultimately have not only on the Chinese people but on the world. Those maps of China on the parade floats today show the island of Taiwan as part of China, something the people of that free island reject out of hand and should China attempt to impose communist rule on Taiwan by force the free world would be obliged to stop any communist aggression. At that point western technology transfers will seem even less well considered than they do today. Yet perhaps the biggest challenge to the rule of the Chinese Communist Party comes from the aspirations of the Chinese people themselves. Once a nation tastes the fruits of economic freedom, the aspirations for political freedom are hard to contain. What the Communists do not understand is that free markets go hand in hand with individual and political freedoms and are over time inseparable. History has shown us that once a people taste freedom, no totalitarian regime can deny them for long.

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Filed under China, Communism, Democracy, Foreign Policy, National Security, Obama Administration, Politics

Outsourcing Space to China? Not So Fast

Watching the Space Shuttle Endeavour launch this morning on the second last flight of the Shuttle Program was somewhat bittersweet. The shuttle has had an amazing 30 year run but its time has come and gone. Yet thanks to the Obama Administration decision to cancel the Constellation Program the US is left paying the Russians to take us to the International Space Station, a complex the US paid more than 80 percent of the cost. Recently the White House science advisor John Holdren suggested that we may invite China to join in the ISS. Well not so fast, Rep Frank Wolf (R-VA) chairman of the house appropriations sub-committee which oversees NASA’s budget see’s the Chinese as rivals, not partners. Rep Wolf recently inserted a clause in the budget which to prevent NASA or OSTP from using federal funds “to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company”.

The Future of China in Space - Note the Space Shuttle Without US Markings

So why not cooperate with china as we have with other nations? First we need to look at the history of such cooperation on space where, like the ISS the cooperation often takes the form of US funding of other nations projects. However China has built its entire space program on acquired technology. In the 1990’s they reached agreement with the cash strapped Russians to acquire manned spaceflight technology based on the tried and tested Soyuz spacecraft. While they Chinese claimed to have only used that as the basis for their own development, apparently they forgot to change the Russian text on some of the control panels used in their first manned space flight when the pictures were initially released. They did show competent use of Photoshop technology when they revised subsequent releases to show only Chinese.

The US government investment in space flight has been a recognition not only of the economic impact and the need for national leadership in such new technologies and exploration. Space has been seen by strategic planners for decades as the high ground in any future conflict. It has been seen as imperative that the US maintain its leadership in this area.

To now bring China into the ISS or any future space program would simply to invite the theft of more strategic technology. Better yet why take American technology when the Obama administration is prepared to give it away? True to course for the Obama Administration they have taken the view that Rep. Wolf’s amendment does not apply to scientific interactions, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden visited China last October and virtually opened the door to the Chinese with no regard to national security or the Wolf Amendment. It is imperative that congress stop all contact between NASA and the Chinese until The Obama administration is retired January 20, 2013. Given administrator Bolden’s performance on China, and following congressional direction on Constellation and the Heavy launch Vehicle, it may be time to consider his removal from office.

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Filed under American Leadership, Barak Obama, Budget, China, Congress, Foreign Policy, NASA, National Security, Politics, Space Flight, The White House

Clinton Wants Global Internet Agency to Fight Misinformation

Bill Clinton was interviewed on CNBC’s “Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo” this past Friday and made a proposal which deserves some discussion; Bill Clinton is concerned with the sheer volume of rumor and misinformation which exists on the internet. This is indeed a problem that many of us have with the internet, particularly the ability of misinformation to be seen by some as fact simply by sheer volume. However Clinton has an innovative solution which is both naive and of great concern. He has prepossessed that the United Nations ideally, or the US government if the UN was unable to act, would set up an autonomous agency to combat internet misinformation.

Former President Bill Clinton Proposes a UN Internet Agenecy to Fight Misinformation

When I read about this in the Politico I took a double take to see if I in fact had read the article correctly. This was one of those articles which was even more concerning the more the magnitude and implications of the former president’s suggestion was considered. The mere existence of any government agency which had as its mandate to determine truth in what has become a global forum congers the image of third world dictators or the Chinese Communists who attempt to control what their people read on the internet. Clinton was vague as to the powers of this global internet cop, but even if it was just there to “correct” misinformation is beyond disturbing. He went to pains to say this agency must be run by an independent administrator who would be both respected and seen as independent from any government. Yet the concept of a government stepping into tell the media what it truth and what is misinformation is offensive in any democracy.

Of greatest concern is his proposal to have the United Nations be the “government” which would empower and manage this agency. The UN is not a government and lacks any authority to act as one. One of the most significant legal debates in the United States in recent years has been the relevance and authority of foreign legal positions on US law. Under our Constitution the answer would appear simple, there is in fact no role and the constitution itself is the highest legal authority in America. One cannot imagine any such agency surviving a judicial review as to its constitutionality under the first amendment. Freedom of speech, even offensive and questionable speech, is fundamental in any democracy, period.

Clinton’s proposal also displays his ignorance of the manner in which the internet operates. The Chinese Communists have been trying to control the ability of their citizens to access content critical of the regime or calling for democratic reform. As quickly as a barrier is put up, those seeking freedom find a way around the blockage. Indeed none other than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton backed efforts to help internet dissidents in China to break down the government’s “Great Firewall” several months ago. Attempting t block information on the interne t is like putting your figure in a Mississippi levy to stop the approaching flood. He also neglects the internets tendency to correct itself by the sheer volume of discussion and analysis by the many choices in existence. One need only look to the development of Wikipedia which has been manipulated with misinformation, yet over time it is corrected by the volume of contributors in a collaborative process.

What was in Clintons mind when he made this proposal is imposable to know but it must be taken very seriously by those who value freedom. Government censorship if a cancer on democracy and must be fought and defeated wherever it raises its ugly head. Furthermore the viewing of the United Nations as some form of Global Government is a concept which must be rejected in the most definitive way. If Bill Clinton truly meant this then he has taken a step in a direction which is dangerous to our very democracy.

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Filed under Bill Clinton, China, Hillary Clinton, Internet, Media, Politics

The Next Frontier: Outsourcing Spaceflight to China

In the wake of its decision last year to cancel NASA’s Constellation Program, the planned successor to the Space Shuttle Program which would have taken American astronauts back to the Moon and Mars, the Obama administration has decided to engage the Chinese government as a partner on civil space flight. In congressional testimony on May 4th, White House Science advisor John Holdren indicated a near term process to partner with China on future spaceflights including potential Moon and Mars missions as reported in space.com.

The decision to cancel the Constellation Project has left America dependent upon renting space on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get to the International Space Station (which was funded more than 2/3 by the US) pending private space craft development which has been dramatically underfunded by the Obama Administration. Now he proposes to cooperate with the Chinese government on human exploration. For 50 years America has been the clear leader in human spaceflight, however with the policies of the Obama administration we are forfeiting that lead at warp speed. Not only has this been a source of national pride, it has been a driver of considerable economic and technological development. It seems American leadership on all fronts is contrary to Obama  Administration policy. One can only hope that the Congress can stop the outsourcing and dismantling of our space program until the American people issue President Obama’s pink slip effective January 20, 2013.

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Filed under American Leadership, Barak Obama, China, Foreign Policy, NASA, Politics, Space Flight

Freedom in the Internet Era

As one whose political coming of age was during the 1980’s, a cornerstone to the foreign policy of the west as personified by Ronald Reagan and Margret Thatcher was the right of people to self determination. During the Cold war our focus was on those in Eastern Europe and Soviet regions such as the Baltic States. While the fall of the Soviet Empire brought freedom to much of Europe it was but a dream to a many people. In recent weeks we have seen the people of Egypt express their desire to live in a more open and representative state. While the role of the internet is wildly exaggerated by the media, there is no doubt that the ability of ideas to transcend boarders is a dramatic change in international politics. Additionally we are reminded that tyranny has not faded from the earth and regimes such as those in Mainland China continue to rule by the total suppression of free expression by their people.

With this in mind, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could receive no better compliment than the condemnations coming from the Chinese government over proposals outlined in her speech on Tuesday.  In that speech Secretary Clinton proposed a $25 million program aimed at developing technology which would allow internet users around the world to circumvent attempts by government to block their citizens ability to access content on the internet. This is particularly disturbing to the Chinese as it potentially would circumvent their “Great Firewall”. Chinese foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu is quoted in the New York Times (2/17/2011) as saying “we are against any other countries using Internet freedom as a pretext for interfering in others’ internal affairs”. This has the same song we heard from Moscow over our Voice of America broadcasts in the 1980’s.

It would be naive to think internet freedom would lead to real political change and freedom in China. Any country willing to drive tanks over hundreds of their own citizens as the Communist rulers in China did in Tiananmen Square in 1989. As we have seen words and ideas have real power and people’s quest for freedom can over time prove unstoppable. There once was a time when American Foreign Policy was truly bipartisan and this is one proposal both parties should strongly support. There is no more challenging relationship facing the United States than China and we need to realize the long term threat they pose not only to the America but to freedom around the world. While this program is a small first step, it is a step in the right direction. With luck freedom just may break through the Great Firewall.

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Filed under China, Foreign Policy, Hillary Clinton, Internet, Media, State Department