It’s time to speak out against China’s authoritarian policies
Sorry to let ethics creep into my blog, but sometimes you just have to make a statement. You see, right now, China is carrying out highly repressive policies reminiscent of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Given China’s global ambitions, these are scary times not just for Chinese people, but for all people who value freedom and democracy.
“A failure to defend democracy for the sake of economics will ensure we lose both.” Roger Montgomery
“Read history! Read history! Read history!” Charlie Munger
Today’s press is awash with revelations that China, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, may be engaging in an early stage of ethnic cleansing, reminiscent of the Anschluss – the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938 and the subsequent ‘rounding up’ of the Jewish people of Austria.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports:
“The 400 pages of documents leaked to The New York Times expose the thinking behind the crackdown [against Muslim minority groups in China’s western Xinjiang province], including Xi’s call for an all-out struggle using “organs of dictatorship”, “a period of painful, interventionary treatment” and showing “absolutely no mercy”. The CCP’s top official in the province commanded a “smashing, obliterating offensive” and urged colleagues to “round up everyone who should be rounded up”.
“Included in the trove of documents is a directive on how to handle students returning home to Xinjiang to find their relatives detained. Officials were advised to tell students their relatives were receiving “treatment” for exposure to the “virus” of extremist Islam that had “infected” them, while acknowledging they had not committed any crimes. Students were to be warned their behaviour could affect their relatives’ time in detention.”
Western society repeatedly turned its back on the Jewish community of Austria in the late 30s and early 40s and today, lest history repeat, we must not make the same mistake. At that time, the western world ignored the cries of the Jewish people of Austria and whether for economic purposes of from fear, we failed to respond appropriately.
Paul Keating’s comments that Australia’s foreign policy towards China lacks any sense of “strategic realism” is precisely the attitude that created global inertia in the late 1930s, and rendered the west impotent, during the rise of Nazi Germany. Keating’s comments represent the first step in a failure to defend democracy for the sake of economics.
Such an attitude will ensure we lose both.
China’s ambition for a “common destiny for mankind” has the potential to become a horror show for us all.
Foreign Policy’s Tanner Greer writes: “White papers spell out Chinese ambitions to be the primary strategic presence not just on the East Asian periphery but in Africa, the Indian Ocean, and the Southern Pacific. China’s leadership claims that it has core economic interests as far abroad as Europe, Latin America, the Arctic, and outer space. With these economic interests come road maps for securing Chinese relationships or presence in each region.
“By 2050, the Chinese aim to have a military “second to none,” to become the global center for technology innovation, and to serve as the economic anchor of a truly global trade and infrastructure regime—an economic bloc that would be unprecedented in human history. In their speeches and documents, Chinese leaders call this vision of a China-centered future—a future where a U.S.-led system has been broken apart and discarded—a “community of common destiny for mankind.” That ambition debunks the myth of a multipolar future: China seeks dominance, not just a share of the pie.”
“Organs of Dictatorship”
In an April 18, 2019 article in The Australian Financial Review Michael Smith wrote:
“Shanghai | An announcement fills the carriage of the high-speed train from Shanghai to Beijing. Its message has, at least to the western ear, a distinct Orwellian overtone.
“Dear passengers, people who travel without a ticket or smoke in public areas will be punished according to regulation and the behaviour will be recorded in the individual credit information system. To avoid an impact on an individual’s credit, please follow state law and railway regulations.”
“The announcement, broadcast in Mandarin and English, refers to China’s proposed social credit system, a mechanism to rate every individual in the 1.4 billion-strong nation. It will determine if they are rewarded or punished depending on how they behave.”
Think of Australia’s driving licence demerit system applied to every aspect of life or the first episode in season three of Netflix’s Black Mirror series set in a world where people rate each other from one to five stars for every interaction they have. The results adversely impact the socioeconomic status of lead character Lacie Pound.
China’s social credit system, will be ‘tested’ 2020, and in many ways the results will be little different to India’s hierarchical caste system, which of course is a primordial disaster in the eyes of any democratic society.
China’s system assigns each citizen a score which will determine whether money can be borrowed or whether children are permitted to attend more prestigious schools”. Lower scores result from defaulting on loans and most tellingly, from criticizing the ruling party. Perhaps a lower score for criticizing the ruling party will be seen by China’s citizens as a step forward from being shot and disappearing.
In China’s existing Zhima Credit program, a private credit-scoring rating associated with Alipay, users are assigned a score between 350 and 950. High scores allow users to rent vehicles without a deposit or pay to skip hospital queues. Wired Magazine’s Mara Hvistendahl used the system, immediately receiving a “poor” rating of 550. Hvistendahl was required to pay a $30 deposit prior to renting a bike for 15 cents, and had to pay deposits to stay in hotels, rent GoPros or even free umbrellas. Hvistendahl wrote: “I belonged to the digital underclass”.
In his The Australian Financial Review article, Smith quotes Shi Xinzhong, a law professor at Beijing’s Capital Normal University: “There is a crisis of trust and a crisis of honesty. This is a side-effect of the market economy.”
Evidently, it’s the western world’s creation of capitalism that has caused China’s deficit of honesty.
Personality Disorder; Noun, Psychiatry.
A person with personality disorder may blame other people for problems in their life.
Blaming the market economy is unsubstantiated Chinese propaganda. In this global study of honesty, the citizens of just about every country in the world are more honest and the vast majority of those citizens live in market-based economies.
China has a word for honesty and integrity – chengxin. The problem is not capitalism or a market-based economy. The problem is China and a totalitarian and unaccountable dictatorship.
Of course, China’s sales pitch for its social credit system is that it’s a necessary service for individuals to help them deal with the many strangers they meet every day.
Shi notes, “We are moving into a society where you are dealing with strangers every day. [Chinese] People are tempted not to obey rules or act morally when they are dealing with strangers. To build an honest society we need to make sure there are penalties for dishonest behaviour.”
What penalties will the Chinese regime face for their dishonest treatment of their Muslim community? One wonders whether a “common destiny for mankind” is precisely what we’ll receive for failing to register our abhorrence.
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