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August 21, 2021

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China may be restrained by looming economic difficulties. With little else to invest their hard-earned money in, citizens have poured it into real estate investments. The government can scrub local and regional disasters from the news and social media. But there would be no hiding a nationwide real estate collapse.

Why You Should Be Worried About China's Debt Crisis: China's debt crisis is worse than anyone thought. Here's why. (YouTube)

A take on how China may take advantage of the Afghanistan situation.

Afghanistan - China's New Province: China has made ties with the Taliban, and the USA has pulled out. What does this mean for the future? (YouTube)

And we all love nuance.

Such a wise-ass! ;^)

SCMP may be walking a tightrope, ever since China took down Hong Kong's minimal freedoms. But they have a century-long tradition of objective reporting. That kind of corporate culture can be quite enduring, even under duress.

Their point about Afghanistan becoming a base for real Uighur opposition (as opposed to the phantom that the CCP's imaginations has conjured up) is well taken. The Taliban might decide to focus first on Pakistan. Certainly the Pakistanis are rightly worried about that. But western China may well be on their radar as well. Especially as Pakistan is Muslim and sure to remain so. Whereas China seems determined to stamp out all of Uighur culture, including their religion.

And perhaps China will therefore be tempted to invade & occupy Afghanistan.

It's their turn in the barrel.

I held off on commenting on Charles's 2 videos. I thought the first one was interesting, though the exhortation to use their stock trading service and you get $70 of stocks free! that comes about a minute in and lasts for about a minute leaves me cold. I know information is not going to be free, but how it is paid for worries me.

The second one is by Laowhy, who I think we have talked about. He's turned on China with all the fury of a rejected suitor, and a lot of his ire seems to be based on the fact that he got fooled.

Hey, everybody here knows I have an open mind (har, har, har), but seriously, I haz questions:

1. Just what, exactly, are our "national interests" in Asia? And please, no bullshit about freedom and liberal democracy without telling me just how much or how little is acceptable from a "national interest" standpoint. What is the goal here? Are you really worried about a Chinese invasion of our deal Fatherland? If Taiwan "falls" what do you think will happen to "US interests"?
2. If China retakes Taiwan, then how do you get around the fact that (if I am not mistaken) that the island was traditionally considered part of China?
3. Do you believe that "to the victors belongs the spoils", but only if we like the victors? Please elaborate.
4. If you support the nation-state paradigm of international relations, then why not support obvious nation-state outcomes---like China taking back Taiwan?

Now I do not claim, prior posts notwithstanding, to have the answers to these knotty questions, but I am curious to see how folks here think about these matters, because it rubs me wrong to hear people invoke "our national interests" as if we all know just exactly what the f*ck they are and therefore get around the issue of stating a rather key definition to my way of thinking.

Thank you.

2. If China retakes Taiwan, then how do you get around the fact that (if I am not mistaken) that the island was traditionally considered part of China?

4. If you support the nation-state paradigm of international relations, then why not support obvious nation-state outcomes---like China taking back Taiwan?

Time was, what is now the US was "traditionally part of the British Empire."** Such things are not set in stone. I assume nobody here is under the illusion that the people (not the government, the people) have the least desire to be governed from Beijing.

** For that matter, once upon a time most of Western Europe was traditionally part of the Roman Empire. How long do you have to be independent before tradition is no longer a valid excuse for conquest?

... the people of Taiwan obviously

Time was, what is now the US was "traditionally part of the British Empire."** Such things are not set in stone.

Yes, and what country was Virginia a part of from 1861 to 1865?

Is Taiwan like the US or the CSA? On what grounds?

Is Taiwan like the US or the CSA? On what grounds?

One obvious possible grounds: Did the shooting stop for a significant period of time with the parts separate?

Not the only possible criteria, of course. Just the most instantly obvious.

If Taiwan "falls" what do you think will happen to "US interests"?...
Seriously screwed for a decade or so, quite possibly.
The degree to which the world economy relies on TSMC should not be underestimated. The last couple of world-wide recessions we've had might look mild in comparison.

boobyp, good question. My perspective is a bit different, since I live in Asia, I'd rather not have it become a smoking moonscape.

I realize that is not a great argument for Americans (save liberal japonicus y'all, unless you can contemplate life w/o his witty blog posts, I can see McT saying 'where do I enlist for the other side?'), so I would say try it like this

If you want to keep having iphones and gamestations, as well as cheap [xxx] at walmart/target/whatever, you need to save Taiwan. Or at least stop China from sending an invasion fleet. You can check out your local economic extraction facility to see what other things I should list.

In fact, if you think about it, you want to save _both sides_. It's not that keeping Taiwan free and LGBT (it may surprise folks to know that Taiwan is actually a leader in LGBT rights in Asia, and trans is following, albeit slowly) is an existential question for the US. But the US needs an interconnected world, so saving both sides is the existential question.

We can't 'beat' China (1.4 billion people raise their hands and say 'we surrender' in Chinese, right?) so setting the scenario to where we have to beat back the yellow hordes[sarcasm] like giving someone a fallen souffle and saying 'ok, you fix it'.

I think that Applebaum, in her AlaMcT approved article, was actually on to something, which is liberal democracy is worth defending. But the thing she didn't mention was that it is only worth defending when it restricts itself to defense that is not going to go to the extent that she wants, i.e. we had to burn the Middle East/South American/the former Soviet bloc/Northeastern Asia to save it.

This means that if we reach a point where China takes Taiwan, we have already lost. Or at least our interests have (see aforementioned walmart/target/xxx shoppers)

I realize that may make some folks very unhappy because it suggests that you can't kneecap Biden and the Democrats, but if they haven't figured that out yet, I doubt they are going to.

I think that Applebaum, in her AlaMcT approved article, was actually on to something, which is liberal democracy is worth defending.

Agreed, and with your reservation following. But actually (and maybe it amounts to the same thing) it's only worth defending if done effectively, which seems to be the problem. Hence my recent argument with McKinney: it depends entirely on electing reasonable leaders, who can cooperate with others the same, to act in a manner which is likely to achieve the end you actually want, as opposed to (for example) photo ops on aircraft carriers.

Yes, I find myself wondering what ever happened to that quaint idea that politics ends at the water's edge. I know that triggered a lot of problematic outcomes, but I don't think things are better now.

where all this this "defending democracy" talk breaks down for me is that it's a favorite slogan of the same people who brought us Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and many mini-messes. it's the interventionist mindset, always interested in new ventures in which to invest someone else's blood.

i don't believe they care about democracy or whiskey or sexy. i think they just like to be seen fighting.

cleek: FWIW, I understand your reservations, and agree with most of them. It's not always possible to distinguish between the motivations, and propaganda appealing to the worst in people is unfailingly used to sway public opinion, which muddies the water. It's a conundrum. Which is where, I guess, the point of deterrence comes in: to avoid the need for intervention.

"deterrence" means different things, of course. in the mouths of interventionists, it frequently means intervention, then flag-waving and insinuations of back-stabbing for anyone who disagrees.

i trust them not at all.

cleek: agreed again.

Well, I think the tell is 'defending [vaguely defined concept]' It's why you have to be careful about defining things.

why you have to be careful about defining things...

Taiwan is again the hard case, since the US has no treaty or formal defence commitment with them, and has not formally recognised the nation.

Though there is some history and some agreements. This all turned up when I was looking up Quemoy and Matsu.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Taiwan_Strait_Crisis

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-American_Mutual_Defense_Treaty

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiwan_Relations_Act

Interesting how Afghanistan pops up in that last wikipedia page
In 1978, China regarded itself as in a "united front" with the U.S., Japan, and western Europe against the Soviets and thus established diplomatic relations with the United States in 1979, supported American operations in Communist Afghanistan, and leveled a punitive expedition against Vietnam, America's main antagonist in Southeast Asia. In exchange, the United States abrogated its mutual defense treaty with the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan.

There are also the Six Assurances. So fast-forwarding to a Taiwan occupied by China skips a lot of steps.

It would be a severe black eye for the rest of the world, especially the US, if the most democratic nation in Asia is allowed to be overrun. And the Mandate of Heaven might come into play if China has to ship home thousands of body bags filled with only sons.

If you want to keep having iphones and gamestations, as well as cheap [xxx] at walmart/target/whatever, you need to save Taiwan. Or at least stop China from sending an invasion fleet

And cars! Don't forget cars. Which, these days, include dozens and dozens of microchips each. (I'm betting that tanks, fighter aircraft, etc. also have a fair number.) Auto manufacturing took a serious hit last year, simply because they couldn't get enough chips to make more.

Where do those chips come from? To a degree which astounds many: Taiwan.

Do the US have* a formal defense treaty with Israel? (obviously the US recognized the state, which is different from the Taiwan situation).

I guess its proponents consider the Ledeen doctrine as purely defensive and a central part of a policy of effective deterrence.
Opinions naturally differ.

*US is a g*dd*mned plural (as are the Netherlands), so I refuse to use 'has' in that context.

where all this this "defending democracy" talk breaks down for me is that it's a favorite slogan of the same people who brought us Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and many mini-messes.

To quote an aphorism some of you may have encountered:
"The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose"

The fact that someone can use a principle to argue for policies with bad outcomes does not, in itself, mean the principle is invalid. Although neither does it give those citing a free pass.

It would be a severe black eye for the rest of the world, especially the US, if the most democratic nation in Asia is allowed to be overrun.

I'll just assume you cross-posted and didn't see this

So fast-forwarding to a Taiwan occupied by China skips a lot of steps.

It would be a severe black eye for the rest of the world, especially the US, if the most democratic nation in Asia is allowed to be overrun.

frankly, i think the bigger black eye would be on the people doing the overrunning.

even if the US didn't decide to jump in and wreck the world in defense of Taiwan, invaders are invaders.

US is a g*dd*mned plural (as are the Netherlands), so I refuse to use 'has' in that context

Actually, no. "States" is indeed plural. But "United States" is the name, the label if you will, of a single entity, and so is not plural.

(Nuances of English grammar are a real pain. Mostly, native speakers follow them without really being conscious of the principle involved.)

hartmut and wj: even more complicatedly, the nuances of English grammar and the habits of native speakers differ from place to place.

In sports reporting about, let's say, the Boston Celtics, US reporting will say "Boston is at home tonight" and Brit reporting will say "Boston are at home tonight." Similarly for most if not all collective nouns, I believe.

E.g.:

"The board is meeting at three o'clock."

vs

"The board are meeting at three o'clock."

I still refuse! And single entities can be plural, if they are collective. I am aware that the US are used these days* as a singular but imo that's rubbish and, given the opportunity, I will defy it! ;-)

To be pedantic: if one puts the name in quotes, it of course becomes a singular.
The Beatles were (used to be) 4 musicians but 'The Beatles' is a group that formerly consisted of 4 musicians.

*I distinctly remember texts from the early days (including official treaties) where the logical plural was used ('the States are/have' as opposed to 'the Govdrnment of of the States is/has'). No idea who came up with the idea of changing that.

Crossposted with JamieM.

"Boston is at home tonight"

synecdoches complicate everything.

I think cognitive grammar handles this well, though I am open to the alternative, which is that it is just a giant shibboleth system designed to separate native speakers from non native speakers (cf definite and indefinite articles)

As I've heard it, the *native* Taiwanese would really like those Chinese invaders to go home already, and leave the island to the original inhabitants.

But the actual choice looks to be the Chinese (Han) they have. Or the ones in Beijing. As it stands, a "native Taiwanese" can go into politics and get ahead. Good luck with that as a non-Han on the mainland.

"booby"? I are gobsmacked. :)

From what I see in the comments is the usual stuff about "defending liberal democracy" or "cheap electronic goods" as the basis of our "national interests".

These takes strike me as.....unpersuasive.

Here is an interesting take on the basis of China's observed foreign policies. Placed in an historical and geographical context, their actions make sense, and assessing them in ideological terms may be a bit of a mistake.

I wonder what a similar analysis would reveal regarding our "national interests."

Here's a short article making the case for assessing the basis of Chinese interests and actions. I leave the validity of this analysis to the reader, but it does lay out an interesting narrative of why they do what they do.

Would a similar analysis apply to the USA, a land that is based on war and conquest?

I find the assertion that our "national interests" are defined by "obtaining cheap electronic goods" or "promote liberal democracy" to be.....not persuasive.

Stay safe.

ELECTION FRAUD!!

yes, of course, it's a Republican operation.

synecdoches

I had to look that one up to refresh my memory. The most surprising thing, which I had never come across before, was the pronunciation. I'm not sure how I thought it was pronounced, but it definitely wasn't the proper pronunciation.

synecdoches

I had to look that one up to refresh my memory.

a small city in upstate NY, right...?

Synecdoche, New York

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