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The Chinese Century

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Solfege, Jan 25, 2018.

  1. Longsword

    Longsword Third Year

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    Not really correct. The USSR, had it stuck to its ways, could still have existed for a long time. It was by looking at post '78 changes in China and not seeing results in the Chinese economy that certain factions in the Kremlin started getting desperate.
    It is evident that the Soviet Union was not going to become more of a threat as time passed, because of their absurd system, but the opposite is true for China.
    And they always have the option of turning it into N. Ireland by using settlers from the rest of China.
    The CCP is repressive enough to not let their grip off, yet shrewd enough to foster prosperity in Xinjiang, which has been the recipient of Party efforts to ensure local trades . Insurgencies only win if the result is not worth the bother (or when your president manages to torpedo himself in front of the public).
    From little I know, the general shape of 5+ Gen planes is constrained by the problem of minimizing radar cross-sectional area and the usual aerodynamics, so the result could not vary much. Their plane is more of a strike aircraft than an air-superiority fighter. China always mucked in espionage (rumored snooping at Lockheed Martin), but it has got a lot better at avionics, now having an able work base in electronics, even though it still buys their engines from the Russians.
    Nah, India is not going to be a challenge in our lifetimes. India has all the corruption of China, with none of the competence.
    Relevant for the recent future is India's awful industrial abilities which has led them into strange places: despite having a better navy for a long time, India has not been able to create its own vessels, while the Chinese have at least a couple native ones in the pipeline.
    India has a GDP per capita at a sixth of the Chinese, and future growth is not expected to hit the highs reached by the PRC in the 90s.
    Poor urban-rural balance, lack of a capable body for pushing policy etc. make it more likely that India's economy might dip before the Chinese.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
  2. Invictus

    Invictus Fourth Champion

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    Indian politics are notoriously decentralized, a-technical, corrupt and quite incompetent. BJP hold on power was unprecedent, but while it did some good things, it was not revolutionary by any means. Long and short story is that Indian politicians are not the once in a generation reformers that men like Deng Xiaoping and the other Elders or Lee Kuan Yew were, or FDR and Teddy Roosevelt were (or Macron is shaping up to be). India advance will be less like the Chinese one and more like the Latin American one. In bursts, all over the place, decentralized and with schizophrenic priorities and local structural corruption and violence challenging any top down effort.

    India has lot of potential, but like Brazil, Argentina and Venezuelan, it can promptly or mostly throw that potential into the trash if it insists on business as usual or doubling down on its populist bent.
     
  3. pbluekan

    pbluekan Professor DLP Supporter

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    On the other hand, they will remain a pool of cheap labor regardless of what they do, unless they manage to modernize as the Chinese have.

    If nothing else, they may end up beating China out in that department.
     
  4. Invictus

    Invictus Fourth Champion

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    Maybe, but from what I gathered India has some very protectionist laws and not competitive at all labour market/laws, one quite averse to modernization too. So, the rest of Southeast Asia has them beat on that, since its with them and not China, India will be competing in that regard.
     
  5. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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  6. pbluekan

    pbluekan Professor DLP Supporter

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    I suppose, but India has the population to beat out almost any of them in a sheer numbers game, as far as labor goes.

    Hell, it’s still China’s only leverageable asset. They’ve managed to start modernizing it, but it comes down to the fact that apparently, the Chinese fuck like rabbits.
     
  7. Invictus

    Invictus Fourth Champion

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    Nowadays abundance is only a huge differential for consuming markets. Factories need less and less workers, and the ones they need, need to learn more and quickly technology.
     
  8. Invictus

    Invictus Fourth Champion

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    Regarding Muslim repression in China, BBC had a good video about it. Link.
     
  9. Invictus

    Invictus Fourth Champion

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    The Fraud Investigator that got arrested by China on obviously sham accusations just did a fantastic interview with FT showcasing how much of a corrupt, lawless shithole China is and why calling it's Judiciary anything related to Justice is a sad sad lie.

    https://www.facebook.com/financialtimes/posts/10156118792535750
     
  10. Lindsey

    Lindsey Death Eater

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    That isn't true.

    China has always had a higher population compared to the west because of the Yellow River and rice being a better crop than wheat. The explosion of population happened before and during Mao. For several decades the Chinese on average have had one child. It's a huge reason why the younger generations are incredibly pressured to succeed, they need to provide for two sets of grandparents.

    India is supposed to take over for most populated country within the decade. China's population is supposed to drastically fall within the next 50 years as the older generations die off. Even with their new 2 child policy, many people in the cities are choosing to not have kids or only 1. I wouldn't be surprised if we see something similar to Japan in the future. Capitalism is based on an increase of population which China will soon no longer have.
     
  11. pbluekan

    pbluekan Professor DLP Supporter

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    Interesting, but I was joking.
     
  12. Sauce Bauss

    Sauce Bauss Headmaster DLP Supporter

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    It'd be more accurate to say that capitalism is predicated on an increase in productivity. An increase in population increases value creation, but is not necessary for it.
     
  13. blob

    blob Fifth Year

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    Quite a timely topic, as Xi Jinping prepares to 'claim the throne', while at the same tirelessly purging political opponents, uhh... corruption, I mean. The cycle continues.

    (where the fuck is my strikethrough, admins)
     
  14. Solfege

    Solfege Auror DLP Supporter

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    Actually, the real political consolidation was in the choice appointment of five members to the Politburo's standing committee last year. The standing committee has typically see-sawed between powerful members vaguely united into two factions; during Deng's time he was countered by the conservatives, the most prominent of whom was Chen Yun. The most important decisions require consensus among standing committee members, although more powerful members carry greater weight. The standing committee is weaker than it has been in generations, united as it is now behind Xi.

    Holding the full reins of power requires the simultaneous occupation of three offices.

    1) General Secretary of the CCP, which stands above, behind, and parallel the governing apparatus. As general secretary, Xi voluntarily leads the six most important of 11 "leading small groups" that coordinate and determine policy branches on reform, economy, security, foreign affairs, Taiwan, and the Internet. Small groups have large staff offices to manage paper flow and distill discussions into specific policy recommendations.

    2) Chairman of the Central Military Commission.

    3) President of the PRC, a largely ceremonial role signifying ultimate control of the formal government, which executes the directives determined by the private deliberations of the CCP's policy-makers. The State Council led by the premier, similar to your typical executive cabinet in other countries, ranks underneath the Politburo and the leading small groups. Organization of the full council is rather confusing: it's a large body comprising not only government ministries and agencies, but also senior CCP officials who fill the posts of "vice-premiers" and outrank ministers. The full council meets just twice a year; usually executive action is carried out by the premier and his state councilors on consulting the Politburo.

    Relinquishing the presidency has never guaranteed concurrent relinquishing of other offices in the past, although as a recent norm it is done within few years of the presidential two-term limit. Ex-presidents even then have stayed on as informal influencers behind the main factions of the Politburo. Of course standing committee members who have been on for decades (Deng only ever held chairmanships of the military commissions at the time) have no term limits to their power, although another recent norm is the retiring of top leadership at age 68.

    Naturally given the premium we Westerners place on the office of presidency, we're liable to jump to certain conclusions about this limit issue. I'm not so sure about its full and intended impact, given the already distended nature of real power distribution, and will wait for further implications to arrive before calling any judgements.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
  15. Solfege

    Solfege Auror DLP Supporter

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    A general China update! On politics of the elite

    The official rationale behind delimiting of term limits is to streamline government with party priorities in what the Chinese elite see as a time of increasing instability in the world order and international business climate, esp. given the unusual political risks in the U.S. today. The effect will be to diffuse near-term elite factionalism and and to more thoroughly press the momentum of the anti-corruption campaigns. Powers of the anti-corruption leading small group have been extended to all forms of publicly organized life, with authority to detain, interrogate, freeze assets, and search property.

    The stability of an extra term or two is supposed to also smooth the critical transition of the Chinese economy from "resource mobilization" to "resource efficiency" (more on this in a bit) and the maturation of consumer markets while reassuring investor confidence (misplaced their signal somewhere given the predictable initial wave of western press releases, but expect a correction once it's clear Xi’s New Era means to be extremely pro-business still) and seeking to achieve more equitable income distribution. Similarly there are rumors this will give Xi stern footing to pursue the most sensitive, highest priority foreign policy issue, that of Taiwan's unification with the mainland, should the opportunity arise — else make headway otherwise difficult under a new leader struggling to consolidate internal factions.

    Factions continue to be a major issue, as Xi wages war on Jiang Zemin's shadow puppets. Although Jiang passed up the party leadership in 2002, he held on to the presidency till 2003 and military leadership until 2004, humiliating and crippling Hu Jintao's authority in various ways. Jiang was notorious for seeding elite networks with unqualified underlings, who continued to rule their own fiefdoms during Hu's term. For this, Jiang was known as "the corrupt leader" and Hu as "the weak leader" ... Hu's unequivocal surrender of all three positions to Xi Jinping into definite retirement was interpreted as a direct response to Jiang.

    [Of some interest is that Jiang is the older generation of "princeling" that Xi belongs to (children of the original revolutionaries, typically urban-minded, convinced of their own right to rule), whereas Hu and his premier Wen Jiabao were ordinary rural politicians who had worked up the ranks. There is some very incidental history between Xi and Jiang, as Xi's father was of the liberal reform faction whose leadership, including general secretary Zhao Ziyang (who favored dialogue with the students), were deposed after Tiananmen Square. Jiang's immediate response, as municipal party secretary of Shanghai, was to censor the newspapers and call in martial order even as he distracted the protestors with a direct appeal claiming common understanding (he, too, was a revolutionary student once!).

    In essence Jiang is a political opportunist who curried both conservative favor and liberal-minded Deng's approval, elevating himself as a "compromise candidate" to replace Zhao. Whereas among at least some circles (namely as I hear from the son of a princeling whose family left politicking a while back) Xi is seen as the inheritor of a purer Chinese-style-reform spirit.]

    The "promotion" of Wang Qishan, Xi's former anti-corruption chief, to vice president is both good sign and bad. Wang is strength, wisdom, stability, as he's universally respected for his decisive, effective style for having been the party's troubleshooter on both corruption and international finance. Ex-vice premier of finance and economy, he has the most extensive experience of any Chinese official of working with the world's financiers and central bankers... said he to Henry Paulson at the height of the GFC and as a member of the Chinese response team, "You were my teacher. We aren't sure we should be learning from you anymore." Wang as Xi's sure and experienced wingman forecasts a serious focus on the expansion of China's portfolio of foreign engagements, particularly as China grows into a nigh-inevitable position as a heavyweight arbitrator in the international order to match the U.S.

    Wang was due for retirement, as he hit the informal age limit of 68, and may be part of a larger trend where China's most experienced hands are aging with no clear successors and no alternative outlets for their talents (no revolving door to think tanks, academia, etc). The issue naturally is the awkwardness of a formerly symbolic role, the vice presidency, taking on an informal portfolio of significant power (I guess you can call him the Chinese Jared Kushner, without naivety). Wang is expected to do what he's always done, troubleshoot China's thorniest issues, particularly rapprochement with Trump/tariffs. Normally the VP wouldn't have a place in senior party/small group meetings, but exceptions are being made for him to attend, perhaps even to occasionally advise but certainly not to vote. How the elites navigate this collision of authorities remains to be seen.

    My interpretation is term delimiting is meant as stated. The rationale is comparable to Putin's own for continued leadership (impressionistic western boogeyness aside, work at the Kremlin has never been pleasant, is indeed all-consuming and lacked initially of the riches that the current circle of politico-oligarchs had to wrest from the old robber-barons, now enjoy — and understand there are three distinct kinds of oligarchs, of which one is Putin-centric). Both Putin and Xi see themselves, genuinely I think, as the most competent administrators of and for the people. The crucial differences lie firstly in the size and strength of elite institutions and secondly in the diversity and momentum of dynamic market forces. Although Putin seems well aware of the necessity to set groundwork for a stable post-Putin Russia, the weak Russian elements in combination with Putin's international missteps have led to an ongoing limbo from whence he cannot complete his mandate and extricate himself. Xi, in comparison, has a much stronger and more optimistic hand.

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    On domestic governance

    The primary difference between Soviet Russian and Communist Chinese economies is that Chinese industry was magnitudes less centralized, defensively and administratively (poor transportation infrastructure). Soviet central planning controlled 60,000 commodities and set millions of prices, while Communist Chinese planning controlled only a few hundred commodities, a few thousand prices. The Soviets owned thousands of large factories whereas the majority of Chinese factories were small operations run on the municipal and state levels. So even before Deng's market reforms, China had a history of municipal and regional autonomy.

    The real limits of centralized directives are easily demonstrated: every attempt the Feds have tried at consolidating industry has failed. Unlike Japan or South Korea, which with "strategic industry initiatives" were able to, for instance funnel investment in car manufacture to a dominant Big Three, a la GM/Ford/Chrysler or Volkswagen/Mercedes-Benz/BMW, China has been incapable of preventing each Chinese province from deciding it'd like its own homegrown salad of car makers and enforcing province-level tariffs to ensure it. Ditto steel, energy, etc. For the same reasons any attempt to corner global commodity prices has also generally failed. A real advantage, however, is that successful province-level modes of experimentation can be propagated across a virtual continent. The shift from communal farms to privatized plots that created the first agricultural surpluses jumpstarting the development cycle was spearheaded in Anhui Province.

    Hence governance is centralized in principle, federated in practice. The Feds are most effective at setting guidelines and dispensing centralized resources to amorphously shape strategic industries, but lack the abilities to micromanage those markets, although they retain the power to approve [or else coopt, though they dare not go so far to violate business confidence] any Ultimate Monopolistic Winners [Alibaba and its tech ilk] that arise out of this seething cauldron of chaos. In addition, the Feds are generally effective at complying with needs of the urban Chinese, usually at the expense of rural folk. This is critical as urbanites are the main potential source of organized protest against centralized power... and why prolonged stability under Xi is an important cushion as the campaign to reduce income inequality necessarily diverts resources from urban initiatives to improve rural standards of life.

    The key thesis of the CCP is that centralized political control and a liberalized market economy are complementary. Certainly this worked to a great extent for the Four Tigers in their early stages. Those of you who argue those conversions to constitutional democracy portend an inevitability if China wishes to pursue further, rich-country levels of GDP per capita miss a crucial geopolitical point: the Tigers were reliant on America as security guarantor, as an open source of technical expertise and educational exchange, and for access to the much, much larger American market than could exist domestically or, really, elsewhere.

    The very nuanced question, then, is what elements can the CCP liberalize and what elements can it tighten to achieve its goals. As China seeks to make more efficient use of resources, it will, for instance, require both broadening and deepening of financial markets (and a corresponding deload of the debt bubble). Positive indicators, in recent months, of an openness to financial experimentation include the loosening of capital controls, an attempt to begin breaking dollar monopoly by pricing oil imports in yuan (accepted by Russia and Angola so far), and the start of a yuan-denominated (if still insignificant) oil futures market; encouraging signs for general investor confidence.

    The CCP's proven effective, more effective than the free market, in terms of achieving certain strategic urban directives. A key rallying cry of the middle class has been for cleaner air/urban living space — strong motivators of capital flight and brain drain to higher standard-of-living countries. Four years ago orders were sent out for cities to hit emissions reductions targets. Cities executed these orders independently, via a mix of forced plant, mine closures (coal, steel, and iron) and restrictions on driving. China is winning the war on pollution... they've reduced overall emissions by 33%, a figure that took the U.S. 12 years and a recession to achieve after passing the Clean Air Act. Did Chinese policymakers force sacrifices we'd call unethical (think urban poor going without coal for winter heating)? Yes (though we generally find less controversy if similar outcomes result from market failure... because markets über allen). But effective nonetheless.

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    On domestic industry


    Much is made of the wastefulness and backwardness of Chinese industry. The first is irrelevant; the second outdated. While ghost cities are indeed painful to behold, this misses a crucial point of catch-up growth: the early challenge since 1979 has not been resource efficiency, as advanced industrialized nations must need, but mobilization of underutilized resources.

    The Chinese could surely have been more efficient in exchange for slower growth, but starting as a poor country, "the aggregate benefit of adding lots of new capital to the system far outweighs the marginal loss incurred by having each dollar of capital generate a return a couple of percentage points lower than in a more perfect system." This capital stock can moreover be privatized over time in order to improve resource efficiency — we can treat this housing stock as preempting the Second Wave of urbanization projected to come.

    Naturally resource mobilization has an expiry date, when capital stock begins to hit saturated rich-country per capita levels and the economy must focus more on efficiency gains. The challenge is to do this while continuing to create the 20 million jobs needed annually to match the labor market, more and more of whom are underemployed college graduates. (A note to American politics... college degrees do not magically create jobs....)

    The backwardness of Chinese manufacturing is a story that's a generation (5-7 years in market terms) outdated. The cheaply mobile outfits moved out to Bangladesh, Vietnam, etc. long ago. Sure, China continues to produce low-end goods (like baby formulae) but those are typically high volume throughputs that are hard to technically replicate in mobile factories running down lowest labor costs. Surviving Chinese factories are variously skilled and the best are more and more on the cutting edge of the middle- and high-end markets every day.

    Friends in the luxe goods industry tell me it's not only truer than ever that "Made In __________" is marketing malarkey (anyone can produce crap just as anyone can produce goods), but that the majority of consumer-goods manufacturing sectors in the US, UK, and even some areas in Japan are in fact inferior to standards being developed in modern Chinese factories that have retooled over and over over multiple competitive market cycles.

    In terms of heavy industries further upstream, America is a heavyweight typically competing with the European makers, but then a) it's not those jobs that people lament and b) China is sure to expand their manufacturing base up the value chain during Xi's Made in China 2025 campaign, which aims for offensive value in strengthening strategic self-dependencies and pursuing world-class technical leadership; and defensive value against continual erosion of the lower-value-add manufacturing base. There is some thought leadership suggesting that China would like to design Made in China 2025 as a "win-win" for the world if possible, but the technological upgrade of the nation is a non-negotiable. To reemphasize, this is to come with better intellectual property protections (a natural necessity to the rise of domestic tech leadership) and unilateral liberalisations, particularly of financial services.

    Unfair business practices are for a totally other post... worth noting is the U.S. generates 5x as much manufacturing output as during the Golden '80s Era of American Manufacturing. This constant worry of peak manufacturing seems to be some damned illusion despite certain market leaders famously falling behind the cutting-edge standards that resulted from Japanese (cars), Taiwanese (semiconductors), etc. strategic investments. I am referring to a specific subset of being outcompeted, in a (differentiated) tier of market where the nature of acquired expertise precludes "race to the bottom" cost-cutting from predominating. There are a number of factors why one might fall behind on consistency, quality, lead times, and other good metrics in manufactures. One I'd especially highlight is complacent pride and stalwart defensiveness: check this business school classic on how GM on verge of bankruptcy tried and failed to import upstart Japanese production processes in the '80s, thereby getting bailed out and declining over subsequent decades from >50% American market share to 18% today.

    The tl;dr of the case study is that culture and processes are damn hard to change across large, established workforces and their management ranks, and trying to rely on a few mid-tier leaders who have inspiration/insight/right ideas, without giving them full institutional support, is foolhardy.

    As just digitizing the paperwork in a plant is a multi-decade process, equally risible is the fashionable talk that #allourjobs will be supplanted #overnight. Automation is hard, there is no intelligent automation as of yet, so each axiomatic step takes disproportionate time and effort to calibrate if you can even figure out how to automate it (not a given), and your variance on output is more like +-5% whereas skilled humans can reach +-1%. Recalibrating even one step halts the entire assembly line. Elon finds this to his disadvantage presently on a relatively simple product (some 100 assembly parts compared to many hundreds more on average) in trying to meet a piddling Tesla 3 production volume, although if he can win his bet on automation, he wins massively.

    Nevertheless investments in automation will erode labor share over decades, potentially affecting development paths for later emerging economies.

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    On foreign policy

    No planner (likely even Xi himself) fully understands the particularities of his call for, "a community of common destiny for humankind," but its contours are slowly taking shape and details arising emergently in patchwork. Western observers would be wary of dismissing the phrase, to their disarmament, as trifling platitude. It anchors what will be a specifically Chinese framework for global diplomacy and the cornerstone of a new international order envisioned to come.

    The community of common destiny encompasses two aspects: a community of shared interests formed by economic interdependence and a community of shared responsibilities, bound in secure mutual trust out of common security and developmental goals. The Belt and Road Initiative is certainly a centerpiece in the former and would seem to be the Marshall Plan of the 21st century tying SEA and Europe closer. A caveat: one should remember the real impact of the Marshall Plan was not in the financing, for which the funds were too modest to satisfy, but in setting the market-friendly standards by which Europe would rebuild, to the benefit of world trade and with a comfortable starting position to America's market-makers.

    Sizable as the funds allocated to BRI are (comfortably exceeding $1T), they pale against a full accounting of infrastructure needs. China should rather find itself in the same position as 1950s America, setting international technical and trade standards. Reiterating that the Chinese have no shortage of technical expertise, Huawei — just a few years ago a mere smartphone copycat — looks to lead the world on this year's 5G mobile cellular rollout. He that moves first on a successful commercial scale sets the strongest tone for the IEEE standard of adoption (multiple implementations developed in parallel usually compete to be the official 3G, 4G LTE, 5G).

    Nor is there shortage of infrastructure expertise. Although very reasonable doubts exist as to whether Chinese builders can build to the safest and highest standards, and somewhat for that India chose to contract Japanese high-speed rail construction, it's Chinese builders who've encountered the most difficult and various terrain across tens of thousands of kilometers of valleys and mountains, ridges and crevasses in the past decade alone. Export of this (and the labor to go with) is a key piece of the portfolio China offers to an emerging community bound by shared developmental goals.

    That community, the community of shared responsibilities, is a community that fundamentally rejects American canon: a Pax Americana based on the fickle interventionism of world-policing that see-saws from administration to administration, and the outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality that the superficial trappings of democracy are to be pushed on all nations at all cost. What happens when the people (Hungary, Poland, Russia) are overwhelmingly in favor of strong autocratic leaders, the liberal reformers in the atheistic urban minority? What happens when democratic transitions are captured by corrupt oligarchs and state resources monopolized by a political elite, the people shunted out of the system entirely? Even strongmen rule "democracies" today, conduct "elections."

    Post-2007, the prevailing view in Chinese leadership is this: western political and free-market models are empirically discredited. Western states have failed to invest in their human and physical assets, elect varyingly poor leaders, and permit markets to run amok in driving economic instability. Moreover 90% of all democracies created since the fall of the Soviet Union have failed, an unacceptably risky gambit. China will do better. The new technocratic elite of highly educated bureaucrats is a uniquely Chinese path (I see it loosely as the imperial system reborn to a modern form) in which a strong central government serves to promote entrepreneurship and protect the private market economy, ensuring an efficient and fair allocation of resources (IMO like Singapore on a continental scale).

    Leading a community of shared responsibilities amounts to proving, as flag bearer, that democracy and successful bureaucratic-authoritaranism can prosper harmoniously in the international order. If others want a similar mode of governance, fine; if a different, non-Chinese, non-American mode, also fine. China will support the rise of a strategic alliance of political self-determination through the evolution of the current world order and push back against America on this.

    China claims no interest in ruling the world or propagating Leninism. Ruling over 1/7th the world's population is no meager task, there are issues internally and regionally to occupy it for decades. China will coordinate with others on interdependent security and economic concerns; or act as an intermediary in settling disputes, a guarantor alongside America of the evolved "live and let live" international order. The size of its economy, the recent global crisis, and America's political retreat have each only accelerated the necessity of reforms to step up to the plate.

    Chinese foreign policy has been largely risk averse and strictly "non-interference" with regards to others' internal affairs, amounting to a withdrawal of personnel whenever tensions flare up in unstable investment areas. Increasing growth in those investments have led it to reexamine its definition of internal affairs. When recently broached by Horn of African nations to arbitrate in South Sudan, it was able to use its unique leverages to set the table and bridge differences between Western and South Sudanese parties. We can treat this experiment tentatively as forbearing a "win-win" diplomatic style that encourages political dialogue (particularly pulling on financial strings to keep parties at the table/incentivized) but does not impose or shape outcomes.

    Institutionally China is yet immature: the Foreign Ministry's long ceded policymaking authority to other branches like the Liaison Department and the Ministry of Commerce, acting merely as an executive arm for other decision makers. The Central Leading Group on Foreign Affairs has been ineffective as lead coordinator among these disparate interests, so that executive agencies frequently bypass them to consult Politburo leadership. Diplomatic talent is shallow and inexperienced. All this is changing. While America disdains its State Department with malignant neglect and fractures its diplomatic arm among competing interests, China has begun restructuring diplomacy functions under a central bureau, streamlining party and government; decision-making and operations.

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    Conclusion


    The ultimate worry is that China will be an inveterate rule-breaker, seeking amorally to impose unfair bilateral and multilateral arrangements. In one sense, fairness is marked relative; is it fair that America can use its centrality in the global financial system to enact hard-hitting financial sanctions on anyone it chooses? It's simply reality that the United States could squash Russia like an overripe grape, if it were to cut off all transactions from SWIFT or the dollar economy entirely...

    In truth, every power seeks to arrange for its own gain. The unipolarity we've lived in since 1900, after when no other country has been capable of outproducing American war potential in the long run, means merely that America can streamline a common agenda (as Europe found even as early as 1922 when the U.S. dictated terms of proportioned naval power). Outside that agenda, where interests diverge provincially, all parties are go. Europeans can fall to squabbling pieces (Obama said in effect they could never sustain attention without pettily thinking to their own domestics). And Washington has never been completely immune to the manipulations of regional powers who seek hegemonic backing for their own narrow-minded interests.

    The size of emerging economies and growth of international trade means America is less relevant to the international trading system than ever, as non-American bilateral trade flows are larger than ever, and countries being more invested themselves will step into the vacuum America leaves behind. America has had first dibs on setting the table, but the more it delays, the more Southeast Asian trade becomes less Asian-Pacific and more Asian, period. Central Asia, also, turns less towards Eastern Europe and more towards Asia, as China develops its western provinces, and we see something similar of Turkey as it turns away from the EU and looks to become a regional kingmaker in Central Asia/the Middle East. Without America, Japan will seek to create its own alliance counteracting Chinese influence with India, perhaps other SEA nations (but Chinese money is strong).

    That we think of China's rise as unprecedented for a backwards agronomy is an artifact of the "Century of Humiliation" from the 1840s onwards. Just 50 years prior China was richer than the sum of all the European economies with substantive trade routes across SEA. Wrote Qianlong [last of the Three Great Kings of long-lived prosperity before Qing decline] to King George III, "I have but one aim in view, namely, to maintain a perfect governance and to fulfill the duties of the State; strange and costly objects do not interest me.... As your Ambassador can see for himself, we possess all things... and have no use for your country's manufactures." This cannot be true today, but at the time Britain had a tremendous trade deficit in tea imports particularly, with little to satisfy Chinese consumers but silver until the opium industry came along. The severity of net silver outflow combined with war debts was a prime factor behind the Tea (and other various) Acts igniting the American Revolution.

    So in one sense China sees itself as retaking its place in the world, as defined at the height of Qing-Empire China, which at full maturity should be content with regional security and trade preeminence. To do so, it will try to selectively revise the international order to promote greater diversity, of ideas and of nations; to "[reduce] the European footprint to ensure that various groups better reflect the power realities of 2018, not 1948."(The article's a good one.) That will be, if anything, a success on our parts, ever since Bob Zoellick said famously in 2005, "It is time to take our policy beyond opening doors to China’s membership into the international system. We need to urge China to become a responsible stakeholder in that system.”

    ... but seriously, we shouldn't just hand regional influence to them on a platter. American business and diplomatic presence is weak in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, etc. There's a lot we could be doing to engage seriously, to promote ourselves as equally competitive problem-solvers. Whining that China, by setting up an alternative set of institutions basically copied from preexisting western models, is actually doing something about real problems in regional connectivity without actually presenting viable alternatives of our own makes us, oh, just about as bad as the GOP on the ACA...

    Edit: Hope that helps inspire some debate.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2018
  16. Innomine

    Innomine Unspeakable Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Fascinating read, thanks. What did you write that for? Surely not just us here at DLP.
     
  17. Invictus

    Invictus Fourth Champion

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    Yeah, on this regard, I call bullshit. I work on a state's Judiciary, and we had to digitialize 140,000 case files in a year and a half. Each with an average of 300-350 pages each, and loads of very delicate documents. We reserved, like, 3-5% of our workforce, bought some decent machines, and, let me say that these are public servants, so no extra hours, long lunch breaks, lots of holidays and a partly deserved fame of just not wanting to work much. We managed it, easily, and now my state's entire Judiciary is completely digital. Not one sheet of paper.

    If you really want and set actual goals, digitilization can be done quickly and with minimal fuss.

    Hell, Rio's doing that, and it has 12 million case files, and it's been digitalizing them slowly but surely. In seven years? It digitalized a third of them all, and less than 1% of its workforce is working on it.

    And these are case files, lot of sensitive material, things of all types, from excel sheets to hundreds of pictures of crime scenes, etc.
     
  18. Darth_Revan

    Darth_Revan Secret Squirrel Prestige DLP Supporter

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    @Solfege I think the real strength in PRC's central control has never been in centralized economic control, which you explored, but in centralized goal-making and strategic direction. All other things aside, China's model of long-term, benchmark planning across industries and especially in scientific advancement, has been well executed.

    What do you think of all of the reorganization and consolidation of State Ministries and agencies that came out of the 19th National Congress last October?
     
  19. Sauce Bauss

    Sauce Bauss Headmaster DLP Supporter

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    Going digital frequently disrupts existing processes and so it is put off. Things tend to happen piecemeal, and only when there is either a leader of sufficient vision and authority or there is some crisis that is forcing the business' hand. Organizations are creatures of inertia, they change but slowly. The Veteran's Administration in the US as one example. The floors of their buildings were buckling under the weight of the physical records, they had to have novel new filing systems created just to manage what they had already, and digitization of records is only now becoming a thing forty years after the advent of computers.

    That one is an extreme example, but you see similar things happen across private industry as well. Many banks have legacy systems from the 80's still running where COBOL programmers can have a career for life because if it's not broke, don't fix it. That mindset extends to physical records as well. When businesses finally do go fully digital, there are potentially decades worth of records that need to be processed and organized. That is not a trivial task by any stretch of the imagination. If you want to make those records searchable, you multiply the amount of time and effort needed to digitize by an order of magnitude. OCR has gotten decent, but not to the point where you no longer need manual review of documents like that.
     
  20. Invictus

    Invictus Fourth Champion

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    Brazil's Judiciary has plenty of cases that are decades long. We have around 200 million legal suits going on, currently in the country. Plenty of Justice Halls' used typewriters up until 2000-2002, and up until 2016 we used software from the late 90s. We used Delphi 6 systems up until the beginning of this year for some very important functions. And the copying machines? Many are decades old.

    You're not telling me anything new, or anything I haven't lived through and got frustrated with. Decades old? I have reviewed case files from 1965. I have read dozens of case files from 1980s. And I severely double that the US VA has 200m running and updating case files at any given time.

    The Brazilian Judicary at the moment has around 4.5e10 worth of paper pages,. just on case files. And I'm not counting doubles that many law firms, the state attorneys and prosecutors have, which they do. And that is all getting digitalized. With a Third world country "efficient" government machine . And yet it's going at a pretty quick pace, because it's in everyone's interest.

    Oh yes, Brazilian public employees also usually have 20 days of holidays plus 30 days of vacation, which everyone takes. In the Judiciary they have extra 10 due to end of the year break. So that's one entire month of almost no one working and each person takes a month off. Minimum. 40h/week with no extra hours too, so that's their max.

    Like I said, if you're really invested in digital, you can easily do it.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2018
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