Saturday, February 04, 2006

Anti-China Hatred

A slow news week, what with Chinese New Year, so I thought I'd take a moment from the gorgeously sunny, cool weather we're having and comment on something I saw yesterday...

CNET news hosts an article by Declan McCullagh that Peking Duck picked up, on the China and technology company censorship hearings in Congress. The article argues that Christopher Smith and Tom Lantos are flaming hypocrites on the China and free speech question:

If Smith and compatriot Rep. Tom Lantos, a California Democrat, were sincere in this paean to free speech, perhaps we could applaud them for a steadfast commitment to principle.

But they're not. Smith and Lantos voted for a flag-burning amendment that flies in the face of the right to protest, a law to criminalize computer-generated images of nude minors, and the restrictions on election-related speech in the McCain-Feingold law that are now causing trouble for bloggers. Both voted for the Patriot Act, even though a federal judge ruled a key portion violates the First Amendment's free speech rights. Smith also embraced a proposal to restrict the sale of violent material such as video games to anyone under the age of 18.

If we try to reconcile these votes with recent statements, we're left with the unsettling conclusion that this pair of solons may care a great deal about free speech--but only for the Chinese, not Americans.

Or we can consider a second explanation: that they'd simply like to whip up some anti-China sentiment, and Internet censorship is a convenient excuse to do it.

"It's really just hatred of China," says Lew Rockwell, president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Ala. "People like Christopher Smith, the neo-conservatives, the Christian right that Christopher Smith is affiliated with, were planning a cold war against China before 9/11. They've just postponed it."


That last citation is the interesting one. Lew Rockwell is a right-wing libetarian isolationist nutcase whose website provides space for a number of very scary people. Among them are people like Bevin Chu, a right-wing Chinese and son of a KMT diplomat, who regularly publishes anti-Taiwan Independence articles. Another publisher at Rockwell's site is Gary North, one of the leaders of Christian Reconstructionist movement, the far-right Christian fascists whose dream is to snuff out American democracy and replace it with a theocratic state (North has publicly advocated stoning homosexuals). In other words, Rockwell's site is littered with pro-authoritarian types (and, in fairness, some pretty good people as well), and he is hardly in a position to call free speech advocacy "hatred of China" when he himself supports advocates for suppression of freedom. McCullagh is a libertarian as well and seems to have some kind of personal connection to Rockwell. His conflation of the China hearings with the staged hearings on the first Iraq War is simply an obnoxious smear intended to support his analysis by distracting the reader. Mathew Stimson responds both to Richard at PD and to McCullagh:

Richard at The Peking Duck excerpts from an surprisingly hackish article from C.Net’s Declan McCullagh which smears Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) as “hypocritical” China-bashers who claim to care about human rights in China but don’t care about human rights at home. The evidence for this is that Smith has a conservative voting record and both Lantos and Smith have both voted for a flag burning amendment and — heavens! — the Patriot Act. This is raising the bar on “supporting human rights” to a level that no mainstream American politician, from either party, can meet. McCullagh even turns to libertarian isolationist Lew Rockwell, who claims that Smith wants to start a new cold war with China. (In the paranoid libertarian isolationist universe, every politician is in the thrall of the military-industrial complex.) McCullagh’s article is ripe to be picked up by the “USA bad too!” Internet crowd that offer apologies for China on the basis of pointing out America’s sins.

The voting records of Reps. Smith and Lantos may not be Richard’s cup of tea, but it’s irresponsible to get frothy and claim that the congressmen are, in Richard’s words, “spotlight-seeking ignoramuses looking for an excuse to hype the ‘China threat.’” Rep. Smith has long been a champion of international human rights in China, East Timor, Vietnam, the Sudan, and elsewhere. On China in particular Smith has taken a line on human rights that often intersects with that of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Richard’s own rhetoric. Rep. Tom Lantos, as co-chair and founder of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, has a record on human rights that few politicians can match. These men are honest advocates for the cause of human rights, not the shameful opportunists McCullagh accuses them of being.


The hearings are hypocrisy, no question, and no doubt Smith and Lantos are hycrocrites, as are all of us. But these hearings are not so much anti-China hypocrisy, as they are the usual Congressional impulse to have a hearing on whatever is engaging the public mind. Congress has also held hearings on moving sports team, and drugs in sports (I guess they must have been anti-sports or something, by Rockwell's logic), and numerous other transient topics of no serious interest. The Google hearings are part of this pattern. Tomorrow Congress will forget about Google and move on to something else.

And by the way, Lew, when someone points 800 missiles at you and says that you have to join them or die, hatred is a perfectly understandable response from you and your allies like Tom Lantos.

UPDATE: East Asia Watch points to this article from an American Enterprise Institute member which points out more Congressional hypocrisy on the issue (handle with care: AEI has long been a shill for East Asian governments):

Ironically, what Google is saying is not so different from what Congress — supported by successive Republican and Democratic administrations — said when it granted China PNTR. After all, the U.S. government concluded then that doing business with the Chinese Communists was an aggregate good for the U.S. economy. It also argued that promoting economic engagement with China, even without promises of political liberalization in return, was better for the Chinese people than doing nothing at all…

Frustrated with the resilience of Chinese authoritarian rule, members of Congress have anointed Western businessmen (without their consent) as freedom fighters and have declared irrelevant their responsibility to maximize shareholder value. Congressman Tim Ryan (D., Ohio) asserted in a statement that “American citizens and lawmakers have every right to demand that U.S. companies advance freedom rather than oppression.” Similarly, Congressman Chris Smith instructed Google, “Human rights should trump profits.”

12 comments:

bx said...

Dear lord, are we still hyping about the 800 missiles.

I mean, don't you have other things to write about. Do you know how many missiles are pointed by everyone at everyone else?

Btw, Taiwan does (or will very soon) point missiles towards Shanghai.

I expect now to see mainland bloggers hype on about the missile threat from Taipei.

People in the mainland take it as a matter of fact that both America and the Soviet Union have pointed and in the first case, continue to point nuclear missiles towards China.

I don't see every Chinese blogger end his comments on America with "America points nuclear missiles at us".

Crying about it is just silly.

Michael Turton said...

I mean, don't you have other things to write about. Do you know how many missiles are pointed by everyone at everyone else?

I have plenty to write about -- three blogs, about 600 posts at this one, academic publications, two books in the works, consulting work, translation, editing, etc, etc, etc. Perhaps you should try focusing on positive production yourself. It might be a welcome change from your current useless writing, and may ameliorate the underlying insecurity such output reveals.

Michael

bx said...

Hehe, did i touch a raw nerve or something?

How about addressing my post instead of personal attacks. In what way does my post reveal my insecurities?

Granted, I am not nearly as qualified as you as a writer, thats because I am not. But I can bet your not half the biologist I am.

Anonymous said...

Warden said:

The insecurity is clear in 600 missiles pointed at an island that poses absolutely no threat to those doing the pointing. Is this a difficult concept to grasp?

If the US were to point her missiles at Mexico, I would say Mexicans would feel a bit of pressure, maybe even a feeling of being up against the wall.

Oh, did I forget to mention that the threat connected to those missiles has been made clear: A dictatorship has demanded a democracy make the "correct" choices. Yeah, right, that makes me feel real secure. Since I'm under the general impression that democracy functions as the will of the people, and not via demands from an unelected group of dictators, I do think many issues in Taiwan end up exactly at the problem of 600 missiles pointed here. In fact, I kind of live with it every day.

BTW: during the Cold War we were all worried every day about those missiles too, and they did distort almost every political discussion.

bx said...

[i]BTW: during the Cold War we were all worried every day about those missiles too, and they did distort almost every political discussion.[/i]

But thats exactly the point I am making. Those missiles are still pointed by various countries (China, U.S, Russia, India, Pakistan, God knows who else) at each other.

The question is whether or not pointing missiles makes war less or more likely. Now, if pointing missiles makes Taiwan less likely to declare independence, then war is less likely.

Democracy really has little to do with the Taiwan issue. It doesn't really matter what government is in charge on the mainland, you would not gain votes on the mainland by campaigning for a independent Taiwan during a election.

As for the danger posed by Taiwan towards China, it is as much military as it is philosophical. An independent Taiwan would simply serve as another unsinkable aircraft carrier around Chinese land.

Closest Chinese military base to the U.S. is within China. Closest American military base to China is on Japan, South Korea, Afganistan, Uzbeckestan (spelling), Hawaii, Guam, etc.

[b]Who is being insecure here?[/b]

Michael Turton said...

How about addressing my post instead of personal attacks.

BX, in what way is "I mean, don't you have other things to write about" not a personal attack? If you don't want personal attacks, don't engage in them.

If your post had any substance, I would engage with it. But since it is merely a provocation, I will treat it as such. When you post intelligently, I will respond with reason. When you post attacks, I will respond with attacks.

Michael

James said...

One of the problems with opinions of Chinese overseas, such as anonymous, is that they are extremely biased. The oppressed narrative, after all, is both appealing and empowering. In our modern liberal world, claiming the victim can get you pretty far. The question is how productive is Chinese nationalism. It does make Chinese appropriately more suspicious of foreigners (why _should_ we accept Western notions of copyright and patent, especially if we're coming from behind?), but I bet it lets incompetent, self-enriching Communist officials off the hook all the time too. China has little to gain from military confrontation with Taiwan and a lot to lose--but nationalism blinds them to any sort of rational cost-benefit analysis.

bx's rhetorical technique was irrational and illogical (condescension) and unfortunately, his claimed biological prowess was no aid to him.

The issue at hand. Bx, you make a false equivalence. I presume you refer to nuclear ballistic missiles. Nuclear powers point missiles at each other, and the result, despite the greater destructive power of nuclear weapons, is moderation and stalemate. Ironically, the conventional missiles that China points at Taiwan, are much more threatening, precisely because it is much more believable that China would ever use them. If Taiwan successfully ramps up their cruise missile program, then yes, there will be greater balance, but because they're not nuclear, it is still quite credible that either side would use them.

Bx, you also fail to note that there aren't really immediate issues that would cause the US, Russia (there is no Soviet Union), and China to lob nuclear weapons at each other, and the fact that they all have them means that any sort of dispute among them is less likely. In the China-Taiwan case, there is also no real reason for Taiwan to start a war either. There is, however, very good reason to believe that China would want to start a war with Taiwan.

James said...

I also want to point out that the comments bx says are repeated a ridiculous amount of times by Chinese and is by no means original thought. Just about any Chinese person talking about the Taiwan issue will say the following:

1) Taiwan is an unsinkable aircraft carrier (for the United States).

2) It doesn't matter who is in charge of China. They will be pressured to invade Taiwan if Taiwan declares independence. If the chairman of the time doesn't invade, he will be forced to resign and the next guy will.

3) Taiwan is like an American dagger into the heart of China.

4) There's an idiom that basically says, for a time the country is separated, for a time the country is unified. And somehow the modern day Chinese conclusion is something like, Taiwan can be separated from China for awhile, but ultimately it'll return to be a part of China.

The repetitiveness is really interesting, and it's almost like brainwashing, but done in the open. I'll address 1) and 2) because that's what bx mentioned.

Responses:
1) The US already has so much military next to China, that having Taiwan would be of little additional benefit. What about Japan or Guam? The US air force is so dominant that a few extra hundred miles would do nothing to protect China against an offensive attack.

And be honest about the issue. If this were the issue, then China should negotiate a treaty with the US saying that Taiwan would be a militarily neutral zone that neither side would touch. Why go so far as to threaten Taiwan with invasion? In fact an invasion by China is precisely the ONLY REASON TAIWAN WOULD EVER BECOME A US AIRBASE!!!

2) The "it's everyone else's opinion" is really just an attempt to shift responsibility. What is YOUR opinion bx and how is it justified? And since when has the Communist Party been so wary of public opinion?

I also have no idea what you mean by philosophical. Stick to biology. I don't know what philosophical reasons there could possibly be for an invasion of one country by another.

Anonymous said...

"I don't know what philosophical reasons there could possibly be for an invasion of one country by another."

I think therefore I came I saw I conquered?

sounds like Beijing logic

bx said...

I mean, don't you have other things to write about" not a personal attack?

I was more using it as a general reference, tongue in cheek, not personally, but i can see now how it could've being construed as a personal attack.

I take it back.

I will try to answer one point made by each blogger below one.

China has little to gain from military confrontation with Taiwan and a lot to lose--but nationalism blinds them to any sort of rational cost-benefit analysis. ... There is, however, very good reason to believe that China would want to start a war with Taiwan.

What makes you believe that China actually believes that starting a war with Taiwan would be beneficial to China?

Unless you believe that the administration which is managing economic growth for the last 20 years at 8% p.a. is stupid enough not to see your cost-gain analysis. Everything China has done goes straight into preventing a war over Taiwan.

Answer this question, what currently will trigger war over Taiwan?

a) Taiwan putting off reunification, no.
b) Taiwan declaring independence, yes.

The anti-seccession law was designed to draw a line in the sand, just like the missiles. They are conventional, yes, but they serve the same psychological purposes. You call my logic flawed but it is yours that fails to take into account the similarities between the psychological impacts of the conventional missiles and the nuclear missiles.

In the first case, they prevent war by letting the DPP know that they cannot put independence, which will trigger war. In the 2nd case, nuclear missiles prevent war due to MAD. The psychology involved is exactly the same.

And be honest about the issue. If this were the issue, then China should negotiate a treaty with the US saying that Taiwan would be a militarily neutral zone that neither side would touch. Why go so far as to threaten Taiwan with invasion? In fact an invasion by China is precisely the ONLY REASON TAIWAN WOULD EVER BECOME A US AIRBASE!!!

Actually, your solution is not as silly as you may believe it to be. In some circles, the notion of a military neutral zone + a guantanamo style base for China on Taiwan is seen as one of the possibilities for the future.

As for while it is not negotiated, well its simple, because China still has a chance to reunify Taiwan peacefully.

"I don't know what philosophical reasons there could possibly be for an invasion of one country by another."

I think therefore I came I saw I conquered?

sounds like Beijing logic


Actually, i was born in Shanghai and immigrated to Aus around 8, but feel free to call me brainwashed commie spy, its what the internet's for.

The philosophical question is quite simple to understand, I am sure some people on this forum understands it. The question goes straight towards the heart of the modern Chinese nation which is founded on national suffering and loss of territory during the last 200 years. In nearly all cases, territory has being regained, the obvious exception being Mongolia and Siberia but that has largely being suppressed due to China's relationship with Russia and the SU.

As a result, a separation of Chinese territory such as Taiwan now, where the people are largely "Chinese", would have huge philosophical implications for the foundations of the modern Chinese state.

bx said...

Before someone brings it up, Singapore does not count because it was never ever regarded as Chinese. Even today Singaporeans are only really regarded as semi-Chinese by most Chinese people.

mah29001 said...

Nice to know someone is taking on the hyprocrisy with folks like Lew Rockwell and company. They have often painted America as a "fascist" state while associating themselves with very authoritarian people.

Bunch of hyprocrites they are.