China. The Failed Project. Musk.

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In the early 1970’s, with the Nixon-Kissinger overture to China, we opened the doors for them to break out of their isolation and offer their markets.
Our interest was economical but political, too, for a friendlier China would help counter the then Soviet menace.
Money began to pour into China and, by virtue of their tenacity and industry, the nation now stands as an economic superpower.
We expected their political maturation to follow. It did not. And that has been the great disappointment for the West.
Whereas Japan, after fiercely fighting the West during WWII, turned around and rebuilt itself as both an economic superpower and a democracy, China instead avoided political growth and settled for remaining a dictatorship.
That has been their choice. The influence of Mao Ze Dong runs deep.
China’s economic rise has been fueled by enormous investment from the West. The Chinese have worked with and improved on it, so they deserve credit. But they also should acknowledge that they have stolen much intellectual property from the rest of the world.
Not only have they not acknowledged it, but to this day their efforts to steal more information are rampant, i.e., through cyberattacks.
When there is an imbalance between the political and economic development of a nation, or even of an individual, there is reason to worry.
And so it has come as no great surprise that China has chosen to side with Russia in their cruelty toward Ukrainians.
The Chinese have been doing the same thing with the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province. And they did it, too, with Hongkongers.
All that economic investment did not modify their political disposition to repress and brutalize.
The Chinese people have no freedom of speech and are constantly being monitored by the State, which is afraid of what freedom of thought can ignite.
I have no doubt, they want to spread their system to the rest of the world. If it’s working for us, why shouldn’t it work for others.
So what are western business interests in China to do about all this?
Do they ignore the political side of China and concentrate only on business?
They cannot. And they cannot because the profits from their businesses are helping support a repressive regime, a regime that is set on invading Taiwan and killing whoever stands in their way to accomplish their goal.
To the extent that western business interests in China continue to fuel their growth, to that extent they are accomplices in the rise of China’s military and their dreams of world conquest.

Enter Elon Musk, Tesla and Twitter.
Mr Musk has praised China. The Tesla factory in Shanghai is the company’s largest. China’s customers buy the greatest number of Tesla vehicles.
So far, China has been friendly to him. And why not? He’s a symbol of the businessman they want. Pliant. Someone who will applaud them, regardless of their political record. And, of course, the Chinese government will make some concessions. There has to be a bait.
The political record of a nation matters. If not today, then tomorrow. But it matters.
Mr Musk has now bought Twitter. From what I read, Twitter has gone to great lengths to stop access to their platforms by governments and extreme factions pushing their agenda. There is an Integrity Team at work in keeping the messaging clear of such meddling, including from bots.
Mr Musk talks of promoting free speech, anyone can say anything and if you have a better argument you will prevail in the end. But Twitter insiders, familiar with the subtlety of messaging, warn us of how crafty those pushing their agenda can be.
Judging by Musk’s record in China, I have no doubt that sooner or later, Chinese influencers will work their way into Twitter with whatever they wish to say.
‘No, there is no genocide in Xinjiang. We love Uyghurs. All those reports you have read are false.’ Alongside a photo of an Uyghur hugging and kissing an ethnic Chinese.
Little by little and before you know it, people will be saying, ‘well, if they committed genocide, maybe it was just a little. Not a lot’.
For all of Mr Musk’s talents, he will not control China’s influencers. Instead, they will control him. And he won’t even know it.
‘We want you to sell more Teslas in China. We love Tesla. Now here is something we need…”
And Mr Musk will say, ‘Only that?’
‘Only that,’ the Chinese official will reply, with a sly smile.
China’s record is clear. Standing in support of Russia in Ukraine makes it an accomplice.
To think that we can talk the Chinese government out of their style is madness.
It will be up to the Chinese people to revolt and affirm themselves. That is their developmental task as a nation.
As for us, we should start to pull out of China. We can do it. China isolated itself from the world for centuries. And the rest of the world still prospered.
Growing dependence on them is a bad idea.

Oscar Valdes,,, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

Fix or Replace the U.N.

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Something is wrong with an organization that allows Russia and China to hold veto power in the Security Council, even as they are clearly the offending nations.
Russia, as it carries on with its cruelty in Ukraine, China, as it proceeds with its effort to suppress the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang province.
The two nations work together to render that prestigious organization useless.
While the plight of refugees, the mass killing of people and the destruction of property, clearly establish Russia’s inhumanity, their envoy to the United Nations goes on and on justifying Putin’s invasion, calling it necessary to rid Ukraine of Nazis sponsored by America and intent on destroying Russia.
He goes on and on, in a calm demeanor, unaffected by the widespread evidence of his country’s behavior.
And if any motion is put forward by any dissenting member nation of that council, the Russian envoy can simply use his veto power.
Something is deeply wrong with the design of such organization for it is not doing what it’s supposed to do.
It should be fixed or cease to exist.

The UN has yet to summon the clout to bring the warring parties to the table. The likelihood is that it will not.
So Russia and China’s having veto power over any resolution proposed, renders it irrelevant.
I have no doubt that the United Nations’ many efforts over the years have had considerable impact in many areas, but the plight of Ukraine tells us that it is time to redesign how power is wielded in that body or it must be replaced with a better designed entity.
Is this the time for the nations of the West to initiate a boycott against it? To simply walk out and leave the representatives of Russia and China, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and Myanmar, keep blabbering on until the lights are turned off?
I think so.
As we speak, the world is being divided into two opposing camps. One led by the free nations of this earth, the other led by Russia and China.
So, in the face of the impotence of the present United Nations, this is the time to form a different organization, to include all those nations who wish to share in the ideals of democracy and free trade.
Why should we tarry with the pretense that dialogue with the leadership of Russia and China is possible?
There is no indication any attempt to do so makes any difference, so why waste our time?

Let us instead form a United Nations West so we can nurture and cooperate with each other.
I have no doubt who will win in the end.
The story of a divided Germany gives us the answer. Too bad the rest of the world has forgotten that lesson.
Men and women are born to be free.
The task of every government is to facilitate that all of us develop our potential as human beings.
In the West we keep working at it, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, but we keep trying.
In Russia and China, reigning autocracies are the preferred arrangement.
Until one day their subjugated populations rise and demand their freedom. Like we are seeing in Ukraine.
A United Nations West is a necessity.
The spirit of Ukraine lives in all of us.

Oscar Valdes,,, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.

The Tesla Problem

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Tesla is flying high in China. It produced about 930 thousand models in 2021 with at least half made in Shanghai.

Now it decided to open a showroom in Urumqi, in Xinjiang province, where Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims are being forced to assimilate by Chinese authorities in what has been described as an act of genocide. Chinese authorities dismiss all responsibility.

Tesla has a problem though it chooses to dismiss it.

The problem is that it doesn’t give a damn about the forced assimilation going on in Xinjiang.

The problem is that, by its actions, it says to the public, ‘so long as we make money, we don’t care. We will certainly not upset the Chinese authorities because then our bottom line will be much affected. So there. We believe in freedom, absolutely, the freedom to make a buck wherever there’s a buck to me made. And as far as the present American administration, get off it, stop being so puritanical, let people make money, that’s the heart of the matter, don’t interfere with that or any of us in the company will not support you in the next election.’

Oh, the all mighty dollar, how its shiny light blinds the morals of some folks.

Here’s a smart, effective businessman, failing to see the big picture. Dismissing the humanitarian concerns of so many as mere pieties. An intelligent man blinded by his fast accumulating billions.

But it won’t do.

The world cannot give a free pass to China in its continuous human rights abuses.

China’s bellicosity is growing by the day, and to further its progress needs the assistance of western companies, banks and industrial concerns, willing to say ‘Yes! We want the money!’ as they bow to the angry and demanding dragon.

And in exchange, the mighty Chinese will treat them well, maybe grant them special rights in Taiwan once they invade the island, or wherever else they to choose to expand.

The Chinese government’s abuse of people in their own land is a precursor of things to come. Let it happen now and before you know it they will come for you, too.

The history of the world has taught us that lesson again and again but still we don’t get it.

We humans are fond of doing the ostrich number and burying our head in the sand.

Mr Musk, as leader of Tesla and Space X, has made important contributions to the world and to our nation. We thank him for them.

But maybe it is time he stepped aside.

Moral blindness is a detriment to leadership. And eventually to profits.

Take a break, Mr Musk. Broaden your views. You might surprise us all with your new insights.

Good luck.

PS – By the way, now and then, when you exult in your greatness, take a moment to mention the thousands of engineers working for you that make it all possible. They deserve it.

Oscar Valdes.  also available in, apple, google podcasts and buzzsprout.

Winter Olympics. China. An Idea in support of Uyghurs.

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Talk of using the upcoming Winter Olympics to protest against China’s mistreatment of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang province has been gathering momentum.

A boycott of the games by diplomats only, has been mentioned, while others have proposed it should include the athletes themselves, corporate sponsors and even US spectators.

I do not think it is fair to the athletes.

They have been working very hard to have a chance to display their talents, invested enormously in polishing their abilities, to now have this one moment before the entire world.  

The competition is fierce and only the very gifted and hard working get a chance to compete or earn a medal.

To now deprive them of their chance to shine seems absurd.

Politics should not be imposed on them.

Our government has a variety of means to make their case against China’s violations and their authoritarian rule.

But for the athletes, this is their one moment before a world audience. And it should not be blocked.

I propose we offer the athletes an option to join in solidarity with Uyghurs. A hand sign they could flash at any time, entirely at their discretion, under no compulsion whatsoever: during the opening and closing ceremonies, after a performance or whenever they saw fit.

If they want to do it, fine, if not, that’s okay. It is their moment, and it is up to them.

At a time when they are flush with the unique excitement of participating in such privileged spectacle, to show support for other human beings who are being trampled by Chinese authorities may appeal to many athletes.

But it should be entirely up to each individual, to share a moment of their triumph on behalf of those who will never have such chances because their government impedes it.

The sign I propose would be the letter U for Uyghur, made by holding up both hands, side by side, palms facing front, the ends of the thumbs apposed to form the base of the letter, with the adjoining index fingers upright to complete the U, and the rest of the fingers curled in both hands.

To urge an authoritarian country to cease the mistreatment of part of their population should not involve an act where other human beings are deprived, by governmental decree, of their own chance at displaying excellence.

The last American boycott took place in 1980 to protest the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Jimmy Carter was president. Did it make any difference? Not on the Soviets or the Afghans. But it did deprive American athletes of a special moment in their lives. Let that one boycott be the last.

Oscar Valdes.  Available in, apple podcasts and buzzsprout.

China. When Does State Control Start Hindering Innovation?

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When it begins to restrict the freedom of its citizens. 

By that measure, China has already begun its slow decline. 

Sure, the country remains a strong manufacturer of goods and they have made much progress in the production of electric vehicles, communication technology, artificial intelligence, renewable energy and space exploration.

But the suppression of the freedom of its citizens and the pervasive surveillance of their activities have started to slowly erode the minds of the Chinese. Slowly erode their spirit.

And the reduction in their ability to innovate will soon become clear. 

Lying by the government is now the norm. That does something to the human spirit.

The large scale oppression of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province is well documented but the Chinese government boldly denies the evidence.

If it is true that they are not guilty as charged, all it would take would be to allow a group of representatives from the rest of the world to visit the area, interview the people and see for themselves. But they won’t do it.

They won’t because their lies would be discovered.

A China that was truly confident would not object to such inspection. 

If they had an open society then the matter would be aired.

If the intent in their treatment of Uyghurs was to reeducate them so they would become better Chinese, as they claim, there are certainly other ways to do that instead of secretly, which lead to practices that are coercive and inhumane.

That China can’t be honest with the world is a sign of the corruption at the top.

The corruption of a leadership for whom the preservation of power at all costs is the main objective. Never mind the full development of the Chinese citizen – an achievement only possible when freedom of expression is preserved while respecting the rights of others to do the same.

Xi Jinping has changed the laws so he can remain in power as long as he wants.

He gets to have freedom of expression. Not his people.

And so the entire Chinese leadership has reminded us how much they have in common with despots everywhere, whether in Syria, Russia, Egypt, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Turkey, Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela.

Bullying behavior comes right along with massive lying.

In the South China Sea, the Chinese have made incursions into areas officially belonging to the Philippines while Duterte, their president, apparently intimidated by them, has chosen to look the other way.

When people in power are not confronted, their perverse instincts become more pronounced.

That is evident in China’s obsession to repossess Taiwan. The island went through many years of growing pains but blossomed into a democracy and now China wants it. China wants it, mind you, not to enhance it, but to diminish it, to strip it of the freedoms that have made it an economic powerhouse.

China wants to do with Taiwan what it is now doing with Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, businesses from everywhere in the world still race to have a presence in China because of the size of their markets and the profits that come with it.

And so that influx of foreign innovation helps China thrive. For now. But it will not last.

It cannot. 

Take Russia for comparison. The enormous creative potential of that country has not been realized because of their system of governance. But in their case, there are now signs of change.

The tenacity and commitment of Alexei Navalny has been spreading through Russia and reminding them of how much they are giving up by consenting to live under the controlling influence of Vladimir Putin. And although Navalny is now in prison, the world increasingly recognizes him as the true bearer of the hopes of that nation.

There is no similar figure in China because the oppression has been so complete.

But soon enough one such figure will rise. 

People who dare to take on the difficult challenges make a difference.

In Europe, Angela Merkel has been the person who came to symbolize the European Union’s possibilities. As she gets ready to step down as prime minister of the German nation, Emmanuel Macron in France will likely assume that role.

Meanwhile, from America, Joe Biden has risen to carry the vision and commitment to unite the Free World. 

There is no question that China is a repressive dictatorship. Like there is no question of its ambitions to extend their influence far beyond its borders.

That China is helping other economies with their exports and imports, should not hide the fact that as a system, it is toxic to the human spirit. 

China may be helping western companies get rich as their own companies do, but those riches are coming at a price. 

And the price is the gradual undermining of the importance of freedom of expression. 

The challenge of China to the free world is for us to address our inequalities.

They are saying to us, ‘so long as we make you rich through our markets, you will slowly value money more so than freedom, and you will become more like us.’

In answering the challenge, we must create better and fairer societies, and remind China of what is truly essential. 

Our freedoms are fundamental to the preservation and enhancement of what it is to be human.

China is trampling on those.

Soon enough, it is our hope, a person or movement symbolizing resistance to their system of governance will emerge and begin the renewal the Chinese citizen deserves, so that talented nation can fully contribute to solving the problems of the world.

We will be wise to be able to recognize and support such person or movement. 

Oscar Valdes. 

Elsa and Xi Jinping (8) Racism in America

Dear Xi,

Hope this finds you well.

Democracies are, indeed, problematic, and the process will often appear to be wasteful and even chaotic. But give a closer look and something else will be found.

Societies, like individuals, are in a constant search for higher integration.

In the individual, the pressure is to integrate the emotional and the intellectual, for the greater the integration the better the overall functioning and hence, personal satisfaction.

So, too, with nations.

In America, while making significant advances in science, technology and industry, we have not kept pace in our collective emotional development. Thus, the profound dysfunction of racism.

At the core of racism is the premature closure of the inquiry into what it is to be human.

When one looks at someone superficially different than one is and, failing to remain open to what that person may offer, devalues them instead, then one turns oneself into a hindrance to one’s personal development and the larger group we belong to becomes the poorer for it.

Racism is an ugly blemish for each of us individually and for the nation as a whole.

It has held back the development of the discriminated against and of those doing the discriminating.

America is guilty as charged as being a racist country and yet, we are a democracy.

We are both racist and democratic. There is no contradiction there.

We are profoundly imperfect and still a democracy.

People can protest in favor or against racism and the government will not censor what they have to say.

But is this useful?

I hold that it is because it keeps the problem on the table. It does not push it down and out of sight. If we can see the problem, then we are more likely to know its true extent and thus talk about it.

The racist in America can go on believing that White is better than anyone else, but it is to their detriment. In holding on to such belief they harm themselves for they are deprived of the richness that expanding their understanding of others brings to their own existence.

They lessen themselves by their own hand.

You may ask, if not prohibiting such beliefs is favorable, how come racism is still present in America?

Good question.

Racism is still present in our land because there has not been the leadership to emphatically and consistently say to all Americans, ‘it is wrong to be racist and we must make it a priority to overcome it.’ Then go about the process vigorously, without fear they will be voted out of office.

Racism is still present in our land because there have not been the same opportunities for the development of Blacks that Whites have enjoyed. Lacking those opportunities, the rest of the nation has not seen all that Blacks can do.

Racism still lives in America because many Whites have not confronted their fears that Blacks may show abilities they do not have.

And so Americans are poorer because of racism. We are weaker because of it.

The good news is that things have been changing.

Let me turn now to the question of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province. They are Muslim and have their own language and your leadership has settled on a policy to reeducate them against their will, forcing them into special camps.

China is wrong to pursue such policy.

It is one thing to tell the Uyghurs, ‘we need you to learn Mandarin because it will allow you better opportunities for advancement in our nation and we wish for you to be part of us’. It is quite another to force them to abandon beliefs they have grown up with and long cherished.

You may be thinking that in another generation or two, Uyghurs will forget about their origins and embrace only Chinese values. They will not. And they will not because it has been forced.

Blacks in America will never forget that they were enslaved, bought and sold, abused, lynched and treated like chattel. They will take advantage of what opportunities are opened, but they will never forget having had their growth stunted, generation upon generation.

Uyghurs won’t either.

So learn from us. Don’t make the same mistake we’ve made. Change course and woo the Uyghurs into your society, not force them.

The way you have chosen to treat Uyghurs derives from the power your government has amassed and from the lack of resistance of your people. You have chosen such actions because Chinese have lacked the free speech that could have brought you to your senses.

By depriving yourself of the dissenting opinions of other Chinese, you miss out on the creative solutions they may have offered.

You do not own the truth. Neither you nor your politburo nor the Chinese Communist Party. Solutions need to be agreed to by the majority of the people of a nation because they have to live with them. Allowing them to have a say in the nation’s choices is essential for the emotional and intellectual integration necessary for the healthy civic growth of a country.

Should you persist in your present course of forcibly reeducating Uyghurs, China will live to regret it. Power unchecked by dissent or free speech leads to abuse that is never forgotten and instead festers like an infected wound.

Will America ever conquer racism? I believe it will. In fact, we have no real choice. Should we not conquer racism we will be unable to compete effectively with you.

Americans understand the challenge you represent and we will rise to it.


Elsa oscarvaldes@widehumr