The White Paper Protest

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Chinese people are defying the rigid mandates of Xi Jinping to contend with the spread of Covid. And with good reason. The long quarantines have severely restricted mobility and curbed economic activity. They are choking the Chinese.
In Urumqi, in Xinjiang province, a province notorious for the repression of the Uyghur population, 10 died in a fire last Thursday, November 24th. The building was under quarantine and they couldn’t get out in time.
There is a beauty to seeing Chinese people protesting against their despotic regime, shouting proudly their opposition to their government’s draconian policies.
The demonstrations, which started in Urumqi, have spread to Shanghai and Beijing.
The Chinese have reason to ask why their leadership has not used the better vaccines produced in the West with MRNA technology – a point of pride getting in the way of the welfare of the people. And so, a full three years after the outbreak of the pandemic in Wuhan, not enough Chinese have been vaccinated which would have raised the level of immunity of the population and reduced the need for the overly restrictive quarantines.
The limitations of movement that come with the communist party’s zero covid policy have only been possible because of the severe curbs on freedom of speech.
There is no dialogue between the citizen and the government and the absurdity of their policies against covid is but one example.
The chosen symbol of the protests, a white sheet of paper, I take to symbolize that Chinese people feel they have no voice whatsoever. They are expected to obey and obey. The leadership has got all the answers.
But the protesters are stepping out in large numbers and saying, ‘enough is enough’.
Will this lead to even larger demonstrations?
My hope is that it will. If so, they need to brace themselves for brutal retaliation.
Xi Jinping and his supporters are now devising ways to crush dissent. ‘How dare this rabble raise their voices, how dare they think they even have a voice? I am their voice,’ will say the chairman.
The protests speak loudly of how the Chinese people have connected with their political courage. How they wish to exercise freedom as an essential means to counter excesses. How without such freedom the whims of those in power do not get scrutinized and questioned.
Some demonstrators may, perhaps, be satisfied with what measures are proposed to lessen the length and scope of current quarantines, but this movement, even in its early stages, is about much more than covid. It’s about asserting people’s rights to be heard and to select who will govern them.
The communist leadership sees that and it is frightened by it.
Who knows how far this movement will go but it is a start and the world needs to be fully supportive of it.
The winds of freedom are blowing. They are blowing from Ukraine. They have reached Iran and now China.
Putin may have already called Xi Jinping with words of advice. ‘Jinping… listen to me, I have experience. Repress… repress… and repress again. Like you did with the Uyghurs, like you did in Hong Kong, like you will do in Taiwan. Fear is good. It works. Please, no dialogue. I need you.’

On China. We Have Our Differences

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Take the Covid 19 pandemic. We know it started in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019, but their leadership chose not to quickly contact the World Health Organization (WHO). Instead they suppressed reports by their own doctors, the first one reporting dying from the disease.
Time was critical but wasted because of China’s secrecy. If there had been openness from the start, a better organized response by all nations would have been possible. It would have led to vastly fewer deaths.
China has also rejected importing western vaccines based on MRNA technology and considered of better quality than the ones they’ve produced.
Their pride gets in the way of their own good.
Their insistence on self reliance has had significant economic consequences as well.
Their policy of strict quarantines in the management of Covid 19 has affected mobility and negatively impacted commerce, leading investors to begin to pull out of the country.
And yet the People’s Republic of China has set the pursuit of self reliance as their national goal. In other words, the Chinese believe they won’t need anyone.
Or are they just very angry at everyone?
‘Why are we not number one yet?’
‘Why did Trump put tariffs on our products?’
Well, because your cheaper products were contributing to unemployment in the US and America had not learned to deal effectively with the problem. Time was needed in the adjustment to globalization.
‘Why aren’t you (the West) not letting Huawei, our state supported electronics company, upgrade your communications infrastructure?’
Because we don’t trust that you won’t use those systems to spy on us.
You already have a history of forced technology transfers from western companies doing business in your land and a history of extensive cyberwarfare to steal secrets from us.
So why should we think it will be any different with Huawei?
You have a long history of censorship of your people, severely restricting freedom of speech and closely monitoring their activities.
Your communist party obviously doesn’t like having any competition.
We, on the other hand, believe competition is central to our wellbeing.
So, no, you can’t have Taiwan. No, because they are a free people and it’s taking them a lot of work to get there. They deserve what they’ve worked for. They don’t deserve falling under the regimentation of your party.
And yet, the West is impressed with all that China has accomplished. You keep building ships and trains and electric cars and sent a satellite to look at the dark side of the moon.
Very good.
But your people are not free.
That’s a huge difference for us.
You’re a strong supporter of Putin and his war against Ukrainians. That’s a lot of killing that Putin has done. And you support the tyrants in Myanmar, also. In other words, where there is a dictator oppressing people, you’re right there to offer assistance.
As things stand, then, you have a long way to becoming number one.
Mind you, because you are a smart people you may surprise us all. Time will tell.
We in the West have a lot of problems, too. Difficulty in communication being one of them. So we need to work hard also.
Right now we’re going through a specially difficult phase. While we talk a lot we haven’t been doing enough listening.
One of our presidents tried to overturn the results of a free election and now he’s announced he will run again. Unbelievable.
To our credit, however, America did not choose him in 2020.
In China, your citizens can’t say, ‘we’ve had ten years of Xi Jinping, we need to look at someone else’. You can’t do that. The party makes sure the Chinese people keep their mouths shut.
In China, they don’t even get the full story of the forced labor camps for the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province. Or the brutal repression of the Hong Kong dissenters. And I’m sure they’re not getting the full picture of all the atrocities Putin is committing in Ukraine.
Why, then, should you be number one in the world?
But we’ll keep listening.
I promise, we’ll listen to all your complaints about our mistakes and your belief that we’re in the midst of inevitable decadence.
But we differ here, too. We’re of the view that national growth requires a lot of effort and yet the outcome is hard to predict. Sometimes things move positively, sometimes negatively. But so long as the trend is upward we’re okay. A bit like the stock market. We just have to keep betting on our people.
Also, many of us believe that no matter our present differences, we should not keep your students from coming to America’s schools, should they want to, even if they go back and decide to join the communist party.
Why? Because it just could be, that something about freedom will stay with them, and who knows, that might end up helping China mature and the world become a better place.
So let’s keep talking. Talk is good. Listening, is even better.
In the end, people everywhere, want to be free.
Not ruled by a repressive regime.
The winds of freedom from Ukraine have reached Iran.
That’s not too far from where you are.

A Chinese and an American Talk Politics

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The Chinese, Haitao, is a physicist, the American, Bill, a mathematician. They know each other from graduate school in the US. Haitao returned to Shanghai and is employed in cloud computing by a state owned enterprise, while Bill presently works in the Netherlands in a microchip manufacturing company. They ran into each other at a conference in London.
They sit at a table in a street side café.

Bill – The 20th Communist Party Congress has just started. You think Xi will be reelected for a third term?
Haitao – No doubt. He has done a great job cleaning out corruption and the people admire him.
My worry is that he is too autocratic.
Bill – He will go for a 4th term?
Haitao (laughs) – Probably. And a fifth. Will die in office, like his idol Mao.
Bill – You think China will keep growing the way it has?
Haitao – Yes. Maybe slow down a little but not much. One of the things we have found is a sense of purpose. You don’t have that.
Bill – You mean a sense of purpose as a nation?
Haitao – Exactly.
Bill – And what would that be?
Haitao – To become the dominant nation in the world.
Bill – Dominant?
Haitao – Yes. We want to be number one. And we’re willing to sacrifice our personal freedom.
I know freedom is very important to you, but most Chinese are willing to sacrifice it for a higher cause. We have never been number one. You have been number one for a long time. Now you take it for granted.
Bill – Our system allows for very diverse creativity, in many fields, and the limited governmental interference facilitates development. You’ve had enormous growth with companies like Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, but now the government has chosen to direct their future growth. Don’t you think that will end up having a negative impact on inventiveness?
Haitao – It could. The government is experimenting, so we have to wait and see. Xi has been very clear about the importance of shared prosperity. In America, you talk about that but are very slow to do it. You have Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security but it’s not enough. There’s a lot of poverty in America. We watch you very closely so we can learn from you. Learn what not to do.
Bill – The distribution of riches, how to do it well without diminishing the creative drive, has been a problem for us. We keep going back and forth on that but there is steady progress in strengthening the safety net.
Haitao – Europeans are ahead of you.
Bill – But there is a stronger enterprising drive in America.
Haitao – To what purpose?
Bill – To become all we can be… maximizing the person’s possibilities.
Haitao – See, that’s the difference between you and us. In China, we think more of the collective. You think more of the individual.
And because of that difference, we now have a national purpose, which you do not.
Bill – I disagree. We want to protect the individual’s liberty, their right to create and acquire wealth… and many wealthy people become philanthropists… and give their money to various causes…
Haitao – That is weak, compared to having a national purpose. The benefit of having such purpose is that it commits the citizens to the task and expects from them that they sacrifice for it. No other nation has progressed so fast in 40 years since Deng Xiaoping began China’s opening to the world. We have taken advantage of everything possible… borrowed and stolen, too… but we have created also… and we have now great confidence in our capacities… and faith that we will become the number one nation in the world very soon.
Bill – How soon?
Haitao – At our current pace, I’d say, in 15 years. Max.
Bill – That’s a short time.
Haitao – We are not afraid of you, anymore. We study you closely, and we see how you can’t agree on things. Your lack of national discipline is frightening. We now have a bigger navy than you do. We don’t want to be like you, anymore. We did before, but not now. We don’t have mass shootings in our country. We don’t have an immigration problem. We don’t have the homelessness that makes your cities ugly. We don’t have racial issues, or just a little bit, but not like you.
In our country, politics is orderly, in your country it’s a circus and a waste and money and energy and talent. It is pitiful to watch it.
Bill – And Taiwan?
Haitao – It’s ours. We will not make the mistake that Putin made in Ukraine. But Russia is a second rate power. When the leadership decides it’s time to take Taiwan, we’ll encircle it and take it. It will be quick. For you to intervene will be too costly, so you’ll stay away and curse your weakness.
Bill – You’re pretty cocky about your power?
Haitao – We will always be friends, Bill, but as a nation, the time for China to replace you as number one is fast approaching. You’ll just have to live with it.
Bill – I think you’re underestimating our strengths…
Haitao – America has grown too fat and overconfident.
Bill – We could surprise you… we’re known for coming together when we have to.
Haitao – There’s always that possibility… but you’re too divided… too angry at each other… too unwilling to compromise… and have shown very poor judgment in whom you elect as President. I’m not talking about Biden, he’s done a good job. But I couldn’t believe your country elected Donald Trump, then failed to impeach him, then let him incite an assault on Capitol Hill, and may reelect him again… or let Republicans win both houses in the midterms.
Something is deeply wrong with your country, and I don’t think you can fix it in time to stop our rise to world dominance. Now is our turn. Your time is past.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

North Korea Shoots a Missile over Japan

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Kim Jong Un gets a call from Xi Jinping early in the morning.

Xi – Good morning.
Kim – You’re calling about the missile I shot over Japan.
Xi – Yes.
Kim – It went very well.
Xi – I’m not calling to congratulate you.
Kim – I see.
Xi – You’re a fool.

Pause

Xi – Suppose the missile had been loaded…
Kim – It was not.
Xi – Suppose it had been… and it malfunctioned, which we all know can happen… then it would’ve fallen on Japan. Then what?
Kim – It wouldn’t have happened.
Xi – Missiles malfunction… yours are no different. Please answer my question.

Pause

Xi – Were you there to inspect the missile before it was launched?
Kim – No.
Xi – Then any nuthead could’ve loaded it with an explosive… without you knowing.
Kim – We have strict security protocols…
Xi – Yes, and people willing to circumvent them.
Kim – No. They are fail proof.
Xi – When it comes to humans, there’s nothing fail proof.
Kim – Look, I had to do it.
Xi – Why?
Kim – The world forgets me unless I fire some missiles. Otherwise it’s you, and Putin and Modi and Biden, the English and the European Union getting all the attention.
And now Iran, with all the women protesting. You think they’ll be able to push out the ayatollahs?
Xi – I’m watching carefully. But let’s not get off track. Aside from your bombs and missiles, why are you not getting any attention?
Kim – Because we don’t produce much?
Xi – That’s right. I’m your main trading partner but if you ceased to exist, if you went up in a cloud of smoke, I could get everything I’m getting from you elsewhere.

Pause.

Xi – And it doesn’t have to be that way, does it?
Kim – I’m following a policy of Self Reliance, just like you are.
Xi – Yes, but we first opened up to the West so we could learn from them and then build on that.
They came, showed us what they have, we paid attention, learned, copied and became creative enough that we’re seen as the ‘factory of the world’.
Kim – But you had the huge market to entice the West, so their eyes widened with the expectation of riches… we don’t have that size market.
Xi – Look at Vietnam, they’re attracting more and more investors who are worried I’m getting government more involved in how Chinese businesses are run.
Kim – Vietnam is four times as large as we are…
Xi – That’s not it. You’re about the size of Taiwan and look at where they are.
Kim – I know what you’re saying… become more productive… open up to world markets… learn from them. Copy, steal, just like you did… and then create.
Xi – Yes.
Kim – But I’m afraid I’ll lose power.
Xi – The Communist party still rules Vietnam, and yet they’ve opened up and now they are richer and better educated. If your people are important to you, take some chances. Look, on October 16th, just 11 days from now, the 20th National congress of the communist party will convene. I am expected to be unanimously reelected for a 3rd term. And I forbid freedom of speech and have everyone on surveillance. Still, somehow, the people… most of them, are happy. So it can be done.
Kim – Congratulations.
Xi – Thank you. My point is you need to take chances.
Kim – The United Nations and America have put all these sanctions on me… because they don’t want me to have nuclear weapons…
Xi – They don’t trust you… but if you stopped the bomb building and let them in so they could make a ton of money, then, when the time came, you could say, ‘I’d like to get back to building bombs’.
Kim – That’s what you did.
Xi – We did our first nuclear test in 1964, well before the West came along. But they didn’t complain when we kept building them, after they came in. They were making a ton of money. Of course, we added that we needed to defend against Russia. Just in case. But times have changed.
Kim – Clever.
Xi – It’s politics. The key is to let the West make money. I think Putin failed on that. With the making of money comes the transfer of knowledge and other skills. Putin has the art of suppressing freedom, he’s got that down, but if he had let more western companies go into Russia and make lots of money, instead of favoring his inside group, then he wouldn’t have felt threatened. He would’ve stayed in power for ever.
Kim – You don’t think he will?
Xi – He’s on his way out. I hope it’s not violent.
I think you need to take the initiative and say to the world, ‘I’m putting all nuclear weapons development on hold. I will not do any more tests and will let UN inspectors come by and check. Please lift the sanctions.’ See what they say.
Kim – I would still forbid freedom of speech and keep high surveillance of the people.
Xi – Yes. You could say, ‘I’m trying the Chinese model’.

Kim laughs.

Kim – What do you think of Ukraine?
Xi – I’m worried about them. They’re making people think of liberty in a whole new way. Which is why I’m against them.
Kim – You think they’ve had an effect on the women in Iran?
Xi – Definitely. It doesn’t help that the ayatollahs are selling drones to Russia to kill more Ukrainians.
Kim – You think the Iran Nuclear deal will be revived?
Xi – The West would be fools if they did.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

This piece was edited on 10/6/22, to include the time when China first tested a nuclear weapon.

Why Putin Won’t Go Nuclear

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The recent advances by Ukrainian troops and their recapturing of territory has further raised the possibility that they may defeat the Russian army.
If so, how will Putin respond?
Some speculate that without a face saving outcome, without his having something to show Russians to justify the loss of life and resources, his political standing would be in jeopardy and he will be inclined to use nuclear weapons.
I disagree. I believe Putin has intimidated his countrymen so thoroughly that they will accept the losses. And if internal forces unite to remove him from power he will outsmart them and send them to prison with long sentences, like Alexei Navalny, if not underground.
He’s determined to die while in power and, barring some unmanageable illness, he’ll live for another 30 years. Sad for Russians but that’s who they’re choosing.
There’s another reason Putin won’t go nuclear.
China. Xi Jinping.
The chairman, who also wants to die in power, doesn’t want to get caught in the crossfire should Putin wish to go nuclear.
Xi, who’s closely following the recent developments, would be the first to remind Putin that Ukrainian flesh has become Western flesh.
The chairman will tell Putin, ‘because of their heroism in the battlefield, which your troops have not shown, Ukrainians have conquered the hearts and minds of the western world. They are now part of them. So, to put it bluntly, Vladimir, if you choose to use nuclear weapons on Ukrainians because you’re despairing that your soldiers can’t stop running back, and abandoning valuable armament in the process, it will not just be Ukrainian flesh burning with radioactivity, but western flesh. And the west will hit back hard… and they will tell me, Chairman, screw you, you’re an accomplice of Putin, you’ve had a hand in supporting him and his henchmen, so we’re going after you, too. So it won’t be only Russian flesh burning with radioactivity but Chinese flesh also… and how will I be able to explain that to my people?
And they’ll lose confidence in me and I won’t be able to rule until I die, like Mao did. I won’t be able to see China become the foremost power in the world, ten times superior to the Americans.’
Putin will hear this, if he hasn’t already, and decide to either militarize his entire nation, announcing that a new Hitler has appeared in Ukraine and Russia’s existence is in danger, so they must all remember their great WWII hero, Stalin, and fight again with the same tenacity they once did, or say to his people that the setback Russia has suffered is temporary and they now must regroup and plan their next assault.
Putin is a determined man. He will kill whoever gets in his way.
His nation has abundant resources but the West will need to learn to live without them. That is our challenge. Live without them so we can isolate him. And hope that Russians will one day awaken from their long sleep and retire their leader. Give him a pension and, as punishment, force him to watch video replays of all the destruction he’s caused. Roll by him the names of all the people who’ve died because of his actions. Russians and Ukrainians. Watch in the morning and in the afternoon. One hour break for lunch.
In the meantime, the recent Ukrainian advances tell us exactly what must be done.
Give those brave soldiers every weapon they need and let them drive Russia back to behind its borders.
We’re almost there.
We can win.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Gorbachev and China’s Central Committee II

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Chairman Xi Jinping’s office. Member # 7 sits across.

Chairman – It took a lot of guts to say what you said.

Member # 7 – This is a historic moment. President Biden has seized the day in the West with his support of Ukraine and you can seize the day in the East. I believe you’re willing to accept that the stimulus from the West has been critical to our tremendous economic and military growth.

Xi nods slowly.

Member # 7 – We have seen how strong our people are, how creative… we do not need to steal anything from the West… by just trading with them fairly we’ll gradually become better at competing with them. If we create better products they will buy our better products… If we create better chips they will buy our better chips… If we create better batteries and solar panels they will buy them too… And it will be them trying to imitate us… They now make better planes than we do… but that can change… What I wish to emphasize is that we just need to compete… and do so fairly… and trust that we have the capacity to create things that not only America, but the whole world will want. We have the capacity to continue to rise without getting paranoid that the West will try to obstruct us… or without us making them paranoid that we’re in to harm them. If we were to prove that we’re better, then they will accept that we’re better… And it will motivate them to improve themselves… not to want to harm us.

Chairman – It’s a very rosy way of seeing things… but you may have a point.

Member # 7 – Chairman… by stirring paranoia in our people about the West, we end up harming ourselves. It may help you stay in power but in the end, history will not be kind to you.

Chairman – How so?

Member # 7 – As we develop we yearn for political freedom… and if the party, as it now stands, will not allow for it… we incur in a basic contradiction that hampers our progress and should be exposed.

Chairman Xi smiles.

Member # 7 – You disagree…?

Chairman – I wonder how it is that you were able to hide all those beliefs to the point of becoming a member of the central committee.

Member # 7 (smiles) – It hasn’t been easy. If I may be allowed to continue…

Chairman – Please do.

Member # 7 – What we have accomplished shows that if we put our minds to it, we can outcompete America and the West. We are more disciplined socially and politically…

Chairman – But don’t you think that we are more disciplined precisely because it is being imposed by the communist party?

Member # 7 – True… but it should not go on much longer and I think we’re reaching our limit. We have to trust that we have learned the importance of political discipline and not do as America where their people have become so polarized that a group of dissenters tried to overturn their free election results. Of course, any government transition ought to be done in stages.

Chairman Xi pushes back slightly from his desk. He clasps his hands on his lap.

Chairman – What do you think of our assisting companies in their development?

Member # 7 – It has helped… but it has also created inefficiencies and corruption… which is why it would be best to allow more freedom in the markets… with less interference from the party. We now stand at a very critical moment… America is not a threat to us militarily… modern history shows they are not trying to take over countries… and if another nation outperforms them in the production of goods, then they will try to compete with that other nation, not threaten them with harm. Of course, a strong military is always important… I’m all for it… but we need to let go of our paranoia. Are we making a demon of America to keep the party in power?

Chairman Xi stirs in his seat.

Member # 7 – Putin has done great harm to the world with his invasion of Ukraine but he is a limited man, who has restricted wealth creation to a selected few. We did not to that. Millions of Chinese have opened businesses and continue to do so. What we need now is political freedom. And you, Chairman Xi, can make a huge difference by holding free elections. I am sure you would become the nation’s first freely elected president.

Chairman (leaning forward slightly) – You realize that I would have to convince a lot of people in the central committee and in the communist party to make that happen. There would be much resistance… same as what happened to Gorbachev.

Member # 7 – Yes, but you’d be surprised at how many people already are thinking that way…

Chairman (interested) – Like who, for instance?

Member # 7 (smiling slyly) – They should speak for themselves… in case I misunderstood what they shared with me.

Chairman – I appreciate your honesty… and I am sure you mean well. Dissent is difficult to manage if not stopped early. We have the example of Hong Kong… the Uyghurs in Xinjiang… and yet, while I don’t share your enthusiasm, I see your point. What do you think was Gorbachev’s mistake?

Member # 7 – Resigning. I say that with the benefit of hindsight… I wasn’t there and I am sure the difficulties he faced were many. Boris Yeltsin had stopped the coup against him, there was much dissatisfaction in the people and he was preoccupied with the health of his wife who’d had a stroke. Still, I think he should have stayed on and called for free elections in a couple of years, for instance.

Chairman – Good point. I promise you I will consider carefully what you’ve told me and address the matter in one of our upcoming sessions. Meanwhile, I ask that you not continue to speak to others about your ideas. It would be best for all of us.

Member # 7 – Chairman Xi, I am honored that you have given me this opportunity to speak my mind. I have spoken in the hope that our nation will continue to prosper and become the star we are destined to be. Thank you.

Chairman – You may leave now.

Member # 7 bows, rises and starts to leave but stops at the door and turns around.

Member # 7 – It is my belief that America is afraid we’ll become better than them… not only economically but politically, too. The race between our nations is the contest of the century.

He exits.

Chairman Xi pulls up to his desk, picks up the phone and dials National Security.

National Security Official – Yes, Chairman.

Chairman – I need a report on all contacts, phone, internet and personal, that Member # 7 has had in the last year, including places he’s travelled to.

National Security Official – As you know, he’s been under observation, so it won’t take long. We’ll have it in your office tomorrow, by early afternoon. Anything else?

Chairman – That’s all.

He hangs up, then swivels in his chair to look out the window and take in a grand view of Beijing.

Chairman – First freely elected president of China? Interesting… and appealing. Possible?

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Gorbachev and China’s Central Committee

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China’s Central Committee is meeting for the first time since Mikhail Gorbachev’s death.
Chairman Xi presiding.
Committee members will be identified by numbers for confidentiality.

Chairman Xi – The last president of the Soviet Union has died at the age of 91. His rise and performance in office must be studied by this committee to learn from his mistakes.
He was an eager man, full of hope and dreams but not grounded in reality. I urge all of you to study his decisions in detail so we can be stronger. I have said this before but it needs repeating.
Any comments?
Member #3 – I fully agree with the chairman. Mr Gorbachev rose to power in 1985 at a time when Russia was going through serious financial difficulties. Rather than study in detail the reasons for the economic slowdown he chose to emulate the West and came up with the notions of Perestroika (restructuring) and Glasnost (opening). It was a horrible decision that opened the door for the end of the Soviet Union. And so he presided over the rupture of a great empire.
Member # 5 – Nothing of what he said was right. He wanted to be like Ronald Reagan. He is a symbol of decadence and gullibility. He may have been an agent of the CIA. Agree that we should study his horrible decisions.

The room is quiet.

Chairman Xi – Any other thoughts?

Member # 7 – I disagree with my comrades.

Grumbling in the room.

Member # 7 – Mikhail Gorbachev was a great man.
(louder grumbling in the room)
He had the courage to say ‘the system is not working because it’s too centralized’. And he was saying that in the mid 80s… precisely at the same time when we were opening up to the West… when we were inviting the West to come in and start businesses here… inviting them to get rich by using our people to work for them and then to sell in our large market… but we were also saying to the West… as you get richer we will get rich too… and so it happened.
In the mid 80s, we were starting to do here what Gorbachev was asking Russians to do there…
but the reaction against his ideas was too strong and their centralized system was replaced by a narrow market system dominated by just a few people – who become known as Russian oligarchs – people with ties to Boris Yeltsin and then to Vladimir Putin, to the exclusion of the majority of Russians.

At the same time, here in China, under the wise leadership of Deng Xiao Ping, the economic opening was less restrictive, so more people benefitted… and our economy leaped to now be the second largest in the world, while Russia’s is number 11, according to figures of the IMF (International Money Fund).
Gorbachev had to deal with internal dissent, just like Deng Xiao Ping had to deal with the student protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
But times have changed.
China is now a mighty nation. We made it happen in an incredibly short period of time. No nation on earth has accomplished so much in so little time. But we did not do it by ourselves. We have done what we have because we had the West to copy, steal and draw from.
That in no way diminishes our great achievement… but it reminds us to not lose perspective.
Member # 8 (interrupting) – We should put a time limit on the speaker, we get what he’s saying.
Chairman Xi – Let him continue.
Member # 7 – Thank you, Chairman.
We are now at a different stage in our political and economic development. Covid has taught us some important lessons. Though our quarantine system helped us keep the number of deaths to a minimum, continuing to rely on this system has slowed down our economic growth. We need to adapt and emphasize vaccinations more, and we should import Moderna and Pfizer vaccines which have proven superior to the ones we make.

Grumbling in the room.

Chairman Xi – Silence, please. Continue Member # 7.
Member # 7 – Thank you.
With the astonishing development of some of our industries, we have seen a lot of businesspeople grow very rich… and now are seeing this as threatening the party.
Therefore, we have begun to meddle with those companies.
I don’t think that is a good strategy.
What the tremendous growth of some businesses is telling us is that we have to change.
The Communist Party has to change. Our system has to change.

Loud grumbling in the room.

Chairman Xi – Silence, please. Continue Member # 7.
Member # 7 – Dear Chairman… I think China can change the world.
Chairman Xi – We have already done so.
Member # 7 – I mean, politically.

Dead silence.

Chairman Xi – Continue.
Member # 7 – Rather than suppress it, we should adopt Perestroika and Glasnost.

Wild cries of dissent from other members.

Chairman Xi – Silence!

The room quiets down.

Member # 7 – Chairman… I ask that that the Chinese Communist Party hold free elections in our land.

Uproar runs through the room.

Member # 13 (standing, irately) – I ask that Member # 7 be immediately removed and taken to a reeducation camp. Out of this chamber now!
Member # 20 (standing too) – This is unacceptable. Leave this room now!
Chairman Xi – Silence! Everybody sit down! Continue Member # 7.
Member # 7 – I understand that we would be giving up some of our privileges… but please consider the enormous benefits we would be getting.
Member # 18 – Traitor!
Member # 7 – And you, Chairman Xi could run for president, and I’m sure you would become the first democratically elected president in our long history.
Member # 13 – Traitor, leave this room now!
Member # 7 (unfazed) – Chairman Xi… it’s in your hands to change the world as we now know it. What an honor that would be. And the mighty energies of a great China would be released and the entire world would be the better for it.
Imagine, Chairman Xi, if we began to work with the West rather than against it. And if we did that, Taiwan would consider joining the mainland of their own accord, say by becoming one of our independently run states.
Without a shot being fired. Without a life being lost. Without a person sent to jail.
Imagine, Chairman Xi, what that would do for the war in Ukraine. What it would do for Russia.
Mr Putin would be forced to realize the errors he’s committed… and countless lives and property may be spared. The world would start a new era of cooperation and petty tyrants everywhere would not be tolerated. Human suffering would decrease sharply.
The spirit of Mikhail Gorbachev tells us that the fate of the world should not rest in the hands of the few, but in the hands of the many.
You can make it happen, Chairman Xi. Thank you, sir, and thank you this distinguished chamber for allowing me to express my opinions.

Silence.

Chairman Xi – Security officers… please escort Member # 7 to my office and remain there with him until I arrive.
This meeting is concluded.

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What China Gets

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They get that they would not be at this level of development without the West.
They get that.
They know that without the infusion of western knowhow they would be far behind.
They have been smart to use western knowhow and to improve on it, and they still rely on cyberattacks on the West to keep stealing scientific and industrial secrets as detailed by our intelligence services.
Meanwhile, their ruling class, still adheres to the antiquated communist system of government.
They have trouble accepting that they need to move on to a different style of leadership.
It will take time.
As a reminder of the importance of making that move, they only need to look north to Russia, to see how an intellectually limited leader like Putin, is slowly pulling his nation backwards, all the while talking nonsense about how Russia can develop in isolation. What hogwash!
With every Russian shot fired in Ukraine, with every mother, father or child killed, Russia steps further backwards, and the harder it will become for them to catch up to the rest of the world.
It would be heartwarming for the world to see some sign of unrest in Russia, like an attempt by citizens to storm the prison where Alexei Navalny is held on false charges, and set him free.
But so far, Russians are hypnotized, listening to the blah blah of Putin talking about his special operations campaign in Ukraine and the glory that awaits the nation. Which will never come.
Instead, China gets that the creative minds of their citizens need to be given room to grow, though they’re afraid they may not be able to keep a leash on them, hence their harsh restrictions on freedom and the constant surveillance.
That’s the problem.
China looks at the West and wonders how is it that we can live with so much dysfunction.
How can we elect to our highest office people with no presidential qualities, and still function.
And in the meantime, industry keeps producing and inventing, science keeps flourishing, the arts keep pushing boundaries, and all of it happening while there is much social disorder that is unacceptable.
America is an open book. All our flaws are on display. And there are plenty. But we’ve learned that it is better to display them, to feel the outrage and shame that comes with it than try to hide them. Like China tries to do with their treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province.
America is a very troubled nation. But there is a free press. Putin wouldn’t have become what he has become here in our land. Neither would Xi Jinping.
I believe that both Chinese and Russian citizens would much prefer a system where they had a voice in their future, rather than blindly trusting a leader to make choices for them.
But to get to that point they must take chances.
China is much closer to political freedom than Russia. And that is good news because China has become more important than Russia. On the other hand, it is tragic to see a nation with the potential of becoming a first rate nation in the free world, to waste it by surrendering to a single man.

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China Will Fail. The Mirror of Russia

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It is up to the West, from where China has got most of its stimulus for its economic growth, to decide on the rate of decline that China will suffer.
But decline they will.
Russia is holding up a mirror for them as their invasion of Ukraine exposes their flaws.
Repressive systems that blunt the development of human beings achieve only short lived victories. And so it will be with China.
There’s a lot of talent in that country, and my take is that the political docility they have shown toward the Communist party won’t last forever.
Eventually, they will start to buck the system. They will say something like, ‘our political development is as important as our technological and industrial growth, so let’s start to let up on the restraints you have on us. How about letting us run for office?’
Of course, those who dare say that will be sent to a reeducation camp, to rewire their brains and relearn how to bow to Xi Jinping, kiss his feet and venerate his image.
But the more people object, the more likely the dissident movement will grow.
Hong Kong may end up playing a leading role in that process.
When that starts to happen, the likelihood of an invasion of Taiwan will grow, so as to keep people distracted with outside matters.
China will have to be very careful with that move because I suspect America and the West won’t let Taiwan be trampled on and be stripped of its remarkable achievements in manufacturing.
Again, the mirror of Russia will do wonders for China’s political evolution.
It is very hard to persuade smart people that life is better without freedom.
Russia has nowhere to go but down with their invasion of Ukraine.
And the Chinese will pay close attention. They will ask themselves, ‘do we want that to happen to us?’
The mirror of Russia stands to be very important for China’s future. Whether Russia declines and retrenches into greater cultural isolation or whether it shakes itself up and dares to unseat Putin.
So Xi Jinping and his select group of power holders are watching very carefully.
They are tempted to help Putin massacre more Ukrainians, but they know their image will suffer even more than it has already.
They don’t want to anger Putin either, since the man has more nuclear weapons than they do, so they’re probably assisting him in some covert manner.
China does not represent an alternative political system, just like Russia’s doesn’t either.
There’s only one political system that is viable, and that is the one that respects human beings’ right to speak their minds and exercise their freedom while respecting that of others.
Democracy, with all its flaws, is the only system that sees that as its core belief.
Any other system to govern people is a pretext to preserve the benefits of an elite at the expense of the rest.

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Russia, Turn West!

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This is the time. The time to break the chains that Putin has wrapped around your neck.
You are not the nation you could be.
You have the capabilities to stand as one of the first nations in the world, but you are not because to do so you need freedom, and freedom is not something Putin is willing to give you.
Your leader is determined to enlarge his personal power, not the power of the rest of Russians.
To do so he has chosen to invade Ukraine because they did not kneel before him.
That is what you are doing, Russia, kneeling before Putin because you do not dare to raise your voice.
You have gone so long without hearing your voice that you’ve forgotten what it sounds like.
That happens in dictatorships.
It is happening in your neighbor China, where Xi Jinping and his gang keep constant surveillance and restrictions on their citizens. They say that it’s in the interest of a greater future, when China will dominate the world. But freedoms restricted lead to impaired development in human beings.
Russia, you need to get back your voice.
The world needs you.
You went for centuries under the foot of Czars, then under Stalin and those who followed.
Only for a brief period, under Gorbachev, did you smell freedom, only to have it disappear under Putin.
Think of the enormous role you could play in world history if you chose to turn West.
You could choose whatever system of government you wanted. A system like the British have, or we here in America, or the French or the Germans or the Finns or the Swedes.
But you would be free.
Personally, I would be partial to a federal system of government that would make you the United States of Russia.
And you would enrich the world with all your talent and resources.
You would break out of the cultural isolation that Putin likes to keep you in because it suits his purposes.
And by turning West, then China would have to moderate its plans for world domination because they would become impossible to achieve.
This is the time to turn West.
For your development, for your economic growth and the realization of your potential as a nation.
Think for a moment of the cruelty that Putin has inflicted on Ukrainians and Russians. Sending them to their death because he has a dream of a larger Russia. But you are already large enough territorially. What you need is to unleash your talents, break out of you isolation and join the rest of the world fighting for democracy and the affirmation of human beings.
Russia, the world needs you.
This is the time to rise and retire Putin. Send him to his dacha for a permanent vacation.
Russia deserves to be all it can be and the world will be better off for it. Just do it!

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