The Big Ideas

by Malcolm Riddell

'Fanning the Flames of War'

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

Malcolm Riddell
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Founder of CHINADebate

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May 2, 2021
'Fanning the Flames of War'
'Fanning the Flames of War'
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I recently received an email from a former U.S. ambassador and influential senior foreign policy expert taking me to task for publishing so many hawkish posts about U.S. policy toward China in the ‘China Macro Reporter.’

  • These are, he said, ‘in some ways fanning the flames of a potential war. Please back down, at least a bit.’
  • ‘This is not the Malcolm I remember or know,’ he ended.

This being from someone for whom I have great respect, I replied with a long explanation.

  • As I was writing, it occurred to me that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to briefly explain, especially to those new to the whole CHINADebate project, just what the aims are.
  • The following is from my reply.

‘When I started CHINADebate in 2012 [beginning with the CHINARoundtable, in-person discussions between top China experts and senior business and finance executives], my aim was to bring the diverse views of China experts - not my views - to the participants.’

  • ‘Carrying this over to the China Macro Reporter, I try to bring the diverse written views of these experts to a broader audience.’

‘I find those analyses by reading, every day, dozens of pieces of analysis - more than anyone for whom China is not the day job would be want to go through.’

  • ‘I select the key insights to give non-specialists the flow of discussion about China.’
  • ‘If any of the selected pieces are of special interest to the reader, he or she can click the link and read the full essay.’

‘I am at pains not to select writings that just reflect my views but that reflect the current debate.’

  • ‘And I likewise careful to not cherry-pick quotes that reflect my views.’

‘As for my posts ‘fanning the flames of war,’ those hawkish posts are part of the current discussion on China.’

  • ‘But I also seek opposing views even though the polarization of views on China over the past few years have made this more difficult.’
  • ‘For example, I have teed up Kishore Mahubani's (author of 'Has China Won?') “Was Trump Right or Wrong on China? Biden’s Answer Will Shape the Future.” ’ [In today’s issue, below]

‘I don't agree with Mr. Mahubani's views.’

  • ‘But I do believe they are important as a counterbalance to near-perfect chorus of hawks. So I am emphasizing it.’

‘I hope this explains why I feel I am the same Malcolm, more or less, you know:’

  • ‘Still trying to present diverse views on China to help an informed audience to make their own decisions. Not pushing an agenda.’

‘While I don't believe I have changed in my efforts, the situation between the U.S. and China has changed.’

  • ‘And that is reflected in the preponderance of hawkish posts.’
  • ‘Not because I am intentionally putting forth inflammatory rhetoric but because that IS the state of the debate today.’

‘It's hard for me to back down until they back down.’

  • ‘Otherwise, I am not doing the work I intend to do.’

And there you have it.

No recent events this week that generated commentaries.

  • So today more big picture thought pieces.

And these come from two long essays and a long interview, so the summaries likewise ended up being pretty long.

  • For that reason, I've just included just three posts today.

CHINADebate

Malcolm Riddell
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CHINADebate

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'Are you tired of losing yet, America?'

As I write this, Taliban forces have entered Kabul and are reportedly occupying the Presidential Palace.
8/15/2021

Bloomberg

CHINADebate

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'China Signals More Regulation for Businesses in Coming Years'

‘The State Council’s statement provides a guiding context to interpret current regulatory thrusts. The blueprint as an attempt by Chinese authorities to help investors understand the motives behind the regulatory push.’
8/15/2021

The Wall Street Journal

CHINADebate

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George Soros
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'Xi’s Dictatorship Threatens the Chinese State'

‘Mr. Xi is determined to bring the creators of wealth under the control of the one-party state.’
8/15/2021

CHINADebate

Malcolm Riddell
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CHINADebate

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Don't Say Xi Jinping Didn't Warn You

‘Global investors are shocked to have discovered that China is run by Communists.’
8/5/2021

Bloomberg

CHINADebate

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Matthew Brooker | Bloomberg
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‘Global investors shocked to have discovered that China is run by Communists.’

‘Global investors are shocked to have discovered that China is run by Communists.’
8/5/2021

Bloomberg

CHINADebate

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'Shocked Investors Scour Xi’s Old Speeches to Find Next Target'

‘While China’s policy moves can feel ad hoc particularly to foreign investors, the changes are quite targeted on certain sectors.’
8/5/2021

The Wall Street Journal

CHINADebate

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Greg Ip | The Wall Street Journal
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'China Wants Manufacturing—Not the Internet—to Lead the Economy'

‘Social media, e-commerce and other consumer internet companies are nice to have. But in his view national greatness doesn’t depend on having the world’s finest group chats or ride-sharing.’
8/5/2021

Bloomberg

CHINADebate

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'China Plans to Exempt H.K. IPOs From Cybersecurity Reviews'

‘China plans to exempt companies going public in Hong Kong from first seeking the approval of the country’s cybersecurity regulator, removing one hurdle for businesses that list in the Asian financial hub instead of the U.S.’
7/18/2021

The Wall Street Journal

CHINADebate

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The Editorial Board | The Wall Street Journal
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'Biden’s Warning on Hong Kong'

‘The pretense of Chinese and Hong Kong authorities is that their crackdown on the rule of law and dissent will have no effect on Hong Kong’s viability as an international center for trade and finance.’
7/18/2021

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

Malcolm Riddell
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CHINADebate

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Why the U.S. Lacks Leverage over China

During the celebration of the Chinese Communist Party’s Centennial celebration, Mr. Xi stood in the same place on the balcony facing Tiananmen Square where Mao Zedong stood when he announced the founding of the PRC; Mr. Xi wore a gray Mao suit, among a sea of blue western suits; and he centered himself right above the portrait of Mao, who is similarly attired.
7/18/2021

Foreign Affairs

CHINADebate

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Kurt Tong | Asia Group
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Hong Kong and the Limits of Decoupling

‘The United States’ inability to make China regret—much less reverse—its transgressions in Hong Kong suggests that financial separation, sanctions, and economic barriers are less reliable tools than many in Washington believe.’
7/18/2021

Nikkei Asia

CHINADebate

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'I will aim for Mao's Status.'

‘There on the gate was Xi Jinping, Chinese president and party general secretary, in a gray Mao suit. Just below his feet was the portrait of Mao Zedong, also dressed in a gray Mao suit.’
7/18/2021

Financial Times

CHINADebate

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'US warns companies of risk of doing business in Hong Kong'

“In the face of Beijing’s decisions over the past year that have stifled the democratic aspirations of people in Hong Kong, we are taking action,” said Antony Blinken, US secretary of state. “Today we send a clear message that the US resolutely stands with Hong Kongers.”
7/18/2021

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

Malcolm Riddell
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CHINADebate

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The Chinese Point of View

Here are a few of my thoughts on the importance of Wang Jisi’s ‘The Plot Against China.’ Yuen Yuen Ang’s ‘The Evolution of Chinese Corruption’ speaks for itself - but note especially how Mr. Xi's anti-corruption campaign could hurt China's economy. I have now lived long enough that when a friend complains about his or her spouse, I say to myself, ‘There are no doubt two sides to this story.’
7/4/2021

Foreign Affairs

CHINADebate

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Wang Jisi | President of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies at Peking University
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'How Beijing Sees U.S.-China Relations'

‘In Chinese eyes, the most significant threat to China’s sovereignty and national security has long been U.S. interference in its internal affairs aimed at changing the country’s political system and undermining the CCP.’
7/4/2021

Foreign Affairs

CHINADebate

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Yuen Yuen Ang | University of Michigan
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'How Corruption Powers China's Economy'

‘China has managed to sustain four decades of economic growth despite levels of corruption that even Xi has described as “grave” and “shocking.” Why does it seem to have bucked the trend?’
7/4/2021

Harvard Magazine

CHINADebate

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Ed Steinfeld | Brown University
Tony Saich
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Harvard Kennedy School of Government
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'From Rebel to Ruler': Tony Saich on Chinese Communism at 100

‘At so many points during its century-long existence, the CCP appeared to be in its death throes, whether as a result of external attack or self-inflicted internal strife.’
7/1/2021