Is China a threat?

Tyler Cowen responded to my recent post, arguing that China is a threat to the liberal world order:

If you are the global hegemon, and another country, largely hostile to your political values and geopolitical desires, engages in widespread subversion of your power and influence, you must in some way hit back.  Otherwise you will not be global hegemon for much longer.  And unlike India or the EU, China desires to build an international political and economic order which would destroy liberalism as we know it.  Imagine a world where autocracy is a much more widespread norm, the Xinjiang detentions and North Korean nuclear weapons are considered entirely appropriate behavior, Taiwan is a vassal state, and few Asian countries could allow their media to print criticism of the Chinese government, for fear of retaliation.  Institutions such as the WTO would persist only insofar as they created loopholes which gave China the benefits of membership without most of the obligations.

Did I mention that politics in Australia and New Zealand are subverted regularly and blatantly by Chinese influence and money?  Very likely the same is underway in the United States (and other countries) right now.

You can put aside trade practices altogether, and simply look at the extreme and still under-reported degree of espionage and spying conducted by China, aimed at major U.S. corporations.  It’s not quite an act of war, but it is not the classical model of trade either (“Mercantilism is bad…what’s wrong if they send us goods and we just send them back paper dollars?”).  China is violating U.S. laws on a massive scale, and yes, I am sorry to say, trade is our main way of “reaching” them and sending a message.

First I’ll explain why I mostly don’t agree, and then I’ll also briefly describe how Tyler might be correct:

1. I don’t believe that China is trying to destroy the liberal world order.  Here’s what I think they are actually trying to do.  China accepts that the liberal world order will remain in place.  The most developed countries will continue to be free market democracies.  China likes to trade with those countries, and China respects their achievements.  China doesn’t like or respect places like North Korea and Turkmenistan.  Rather, China wants a free hand to continue being an authoritarian country, with a crackdown in places like Xinjiang. Unlike the Soviet Union, they are not trying to instill communism in other places.  Their support for autocracies in the developing world is simply a marriage of convenience; they know that (in the UN) these countries will also oppose American attempts to force human rights on China.  I believe that many Westerners wrongly apply the Soviet model, which doesn’t fit China at all.  As an aside, Trump loves autocracies and views countries like Canada as enough of an enemy that we must stop buying their steel for national security reasons.  (Of course, Tyler would not defend Trump on those points.)

2. The Xinjiang detentions are a gross human rights violation, but Trump is making no attempt to do anything about it.

3.  China is probably unhappy with North Korea’s nukes, but doesn’t know what to do about it.  Neither do we.  Unlike the US, China also wants to avoid the collapse of North Korea, for geopolitical reasons.  That’s the actual reason that China deserves criticism on North Korea; a collapse of their regime would be a good thing.

4.  “Vassal state”?  Taiwan is part of China.  At least that’s the official view of Mainland China, the US, and the Taiwan constitution.  According to international law, accepted by the US, regions like Taiwan, Crimea, Catalonia, etc., do not have the right to unilaterally secede, without permission from the central government.  That doesn’t mean I oppose independence for certain regions—the Czech divorce seemed to work fine; I’m just describing the rules of the game. China is not claiming any inhabited land, anywhere in the world, that the US does not consider a part of China.  China is not a Soviet style expansionist power, and for the past 2000 years has been the least expansionist great power in all of world history.  They have 1.4 billion people at home to worry about; the last thing China wants to do is run other countries.  Rather they like regimes who won’t criticize their human rights and are open to doing business with them.

5.  I’m skeptical of Tyler’s argument that Asian media outlets are especially afraid to criticize China.  The only one I read frequently is the SCMP, and it’s full of criticism of China (albeit perhaps less harsh than if China didn’t control Hong Kong.) How about the media in Japan?  South Korea?  Taiwan?  India? I don’t doubt that a few pull their punches in order to have better business opportunities with China, but that’s their decision.

6.  Like many developing countries, China is allowed more trade restrictions than the developed world.  As China gets richer, it will adhere more closely to WTO rules. Indeed China has recently been reducing trade and investment barriers, and it’s in China’s interest to continue doing so.

7.  I follow Australian politics pretty closely, and I see no evidence that Chinese influence is a major problem.  When cases of bribes are discovered, the politicians are punished.    For those who have a more conspiratorial mindset than me, tell me why I shouldn’t regard Trump as Putin’s puppet?  I’ve criticized Trump on that basis, but even I don’t think Russia controls the US to any significant extent.  The Russia sanctions remain in place, even though Russia almost certainly has information that could be used to blackmail Trump, who appeared to lie about his business dealings there. That’s not to say that Australia isn’t a bit friendlier to China than it would be if a huge portion of its exports weren’t going there.  But that influence does not require the bribery of local politicians, it’s economic self-interest.  Australia just banned Huawei, over the objections of China (HT:Ray Lopez.)

8.  This is hard to respond to:

You can put aside trade practices altogether, and simply look at the extreme and still under-reported degree of espionage and spying conducted by China, aimed at major U.S. corporations.

Like most bloggers, all I know is what I read.  So if China’s doing all sorts of bad things that are not being adequately reported, I can’t comment.  Nor can I comment on US espionage, something that I know little about.  I’m certainly not going to defend espionage, but in this case I’d guess the actual damage from China stealing intellectual property (in global utility terms) is very small.

Tyler is very polite and often lets others have the last word, so let me try to take the other side of this issue for a moment, in case he doesn’t respond.  Where might I be wrong?  The best argument is that I myself am too much a product of the Cold War.  I don’t see the China threat because I expect it to manifest itself in the way that the Soviets behaved after WWII; taking actual control of countries in places like Eastern Europe, or supporting guerrilla groups in the third world.  Perhaps I’m missing that there is a new form of international competition, involving high tech espionage, fake news, bribing local politicians, economic support for friendly autocrats, etc.  In other words, China’s doing a lot of the “softer” stuff the US did during the Cold War.  That’s not a defense of China on my part, as the US was wrong to support autocrats and wrong to try to change foreign election results.

Here are a few final thoughts.  Yes, the Soviet Union really was a nuclear threat, and we were lucky that there was no accidental escalation into outright war.  But otherwise we Americans were wrong about the Soviets. Its collapse was pre-ordained by the relentless rise of neoliberalism after the 1970s, which continues to this very day.  While I liked Reagan, in retrospect he had little to do with the collapse of Soviet communism.  Similarly, we overestimate the threat posed by China, which is still poorer than Mexico.  Unlike places like Mexico and Brazil, China has a strong desire to be a rich country, and will likely eventually become one.  But it will only be able to do so by continuing to reform its economy.

If the US wants to continue to be a global hegemon, it’s most useful role is in enforcing the international norms against one country invading and taking territory from another country.  (A norm China strongly supports!) And on that issue, there’s another great power that is a much greater threat than China.  Like Tyler, I find NATO to be a very useful organization.

I also wonder if there is a sort of instinctive suspicion of powerful Asian economies, which don’t share our values in some respects. Trump has assigned Robert Lighthizer the responsibility of negotiating with China, despite that fact that he was one of those who warned about the Japanese threat during the 1980s, a threat now almost universally viewed as a false alarm.  That doesn’t mean he’s wrong this time, but it should give us pause.

In any case, it’s all a moot point.  Trump’s not skilled enough to win this game.


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65 Responses to “Is China a threat?”

  1. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    4. December 2018 at 13:01

    TC is spot on. Now that I read TC’s post, it looks like I copied him. But I didn’t. I was 5 minutes earlier.

    Its collapse was pre-ordained by the relentless rise of neoliberalism after the 1970s, which continues to this very day. While I liked Reagan, in retrospect he had little to do with the collapse of Soviet communism.

    What a sloppy illogical thought. So Reagan had nothing to do with neoliberalism, either? It’s either one way or the other, make up your mind.

    Trump’s not skilled enough to win this game.

    At least he’s playing the game. Presidents before him didn’t even play the game.

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    4. December 2018 at 13:07

    Christian, Still mischaracterizing my arguments, eh? When did I say Reagan had nothing to do with neoliberalism?

  3. Gravatar of sean sean
    4. December 2018 at 13:40

    The weird thing is Trump started this as protectionism for the rust belt. Now its basically moved to protecting silicon valley tech IP.

  4. Gravatar of P Burgos P Burgos
    4. December 2018 at 13:41

    One of the thing that I don’t see in the arguments above is a weighting of risk. China’s current leadership may well be committed to further liberalization and a neo-liberal order today, but that may or may not be the case in the future. Indeed, there are strong enough similarities between China’s political system and Russia’s that one should place some non-trivial likelihood of China evolving into a wealthier version of Russia. Granted, coastal China has gotten rich from trade already, and Russia is a resource extraction economy, so China will probably never fully imitate Russia. But there is certainly a non-trivial possibility that China’s oligarchs use the same sorts of strategies as Russia’s to maintain their power and wealth.

    Hopefully Trump’s trade war gives China’s leadership some extra political space to liberalize a little faster than they were otherwise planning.

  5. Gravatar of P Burgos P Burgos
    4. December 2018 at 13:44

    @sean

    I think that would be because the US cannot make much of a case anymore about China undervaluing the yuan, and the other manufacturing non-trade barriers China isn’t willing to budge. China hopes to have substantial IP of its own in the future, so they are probably amenable to further reform to protect IP.

  6. Gravatar of Brian Donohue Brian Donohue
    4. December 2018 at 14:25

    Excellent and important sentence:

    “China is not a Soviet style expansionist power, and for the past 2000 years has been the least expansionist great power in all of world history.”

    OTOH- If you think the Soviet threat was overblown, surely Putin’s Russia is decidedly small beer, and the current panic is that much more absurd, right?

  7. Gravatar of TravisV TravisV
    4. December 2018 at 14:42

    Prof. Sumner,

    Great stuff. I’m inclined to disagree with Tyler as well. In light of the approach past presidents have taken to trade with China, it seems unlikely that Trump has reinvented the wheel and discovered we’re better off taking a bilateral tariff threat approach.

    That said, what on Earth is going on with asset prices today? Wasn’t the most important news related to tariffs with China (implying that the U.S. supply curve shifted to the left)? Thus it seems like inflation expectations should have risen rather than fallen today…..

  8. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    4. December 2018 at 14:52

    Still mischaracterizing my arguments, eh?

    Surely not on purpose, Scott. Maybe some words get lost in translation, I don’t know.

    But either the rise of neoliberalism determined the fate of the collapse of Soviet communism in advance, or it didn’t. I don’t really see what words might have gotten lost in translation here. But if I misunderstand you, it’s not with malicious intent. It’s my bad English. So sorry in advance.

    @Brian Donohue & P Burgos
    You got Scott’s Achilles heel, at least one of them. Scott realizes how dangerous Putin is. But that makes his downplaying of the dangerous Chinese regime all the more implausible. Another logical error by Scott. Sorry Scott. I assume that one got lost in translation, too.

  9. Gravatar of Benny Lava Benny Lava
    4. December 2018 at 16:07

    Do you think it strange that Tyler is now, at this time and not five years ago, arguing against free trade and absolute advantage?

  10. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    4. December 2018 at 16:19

    @Benny
    Where is TC arguing against free trade exactly?

  11. Gravatar of Colin Twiggs Colin Twiggs
    4. December 2018 at 16:49

    China may be classed as expansionist because of Tibet which was seized by military force. But I believe that you place too much emphasis on expansionism. One could argue that the EU/NATO is expansionist while Iran/North Korea are not.

    More relevant is whether China respects rule of law. How a country treats its own citizens is a good measure of how it is likely to treat others. There are exceptions in history, where empires treated their colonies poorly while respecting the rights of their citizens at home. But I suggest that mistreatment of Uyghurs and Tibetans are a good indicator as to how other “inferior” nations would be treated if China were to become the dominant power in Asia.

  12. Gravatar of Rodrigo Rodrigo
    4. December 2018 at 17:28

    @TravisV what on earth is going on with asset prices is correct.

    The equity market, bond market (inverter yield curve) is pricing in a slowdown in growth but the hypermind contracts haven’t budged.

    I while back I asked if rising rates to the point of inversion would be considered a policy mistake, to which Scott answered “Yes” but considered highly unlikely.

    Be it because of Trump/China or inadecuate Fed forecasting (too hawkish) something seems to be bothering the markets.

    Would love to hear your thoughts Professor.

  13. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    4. December 2018 at 17:55

    I do not perceive China as much of a threat to the United States.

    It is a bit spooky to live along the rim of China as it becomes a more authoritarian and repressive state, and builds a military. Why Beijing wants to militarize the South China Sea is also troubling.

    But the US has every right to erect tariffs against China or any other nation. China heavily subsidizes exports. Beijing operates an authoritarian, mercantilist, dirigiste economy.

    Does Beijing have to liberalize to continue growth? Western economists think so.

    But ponder some of the advantages of an authoritarian state: China builds infrastructure when it needs it, such as power plants, transportation links and bigger ports.

    Beijing can operate the People’s Bank of China to promote growth and eliminate sour loans from its financial system.

    The US can no longer build infrastructure and sour loans tank our financial system.

    The IMF says that the US, due to current account trade deficits, has extraordinarily heavy foreign capital inflows that bloat asset values. These asset values aren’t stable, and if the Fed tightens we can see asset bubblees pop. When property values pop in the US, our financial system collapses.

    Is the United States or China choosing the proper course for economic growth?

  14. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    4. December 2018 at 19:34

    Add on: the US is generally regarded to operate world-class industries in medicine, agriculture, aerospace and defense, and finance. On the tech-side, the US is considered world-class in design but not manufacturing.

    All of the above world-class industries have deep relationships with government, and are subsidized by government.

    What does this tell us?

  15. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    4. December 2018 at 20:31

    “I’ve criticized Trump on that basis,”

    Because you’re a moron.

    Generally a good post Sumner, but the American or the pre-WWI German model would be better to use here than the Soviet model. China isn’t ideological, but it (unlike Russia) certainly has the potential to be imperialist. Economic power breeds military power; both breed political power.

    “While I liked Reagan”

    Ah; so you don’t actually care about the drug war, protectionism, deficit spending, or executive lawlessness; I get it. Read your f*cking Rothbard.

    “The Russia sanctions remain in place”

    You are tremendously understating the actual facts. Trump has been more hostile to Russia than any president since Truman.

  16. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    4. December 2018 at 20:40

    “Like Tyler, I find NATO to be a very useful organization.”

    Because you, pig crap, supported the destruction of Syria, Libya, and Yugoslavia. Other than for that, NATO is as useless as a rat in a sewer. It is an imperialist organization that only exists as a fig leaf for American imperialism.

    “Trump’s not skilled enough to win this game.”

    Pompeo graduated from Harvard.

  17. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    4. December 2018 at 20:47

    “a norm China strongly supports!”

    Tibet. Vietnam. Aksai Chin. Ho boy ho boy ho boy ho boy.

    Being an ignoramus is fun!

  18. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    4. December 2018 at 23:37

    Benjamin Cole,

    you are again repeating a bunch of half-baked assertions that have no foundations but your belief US=good China=bad, else it’s all on very thin ice.

    Harding,

    drinking again, eh? Ok let’s ignore anything with expletives, just this
    “the destruction of Yugoslavia” : It self destroyed and that started with the bombing of Slovenian border stations, including aerial incursions into neutral (non NATO) Austria, why, I lived there att he time so don’t tell me it didn’t happen. They left Slovenia off the hook quickly enough to conduct a devastating war with Croatia. Then came Bosnia with assorted genocide and finally, finally, French (!) president Chirac said something to the effect of, we’ve got to do something, which brought Clinton on the plan to take initiative into American hands, and with that, NATO. Until this time, Yugoslavia did it all to itself, and Russia supported Serbia. NOT Yugoslavia.

    Christian List,

    I am with P Burgos and Brian on this. All I ever saw from China is that they prefer working to brawling and are highly rational – quite unlike the Russians. China certainly wants to buy allegiance and secure its trade routes (from possible US blockading, mind you) but come to think of it it does this with money, mostly, not with cruise missiles like the US or tanks like the Russians.

  19. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    5. December 2018 at 02:24

    Thought of the day.

    Back in the 1950-70s, there was a lot of furrowed eyebrows among serious economists regarding the international “balance of payments.” The Nixon Administration talked about this topic and erected trade barriers, including an across-the-board 10% tariff on imports. Back then the largest US corporations generally were national companies, and made their money inside the US.

    Four or five decades later the largest US corporations are multi-nationals, with global shareholder bases, and they frame US foreign trade and military policy discussions, and pour unlimited funds into academia, media, trade associations, lobby groups, think tanks, and even political campaigns.

    Tyler Cowen is off the mark on one point: On trade issues in the US, the Communist Party of China need not lift a finger. The US Chamber of Commerce is effectively a mouthpiece for the CPC.

    So now, unlike in the Nixon days, serious economists say the “balance of payments” is not longer a concern, indeed current account trade deficits are a blessing!

    Fact of the day: GM makes more cars in China than the US. How would you expect GM to spend its lobby money? Or BlackRock? Apple?

  20. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    5. December 2018 at 05:31

    Benjamin Cole,

    thoughts of the day.

    GDP/capita (ppp to roughly estimate consumption utility)
    US = 59k
    China = 17k

    but you think the US is getting a raw deal

    % of GDP in manufacturing

    US: about 10%

    but you worry about Chinese imports destroying the US “economy” (largely services)

    Profits from an iPhone largely go to the US (reportedly $200 per piece)

    but you worry about the Chinese manufacturer’s profits on it, which are pitiful.

    You worry that US firms invested abroad and should have invested at home (“they shortchange our workers!”). You worry simultaneously that foreign firms invest in the US (“They own our assets!”)

    Is any of this coherent?

    No.

  21. Gravatar of Jaap Jaap
    5. December 2018 at 06:09

    Well, on that free speech of the US. Just an example from my country, as LBJ was a friendly head of state, Dutch protesters were legally not allowed to say ‘Johnson moordernaar’ (murderer). So instead, they had to refer to him as ‘Molenaar’ (Miller). Imagine what pressure a country exerts for faraway protesters to be censured!

    Unequal level playing field.
    Foreign banks paid massive fines to the US after the GFC.
    On the other hand, the US taxpayer financed the AIG bailout, laying out nice sums for especially US banks.
    Regular fines coming to foreign banks dealing with Iran.
    Volkswagen paid $25 bln in fines to the US in the wake of Dieselgate. Europe levied nothing.

    Takeovers by foreign companies of US companies often lead to heartache.
    Just recently, Bayer took over Monsanto. Lo and behold, within months Monsanto got hit by a very bad outcome in a lawsuit.

    More often than not, the US are the bullies of the world. Yes, we have the Pax Americana now, but the US are far from lilywhite, like what they seem to demand from others.

  22. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    5. December 2018 at 06:20

    Jaap,

    +1

    the US is making a very good living off being the “standard” that everyone else has to live up to. Don’t even get me started on copyright and patent law.

  23. Gravatar of derek derek
    5. December 2018 at 06:23

    @Rodrigo, the 2019Q1 Hypermind contract is at this point only two quarters out, probably before when a recession predicted by an inverted yield curve would occur, and real GDP growth in 2018 has consistently been about 3%, so that 5%+ Hypermind contract for 2019Q1 is pretty reasonable. Unfortunately, the contract is not forward-looking enough to be very useful right now, so it is too bad that no one has sponsored a more permanent, rolling set of contracts. If I were a billionaire, I would definitely do that.

  24. Gravatar of Mark Bahner Mark Bahner
    5. December 2018 at 07:59

    “But ponder some of the advantages of an authoritarian state: China builds infrastructure when it needs it, such as power plants, transportation links and bigger ports.”

    The problem is that governments build infrastructure even when infrastructure is not needed, because there’s no market check on whether the infrastructure is appropriate.

    To see that, I invite you to search for “Durham Orange Light Rail” (a multi-*billion* dollar proposed light rail system basically connecting the University of North Carolina hospital in Chapel Hill NC with the Duke University hospital in Durham NC).

  25. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    5. December 2018 at 08:38

    Does the U.S. want to continue to be a global hegemon? I am only a very small part of the U.S., but my response is: Count me out! I am happy if the U.S. is a shining city on a hill, an example for the nations. But a global hegemon, as I understand the term, engages in military interventions abroad, and in “economic warfare.” I want no part of that.

  26. Gravatar of LC LC
    5. December 2018 at 09:44

    Sigh. The quality of online intellectual discourse has deteriorated. To me, tone of Tyler’s post is very defensive with mostly evidence free sloganeering. Scott’s earlier post was mostly about incoherence of protectionist economic logic but now it’s side tracked into “geopolitics” and an emotional debate. This whole episode reminds me of the excellent book “The German War” by Nicholas Stargardt. In that period, a nation reacts emotionally to some perceived slight (Czechs, Poles, Jews are abusing Germans abroad; Chinese are stealing our IP), the intellectuals and the church gradually get drawn in to take sides and wound be being tools of nationalistic regimes (Restore German Greatness, Make America Great Again), a populace that’s weary of war but eventually resigns and joins the effort, then shocked by the effects of war, then a dig in defense of the regime and nation until the moral and economic reserve of the nation is exhausted. Will this be as bad as the German experience? I hope not.
    Speaking of moral reserves and China threat, how come there is no outrage over the most repugnant statement out of G20- The Chinese President shaking hands with Saudi Crown Price MBS and expressing his support for sake of stability in the Middle East? So the world is now OK to let a journalist’s murder go unpunished? Are the online intellectuals silent because Washington and Trump signaled no punishment as result of America First? This is a shocking change for America.

  27. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    5. December 2018 at 11:17

    LC,

    Sigh. The quality of online intellectual discourse has deteriorated. To me, tone of Tyler’s post is very defensive with mostly evidence free sloganeering.

    Tyler is clearly the intellectual in this debate, his knowledge is incredible. Scott is the absolute expert on monetary policy, but he has no idea about the current topic. He is no match for Tyler. Not even close.

    In that period, a nation reacts emotionally to some perceived slight (Czechs, Poles, Jews are abusing Germans abroad; Chinese are stealing our IP),

    This book is either really stupid or you misunderstood it. I assume the latter is true.

    And the obvious comparison to the current US situation would be the phases of naive US isolationism in the past and / or the Cold War era.

  28. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    5. December 2018 at 11:26

    Jaap,

    Well, on that free speech of the US. Just an example from my country, as LBJ was a friendly head of state, Dutch protesters were legally not allowed to say ‘Johnson moordernaar’ (murderer). So instead, they had to refer to him as ‘Molenaar’ (Miller). Imagine what pressure a country exerts for faraway protesters to be censured!

    Yeah, just imagine! OMG!

    You pulled off a real “E. Harding” right there: Extreme fake news. Conspiracy theories so absurd that one has to ask how someone can be so extremely ignorant and still be able to use a keybord.

    No wonder mbka likes your post so much. The more ignorant the better.

  29. Gravatar of H_WASSHOI (Maekawa Miku-nyan lover) H_WASSHOI (Maekawa Miku-nyan lover)
    5. December 2018 at 11:29

    Everyday I play Splatoon 2 with brilliant Chinese friends.
    Is there any threats?

    I heared the reason Japan have allied with the US is “Because actual threat is the US.”

  30. Gravatar of LC LC
    5. December 2018 at 11:45

    @Christian List, thank you for providing additional proof for my point about state of online intellectual debate.

  31. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    5. December 2018 at 12:37

    sean, Yup. Bait and switch.

    Brian, I think the Soviet threat was real. What I meant is that the Soviet Union was weaker than we thought, and less likely to persist over time. But while it was at its peak it certainly did threaten other countries. The same is true of Putin’s Russia. But yes, the threat of Putin destroying the West is very small, other than through an accidentally nuclear exchange that no one wants.

    Even though the Soviets were likely to fail in the long run, situations like the Cuban Missile Crisis were certainly worrisome, and it’s desirable to avoid that sort of standoff. That’s why I favor NATO protecting Europe.

    Travis, Recall that Smoot Hawley also had a deflationary impact, because of the way tariffs interact with monetary policy.

    Christian, It’s very simple. Russia invades other countries. China does not. How hard is that to understand?

  32. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    5. December 2018 at 12:53

    Everyone, It might be useful to imagine yourself back in Europe in the summer of 1914.
    Which side would you have been on? The pacifists? Or those who said we need to go to war against Great Power X to make a point? Most intellectuals were on the go to war side. How’d that work out? Christian, how about you?

    Colin, China is 91% Han. Can you name any other great power that was more homogenous at their peak? (Yes, Japan is more so today, but what about in 1941? Ditto for Germany.)

    Rodrigo, You said:

    “I while back I asked if rising rates to the point of inversion would be considered a policy mistake, to which Scott answered “Yes” but considered highly unlikely.”

    The standard spread used in business cycle forecasting is the 3 month/10 year spread, and that’s the one I was referring to. It’s still normal. In addition, fed funds futures are not predicting a recession in the next couple of years.

    Harding, You said:

    “Aksai Chin”

    That’s your best argument? (Watch half the commenters look it up on a map.)

  33. Gravatar of Todd Kreider Todd Kreider
    5. December 2018 at 13:53

    “1. I don’t believe that China is trying to destroy the liberal world order.”

    This is obviously correct and Scott could have ended his response here if he wished.

  34. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    5. December 2018 at 14:09

    drinking again, eh?

    I’ve never had a sip of alcohol in my life. mbka remains 180 degrees away from the truth, as usual.

    Russia supported Serbia. NOT Yugoslavia.

    It was still called Yugoslavia then, you dumbass. And Montenegro (now a NATO country) was a part of Yugoslavia then.

    a devastating war with Croatia.

    With Croatia being supported by…?

    Then came Bosnia

    Supported by…?

    with assorted genocide

    Oh; please. The multi-sided massacres in Bosnia, while not the most fictional “genocide” in history, were too scattered and sporadic and to reasonably constitute a “genocide”.

    That’s your best argument?

    If you ignore the vast majority of it. Tibet and Vietnam are substantially bigger instances of Chinese support for imperialism.

  35. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    5. December 2018 at 14:14

    All I ever saw from China is that they prefer working to brawling

    …because their military sucks.

    and are highly rational

    At achieving what goals?

    quite unlike the Russians

    ??? Russia is only irrational if it is excessively moralistic in its foreign policy (i.e., not threatening Ukraine with invasion before Maidan, waiting for Saakashvili to attack before blowing up his forces, waiting over a year after the U.S. began “fighting ISIS” before actually starting to fight ISIS, etc. -in all cases, it would have been wiser, if less obviously morally justifiable, to act earlier).

  36. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    5. December 2018 at 17:13

    Christian List,

    “Tyler is clearly the intellectual in this debate, his knowledge is incredible. ”

    While I agree on this, I am regularly disappointed by Tyler’s output. It is often provocative and sounds interesting at first read, but most of the time quite shallow and at the same time, overwrought. Tyler is clearly a thin slicer. Here, with trade and China, he falls into the same pattern I noticed with the global left wing “elite” in the 1990s and with the neoliberals after 2008.

    When the Soviet Union fell, the global left wing imploded as if the values they were holding dear (and recipes to aachieve them) had suddenly disappeared. They unthinkingly embraced neoliberalism without reworking their previous assumptions – they simply abandoned them. Similarly, after 2008 all these convinced neoliberals suddenly saw 2008 as an indictment of capitalism or neoliberalism, or globalism, and started to raise warning fingers. Nothing had changed except for a hiccup in the global system, certainly a scary one, but globalism and neoliberalism still deliver the goods. Did anyone ever expect a world without any crises at all? Seems absurd.

    And now that Trump attacks China, suddenly everyone in the intellectual scene is starting to have doubts on China. It’s not that China does not warrant some doubt but seriously, the time was 2013 or around there, that’s when Belt and Road started and the South China Sea conflict is also quite old. And both warrant some doubt on motivations and methods. No one complained back then, but now that there is Trump, suddenly all the intellectuals flip, including Tyler. So, no, I am not impressed – it sounds like lazy following of the zeitgeist.

  37. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    5. December 2018 at 17:17

    wow @mbka, you actually have a fairly good point, frighteningly enough!

  38. Gravatar of Mark Bahner Mark Bahner
    5. December 2018 at 17:24

    “Everyone, It might be useful to imagine yourself back in Europe in the summer of 1914.
    Which side would you have been on?”

    Assuming I was of military age, I’d want to be Swiss.

  39. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    5. December 2018 at 17:41

    Scott,

    Everyone, It might be useful to imagine yourself back in Europe in the summer of 1914.
    Which side would you have been on?

    With the power of hindsight, picking sides is really easy. I see no point in that. Your simple dichotomy is childish and wrong by the way.

    Which side would you have been on? The pacifists? Or those who said we need to go to war against Great Power X to make a point? Most intellectuals were on the go to war side. How’d that work out? Christian, how about you?

    Scott, it’s like I said. Unlike Tyler history is not your strongest suit.

    Before WW1 the US was exactly in the naive isolationist mode, I spoke of.

    I assume the US was already the most powerful nation on earth at that time, and thus the hegemon, but they refused their role. This made it a three-way fight, mostly between Britain, Germany and America about world domination.

    The US could have used its hegemonic power for a peaceful solution or for maximum deterrence. They did neither.

    If you want to make comparisons, then you have to understand what is really similar today: the US is the world power, but many Americans (including many powerful politicians) do not want to accept the American role anymore. This fatal behavior is a great invitation for the Russian and Chinese aggression, and makes the world so much more dangerous.

    Christian, It’s very simple. Russia invades other countries. China does not. How hard is that to understand?

    India In 1962 was an invasion. Vietnam in 1979 was an invasion. North Korea in 1950 can be described as invasion. Tibet can be described as invasion.

    I don’t really understand why you care about “invasions” so much anyhow. From a utilitarian there’s no reason why we should care less about the thousands of domestic victims by the Chinese regime.

    I find your distinction between Russian and Chinese aggression naïve, arbitrary, unfair, and childish.

  40. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    5. December 2018 at 17:49

    Scott,

    since you mentioned 1914. Pre-1914 there was a long period of stability and globalism, though segmented by colonial empire (and no I am not going to defend colonialism). 1914 brought the destruction of the Austro Hungarian Empire and the weakening of the other great powers of Europe. And as we all know this was ushering in a phase of peace where all people in Europe got to get their own nations… including the the creation of such wonderfully stable nation-states as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, the resolution of all ethnic problems between Czechs and Poles and their German minorities, or heavens forbid I mention the Irish whose problems were alse suddenly fixed… ah I am losing track in all this beauty.

    So I think you’re exactly right to mention 1914. What nationalism did back in 1914, it took some flawed empires and turned them into something much, much worse, that took three generations to fix, if you take 1989 as the end point of that phase. But that’s what nationalism does, it splits and divides people up into smaller and smaller hostile factions which then easily fall prey to outside powers or fall into endless cycles of wars – this used to be known as the process of Balkanization. And suddenly the world wants to go there – again.

  41. Gravatar of Mark Bahner Mark Bahner
    5. December 2018 at 17:59

    When writing about what “China” and “Russia” want, it’s probably a good idea to remember that both China and Russia are ranked 7 out of 7 (absolute worst) for political freedom by Freedom House.

    So it’s orders of magnitude sillier writing about what “Russia” and “China” want than writing about what the “United States” wants. And writing about what the “United States” wants is itself pretty ridiculous, given Donald Trump’s unpopularity–the most unpopular president since presidential popularity polls have existed, unless I’m mistaken–and given how close the 2016 presidential election was. Oh, and the U.S. federal government might shut down in a couple of weeks.

  42. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    5. December 2018 at 18:00

    mbka,

    suddenly all the intellectuals flip, including Tyler. So, no, I am not impressed – it sounds like lazy following of the zeitgeist.

    You could have hardly described it more improperly. About 90% of all intellectuals are anti-Trump. Most of them don’t flip. I also doubt that Tyler “flipped”. I bet he saw this from the beginning.

    But that’s what nationalism does, it splits and divides people up into smaller and smaller hostile factions

    What an ignorant comment. Nationalism back then brought people together by forming a nation out of small (and often hostile) factions.

  43. Gravatar of Matthias Goergens Matthias Goergens
    5. December 2018 at 18:29

    Talking about China as the least expansionist great power for the last 2000 years (or anything else China as a polity related) doesn’t make any sense. There have been a plethora of political entities in what is now modern day China over that time.

    There have been bouts of Imperial unity, but also long stretches of strife and warring states. Like eg the Song ‘warring states’ period. The Song dynasty was merely one of about three evenly matched countries at the time that were at each other’s throats.

    And then the Mongols took over with their own dynasty. They were certainly expansionist. Later on the early Qing were conquering big swaths of central Asia (and that put a final stop to repeated invasions by nomadic people).

    See http://www.gutenberg-e.org/andrade/ or other books by Tonio Andrande (like his Gunpowder Age) for more background.

    Long, continuous Chinese unity is a myth.

  44. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    5. December 2018 at 19:37

    “it’s probably a good idea to remember that both China and Russia are ranked 7 out of 7 (absolute worst) for political freedom by Freedom House.”

    Russia is more politically free than Kentucky or North Carolina. Russian opinion polls tend to be pretty clear and unambiguous.

    @Matthias Goergens

    Good point. Nevertheless, the Qing empire engaged in relatively few wars compared to the European powers of the time.

  45. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    5. December 2018 at 19:43

    Christian List,

    what matters is not being pro or anti Trump. What matters is following the same zeitgeist that flushed Trump to the top. Trump itself is a zeitgeist phenomenon. And Tyler has slowly morphed from rather classic neoliberalism to quasi Trump apologist, following the zeitgeist astutely. A bit like the Mao and Stalin apologists on the left during the 20th Century. Not a dispassionate analyst, and not leader, but just a follower of the times. That is my assertion. And oh dear, yes, does he like making sweeping statements based on the thinnest of observations. I take Scott over Tyler any time.

    “Nationalism back then brought people together by forming a nation out of small (and often hostile) factions.”

    What a ridiculous statement. For some this was rather true (Italy – but then again, see the enduring hostility of the regions to each other), for others patently untrue (the French state committed all sorts of atrocities in order to form the “Nation”, including, forcing a bunch of peoples to speak French who never intended to do so). And the fate of the Habsburg empire was emphatically a dissolution, not a coming-together. Wherever a “coming together” was tried, it worked rather poorly (Austria+Germany during Hitler, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia). Postcolonial nations formed because their elites went to different colonial schools, this is how they formed their different “national identities” which they then transferred onto the people they ruled. See Benedict Anderson on this. How else on Earth would Latin America divide into its “nations” when they were all products of Spanish imperialism to begin with? This should have been a single country. And the nations of Africa? Have you ever looked at an ethnic map of Africa, then at a political one? Not even close to a match.

    Nationalism is about inventing a shared identity that doesn’t actually exist. For a European it is easily tied in with language, which makes cultures look similar to each other. Even here, the Dutch and the North Germans have more in common than the Bavarians with the Berliners. Once you go outside Europe, say into Latin America, where language and culture were very similar during the Spanish rule, you see how all it takes is to draw imaginary lines and decree a community out of thin air. Tribalist instincts will do the rest. This is not people coming together. This is about bunching up in herds and creating in groups and out groups.

  46. Gravatar of Mark Bahner Mark Bahner
    5. December 2018 at 20:35

    “Russia is more politically free than Kentucky or North Carolina.”

    If this was a joke, it’s hilarious.

    …But I’m sensing it’s not. So I’ve got to ask, when have you ever been in North Carolina?

  47. Gravatar of Matthias Goergens Matthias Goergens
    6. December 2018 at 00:32

    Yes, the later Qing engaged in relatively fewer wars–they had won such a resounding regional hegemony that they didn’t need to.

    That’s part of why their military strength fell behind the west, and the Opium Wars were so devastating.

  48. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    6. December 2018 at 06:23

    Harding,

    you have no clue on Yugoslavia. I lived next door when the whole thing was underway, the Bosnian refugees lived across the street in barracks in the Church yard (and yes, they went back, just as many Syrians will also go back, this @Christian List) and mind you, after it was all over my Serbian friends would say they wished Milosevic had had his heart attack right in 1990 and not in prison after he had dragged all of Yugoslavia in the mud and made Serbia a toxic country.

    No one supported Croatia or Slovenia or Bosnia in the early days. Serbia smashed the whole area to pieces in trying to get Vojvodina into Serbia and out of pure spite destroyed Dubrovnik and other historical targets in Croatia. Serbian militias used to target the church towers in the villages with their artillery, just to destroy the most historical parts they could get a hand on. Europe stood by idle because they were stuck on the idea of Serbia = anti Nazi in WWII, therefore good, Croatia = pro Nazi in WWII, therefore bad. Nevermind Tudjman had been Tito’s youngest general. At least Mitterand was strongly into that line of thinking and kept supporting Serbia vs the secessions of the republics within Europe. That changed with Chirac. Only then came Clinton.

    The Yugoslav army was always the Serbian controlled army. The reason why the republics seceded was because Serbia sucked out all the tax money to Belgrade, sort of what North Italians now resent with South Italians. NONE of it had to do with NATO but of course you all see it with a orthodox / Russiaphile lens, and it could not have been for goodness sake, right, that they messed it up all by themselves. That would be too painful to admit. It had to have been an outside enemy. But it wasn’t. The attack plans towards Croatia were published in Serbian political magazines before it even happened for crying out loud. You didn’t even need a secret service for that. Garden variety Austrian newspapers would talk about this stuff even before Croatian policemen got murdered on patrol en masse (because that’s how it started). The weapons for the local militias were bought from Lebanese Militias who had just disarmed, by the shipload, the irony. NOT NATO. How do I know this, I had just visited Lebanon around this time, pure coincidence.

    It is VERY clear who made the secessions (which were constitutionally allowed! and chosen by referendum!) into a devastating war.

    You know nothing.

    Now on one thing you might agree with me. I believe the republics had a right to secede and Serbia / rump-Yugoslavia (as it was called for a while) was in the wrong with their wars. But NATO did too little too late in fixing that. Instead, they “fixed” the Kosovo issue, where Serbia had indeed a case for claiming internal affairs and non intervention from outsiders. There was a legal case to defend the seceding republics. There was no legal case for intervening on behalf of Kosovo. Of course, after what they had done in Croatia and Bosnia, no one took a word from Serbia anymore.

  49. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    6. December 2018 at 14:36

    “So I’ve got to ask, when have you ever been in North Carolina?”

    Never. But I know the state has election fraud like Russia does (cf., the recent situation in NC-09) and has a powerful Republican state legislature which is, due to gerrymandering, virtually totally detached from any form of democratic accountability. The state’s gerrymander on the Federal level also held up extremely well this year- even though Democrats won the majority of the congressional vote in that state (in any way you count) this year, only 3 out of 13 representatives elected were Democratic. Such a thing is unimaginable in Russia, even with election fraud.

  50. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    6. December 2018 at 16:01

    Christian, Your list of “invasions” mixes up a set of unrelated issues. China did not attempt to annex Vietnam or Korea. Nor did it invade India. Tibet has been part of China on and off for many centuries, and the invasion occurred more than 50 years ago. I’m talking about Russia today.

    mbka, I agree about 1914.

  51. Gravatar of John Thacker John Thacker
    6. December 2018 at 16:12

    “Taiwan is part of China. At least that’s the official view of Mainland China, the US, and the Taiwan constitution. According to international law, accepted by the US, regions like Taiwan, Crimea, Catalonia, etc., do not have the right to unilaterally secede, without permission from the central government. ”

    Though international law was clearly on the side of the Republic of Korea when the DPRK invaded it in the Korean war, despite the official view of both countries that the ROK was part of Korea (and both countries claiming to be the government of Korea.) So can we assume you were a pacifist in 1950, and would have idly sat by while South Korea was invaded?

    It’s an odd situation indeed where Taiwanese passports are not only honored, but get visa free entry into more countries that PRC passports. De facto the ROC and the PRC are different governments, and an international law that pretends to ignore that after so many years is ridiculous. Though I grant that international law is ridiculous, since it recognizes situations like Taiwan where the island was simply handed off from one colonial power to another (as from Japan the ROC) without asking the residents who had been there longer than either.

    “Colin, China is 91% Han. Can you name any other great power that was more homogenous at their peak?”

    Though they were more homogeneous before invading Tibet, and became more homogeneous when they let go of Outer Mongolia. (Which, since it was claimed by the PRC and ROC Constitution, the latter of which still does, presumably it was inappropriate to worry about Mongolia being a vassal state.)

  52. Gravatar of John Thacker John Thacker
    6. December 2018 at 16:18

    “Tibet has been part of China on and off for many centuries”

    “Part of China” in the sense of occasionally being a vassal state, sometimes nominally, sometimes with a heavy hand, despite being ethnically distinct and not Han– which is equally true of Vietnam and Korea. So I trust that if the PRC did try to annex Vietnam and Korea, you’d find ways to defend that too.

    All of which is more than one can say of the island of Taiwan, which to the extent it has been ruled by Han kingdoms, has more often been ruled by Han kingdoms specifically loyal to the previous dynasty on the mainland than the currently ruling one, and which has been ruled by other colonial powers (or by the local aborigines) for as long.

    Racial similarity shouldn’t trump the interests of the people living there. But with the PRC, whichever argument can be made in the service of proving that something belongs to China will be made when necessary, whether racial or history. (Indeed, like other countries.)

  53. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    6. December 2018 at 18:20

    Nor did it invade India.

    What was this, then? Weather balloons?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Indian_War

    China did not attempt to annex Vietnam or Korea.

    Re: Vietnam, I am referring to
    1. Chinese support for the North Vietnamese conquest of the South, 1955-1975
    2. Chinese support for the Khmer Rouge invasion of Vietnam in 1978
    3. Most obviously, the Chinese conquest of parts of Vietnam during the Sino-Vietnamese war (the last war China ever fought in)

    I made no mention of Korea at all.

    Tibet has been part of China on and off for many centuries

    I’m sure Krim has no connection to Russia at all. Krimean war? Never happened. Nazi siege of Sevastopol’? Never happened. What’s that? Krim was only made part of Ukraine in 1954 (and de facto 1991)? Which population do you think supports its ruling government more; that of Krim or Tibet?

    In short; I’m right, and, to Sumner, being an ignoramus is fun! Fun! Fun! Fun!

  54. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    6. December 2018 at 18:23

    Also, Russia has not attempted to annex any country since independence.

  55. Gravatar of Mark Bahner Mark Bahner
    6. December 2018 at 20:24

    “Never.”

    I thought so. I think you’re like a couple million other guys who pretend on the Internet to have authority about subjects they know little or nothing. (And then even call others an “ignoramus!”)

    But I’m sure you think you know what you’re writing about. Fortunately, we have a way to test whether you’re right (that you know what you’re writing about) or I’m right (that you’re clueless).

    I’ll give you $100 if you can find a person with legitimate authority about political freedom in Russia and/or North Carolina who agrees with your assessment that “Russia is more politically free than…North Carolina” if you’ll give me $100 for finding three people with legitimate authority about political freedom in Russia and/or North Carolina who thinks your statement is demonstrably false.

    By “legitimate authority about political freedom” in Russia and/or North Carolina, I mean someone who does analyses of political freedom at Freedom House, or the Cato Institute, or someone at the Carter Center who is involved in monitoring elections, or a professor of political science who has published any journal articles on political freedom…or anyone else we can mutually agree knows about political freedom.

    How about it, you feelin’ lucky?

    Mark (Durham, NC)

    P.S. My guess is that you’ve also never been in Russia. I haven’t either. He’s an account of the recent re-election (surprise!) of Vladimir Putin:

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/19/vladimir-putin-secures-record-win-in-russian-presidential-election

    Too bad Pat McCrory didn’t have the turnout (95+% in districts where there weren’t any monitors) or the support (ballot stuffing while other voters waited) that Putin had.

  56. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    6. December 2018 at 20:35

    “My guess is that you’ve also never been in Russia.”

    Uh, I’m from there.

    Really? Relying on The Guardian (which just recently made up an entirely fake story about Manafort meeting with Assange)? For Russia coverage? What?

    I don’t give a sh*t about authorities. I care about logic and arguments. I just proved North Carolina is much less politically free than Russia. Which it is. What do you have to say about that?

    Lol Durham. The most ivory tower place in the state.

  57. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    6. December 2018 at 20:35

    Harding,

    I presume you meant the 1978 Vietnamese Invasion of Cambodia…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambodian%E2%80%93Vietnamese_War

    … and in that light the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese 27 day war was to be understood as an attempt to force Vietnam out of Cambodia, rather than to annex Vietnam. (ibid.)

    “Russia has not attempted to annex any country since independence.”

    They just keep a set of expendable countries in political half-stable limbo as buffers, and let the tanks roll in there anytime they please. Also you seem to have forgotten Afghanistan.

  58. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    6. December 2018 at 20:45

    “the 1978 Vietnamese Invasion of Cambodia…”

    Read the article; it was a pure act of self-defense, much like the US war against Japan. Cambodia struck first.

    Also you seem to have forgotten Afghanistan.

    Russia has never tried to annex Afghanistan(!). It did try and fail at regime stabilization there before independence.

    They just keep a set of expendable countries in political half-stable limbo as buffers

    Precisely. Because the imperialist West forces it to. If Russia did not act, these buffer countries would be direct threats to Russia.

    “rather than to annex Vietnam.”

    I never said it tried to annex Vietnam. I said it took some Vietnamese territory. Which it did. Much like Russia reunified with some nominally Ukrainian territory in 2014.

  59. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    6. December 2018 at 20:46

    The difference, of course, is that Russia gave the people of Krim a democratic choice, and China didn’t for the inhabitants of the Vietnamese territories it occupied.

  60. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    7. December 2018 at 05:08

    Harding,

    “The difference, of course, is that Russia gave the people of Krim a democratic choice,”

    under Russia’s guns and after the secession was already declared, pending referendum outcome. Kinda like Hitler after invading Austria in 1938. He won that referendum too btw, go figure.

    “Russia has never tried to annex Afghanistan(!). It did try and fail at regime stabilization”

    Regime stabilization huh. A nice name for a nine year war with a good million civilian deaths. They did that in Vietnam too, though that war is usually blamed on the Americans who did their own little regime stabilization in the South. The regimes in Hungary were stabilized in 1956 and in Prague in 1967, quite successfully, plus in Angola and wherever else where Russia and its then-annexed colonies under “Soviet” (haha: “soviet = worker’s council”) rule just absolutely had to go in its national interest.

    “…expendable countries in political half-stable limbo as buffers

    Precisely. Because the imperialist West forces it to.”

    doesn’t even pass the laugh test. See, why don’t I also keep 100 million people as human shields under my tanks anytime I feel threatened. Who, exactly, does Russia think that they are? And how big does that buffer have to be? Does it have to reach Antarctica? And how did Israel ever survive more than a week if a continent size buffer is a requirement for a state? I mean, this is getting quite humorous here.

  61. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    7. December 2018 at 14:51

    “And how did Israel ever survive more than a week if a continent size buffer is a requirement for a state”

    Wonder what the 1967 war was about.

    “though that war is usually blamed on the Americans who did their own little regime stabilization in the South”

    The Communists started the Vietnam war.

    “doesn’t even pass the laugh test.”

    I would not recommend Russia build military bases in Cuba and Mexico, much like I did not recommend NATO expand into Montenegro.

  62. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    7. December 2018 at 23:41

    Harding,

    Israel added to what amounts to a few dozen kilometres, and then not in all directions. Russia appears to require continents.

    “much like I did not recommend NATO expand into Montenegro”

    And how exactly does NATO in Montenegro threaten … Russia? At a couple thousand km from Moscow? I mean, Germany is closer. Turkey is _bordering_ Russia and is in NATO, and a long time member, unlike the East European NATO countries that Russia likes to complain about. Turkey controls the gateway to the Black Sea. But hey, Montenegro.

    “I would not recommend Russia build military bases in Cuba and Mexico”

    But Kaliningrad Oblast OK, right? At 500 km of Berlin. In what could be construed as the historical Prussian “heartland”, if Germans were to start reasoning the way Serbia reasons about the historical significance of Kosovo. And who knows, maybe one day the AfD will, and then the s*** will really hit the fan.

    NATO in Montenegro, however, the outrage.

  63. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. December 2018 at 10:10

    John, Just to be clear, I’m not defending Chinese policies toward the people in Tibet, but here’s a Rand McNally map from 1914, long before the communists took control of China.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibetan_sovereignty_debate#/media/File:1914_map_of_Asia.jpg

    In a legal sense Tibet is just as much a part of China as Catalonia is a part of Spain. That’s not to excuse human right violations.

    The case for China being a particularly expansionist great power is weak. I never said it had zero expansionist tendencies, just that they were less expansionist than other great powers. Minorities are 9% of China’s population, and the vast majority live in eastern provinces than are majority Han. Only a couple percent live in Tibet and Xinjiang. Compare that to the Soviet Empire, or the British empire, or the French Empire, or Germany and Japan circa 1941.

    You asked:

    “So can we assume you were a pacifist in 1950, and would have idly sat by while South Korea was invaded?”

    Yes.

  64. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    9. December 2018 at 08:20

    “John, Just to be clear, I’m not defending Chinese policies toward the people in Tibet, but here’s a Rand McNally map from 1914, long before the communists took control of China.”

    Cool. Can I show you a map of Russia from the same time? Krim was a part of Russia in 1950. Tibet wasn’t.

  65. Gravatar of Mark Bahner Mark Bahner
    12. December 2018 at 14:55

    “I don’t give a sh*t about authorities.”

    That’s what I expected. Internet blowhards never do.

    The fact of the matter is that people who actually have expertise in evaluating political freedom (e.g. Freedom House, Cato Institute) say Russia is one of the least politically free countries on earth.

    The fact that you think that Russia has more political freedom than North Carolina simply indicates your ignorance and/or lack of grip on reality.

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