Government Watch / Politics

Focus – On China’s Next Move

China's

As Americans struggle with explosive gas prices and interest rates, twice as high as when Biden took office, inflation touching 9 percent and interest rates jumping from 2.65 to 5.78 percent, China’s facing a crisis too: rising economic unrest – which could turn political.

Within the past month, President Xi has faced a “surprise revolt from Chinese homebuyers,” rolling “mortgage boycotts” affecting 91 cities, more than 300 housing projects.

These protests are based on the demand for payments from over-leveraged, government-affiliated developers, who took people’s money, never delivered a home, and are now sliding with the Chinese economy. This source of unrest alone may affect two trillion dollars in holdings, as the property market is one-fifth of China’s economic activity, 70 percent of household wealth in the home.

Predictably, these protests are met with violent suppression, widespread beatings, disappearances, social media and media blackouts, and Taliban-style goon squads, consistent with Communist practice. Still, they are not likely to end soon if the people continue losing their lifetime wealth.

Meantime, the Communist country is wrestling other big challenges such as mass surveillance and social control track where people go, what they can do, know, see, earn, and undertake without punishment.

After suffocating democracy in Hong Kong, China locked down 26 million people in Shanghai over COVID and still has rolling lockdowns, often cross-engineered to block social unrest, including mortgage boycotts.

Problems multiply, as China faces continuing COVID issues, and possible energy and food shortages, with recent rolling blackouts giving rise to fears of a possible return to blackouts faced in 2021.

On the food front, China’s hypocrisy is glaring, hoarding food and fertilizer, buying up global farmlands, trying to keep food prices from rising, while largely ignoring the world’s food crisis – made acute by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, nominally supported by China.

As the US recently contributed 27 billion dollars to the UN World Food Fund, China offered three million dollars, in other words – the US gave 9,000 times what China gave. Making matters worse, odds are high that China will use what they did not give to coerce, leverage, or threaten smaller countries in Africa and beyond with bilateral food aid, as the Russia-triggered global food crisis grows acute.

Returning to the spreading Chinese revolt over the home loss, China’s population often puts a whole family’s money to buy a home, so when that investment and home vanish or is never built, lives are profoundly affected.

Like a perfect storm, China’s leadership faces internal unrest at exactly the wrong time, with the 20th annual National Congress of the Communist National Party occurring in November. Communist dominance will be pinned to themes of “common prosperity” and foreign policy – but if common prosperity bombs and foreign policy is faltering, the event could be worse than hollow.

Several implications grow from China’s shivering economy, “mortgage boycott” protests, ramped up Communist Party suppression, rising energy, food, and living costs, plus the pending National Congress.

One is that China will likely do as powerful but inherently fragile totalitarian governments do when anxious about power, hear footsteps, fear their people, need to tighten control – they clamp down, hard. The “mortgage protests” may be modest, but they could catch fire, set fire to other issues.

On the flip side, if popular unrest grows, the impact could be anything from small and episodic to surprising and transcendent. The Communist Government knows this, which is why they are uneasy.

Second, the Communist Party, despite China’s heavy economic integration with the world, may pull back in ways like stiff-arming the UN on food. As their economy trembles, they may turn inward. China’s economic growth is dramatically down, just .04 percent in the past fiscal year, far below predictions.

Third, as internal pressures grow, so does the risk that the Communist Party will look for distractions, especially foreign policy distractions. The obvious target is Taiwan, already be in China’s military sights. China’s odd overreaction to Speaker Pelosi’s trip suggests reverse engineering, possibly setting up a provocation claim that “justifies” military action, not unlike Putin’s claims and actions in Ukraine.

Net-net, these events – including the inevitability that the US will be pulled in, economically, politically, diplomatically, and possibly militarily – to conflict with China means one thing: US policymakers, the US defense, intelligence, and diplomatic communities, as well as every member of Congress, must be on alert. This is a potential powder keg, as China’s rising insecurity is directly tied to potential risky action.

Some will say, worry not, look away, give China no more time than we have for 50 years, but that is not what signs suggest. They suggest China is on the move, in a risky and risk-taking transition, perhaps egged on by weak US leadership. Only a nation indifferent to Communism, global war, human repression, and ignorant of history would look away now. Our job is to focus – on China’s next move.


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Michael Lewis
1 month ago

Joe Biden is the weakest President in US History. What could possibly go wrong?

Jeb
1 month ago

The Chinese people are 1.2 billion plus strong…if they truly wish to change their lifestyle…

PaulE
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeb

Ten percent of the country belongs to the Chinese Communist Party. That’s 120 million people whose loyalty is to the CCP. Virtually all aspects of Chinese society is controlled by the CCP. The fiction that our media and our politicians have been feeding us, that the Chinese people have been allowed any semblance of western style freedoms and values, is a pure lie designed to simply justify the past actions of several American administrations’ bad policy decisions concerning China. Yes, the average Chinese citizen living in one of their mega cities may have nicer clothes and a degree of more mobility, but that masks the reality that they are one wrong word from being jailed or disappeared. They have no access to any weapons with which to take on the PLA in any meaningful way.

The PLA, the Chinese military, has been controlled and run by the CCP since Day One going all the way back to 1949 when the communists defeated the old Chinese government. The Chinese people DO NOT have a culture of rights and freedoms. Look at their history going back 5,000 years. They have a much different mindset from most western societies and nothing like the American mindset that is distinctly different from most people in Europe today. The Chinese people have a culture of subservience to authority. They also have realtively fresh memories of what happened when some Chinese people tried to push back against repressive Chinese authority in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Unarmed Chinese throwing sticks and rocks at Tanks and APCs doesn’t end well.

We are truly unique today in the modern world. We actually still have the means to resist an oppressive government and protect our rights and freedoms. That is if we collectively decided to do so in an organized and coordinated fashion and it still wouldn’t be an assured outcome. You really can’t say that about any other civilian population on the planet at this point. Just about every other western nation has disarmed their civilian populations by one means or another. Which many civilian populations around the world now clearly regret. So while it is nice to say all the Chinese people need to do is just charge the so-called barrades completely unarmed against a government and advanced military that could care less how many tens of millions upon tens of millions of civilians it has to mow down to maintian order and control, the reality is it is NOT going to happen.

PaulE
1 month ago

What you describe RBC is just standard fare from a communist regime in terms of supression of the overall populace, incredibly bad mismanagement for what passes as an economy that is largely state controlled and widely unpopular government policies designed to maintain control at the expense of the captive nation. If it weren’t for the fact that seriously flawed, idiotic foreign policy and economic decisions were made by every U.S. administration from Bill Clinton through Barack Obama, concerning enabling China at every turn to grow and expand to become the second largest economic and military power on the planet, China would have collapsed in on itself a long time ago or at the very least remained a poor, starving communist nation unable to feed its own people. A far less threat to the world as a whole.

While I agree with you that we have to pay close attention to everything the CCP does at this point with respect to actions within China, as well as its foreign adventures, you should NOT expect any sort of proactive approach from the Biden admininstration or the Democrats in general. The Democrats all seek to emulate many of the same governing principles that are utilized by the CCP to control the people of China here in the United States. Many current Democrat politicians in Washington have stated as much numerous times. So if you are looking for a robust foreign policy response from the United States to anything that entails the repressive or destructive actions of the CCP, you are whistling past the graveyard on that one. Democrats, in general, are the party of appeasement and concessions. In October, President XI will be given a third term as head of the CCP and then Biden will meet with Xi at the next G-20 meeting and essentially kiss his ring and ask what else he can do to make China happy.

anna hubert
1 month ago
Reply to  PaulE

You are right he will be timid and act accordingly he knows China will not play nicey nicey

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