Sunday 31 December 2023

Heroes and villains of 2023: Xi Jinping or Boris Johnson?

First published at Anna's new website: ANNA CHEN

Boris Johnson’s scary clown career

Boris Johnson scary clown (Photo Jannes van den Wouwer - Unsplash)

In the month that Twitter/X deleted my 15-year old Madam Miaow account, the longest consistent commentary from a Chinese Brit (since 2008), it’s hard to take the West’s moral high ground seriously. No violations. Six appeals with ID, all falling on deaf ears. Free speech? Democracy? Really?

At the end of 2023, it’s worth delving into claims of western superiority and taking a look at how heroes and villains have been shaped by media narratives. Which ones are cracking and who’s shining through?

I think most of the public by now recognise Boris Johnson’s role as all the Horsemen of the Apocalypse rolled into one overfed scary clown. It’s hard to overlook his achievements.

Johnson pauperised Britain with Brexit, losing us our biggest market that happened to be on our doorstep. Costs £100bn a year. Poverty kills.

He handed us over to the US war machine so we now do their bidding. World War III in the making.

Partied like Nero unbound while Covid spread. There are now 220K dead Brits, the second highest number in the developed world.

Personally scuppered the Ukraine peace deal negotiation, April 2022. NYT says 500K dead.
We were dragged from the EU frying pan into the US fire, on the referendum's simple majority vote of 37% of the population. And now look at the state of us. Instead of delivering the yummy trade deals with China as promised, Johnson nailed us to the USS Titanic and torpedoed our global lifeboat. Now we send war fleets to China’s coast instead of cargo ships.

Rising China and a thriving West

Is it a coincidence that years of low inflation coincided with a rising China making our stuff cheaply and allowing consumers living in a decaying West to live beyond our means? Instead of winning deals, Johnson ended our hi-tech development. Agreeing to rip out our Huawei 5G infrastructure (for which we’d already paid billions), despite GCHQ having done a thorough investigation which cleared the company, plunged us further into the backwater status that Brexit wrought. And we still don’t have a US trade deal.

All this hollering about purported Chinese human rights abuses has been a useful deflection from October’s Afghanistan war crimes inquiry. Because real civilians killed in their own home by British forces don’t count. Current horrors in Gaza expose just how flimsy the West’s self-image really is.

Despite impressing no-one at the UK Covid Inquiry, Johnson’s been given a job at the Daily Mail.

Xi Jinping (Photo James B Cutchin - Flckr)

Xi Jinping takes on Jack Ma

Far more column inches have been blared at us about Xi Jinping’s imagined failings than about the effects of Brexit and the Covid pandemic which is still with us. (Wear a mask!)

Just one example of the gaslighting to which the MSM is subjecting us: how Xi dealt with Jack Ma and Ant Group.

It’s a given that Jack Ma is the West’s ideal Chinese capitalist, having created the ecommerce behemoth Alibaba whose shares were even owned by Queen Elizabeth II. He started out as a much-loved philanthropist. Among many charitable endeavors, his Jack Ma Foundation funded an enormously useful Covid pandemic resource, tragically ignored by the West to our collective detriment.

However, that changed on 3 November 2020 when China’s financial regulators, with Xi’s approval, halted the massive Initial Public Offering (IPO) of Ma’s Ant Group which had grown out of Alibaba’s success. Now, with Wall Street investors slavering, why would Xi do that?

In the cage fight of communist ideals versus raw capitalism, the government won. After years of tensions, it quashed the eagerly awaited $350-450 billion IPO of the Giant Ant Group in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Set to be the biggest stock offering in history, this mega-debut threatened to render the giant group too big to fail. Furthermore, Ant Financial defied regulatory protective measures by working outside the rules. Ma openly dismissed the regulations set up to prevent systemic financial risk as “red tape”.

Xi Jinping could have taken the easy route and taken US heat off himself by letting the IPO slide by.

However, China had already saved the world economy from the US Great Crash of 2008 by acting as a shock absorber. It bought up US debt, took the hit of allowing global currencies to devalue against the yuan, encouraged consumption by the biggest middle-class on the Earth, invested hugely to stimulate growth and kick-started the longest-ever bull-run in US market history. With that near-fatal meltdown still in the rear-view mirror, and aware that in the ailing US it’s business that runs the government – reaping low taxes and endless bailouts with devastating consequences for American society – the CPC was never going to allow that to happen in China.

As a result of this eleventh-hour halt, the Chinese economy was no longer allowed to overheat and run into a crash. Boom and bust was not to be a feature of China’s system.

Wall Street was enraged. Xi Jinping became the target for the West’s fury.

Xi Jinping saves China’s economy from the shark fest

To worsen Jack Ma’s fall from grace, he appeared to turn on his own workers, who had made his business empire such a success.

One might have thought that, in a communist society, the people who helped make Alibaba one of the most profitable companies in the world would have been treated as pampered examples of the joys of capitalism with socialist characteristics. In the UK, John Lewis Partnership staff share in the wealth. In Silicon Valley, employees are given idyllic campus conditions with luxurious rest-rooms, indoor slides, entertainment in the very fabric of the buildings. Google employees work 40-45 hour weeks.

Instead of showing how China could do even better, he pushed his luck further by defending the dreaded 996 work conditions: 9am-9pm, 6 days a week, 72 hours a week for workers. Given that he was one of the richest men on the planet, this seemed a little selfish.

By halting the IPO, Xi saved the economy, prevented a slow business coup and preserved the upward trajectory for China’s workers. The subsequent all-out assault by the press tells us more about western objectives for China than it does about Xi’s character. If China’s vast economy is blasted open for a capitalist feeding frenzy, Chinese society can look to America as the model for a 996 future and worse.

Not forgetting Benjamin Netanyahu

Lastly, Benjamin Netanyahu …

Already facing prosecution and unprecedented street protests in Israel for his power grab against the judges, Netanyahu was in deep trouble at home. Earlier in the year he pleaded with America to join him in a war on Iran. America said no.

We now know that he had been funding theocratic Hamas via Qatar to prevent the foundation of a Palestinian state. Israel evidently preferred religious fundamentalists to the secular leadership who might have negotiated a peaceful solution. To make matters worse, he knew there was an attack being planned, which came on 7 October, having been informed about it by Egypt and by locals.

He now has the US and the rest of the axis on board as he wanted. There have been 22,000 Palestinian deaths in less than three months and rising. Meanwhile, Israel has signed oil drilling rights off the Gaza coast.


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NOTE: Taiwan is legally part of China as recognised in the West’s One China policy since President Nixon in 1979. The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which the US is not signed up, defines the strait not as international waters (as it lies between two parts of the same country), but as China’s territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Running warships through the strait is not legal.

Shakedown Timeline of America’s 21st Century war on China

Anna Chen’s replacement Twitter/X account: @AnnaChenMiaow

Anna's website: ANNA CHEN

Monday 4 December 2023

Has the US had its chips? Chip tech under fire

First published at Anna's new website: ANNA CHEN

Chip tech (Photo Jiefeng Jiang)

The US semiconductor technology war against itself

US chip tech once more faces government friendly fire, courtesy of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s rant about cutting off China from AI technology. Severance in the same way you might close a stable post equine scarper: is it the door or the horse that’s bolted?

Welcome to late stage capitalism where making a buck is no longer the name of the game. Trashing your competitor is the aim.

Military interests are now prioritised over straight up capitalist concerns, which must be worrying for supertech manufacturer Nvidia. “Such is life, protecting our national security matters more than short term revenue,” scolded Raimondo.

It’s alarming to see the USA lurch deeper into self-harm as it loses its top-dog ranking. But, however much it yearns for its old supremacy, it can howl at the moon and gnash its teeth all it likes. That won’t rescue the oligarchs from their self-made predicament. Which stage of grief are we at now? Still stuck at anger?

The intellectual, diplomatic and economic skillsets supposedly exemplified by America in the postwar years should have come to its rescue. Instead, it grew old before it grew wise. We’re left with geriatric grandpa having a tantrum and spraying his nappy contents over the world while the rest of us duck and cover.

Behind the rage, however, fear stalks the upper crust. Abandoning cooperation in its bullying hubris, the elite discovered itself to be incapable of competing on a level playing field. A fundamental aspect of its national self-image, this failure to win has been wounding.

A last-ditch attempt to regain past glories resorted to mobster tactics when all else collapsed. Trying to smash China’s kneecaps at every turn was so not a good look. Especially when it rebounded spectacularly, spurring China on to even bigger and better advancements in chip technology.

The glass slipper fitted Cinderella courtesy of a cosmos that was evidently on the newcomer’s side. Cutting off its own toes wouldn’t help the Ugly Sister one bit.

Yet here is America doing exactly that when the chips are down.

Because if it’s Monday it must be tech time. Again.

Joe “Not on my watch” Biden explicitly aims to handicap China’s chip tech for 10 years. China’s had its chips and it ain’t getting ours, says Gina Raimondo, as if this is a brilliant new strategy, even though depriving the rising superpower of semi-conductors has only accelerated its advances. Suffer ye Silicon Valley to save our status.

“Chip tech ours. No way are we letting China catch up. Biggest threat. China not our friend. Protect America. Game on, game on. Exterminate, exterminate, exterminate!” (Okay, either that last bit was a dalek or I’ve been listening to too much news.) If madness is repeating the same act over and over despite getting the same results, then the boomerang must have hit America square in the noggin.

An obsolete system even chip tech protectionism can’t save

The US represents an old mode of thinking for an obsolete system that no longer works for its people. While it may be horrible to live through these events, it is also undeniably fascinating. Like watching the fall of the Roman Empire in a few years rather than decades, in fast motion speed for a modern sensibility conditioned by binge-watching.

It has painted itself unnecessarily into a corner where it behaves like the proverbial cornered rodent when it should have held on to friendship and cooperation. They’d have been better off if military supremacy had never been tested but had remained a mystery. After all, China’s a known quantity when it comes to helping the Numero Uno superpower out of a tight spot. Think of the 2008 US Great Crash, when China raced to the rescue instead of letting the global economy burn.

Now China’s forced to take defensive measures and spend on building up its armed forces. And, hey, guess what? They’re even catching up on that. The US’s only remaining advantage is decades of advertising psychology: whipping up fear, desire, unrealisable self-image. All converging in war fever.

And who is this for? Not the American working and middle classes who’ve seen their share of national wealth drop alarmingly.

“America leads the world in artificial intelligence … That’s because of our private sector,” Raimondo boasted. Private wealth, not public good.

Without a change of heart and a return to cooperation, all the US state has left to look forward to is continued collapse. Or at questionable best, ossification as the world’s military overlord, maintaining its position through brute terror. Suzanne Collins nailed this structure in The Hunger Games with the Capitol, ruled by President Snow, at the centre of Panem’s 13 districts.

“Panem is a sovereign nuclear state and democratic constitutional republic established sometime after a series of ecological disasters and a global conflict brought about the collapse of modern civilization. It is situated in North America, consisting of a federal district, the Capitol, and thirteen outlying districts.”

And there you have it. The American model for the future with a shrinking number of beneficiaries feeding off the districts whose people yearn to be free. “Protect the Capitol! Hide the chips!”

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Tech links below courtesy of William Huo. Follow him at Twitter for reliable China tech info.

HOW HUAWEI MADE A CUTTING EDGE CHIP IN CHINA AND SURPRISED THE US: China’s flagship smartphone maker pulled off the feat despite sanctions. Hush, hush, sweet Charlotte … “This article from Ars Technica tells the story of how Huawei and SMIC managed to produce a powerful smartphone chip, the Kirin 9000S, despite the US sanctions that cut them off from global semiconductor supply chains. It reveals how the companies used vast resources, state support, and innovative techniques to overcome the challenges and achieve a breakthrough in AI chip production.” WH

US CHIP SANCTIONS “KNEECAP” CHINA’S TECH INDUSTRY: The toughest export restrictions yet cut off AI hardware and chipmaking tools crucial to China’s commercial and military ambitions. “This article from WIRED explains how the US export controls, announced in October 2022, aim to keep China’s AI industry stuck in the dark ages by blocking its access to advanced chips and chipmaking equipment. It also discusses how the restrictions affect China’s leading tech companies, such as Alibaba, Baidu, and ByteDance, and what strategies they might adopt to cope with the situation.” WH

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION IMPOSES SWEEPING TECH RESTRICTIONS ON CHINA: New rules include measure to exclude China from using semiconductor chips made anywhere in world with US tools – Reuters/Guardian 7 October 2022. “Report on the Biden administration’s decision to publish a set of export controls in October 2022, including a measure to cut China off from certain semiconductor chips made anywhere in the world with US tools. It describes how the rules are designed to slow down China’s technological and military advances, and how they have sparked criticism and backlash from China and some US companies.” WH

US CHIP TECH SANCTIONS MAY NOT BE ENOUGH TO DETER CHINA’S MILITARY AMBITIONS: “East Asia Forum report, 30 August 2023, analyzes the impact and limitations of the US chip sanctions on China’s military modernization. It argues that the restrictions may not be effective in deterring China’s development of data-intensive AI models, supercomputers, and hypersonic missiles, as China has alternative sources of chips and can leverage its domestic capabilities and partnerships. It also suggests that the US should pursue a more cooperative and constructive approach with China on technology issues.” WH

SHAKEDOWN: Timeline of America’s 21st Century War on China — the Opium Wars on steroids

DON QUIXOTE IN THE WHITE HOUSE: from windmills to stray weather balloons, the monsters inside the American id

US CHIPS AND SCIENCE ACT July 2022 to subsidise the highly profitable US semiconductor industry with $280b budget. Passes in August 2022.


Anna's website: ANNA CHEN