“In the last decade alone, the share of the world population living in autocracies has shot up from 49 percent in 2011 to 70 percent in 2021.”—Michael Hirsh, “The Month That Changed a Century.” Foreign Policy. April 10, 2022.
“In atmosphere of oriental secretiveness and conspiracy which pervades this government, possibilities for distorting or poisoning sources and currents of information are infinite. The very disrespect of Russians for objective truth–indeed their disbelief in its existence–leads them to view all stated facts as instruments for furtherance of one ulterior purpose or another. There is good reason to suspect that this government is actually a conspiracy within a conspiracy, and I for one am reluctant to believe that Stalin himself receives anything like an objective picture of [the] outside world. Here there is ample scope for the type of subtle intrigue for which Russians are past masters. Inability of foreign governments to place their place squarely before Russian policy makers–extent to which they are delivered up in their relations with Russia to good graces of obscure and unknown advisers whom they will never see and cannot influence–this to my mind is the most disquieting feature of diplomacy in Moscow, and one which western statesman would do well to keep in mind if they would understand the nature of difficulties encountered here…
…We must see that our public is educated to realities of Russian situation. I cannot over-emphasize importance of this. Press cannot do this alone. It must be done mainly by Government, which is necessarily more experienced and better informed on practical problems involved. In this we need not be deterred by [ugliness?] of picture. I am convinced that there would be far less hysterical anti-Sovietism in our country today if realities of this situation were better understood by our people. There is nothing as dangerous or as terrifying as the unknown. It may also be argued that to reveal more information on our difficulties with Russia would reflect unfavorably on Russian-American relations. I feel that if there is any real risk here involved, it is one which we should have courage to face, and sooner the better. But I cannot see what we would be risking. Our stake in this country, even coming on heels of tremendous demonstrations of our friendship for Russian people, is remarkably small. We have here no investments to guard, no actual trade to lose, virtually no citizens to protect, few cultural contacts to preserve. Our only stake lies in what we hope rather than what we have; and I am convinced we have better chance of realizing those hopes if our public is enlightened and if our dealings with Russians are placed entirely on realistic and matter-of-fact basis.”George K. Kennan, “The Long Telegram.” wilsoncenter.org. February 22, 1946
…there’s going to be a reckoning, and the funny thing is that reckoning is going to begin in China and then eventually spread to the rest of the world. Whether it will happen in close proximity to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic remains to be seen, but there is definitely a short term correction and a longer term debt cycle deleveraging that are being put off by these policies. At some point, it will no longer be able to be kept at bay.-cafebedouin, “A China Prediction: A Debt Deleveraging in a Decade.” cafebedouin.org
Today might be the day. Look for news on Evergrande and whether that will send China into recession. It probably won’t be Lehman Brothers, but it’s not going to be trivial. This comment seems about right to me:
“It won’t be a financial crisis, but a controlled burn of the world’s 2nd largest economy.”-Kent Willard quoted in Adam Tooze, “Adam Tooze’s Top Links: Is Evergrande “China’s Lehman moment”? (#21)” adamtooze.substack.com. September 19, 2021.
“The Found Footage Festival is a one-of-a-kind event that showcases footage from videos that were found at garage sales and thrift stores and in warehouses and dumpsters across the country.”–http://www.foundfootagefest.com
Let me walk you through my experience. I go to videos, click in a bit and find this one:
Rub your stomach and balls 81 times. The video appears to have guys swinging weights from their testicles. And then, there’s this comment from YouTube: “This should have stayed secret.” Very funny. You know I’m going to work through the Shaturday Morning cartoon series next.
“What happens when torrid monetary and fiscal reflation in the West meets tighter credit and evaporating liquidity in China?
We will find out soon enough who calls the shots for world inflation in a globalised economy dominated by cross-border capital flows. We will also find out whether these two colliding forces moderate each other, or set off the sort of wild ructions in currency, commodity, and bond markets that make hedge funds salivate.”-Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, “The world’s reflation party may be spoilt by China hitting the brakes.” The Telegraph. May 27, 2021.
There’s an interesting dynamic at play with coverage like the above. What most people miss, because they have attention spans of this quarter or this year, is that China has been doing torrid monetary and fiscal reflation for years, and the attendant moral hazard of having free money guaranteed by the government is starting to show how much systemic risk is hidden from view in China.
If you look at a standard breakdown of debt to GDP, like this one from Trading Economics, China looks to be in a very good position relative to the rest of the world. For China, the ratio is 66.8%, below India’s 69.6%. For the United States, it’s 108%. Now, consider this table from SPGlobal’s March report: Local Government Debt 2021: China’s Dominance Overshadows Borrowing Capacity In Other Emerging Markets.
Notice how much China’s subnational borrowing is compared to India’s? This explains why China’s national borrowing looks so good relative to other “developing” countries. They are, once again, cooking the books.
China has been doing torrid monetary inflation for years, but keeping it off the national books and putting it onto local government debt. And, it has been long understood that local government debt, partnerships and so forth were essentially backed by the national government, which means they are essentially national debt. If those numbers were added to reflect this reality, China’s debt to GDP would be worse than the United States.
So, they’ve reached the point of moral hazard, where they have to decide whether they are going to allow for defaults, bankruptcies and the restructuring of debt. To their credit, they are making some inroads on this front, but articles like the one above are hilarious because it fundamentally misunderstands this central point. China is slowing down because they have been using these policies for decades, whereas Western governments quantitative easing and other measures of pushing liquidity into markets were done in response to the 2008 financial crisis. Like China, Western markets have grown dependent on this influx of cash.
But, obviously, there’s going to be a reckoning, and the funny thing is that reckoning is going to begin in China and then eventually spread to the rest of the world. Whether it will happen in close proximity to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic remains to be seen, but there is definitely a short term correction and a longer term debt cycle deleveraging that are being put off by these policies. At some point, it will no longer be able to be kept at bay. If you want more detail, Ray Dalio’s talk on How The Economic Machine Works is a good point of reference.
“1. Greens are usually the glories of the cuisine: order as many vegetables as there are people
2. If you will have a meat, consider the juiciness that pairs well with the starch: something saucy if you will eat with rice, or less saucy if you will have soup noodles
3. Order Yunnan mushrooms if they are on the menu
4. Fill out the rest with cold appetizers, they are never a bad idea—Dan Wang, “2020 Letter.” DanWang.co. January 1, 2021.
What you need to know about arrests
Before your action
Identify an emergency contact. Make sure they know your name in both English and Chinese. After an arrest, you will need to tell them which police station you are at so they can help bring you a legal representative.
Before an arrest
The police may issue warnings, requests or messages through a loudspeaker and/or by raising various coloured (yellow, red, etc.) flags. Take note of their procedure, stay calm and discuss how you want to respond with fellow activists.
During an arrest
- The police can only arrest you if there is a reasonable suspicion that you have committed or are about to commit an offence. Upon the arrest, they must hence disclose the offence that you are suspected of. During an arrest, please remember a) the officer’s collar/shoulder number, b) the reason of arrest, and c) suspected offence.
- After you arrive at the police station, all your belongings will be confiscated by the police and taken away from out of sight. So think about the consequences when bringing sensitive objects or information with you.
- After being arrested, anything that you say may become a recorded statement, even if it’s not a formal statement (given in a police car, in the waiting room, etc.).
- Any conversation or banter with the police can become a useful information for their investigation, so avoid it if possible.
- You have the right to remain silent, to not answer questions, and to not sign documents.
At the station
- If at any time you feel unwell, you have the right to request a break during the proceedings to receive treatment at the hospital. (But be careful about leaving your companions as it may leave you alone and unprotected.)
- In most cases, aside from giving your telephone number, address and HKID number, you have a right to silence, to not answer questions, and to not sign documents.
- You can ask to speak to an external contact. First, contact your emergency contact, tell them which police station you’re at and what crime you’ve been accused of. Then seek legal assistance.
- You can ask the police to provide you with a list of lawyers.
- You will receive a copy of the “Notice to Persons in Custody”, which lays out your rights while you are detained, for you to keep.
- The maximum period they can detain you for is 48 hours (and only if the case is serious or there are reasonable grounds).
- The officers can request a body search, but they cannot ask you to undress without a valid reason.
- You can ask for breaks, and for food and drinks.
Giving a statement
Aside from your name, address and HKID number, you can choose not to answer any other questions. Many people fall prey to the carrot and stick methods of the police and accidentally signed a statement that contains an admission of an offence. Beware of the following when giving a statement:
- “You can see your lawyer after you give a statement” is a lie. It is key that you meet your lawyer and be legally advised before giving a statement.
- You don’t need to speak or answer questions unless you want to. Everything you say will be recorded by the police with pen and paper, and used as evidence in court.
- You can ask to be accompanied by a lawyer during questioning
- After being questioned by the police, you will receive a copy of your statement. Before receiving a copy of this, you may refuse to answer any further questions.
- The police cannot use intimidation, inducement or other inappropriate tactics to obtain a statement from you.
When you leave you can obtain
- Bail form (only available if bail was granted, it contains the conditions of bail, information for court appearance or change of details on the bail form)
- Charge sheet (name of charge, document summary)
- Record of statement
- Detained belongings
- The police must record all seized belongings, and return them to you unless they are used as evidence
- If you are physically injured by the police, you should go to a private clinic immediately for an examination when you are allowed to leave the station after the procedure is over
“In China, there is no why.”
—Chris Buckley, Paul Mozur and Austin Ramzy, “How China Turned a City Into a Prison.” The New York Times. April 4, 2019.
The future is here; it’s just not evenly distributed yet.
“Every citizen in China, which now has numbers swelling to well over 1.3 billion, would be given a score that, as a matter of public record, is available for all to see. This citizen score comes from monitoring an individual’s social behavior — from their spending habits and how regularly they pay bills, to their social interactions — and it’ll become the basis of that person’s trustworthiness, which would also be publicly ranked…
…A citizen’s score affects their eligibility for a number of services, including the kinds of jobs or mortgages they can get, and it also impacts what schools their children qualify for…
…[In one version of the score], an individual’s score comes in a range between 300 and 850 and is broken down into five sub-categories: social connections, consumption behavior, security, wealth, and compliance.”
—Dom Galeon and Brad Bergan. “China’s “Social Credit System” Will Rate How Valuable You Are as a Human.” Futurism. December 2, 2017.
Contrast China’s overt Social Credit Score with this description of an American process of policing journalists.
“An explicit example of news outlets purging employees who “‘loosely’ opin[e] on stuff ‘just for the sake of weighing in’” is how Politico, a proxy for Washington’s courtiers among the managers of the public sphere, justifies political purges of job applicants whose social media postings may suggest a perspective that strays from majoritarian (white, cisheterosexual, male, able-bodied, bourgeois, Christian, etc.) subjectivities.
But long before the managers of the public sphere were shaken into action, those of us at the periphery of majoritarian subjectivities had been coerced into relaying white-supremacist values as ‘objective,’ values that have historically formed the ideological center of the ‘field of communications’ in America. Working in this field as a first-generation-immigrant, queer, and disabled person of color, my duties as a midcult technician have been performed under the courtly authoritarianism of a bleached-white managerial gaze.”
—Alfredo F. Riley, “The Management Estate.” The New Inquiry. November 14, 2017.
Which is worse: an overt FICO style score of evaluating and enforcing conformity or an implicit, subjective “the cop in your head” approach preferred by the American establishment? At least the former is honest about what it is doing.