Totalitarian envy

Steven Mufson and John Pomfret have an article in the Washington Post about how China seems to be doing everything right and leaving the USA behind:

With the American economy struggling and the political system in gridlock, there is one thing everyone in Washington seems to agree on: The Chinese do it better.

Cyberspace? China has an army of hackers ready to read your most intimate e-mails and spy on corporations and super-secret government agencies. (Just ask Google.) Education? China is churning out engineers almost as fast as it's making toys. Military prowess? China is catching up, so quickly that it is about to deploy an anti-ship ballistic missile that could make life on a U.S. aircraft carrier a perilous affair. The economy? China has gone from cheap-clothing-maker to America’s banker. Governance? At least they can build a high-speed train. And energy? Look out, Red China is going green!

This new Red Scare says a lot about America’s collective psyche at this moment. A nation with a per capita income of $6,546 — ensconced above Ukraine and below Namibia, according to the International Monetary Fund — is putting the fear of God, or Mao, into our hearts.

Here’s our commander in chief, President Obama, talking about clean energy this month: “Countries like China are moving even faster. . . . I’m not going to settle for a situation where the United States comes in second place or third place or fourth place in what will be the most important economic engine in the future.”

And the nation’s pundit in chief, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, even sees some virtue in the Chinese Communist Party’s monopoly on political power: “One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages.”

via There’s a new Red Scare. But is China really so scary? – washingtonpost.com.

The article goes on to point out China’s many problems, concluding that China is not the threat or the model that many Americans assume.  What haunts me, though, is Thomas Friedman’s belief that autocracy has advantages if the leaders are “enlightened.”  (Also his belief that the Chinese communists are “reasonably enlightened.”)  That mindset, along with the envy and admiration for the Chinese version of communism (market reforms and economic progress under state control of the society), will, if it spreads, mark the end of the American experiment. (This ties to the post below.)

Consequences of the “one-child policy”

Just as some Westerners have started advocating laws to prevent families from having more than one child, China is having second thoughts as it is facing the consequences of its one-child policy, which it enforced with mandatory abortions:

More than 30 years after China's one-child policy was introduced, creating two generations of notoriously chubby, spoiled only children affectionately nicknamed "little emperors," a population crisis is looming in the country.

The average birthrate has plummeted to 1.8 children per couple as compared with six when the policy went into effect, according to the U.N. Population Division, while the number of residents 60 and older is predicted to explode from 16.7 percent of the population in 2020 to 31.1 percent by 2050. That is far above the global average of about 20 percent.

The imbalance is worse in wealthy coastal cities with highly educated populations, such as Shanghai. Last year, people 60 and older accounted for almost 22 percent of Shanghai's registered residents, while the birthrate was less than one child per couple.
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Xie Lingli, director of the Shanghai Municipal Population and Family Planning Commission, has said that fertile couples need to have babies to "help reduce the proportion of the aging population and alleviate a workforce shortage in the future."

Remember when the phrase “population crisis” referred to alleged over-population? Now the same phrase is used for under-population.

Climate change and population control

At the Copenhagen global warming conclave, the Chinese are pushing another approach to cutting down carbon emissions: population control. As you read this, keep in mind what China does, enforcing the “one child” policy by forced abortions:

Population and climate change are intertwined but the population issue has remained a blind spot when countries discuss ways to mitigate climate change and slow down global warming, according to Zhao Baige, vice-minister of National Population and Family Planning Commission of China (NPFPC) .

"Dealing with climate change is not simply an issue of CO2 emission reduction but a comprehensive challenge involving political, economic, social, cultural and ecological issues, and the population concern fits right into the picture," said Zhao, who is a member of the Chinese government delegation.

Many studies link population growth with emissions and the effect of climate change.

"Calculations of the contribution of population growth to emissions growth globally produce a consistent finding that most of past population growth has been responsible for between 40 per cent and 60 percent of emissions growth," so stated by the 2009 State of World Population, released earlier by the UN Population Fund.

Although China's family planning policy has received criticism over the past three decades, Zhao said that China's population program has made a great historic contribution to the well-being of society.

As a result of the family planning policy, China has seen 400 million fewer births, which has resulted in 18 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions a year, Zhao said.

Could the climate panic mindset lead to the same policy here?

UPDATE: A Canadian journalist is already advocating that all the world’s governments emulate China in imposing by law a one child limit.

China’s forced abortions

Kathleen Parker has a terrific column on forced abortions in China:

Coerced abortions, as well as involuntary sterilizations, are commonplace in China, Beijing's protestations notwithstanding. While the Chinese Communist Party insists that abortions are voluntary under the nation's one-child policy, electronic documentation recently smuggled out of the country tells a different story.

Congressional members of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission heard some of that story Tuesday, two days before President Obama was slated to leave for Asia, including China, to discuss economic issues. Among evidence provided by two human rights organizations, ChinaAid and Women's Rights Without Frontiers, were tales of pregnant women essentially being hunted down and forced to submit to surgery or induced labor.

Reggie Littlejohn, founder and president of the Frontiers group, told the commission that China's one-child policy "causes more violence against women and girls than any other official policy on Earth." . . .

A woman pregnant without permission has to surrender her unborn child to government enforcers, no matter what the stage of fetal development. . . .

The one-child policy has created other problems that threaten women and girls. The traditional preference for boys has meant sex-selected abortions resulting in a gender imbalance. Today, men in China outnumber women by 37 million, a disparity that has become a driving force behind sex slavery in Asia. Exacerbating the imbalance, about 500 women a day commit suicide in China — the highest rate in the world, which Littlejohn attributes in part to coercive family planning.

Obviously, the United States is in an awkward position with China, our second-largest trading partner and the largest holder of our government debt. But Littlejohn hopes Obama will "truly represent American values, including our strong commitment to human rights." She is also calling on Planned Parenthood and NARAL to speak up for reproductive choice in China.

That last sentence raises a great question. Planned Parenthood and NARAL say they are not pro-abortion, just pro-choice. So why aren’t they agitating against for a woman’s right to choose NOT to get an abortion in China?

Strategic reassurance

Two long-time foreign policy experts, Robert Kagan and Dan Blumenthal, critique the Obama administration’s policy towards Russia and China:

The Obama administration's worldview is still emerging, but its policies toward Russia and China are already revealing. Its Russia policy consists of trying to accommodate Moscow's sense of global entitlement. So far that has meant ignoring the continued presence of Russian forces on Georgian territory, negotiating arms-control agreements that Moscow needs more than Washington does and acquiescing to Russian objections to new NATO installations — such as missile interceptors — in former Warsaw Pact countries. An aggrieved Russia demands that the West respect a sphere of influence in its old imperial domain. The Obama administration rhetorically rejects the legitimacy of any such sphere, but its actions raise doubts for those who live in Russia's shadow.

The administration has announced a similar accommodating approach to China. Dubbed "strategic reassurance," the policy aims to convince the Chinese that the United States has no intention of containing their rising power. Details remain to be seen, but as with the Russia "reset," it is bound to make American allies nervous.

Administration officials seem to believe that the era of great-power competition is over. The pursuit of power, President Obama declared during a July speech about China, "must no longer be seen as a zero-sum game."

Unfortunately, that is not the reality in Asia. Contrary to optimistic predictions just a decade ago, China is behaving exactly as one would expect a great power to behave. As it has grown richer, China has used its wealth to build a stronger and more capable military. As its military power has grown, so have its ambitions.

So our policy is to “strategically reassure” these potential adversaries by giving in to what they demand! Does that sound like a policy that will lead to peace on earth?


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