Economy & Business, International, Politics

Psst, Guys: China Might Be a Paper Tiger

When I first arrived in China in 1976, four years had passed since Nixon and Kissinger had gone to Beijing to meet Mao, kicking off what Nixon would label “the week that changed the world”. But that interval was not long enough to dispel the thick fog of misrepresentations and outright lies spun during that visit by both the Americans and Chinese — though none of those tales concerned what really mattered: the geopolitical victory that came from that trip…

Nor did I read in 1972 about how the crowds in Beijing’s streets trudged from place to place in various states of clinical depression, understandably enough given the deep misery in which they were living — from their one-room-per-family, courtyard houses with no hot water to everyone’s shabby Mao suits and grey faces that evidenced border-line malnutrition. All this stood out even more because of the ubiquitous posters depicting ecstatically happy, rosy-cheeked enthusiasts applauding Mao…

Instead of any criticism, the US press praised everything, including the health-giving virtues of riding a bicycle to and from work, even though Beijing’s summer air was full of faecal dust, with carbon monoxide added in the freezing winters of the coal-heated city…

Now, of course, China presses against all its neighbours, endowing the United States with new alliances, some overt and official, others overt but without any formal treaty, and others emerging — a process destined to continue until Xi Jinping, who, with his talk of “war readiness”, is now in his Mussolini phase, triggers an armed affray serious enough to stop the arrival of tankers and bulk carriers into Chinese ports. Read more…

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