Today’s Key Subliminal Message is…

Greedy, evil America caused the current market mayhem unleashed from China.

Repeat until you are convinced. Scattered with subtlety here and there in the South China Morning Post, the notion hits some important pro-Beijing buttons, notably Chinese victimhood and Communist Party infallibility.


It seems to partly be a reaction to the anti-Chinese ravings of US presidential hopeful Donald Trump – apparently someone up there on the other side of the Great Firewall doesn’t get the joke and takes the clown-act literally. But mainly this is a patriotic distraction from the glorious motherland’s ongoing ‘challenges’: panicky leaders sense the SCMP-TheresMoreeconomic game is up, while Tianjin port explodes and everyone pretends to rejoice that Vanuatu is turning up for next week’s Grand Anti-Turnip-Head Parade.

Can we trace today’s global gyrations in stocks, commodities and morale to Alan Greenspan’s policy as Fed Chairman all those years ago? Yes. It’s not disputed. Nor is it very interesting, or especially relevant. In fact, it’s a rehash of the fuss several years back, in which wastrel/consumer/debtor USA and mercantilist/saver/exporter/lender PRC blamed each other for the imbalances that, by definition, each could not have had without the other.

We can go further back. Why not blame the goldsmiths of medieval Italy? They held neighbours’ bullion for safekeeping, and noticed that people were using the receipts as cash. So the scoundrels started to issue more of these IOUs for interest – even though no-one had strictly speaking put any extra gold in the strong room. It was second only to the invention of sex. Or we could get right down to the root of the problem and blame those bastard Sumerians for thinking up wacko ideas like buying and selling grain that still hadn’t been grown.

Obviously, the US/Western culture of maxing out on credit cards and dumping it all on the next generation is reprehensible and not democratic civilization’s finest achievement. Obviously, Australia, Brazil and other resources producers will have to get new jobs now China isn’t gorging itself on all the coal and iron on the planet. But equally obviously, China’s unfolding economic mess is the making of the Communist Party.

We all know the dilemmas they face in Beijing: the easy post-Maoist gains are over, and now they have to solve debt, bubbles, vested interests and potential social unrest, or lose any mandate to rule. It has come to this not because of weakness and indecisiveness – the curses of Western democracy – but because of the wonderful Beijing Consensus. It has happened because they are so accustomed to total, unquestioned control, and so wrapped up in their own Key Subliminal Messages and propaganda, that they couldn’t believe anything could go wrong. No-one else forced them into this. And saying it’s someone else’s fault won’t help.

Oh dear – somebody at the SCMP didn’t get the memo…


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18 Responses to Today’s Key Subliminal Message is…

  1. Cassowary says:

    Hold on, when did George Chen start making sense? I stopped reading anything he wrote because it was all “eye-catching headline, inane observation, name drop, name drop, did I mention I go to Yale, non-sequitur, asinine conclusion”?

  2. Real Fax Paper says:

    Cassowary, he seems to have taken in the absolute shoeing he got in the comments to that first piece, gone away for a bit and had a long hard think about himself, come to the correct conclusions, and has by all appearances tried very hard to make amends ever since. I don’t think he doesn’t get the memos – he does, but then wipes his bum with them. He deserves credit for all that.

  3. Monkey Uncensored says:

    I think George Chen is obviously being corrupted by foreign ideas and is no longer ideologically sound … perhaps a spell in the re-education labor camps is needed to purge him of his new, depraved, corrupt Western ideas of actually writing what he thinks might be true.

    p.s. referencing fiat-printing medieval Italian goldsmiths and Sumerian grain futures traders … i was going to say this is the most impressed i have ever been reading Hemlock … but that would be untrue. I do believe this is the most impressed i have ever been reading any blog.

    As far as Beijing goes, i reckon a crash course is needed urgently for the politburo (and CCP in general) in processes of cognitive bias, in particular confirmation biases and selection biases, and how to avoid them … all grounded firmly within the ideological context of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism of course …

  4. inspired says:

    Good post today Hemmers and big thumbs up to Monkey Uncensored’s mention of cognitive bias

  5. PD says:

    The US tut-tutting about the atoll land grabs, the neighbours deliberately ganging up, the yuan new hub story no longer exciting, the stock market out of control, Trump telling people what they want to hear, the economy daring to resist the CP’s ukases.

    China is running scared, and is likely to seize on any short-term palliative/cover-up/band-aid, whatever the medium-term consequences.

    Unfortunately, starting yet another nasty little war against weaker nations so as to regain the support of the masses requires some preparation. You need to gradually escalate the trumped-up confrontations, multiply the accidental violations, whip up the racist propaganda, show off a few nukes and aircraft carriers.

    Of course there’s always Hong Kong to pick on. Might gain them breathing space for a few more weeks.

  6. Qian Jin says:

    Well Hemlock if this latest tirade of China-bashing is your economics doctoral thesis, you’ll have to try harder. The PRC hasn’t even geared up yet to print and chuck money about at near zero interest rates on the scale the Americans and British have been doing this past few years to keep their bubbles inflated. There are still a few Chinese irons in their fire, which can be pulled out if and when needed.
    And as to your continued and frequent reference to the “loss of mandate” to rule. Dream on ! You have misread the mood. The nation is not for revolution and the overthrowing of their government, not for zonks, if ever……. in spite of BBC reporters wishing this in every single one their Beijing reports broadcast since Tiananmen.

  7. Tom says:

    “The nation is not for revolution and the overthrowing of their government, not for zonks, if ever.”

    三監之亂 c. 1040 BC
    大澤鄉起義 209 BC
    七國之亂 154 BC
    赤眉 c. AD 17
    綠林兵 c. AD 20
    黃巾之亂 184
    五斗米道 184
    孫恩 c. 400
    安史之亂 756–763
    紅巾起義 1351–1368
    李自成 1644
    三藩之亂 1673–1681
    川楚教乱 1794–1804
    太平天國 1851–1864
    捻軍起義 1851–1868
    紅巾起義 1854–1856
    杜文秀起義 1856–1873
    同治回變 1862–1877
    義和團之亂 1899–1901
    辛亥革命 1911
    共產黨 c. 1949
    文革 1966-76
    四二七游行 1989

    … among many others.

    But apart from all those occasions, when have the Chinese ever engaged in anti-government activities en masse?

  8. Yoyo the yodeling yokel from Yonkers says:

    Qian Jin, you may well be right about ‘misreading the mood’ in regard to a revolutionary movement or spirit. I have lived in China for years and, indeed, that’s about the last thing that is going to happen. But that does not mean that things are not going to change – they change everyday. And a Chinese future without the CCP is not a dream, or a wish or a mere hypothesis: it’s real and its contours are being drawn as we speak. Forced voluntary transformation, implosion or the invisible hand of the economy, or, probably, a combination of these, in a way that we cannot foresee.

  9. @Qian Jin – bit of a slip-up mentioning Tiananmen 1989 there when defending the CCP, eh?

  10. PD says:

    “Qian Jin”: “The nation is not for revolution”.

    The current regime in Peking came to power through a violent revolution. Since then, there has been the “cultural” revolution. Seems rather a revolution-prone land to me.

    And if the imperial mandate is still as strong as ever, why not prove it, through elections?

  11. Qian Jin says:

    @Tom: “But apart from all those occasions, when have the Chinese ever engaged in anti-government activities en masse?”

    Impressive long list, but its a pity that you are unable to distinguish between real national revolution and regional nutters’ failed factional uprisings. The last real revolution with a unified-China ruler in place ( as you rightly include in your list) was the 1911-1912 overthrow of the Qing. Everything between that date and 1949 was just the messy sorting out of which regime should reassert sovereign unity. Luckily for China, the right lot won. Had Chiang Kai Shek succeeded we would be still have a blood-line President Chiang and economic productivity would be limited to how many wooden chopsticks and embroidered fans the country can export.

  12. Scotty Dotty says:

    Another excellent Hemlock post today. Agreed in full that China elites, and peons both, are instinctive blame shifters to non-Han racially impure sorts.

    @ Tom

    Excellent list. A good reminder that China is in near constant flux. Sooner or later someone feels they’ve lost face.


    Yes, I also think you slipped up with that Tiananmen reference. Wink, wink.

  13. Yoyo the yodeling yokel from Yonkers says:

    Qian Jin, I love your spirited defence of that what is indefensible. I assume you’re a princeling sort of person. Or properly connected to the corrupt CCP power matrix. Good for you. You lot are alright, as in, “I’m alright, Jack”. But…

    “Had Chiang Kai Shek succeeded we would be still have a blood-line President Chiang and economic productivity would be limited to how many wooden chopsticks….”

    …as opposed to people like you who are riding the coattails of the “Immortals”, the “Long March” and all that other phony ‘Revolution’ crap, which by the way never was a revolution: It was just an opportune power grab.

    As for the wooden chopsticks: those smartphones made in Shenzhen are all designed in Taipei.

  14. LRE says:

    Hats off to the Daily Mash who in their usual sarcastic and exaggerated way appear to have their finger firmly on the arrhythmic pulse of the CCP:

    China ends fun experiment with capitalism

    CHINA is to return to full-scale communism after realising capitalism is not really its ‘bag’.

    As the value of the country’s economy was reduced to £124, the Chinese government ordered its 1.4 billion citizens to return their Volvos and iPhones.

    President Xi Jinping said: “Well, that didn’t work.

    “It was worth a try, but it seems that Chairman Mao was right. Completely insane, but, in his own way, also very wise.

    “When you’ve got this many people it’s best to keep things simple. Which means bicycles, grey uniforms and and forcing the proletariat to build enormous dams.”

    President Xi said the end of Chinese capitalism would mean no more pop music or fizzy drinks, but stressed the next dam would be so gigantic that no-one would care about shopping.

    He added: “And for you guys in the west, it also means you can stop worrying about China taking over the world. At least not in an economic sense anyway.”

    Meanwhile, America and the UK are to stick with capitalism after experts confirmed that Saturday afternoon at a retail park is as good as it gets.

  15. Qian Jin says:

    @PD:”And if the imperial mandate is still as strong as ever, why not prove it, through elections?”

    because Western style “democracy” would fail and split the nation, just as it has failed in all the African and M.East states where the West has foolishly tried to impose it by bombing and killing people. Democracy is also failing parts of Europe and USA because elections are too easily bought by the corrupt elite. The British “Disunited Kingdom” is nearing the verge of split because the “moderate” left has been corrupted and bought.
    Only the French have managed quite well to keep their poor and working class reasonably represented in parliament but even they like their periodic revolutions, so they man those barricades and “Hear the People Sing”.

    USA’s plan is to neutralize China’s growing economic and military strength with “democracy” which would disunite the nation. USA will fail to meet its objective.
    Thus said the Lord! Amen; Hail Mary ; Allahu Akbar ……. or whatever superstition turns you on.

  16. Yoyo the yodeling yokel from Yonkers says:

    “…..their poor and working class reasonably represented ….”

    Or not represented at all. Like in the Glorious Motherland.

  17. Nimby says:

    Linebarger would certainly agree about the tendency of Chinese ever toward anarchy, cliques, infighting and weak central government. Xi may well be a last gasp, but the rotting corpse will breed a lot of vermin.

  18. Re the USA causing China’s stock market crash, I must have missed the speech by President Obama in which he told the Chinese masses to borrow money recklessly in order to buy overpriced shares in companies overburdened with debt on the false assumption that the market would keep rising indefinitely.

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