The West: behind the times


Snatching one Swedish national and forcing a phony-sounding confession out of him doesn’t look great; doing it to two looks plain nasty. Not content with abducting Hong Kong publisher Gui Minhai and parading him on TV, Chinese authorities have arrested SCMP-StateSecNGO activist Peter Dahlin and wrung an ‘apology’ out of him for helping people ‘called “lawyers”’. Officials in Stockholm are politely asking China about their two citizens, and apparently hoping for the best. The UK is taking the same tepid approach to Beijing over another kidnapped Hong Kong publisher, British national Lee Bo.

Some 15 to 20 years ago, mildly observant and averagely prescient Hong Kong people noted the huge and growing surge of investment into and exports out of Mainland China as the country’s economy bounced back with a vengeance after the lost Maoist decades up to the late 1970s. The risk-to-reward ratios were once-in-a-lifetime. We put our savings into amazingly underpriced Chinese companies being listed on the local stock market and saw returns of 500% or 1,000% in five-to-10-year spans.

It was a one-off historic opportunity for those of us lucky enough to be in the right place at PetrochinaChartthe right time. By the mid-2000s or so, China’s dramatic return to economic normality had run its course. Now, 10 years further on, the country is in trouble. The Communist regime faces a stark choice: relax its grip to let the economy grow, or tighten its grip to keep itself in power. The place is too big to fail, so we all vaguely assume they will find some middle way and wing it – though damned if we can see how, exactly. Meanwhile, Xi Jinping is re-establishing a dictatorship, as Swedes and others are finding out.

But news travels slowly. In Europe, they have only just heard of this thing called the Great Chinese Miracle Stratospheric Rise Story. To the UK, Sweden and the rest of the West, it is still the 1990s and the big boom is just starting to take off. So besotted are they with the mythical riches bound to flow from China that they feel a need to indulge in the most cringe-making pre-emptive kowtows.

Western policymakers probably see Beijing’s rogue behaviour – like kidnapping their own citizens – as an unfortunate but soon-to-pass phase that China is going through in its dazzling emergence as World’s Number-One Economic Power. They don’t realize that the clampdown on human rights (and media/academia/civil society/etc) is the direct result of, and response to, the end of the economic ‘miracle’. This is a corrupt regime fighting to survive. You don’t need to grovel to it. (At least with the Saudis you get some oil.)

As China does as it pleases with Swedish and British passport-holders, democratic Taiwan overwhelmingly votes for a Western-educated, reformist, progressive and pluralist leader. The West’s response? Implicitly criticize the Taiwanese for inconveniencing Beijing. Tut-tut at them for disrupting the Communists’ plan to absorb and crush their free society. Warn them, as the obvious troublemakers in all this, not to provoke China into ramping up the military threat.

Maybe in 10 years or so, the news will reach the West: the Big Wonderful Taking-Over-the-World Exploding Chinese Inevitable thing is over.

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17 Responses to The West: behind the times

  1. Bear says:

    (At least with the Saudis you get some oil.)

    Loved this. Great blog.

  2. Chinese Netizen says:

    Beautifully wrapped up, in a nutshell, yet again. Thank YOU, sir!

  3. If you are worried about disappearing, consult your doctor.

    As he is Swedish, is he suffering from Stockholm syndrome already?

    I’m still waiting for news of a habeas corpus writ to be filed with the High Court. The Hong Kong police were in on it after all.

  4. Joe Blow says:

    Uh oh, Hang Seng tanking big time.

    “Honey, where did you put those Canadian passports ?”.

  5. Joe

    A surge is when it goes up two points. Anything else is a correction caused by global sell-offs.

    Incidentally, if you reply using my surname, you must also use my title.

  6. stanley says:

    Dr. Blow……?

  7. Henry says:

    I thought George Adams had f**ked off permanently. I see he’s back hi-jacking other peoples blogs again. Can we sign a petition or something?

  8. Cassowary says:

    So, western governments kiss up to authoritarian regimes out of convenience. Whoop dee do, what else is new? A slowing and stumbling China still makes all the damn iPhones.

  9. pyro pat says:

    clicking on the kowtow link, I cant say that either Lillibet or her future replacement look remotely happy about sandwiching the nasty piece of work in the middle…….

  10. Inspired says:

    @Enid Denning

    Apparently the Stockholm Syndrome has spread from Dahlin to the majority of China’s populace. The WHO should be informed of this…

  11. Joe Blow says:

    Dear Enid,

    if you insist on being addressed by your title, than so do I. The Hon. Joe, The Laird of Camster. Although this title was properly bestowed on me, it can be bought for very little money. Just like yours.

  12. Cassowary says:

    The emperor is not only naked, he’s streaking down the road, cackling gleefully, jiggling his meat-and-two-veg at old ladies and farting in the faces or small children, and still everybody smiles politely and says “nice suit, your majesty”. Nobody is expected to believe the lies. They’re being tested on their willingness defer to Beijing, no matter how outrageous its behaviour.

  13. Red Dragon says:


    Count yourself lucky that people deign to use your surname.

    There are plenty in Hong Kong who speak of you in pithier epithets.

    Any particular reason why you’ve started to haunt the Big Lychee? No-one but yourself reading your own lame offerings, I assume.

    By the by, today’s post was a corker, Hemmers. Bang on the money.

  14. Monkey the Unborn says:

    On a contrarian note… (and it goes without saying I am no fan of the CCP’s political expression of its monopoly of violence through a reality denial syndrome of Kafkaesque proportions).

    However, I do believe some of the commenters, and perhaps even Mr. Hemlock himself, view Western Governments through a somewhat unrealistic and outdated prism as well, in particular relation to the corporatist and fascist structures that are becoming more widespread and more deeply institutionalised, especially since 2001.

    Have you collectively never heard of the deep state?

    Do you believe that the economic and political rights of average Greek citizens are protected by its own democratically elected government, or the pseudo-democractic EU legislature?

    Are you unaware of the NSA’s and the “five-eyes” intelligence agencies capabilities to exploit all digital devices to capture private, protected personal information?

    The existence of no-fly lists and the classification of anti-establishment activists as “terrorists” in the US?

    The suspension of constitutional rights and due process in a huge quantity of incidents related to political dissidence in the US (e.g. Aaron Schwarts of anti-SOPA fame)?

    The capture of public wealth enacted via various QE to infinity money printing programs and their inherent, open, obvious, outright and in many cases illegal monetisation of state debt, facilitated through the intersection of super-wealthy families, incompetent or intentionally fraudulent financial regulators, and the banking sector (all post-2008 TBTF banks are now bigger and the global financial system is now even more vulnerable to systemic crash due to TBTF bank failure …).

    The documented links between Western intelligence agencies and Sunni insurgent groups, including Al Qaeda and ISIS, whose attacks against Western (and recently Eastern countries) are being used to justify an aggressive attack on citizen liberties in multiple jurisdictions around the world?

    The extremely dodgy suicides of a number of political activists (hello again Aaron Schwartz), various other anti-government agitators or “truth-seekers/tellers” (not to mention the suicide by nail gun and various other extremely strange suicides and murders related to the international forex trading businesses last year?)

    Have you never considered that perhaps, just perhaps, the current Chinese regime is an incubator of a new standard in state-corporate fascism, and the elites of the West, instead of being ignorant of the true state of affairs in China (a hypothesis of Hemlock’s that i see no great evidence set for, beyond pap fed to the many by the mainstream media), are in fact deeply enamoured of the sociopolitical model and state-aligned corporate fascism, and are expediting their best (and fortunately – for the citizens of Western nations – somewhat incompetent) attempts to create the necessary social and political conditions to implement a similar program of political and social control?

    Demonisation of the Communist Party and the PRC through a “West is the best” lens buys into the false narrative that we only have two choices, a co-opted and corrupted liberal democratic model (who do you vote for in the US if you are against bombing the brown people in the ME and North Africa again?) and a neo-Stalinist system, both of which are defined by strong corporate and increasingly fascist characteristics – in other words, a heads you lose, tails I win kind of choice.

    There are other choices, and buying into that narrative only serves the interests of a very powerful group of particular individuals.

    Our future is defined by our choices. Our perception of our choices is in truth determined by self-awareness of ourselves as interconnected parts of a greater whole – whether you wish to wax spiritual about unity, or merely accept that our collective future as a species depends upon our capability to co-operate and collaborate as human beings first, and as a member of our race / religion / gender second.

    The CCPD isnt the only propaganda organ that is extant in the modern world; it is however the most obvious, and the least effective.

  15. Qian Jin says:

    @The UK is taking the same tepid approach to Beijing over another kidnapped Hong Kong publisher, British national Lee Bo. ”

    Would Lee be a REAL British national or a third-class Hong Kong BNO passport holder denied access through UK/EU entry lanes at British ports?

    Even foreign nationals from selected ‘white Christian’ countries may now walk speedily through these controls without landing cards. As if Britain cares a xxxx about ethical treatment of any Chinese (British or not) with their still lingering Victorian fear of the ‘yellow peril’.

  16. PCC says:

    “Nothing good happens in a bar after 1:00 a.m.” – nor in an online comments section.

  17. tk says:

    the problem when you’re so vehemently against something/someone, is that you often use such nonsense: “Maybe in 10 years or so, the news will reach the West: the Big Wonderful Taking-Over-the-World Exploding Chinese Inevitable thing is over” to detract from the overall reliability of your article.

    the author seems to think that a boom/economic re-awakening is only so when people can make a killing as the country goes through the 100-10’000 gdp per capita phase. he seems to be ignorant of what comes next…. either that or he misunderstands potential economic growth…

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