Slight dash of original thinking detected

(By ‘slight’, we mean ‘sub-atomic particle-like’.) Michael Tien – a pro-establishment tycoon-scion with a slight dash of original-thinking maverick – comes up with an idea on how to control the costs of former Chief Executives’ secretariats. He suggests that only the previous three should qualify for the pricy perk – so the government need pay only for the old house on Kennedy Road. In practice, that would mean ejecting Tung Chee-hwa’s office and moving Carrie Lam’s in from Pacific Place. 

A fairly simple (elegant?) solution, if hardly radical. Another option would be to merge concierge services so all ex-CE’s share the same facility. Or just scrap the whole pretentious thing (what do former mayors of London or New York get?). But a C-plus for effort.

I have a ‘mega-event’ tomorrow morning – namely a root canal. So some early weekend reading…

From Bloomberg (possibly paywalled) – Xi Jinping faces the challenge of governing a post-boom China…

Almost a third of office workers saw their salaries fall last year according to recruitment platform Zhaopin. From property to technology and finance, white-collar Chinese have taken a hit from the government’s campaign to rein in excesses.

Business surveys show factories and offices more focused on redundancies than recruitment, and numbers from the People’s Bank of China show the public is pessimistic about future earnings.

On household wealth the picture is even bleaker. The bulk of it is held in real estate, and property markets have been in a slow-motion collapse, with apartments in some cities losing half of their value since the 2021 peak. Chinese stocks are down more than a third over the same period.

“Xi is constrained by the context that he inherited,” said Yuen Yuen Ang, a professor of political economy at Johns Hopkins University.

A real estate bubble, overcapacity in industries, high debt and a low fertility rate are all major imbalances that China’s current leadership didn’t cause but are now forced to confront.

National Interest on how China is extending gray-zone tactics into the US…

The U.S. Director of National Intelligence notes “growing [PRC] efforts to actively exploit perceived U.S. societal divisions,” by which “The PRC aims to sow doubts about U.S. leadership [and] undermine democracy.”

According to Clint Watts, general manager of Microsoft’s Threat Analysis Center, “More recently, [PRC government] efforts have shifted to exploiting existing partisan divides in the U.S.,” including “the Chinese actually going into U.S. audience spaces, masquerading as Americans, and posting inflammatory content around current events or social issues or political issues.”

A report by Microsoft published in April 2024 found efforts by the PRC to “spread conspiratorial narratives on multiple social media platforms.” As an example, these posts said the deadly August 2023 wildfires in Maui, Hawaii, resulted from the U.S. military testing a “weather weapon.” Chinese-linked accounts also published speculation that the U.S. government caused the derailment of a train in Kentucky in November 2023 and was “hiding something” in the aftermath. Microsoft concluded that the apparent objective of such posts is “encouraging mistrust of and disillusionment with the U.S. government.”

In the FT, a graphics-heavy survey of the balance of military power in a potential China vs US/Taiwan/Japan/Philippines war.

China Media Project describes how China’s state media are ‘spitting fire’ over the new President of Taiwan…

In a commentary on Lai’s speech posted online shortly after midnight today, China’s official Xinhua News Agency painted a portrait of Lai as a vocal proponent of what it called “the separatist fallacy of ‘Taiwan independence.’” In typical fashion, the headline — which included the fiery reference above — referred to Lai only as “the regional leader of Taiwan” (台湾地区领导人), emphasizing China’s claims to sovereignty over the islands.

Line by line, the Xinhua commentary dissected Lai’s speech, exposing what it claimed to be deceitful and separatist undertones, and responded with emotive and polemical attacks. Lai, it said, was a “worker for Taiwan independence” (台独工作者); a “troublemaker” (麻烦制造者). According to the news agency, his speech was “a naked confession of Taiwan independence.”

Lai’s message of peace and mutual prosperity was brushed aside. “The hope for cross-strait dialogue, exchanges, and cooperation is false,” said the Xinhua commentary, “and the continued deterioration of cross-strait relations is true.”  The article urged the Taiwanese to oppose independence and support unification.

With even harsher language, the Cross-Straits Voices channel of the CCP’s official China Media Group (CMG) adopted an adversarial tone. In the face of efforts toward Taiwan’s independence, it said, “peace in the Taiwan Strait is like fire and water” (台海和平水火不容).

This is relatively mild. While we’re at it, the SCMP’s ever-moronic Alex Lo writes

Now in office, Lai is not even hiding his secessionism, which necessarily requires the American militarisation of the island, with all its terrible implications for the Taiwanese, as well as threatening a wider regional conflict. The DPP risks turning the island into an existential military threat to the mainland on behalf of the US. In doing so, it’s painting a big target on itself.

They are exchanging relative autonomy for vassal status under Uncle Sam. In this grand US design of China containment, a cross-strait conflict will only be a piece of the puzzle for Washington, but it will be the “be all and end all” for Chinese people. Of course the Americans are cheering on Taiwan.

(None of these commentaries ever mention the preferences of the Taiwan people, as if they are somehow irrelevant or non-existent.)

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8 Responses to Slight dash of original thinking detected

  1. Din Dan Che says:

    Amazing how Alex Loathsome shifted from being sadomasochist to “master strategist”.

  2. Mark Bradley says:

    “They are exchanging relative autonomy for vassal status under Uncle Sam.”

    Alex Lo really is an idiot. Taiwanese actually get to vote for their leadership in free elections with open nominations unlike here in HK where every election is now rigged at the nomination level. It is plainly obvious that there would be more real autonomy with an American alliance than under the Chinese “one country, two systems” model that they keep pretending is still real but in reality is top-down domination.

    And that blowhard cunt still lives in Canada.

  3. Mary Melville says:

    Is Mickey a follower of this blog?
    A few weeks ago I proposed that a process of natural attrition be applied to the ExCEr’s digs to prevent expenditure from soaring.
    Tung has not been seen in public for many years and no longer participates in public life.
    Carrie should have been assigned his space.

  4. Knownot says:

    For some reason I was unable to post this last weekend.
    – – – – – – – –

    “Google blocks 32 versions of protest song”
    – HK Free Press, May15

    I went to see the doctor

    I went to see the doctor
    And told him I was ill:
    Poignant notes of music
    Are tantalising still.
    Looking sad and sombre,
    He tested both my ears
    And said, “The diagnosis
    Confirms my deepest fears.”

    I went to see the doctor
    And told him I was sick.
    He said, “You know I warned you
    About the dangerous click.
    It’s foreign and subversive,
    Poisonous, impure.
    How can we be healthy
    If we are not secure?”

    I went to see the doctor.
    “I cannot understand
    Why the poignant music
    Is on a sudden banned.”
    Looking sad and sombre
    He tested both my ears.
    “You’d better learn to sing
    ‘The March of Volunteers’.”

  5. HK-Cynic says:

    “Xi is constrained by the context that he inherited,” said Yuen Yuen Ang, a professor of political economy at Johns Hopkins University.

    “Inherited”? Xi has been in power for nearly a dozen years – but it is only now that it is his predecessor’s fault?


  6. MeKnowNothing says:

    “Xi has been in power for nearly a dozen years – but it is only now that it is his predecessor’s fault?”

    The finger ALWAYS points somewhere else. Like the scientifically-proven superior zero COVID BS, just you watch – General-Secretary He-Who-Has-Thought-of-Everything will have somebody else thrown under a bus for cocking up the implementation of His policies of perfection.

  7. justsayin says:

    the last line… brilliant

  8. Reactor #4 says:

    I am pretty sure that all “master strategists” are sadomasochists. Actually, it just dawned on me that the two are an anagram.

    The fun thing about right-now Taiwan are the divisions the newly installed leader is causing/revealing in his province. There seem to be a heck of a lot of unhappy campers. Could civil unrest follow?

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