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The China Cultural Clash (stratechery.com)
660 points by hype7 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 355 comments





Attempts by China to leverage market access into self-censorship by U.S. companies should also be treated as trade violations that are subject to retaliation.

Thank you, Ben, for this honest appraisal which involves sticking out your neck and perhaps even harming your ability to travel to China or expand your business.

Regarding this comment about Apple:

And then there is Apple: the company is deeply exposed to China both in terms of sales and especially when it comes to manufacturing. The reality is that, particularly when it comes to the latter, Apple doesn’t have anywhere else to go.

That may be true of manufacturing now, but will it be true 5 years from now? Surely Cook et al saw the writing on the wall years ago when it articulated some of its core values around privacy. Conflict is inevitable, and the risk associated with having all your manufacturing eggs in one basket is too great. We saw the announcement of Apple's manufacturing initiative in Texas, and there are other locations for electronics sourcing and assembly throughout Asia. How much of Apple's supply chain could be relocated elsewhere?


Note that Cook became CEO because of his logistics and operations work in China, so there is a lot of legacy to go on.

Apple assembles iPhones in Brazil and I believe India now, but these are mostly for high tariff reasons. Much of what goes into an iPhone isn’t made in china (and what is made in China can easily be made elsewhere), but they are mostly made in east Asia, so having assembly done somewhere in the region. Apple could always go to Taiwan (labor is more expensive, but they could maybe rely on automation more) or Vietnam. However, whatever they would do would cost them, a cost they could pay if needed but probably not one they want to pay right now.


> Taiwan (labor is more expensive, but they could maybe rely on automation more)

A few years ago, I was surprised to learn that Taiwan actually has low-cost but high-end (university-educated) labor. Ph.D. graduates abound.

It is an advanced economy yet wages are surprisingly low due to its export-focused strategy and various other structural causes. Cost of living in Taiwan also appears to be pretty low, which makes low wages bearable. It is a low-growth economy and it doesn't have the glitziness of Hong Kong, but everything feels 1st world (clean, technically advanced, efficient) so I'm not sure how the balance sheet there actually works out.

(that said, I understand many recent TW graduates tend to seek their fortunes in mainland China, where the pay is better.)


> A few years ago, I was surprised to learn that Taiwan actually has low-cost but high-end (university-educated) labor. Ph.D. graduates abound.

Considering that TSMC is the only 7nm fab lab in large scale operation, I'm not surprised.

TSMC, and Taiwan, have always been on the cutting edge, and have even out-competed the US recently (Intel getting stuck at 12nm, GloFo giving up the race entirely).

The USA needs to give a good, long, look at what Taiwan is doing and needs to wonder how we lost our chip supremacy to them. I hold no malice against them... they just did it better than we did. Fair and square. #2 in the race btw, is probably going to be Samsung (South Korea). Intel is "almost done" with 10nm (which should be competitive vs Samsung/TSMC 7nm), but they're definitely lagging behind.


Having worked in the semiconductor industry from 1989-2004, I can speak to this a little. TSMC basically invented the model of manufacturing semiconductors for design shops, at scale. They could economically turn out small-scale runs at cutting-edge geometries, and were willing and able to work with small design shops (many in the U.S.) to do it.

It was described at the time as "out-sourcing your design and sales". Companies that could not get behemoths like Intel or National Semiconductor or T.I. or the like to manufacture for them, who also couldn't afford to build and run a modern semiconductor fab, could get competitive manufacturing of their designs done. It was a brilliant strategy, and it allowed them to be less dependent on any one design working/selling well, since they had many different companies competing to fill their factories for them.


It's actually quite a constant problem I hear from friends in Taiwan. This low pay even in jobs that require uni-educ really pushes them to seek employment elsewhere.

Now what nearby place needs highly skilled labor in exactly the areas Taiwan is very proficient at? Shenzhen is just around the corner.

Of course there is a still a huge cultural disparity of going to mainland china. But money is a strong motivator to change your values.


Some additional thoughts about why Taiwan has low wages:

https://www.quora.com/Why-has-salary-growth-stagnated-in-Tai...


> Much of what goes into an iPhone isn’t made in china (and what is made in China can easily be made elsewhere), but they are mostly made in east Asia,

For the last years a lot of Apple's supply chain companies were getting visits from their Chinese C-level, with a question if they can think of relocation somewhere else. It's not a secret at all in SZ that Apple is leaving, and not only mainland China, but possibly Foxconn as well. For that reason, it's said that Foxconn now tries to lure them back to Taiwan with "incredible offers."

I know a fair lot of engineers working in both Foxconn plant, as well as Apple itself. It's funny to hear that it would be a company like Apple who would completely ignore the risk of supply chain dependence. From what I heard, for the last 10 years, Apple didn't do anything, but hope for bad things to not to happen.

Their screen glass, a surprisingly high tech product, is made in China by an American company. Their PCB's are locally made. Bodywork and plastics has been outsourced by them since Iphone 4. Some passives are made locally, some come from Taiwan. Most importantly, a point Apple doesn't like to be public about, is that they heavily rely on outsourced and captive engineering in China.


But they don't own any factories, right? Wouldn't it destroy Foxconn and only defer revenue a bit for Apple?

Maybe a few people who just gotta have the newest, latest, and greatest gadget will switch to a Flagship android because they can't wait for the new iPhone. But most people are pretty loyal / trapped into their mobile ecosystem.

I doubt it would materially affect Apple's market share or their revenue long-term. Isn't the entire manufacturing cost of an iPhone $9? Even if it doubled, their profit on iPhones would only drop by like 5%...

I think their latest pricing experiments have shown that there really is a limit to how much people will pay for a new iPhone, and they've found it, so I don't think they could pass the price onto the consumer. But it's only $10 on a $900 phone...


> Wouldn't it destroy Foxconn and only defer revenue a bit for Apple?

They might not even have to do that... from what I understand, they are working with Foxconn to move some production out of China. Both companies can benefit from spreading some of the political risk around.


> But they don't own any factories, right? Wouldn't it destroy Foxconn and only defer revenue a bit for Apple?

Do you realise that there would be no shortage of customers for them in China after Apple leaves? The biggest problem as I wrote in a post below is that Apple may leave China, but Foxconn can not. It will still have an absolutely mammoth manufacturing capacity that will be sold to Apple's competitors the moment they leave.

The biggest shock to me in recent days was seeing an advertisement for a humongous amounts of manufacturing machinery being pretty much liquidated by Foxconn. With the amount of stuff being sold, it can possibly be a double digit of Iphone production capacity.


Foxconn still runs the Apple factories in Brazil and India for Apple, so it might not be that bad for them.

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/hardware/foxconn-i... https://www.cultofmac.com/131295/a-visit-to-foxconns-not-so-...


Apple would still have to find and build a relationship with a new assembly partner, that would cost a lot of money and most likely have some quality missteps along the way as the new partner trains employees and sets up quality control. That would take several months to a year to iron out all the kinks and in the mean time Apple would have very limited stock.

Logistics and operations! Yes, Apple outsources to Foxconn, but if Foxconn’s expenses go up, they are going to pay for it eventually (and possibly up front).

A few hundred million or even a few billion isn’t going to hurt Apple in the long run, sure, but it will definitely hurt in the short.


Foxconn is Taiwanese company. They could figure something out if push comes to shove.

The manufacturing cost of an iphone is closer to 400 dollars, the cost of manufacturing doubling would be a huge hit to apple.

That is way above its assembly costs, you must be including components also right?

> However, whatever they would do would cost them, a cost they could pay if needed but probably not one they want to pay right now.

Apple probably should pay. They aren't a hardship case and being so dependent on an authoritarian regime isn't a good look right now [1]. Plus geopoltical risk is a thing and it would be smart for them to mitigate it.

[1] I have the world's smallest violin right here if they want to complain about screw manufacturing again. Didn't they setup all kinds of specialized factories in China already? They can build all the a screw factories they need.


I keep thinking, with the level of (superpower conflict) risk we're talking about here, Taiwan certainly, and Vietnam probably, are not far enough away from China to be safe.

Right, if the region goes to hell, then that would disrupt everything for a decade or so until all the component manufacturers could be replicated elsewhere.

you are right, but apple has enough cash at their hand to buy a few foxconn companies, so if they want, they can invest it in a way that's gonna secure them from political difficulties, the main issue is that Chinese labor/manufacture market goes in package with domestic market, apple can't manufacture iphones in others countries and keep selling in china, they would be banned, so until they are ready to stop selling their iphones to Chinese citizens, they will have to manufacture iphones for the whole world there(with exceptions, but still)

> That may be true of manufacturing now, but will it be true 5 years from now?

Not even a wildest guess can tell now. As for Vietnam, it's the closes substitute.

Demographically, Vietnam is incomparably better off than China. On the level of technical capability it's late nineties China. The few manufacturers venture there only for abundant skilled workforce. Big players like Foxconn and Samsung can build entire cities housing a big part of the supply chain inside, but I don't see even Samsung being that committed at the moment. Samsung's plant in Vietnam imports all components, assemblies and etc, from outside, including Samsung parts factories in China.

A lot of young bright Vietnamese are travelling for work to... China — something unimaginable even 10 years ago. In SZ, there is a serious talk going on about China importing foreign workforce by millions — again, something unthinkable 10 years ago.

The biggest appeal of China as a manufacturing destination now is its domestic industry, not Foxconn and Flextronics megaplants.

To get manufacturing appeal, Vietnam will need at foremost develop its domestic manufacturing — and that's easier said than done, in comparison to just inviting Foxconn and have them do everything for you.

To the point above, there is quite a twist now: more and more Chinese manufacturing SMEs are migrating to Vietnam, along with their customers. Even though, they outright loose cost wise, they believe that Vietnam is a better bet on demographics, and immediate gain from "trade war refugees'" clients is big enough for now.


Seeing how Vietnam is also controlled by a single authoritarian party, couldn't it end up the same as china eventually?

Vietnam is too small to go it alone, and that insecurity means that they are more aggressive about integrating themselves into the world economy, and making allies with the west (as a counter to China, ironically).

As China has become increasingly nationalistic, xenophobic, etc recently (foreigners in China are seeing more and more hostility and visits by cops, and minders that follow them and keep tabs) they've been taking their business opportunities to Vietnam, etc. Apple should work to do the same.

US companies need to leave China and other totalitarian states. Our doing business with them just prolongs the suffering of their citizens. Or maybe we should help overthrow evil governments.

Oh boy haven't we learned anything in the past 80 years of doing just that?

That's true and unfortunate. I wish that didn't happen. But you don't know the root cause: Westerner who are mostly activists with irrational feeling that they have better "value" and interpret the Chinese behaviour in their own cultish belief systme caused the reaction which is also irrational.

Good part is (ironically) China won't lost control because of its one party system. It's also powerful enougth that US and Western countries can not bomb it like they did in Middle East.


So if a Westerner to criticize anything in China that needs improvement, they need the cops and minders to follow them around? Even stuff that Chinese themselves criticize, like the baby formula scandal, if done by a Westerner, sets off 'glass heart' feelings.

>but will it be true 5 years from now?

Yes. Apple is never going to leave China. They've already expanded assembly to other countries like Brazil and India to get around protectionist barriers, but there's never going to be a time in the next 5 or 10 years where no assembly takes place in China. The scale Apple is operating at is just too big. And just like Brazil or India, China can implement its own protectionist barriers at any time so there'd still be a reason to do assembly locally.


> Apple doesn’t have anywhere else to go.

Apple doesn’t have anywhere to go is a comment on the consumer market, not manufacturing. They are heavily dependent on revenue from China.


China is moving away from manufacturing, into services and consumption, granted it would be forward looking to be finding other avenues, switching a game up. Just like in old time, ipod mini was growing some competition, it was cancelled and nano was created, delegitimizing competition. Whether there is a foresight for that is the question.

>>Cook et al saw the writing on the wall years ago

exactly, i've read somewhere that they are trying to move further to south/south east Asia, like India , Philippines etc..


> but will it be true 5 years from now?

It will most definitely be true 5 years from now. It may not be true 15 years from now if Apple start investing heavily elsewhere today.


As far as I know China has done little to threaten it's status as the world's manufacturer, anyone can build there. It is access to their internal markets that they've used as leverage. For example Google is not allowed to sell their products to their internal markets but they are allowed to manufacture their devices there without problems.

But Samsung factory has left China. And more other factories have left China as well. Yeah anyone can build there but fewer and fewer are willing to. That may be true for the trend from now on.

Just a way to force other countries to open to color revolution attack? That's very naive thoughts. What happened in Middle East and East Europa already educated Chinese.

However westners themselves are not aware of the issue. They believe that's a human rights and freedom of speech issue.


It's frustrating to see people say that we shouldn't fight Chinese economic imperialism, mercantilism, and protectionism because we should support free trade.

Free trade is a two way street. If a trading partner is engaging in unfair practices then it's reasonable to support sanctions and tariffs and other means to get them to stop, even if you're a free trade supporter.

In fact this is the whole premise of the WTO, which supports free trade. If you don't engage in free trade, you get slapped with tariffs.


Free trade works so long as you are the economic hegemon. After the Napoleonic Wars, Britain was the strongest economic power and championed free trade until the 1870s. Then German and French manufacturing, US and Argentinian agriculture competed favorably with British manufacturers and landowners and free trade was not so popular in the run up to WW I.

Similarly, after WW II, the US was dominant and free trade served us well. However, as other nations develop their competitive advantages, free trade is not so popular in the US.


If that were true, the US would treat Europe as even bigger an enemy than China.

The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with the EU was $109 billion in 2018. The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with China was $378.6 billion in 2018.

The US certainly has little interest on a strong united EU. But there are a lot more factors at play. Like having military bases there. And generally a lot more soft power / cultural influence. Still, do you remember the US announcing tariffs on car imports?

The US has used groups like NATO and the G7 to ensure that no European power would challenge US hegemony.

The UK has long[1] been seen as the America's cat's paw/poodle in the EU[2] - which is why some in the EU are of the idea that Brexit's silver lining is the end of British obstructionism.

1. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/is-the-prime-minister-a-p...

2. https://www.economist.com/bagehots-notebook/2010/07/23/brita...


If your trade partner isn’t practicing as much free trade as you are, but you are still making money on trade hand over fist, then it isn’t very much in your interest to fight what is still a golden goose to you.

The only reason this fight has come at all is because of a bunch of displaced factory workers (and areas that did manufacturing) that have been hurt by this trade, and their government had failed to redistribute any of the eggs from the golden goose to them.


> The only reason this fight has come at all is because of a bunch of displaced factory workers (and areas that did manufacturing) that have been hurt by this trade...

As a layperson watching from the sidelines in the software world, but fascinated by welding, electrical/electronics, mechanical engineering, CNC, machining, etc., it is incomprehensible to me why US business leaders would so willingly cede manufacturing to competitors (Chinese in this thread's context, but could be anyone really, even within the same nation). As a dilettante, I'm seeing parallels in manufacturing to what I experience in software, but maybe I'm just not seeing what those leaders see, so perhaps someone can help clear up my misunderstanding.

To think you can divorce yourself cleanly from manufacturing and adopt a "throw it over the fence" mentality, and expect to maintain industry leadership, seems to me as misguided as thinking you can divorce yourself from coding and operational support as a software company, "throw it over the fence", and expect to stay a software leader. That might work for one or three iterations of product lifecycles over a few decades, but there are crucial insights into customer needs and market directions that come about from knowing about what those trenches deal with, that disappear in the fenced-off abstraction layer. You gradually disconnect from your market, your sales and marketing teams lose a critically-grounded, no-bullshit feedback loop from those areas, you lose understanding of the complexities to properly analyze the business problems, you lose metrics those areas gather to inform sales and marketing analytics.

Maybe all those factors simply don't matter, or I'm simply wrong about them being factors at all in manufacturing business? In which case, I put on my value investor's hat and ask, what precisely is the defensible moat about giving up in-house manufacturing knowledge (and often accompanying core support functions) and only specializing in design, sales, and marketing for a manufacturer? I've never been able to figure that one out, either. Seems to me in-house manufacturing secrets are easier to come up with (see Japanese electrolytic caps) and protect than this year's trends and important customer segments, but again, I'm just a layperson, so I'm just left wondering what I'm missing.


They didn’t abandon all manufacturing, just low level unskilled dirty manufacturing. American business people were happy to up the value chain to more technical stuff as well as more technical services. And actually, we have to move up this value chain anyways to justify our higher standard of living.

America still has a lock on a lot of technical know how that will take the Chinese decades to replicate (eg semi conductor and jet turbine production).


>And actually, we have to move up this value chain anyways to justify our higher standard of living.

This is the part that makes absolutely no sense to me. The farther you move up this value chain, the fewer and fewer people you can find that can actually do those jobs. They require advanced degrees and highly technical specialization and experience. Not everyone can do that. Unless you have a parallel plan to, perhaps magically, mint more and more PhDs every year what is everyone else supposed to do who was just a "low level unskilled dirty manufacturing" worker?

>American business people were happy to...

You're sure right about that! I think what people are questioning is if, as a state and society, that was a long-term good strategic choice. For the bottomline it absolutely was - for those businessmen and their company's earnings reports.


> The farther you move up this value chain, the fewer and fewer people you can find that can actually do those jobs.

Yep. But that is a problem better solved via some kind of wealth redistribution, rather than maintaining low value jobs that couldn’t pay enough to keep up anyways. China was just the first thing to suck away low value jobs, eventually automation will be much much worse.


You mean, the jobs that could support a family on a single income?

Those jobs?

It's a unique aspect of tech-people that the disappearance of a class of work that was actually able to support people at a reasonable standard of living is cause for advocacy of "more wealth redistribution, please". Where I come from this is viewed as both naive and insulting. I don't mean to imply you were trying to come across that way - but realize that it can. "Look I know we took your dirty disgusting low skilled manufacturing job and shipped it overseas ... but here's a welfare check from Uncle Sam" has not exactly done well as a political strategy for the last few election cycles.


Your choice of using tariffs to keep the rubber dog poop factory jobs in America eventually fails because they’ll just be away automated anyways. Trump-style protectionism doesn’t make the problem go away because it is ultimately one of a huge value gap. And this is why his tariffs have closed factories rather than actually helped them.

If capital continues to become much more valuable than labor (via robotics, automation, etc...), then eventually we have to decide what to do with all the obsolete humans who we don’t need labor from anymore. We can hand them welfare checks, give them a basic income, have them do pointless jobs (eg move dirt back and forth, or make rubber dog poop that doesn’t justify their paychecks), or...just throw them away. Some of those choices are more moral than the others.


"rubber dog poop factory jobs"? Well, at least you're making your contempt for blue collar labor obvious.

You're just wrong about tariffs closing factories. Some factories have closed (and the media makes sure we all know about those), but more have opened (and the media never tells us about those), and in total the number of manufacturing jobs in the US has increased since Trump's tariffs.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MANEMP


> ...just low level unskilled dirty manufacturing.

Okay, odds are good that as a manufacturing layperson, I'm just a dummy for not seeing this, but the "climb up the value ladder" implementation in American business has never made sense to me. Especially with automation.

Here is how I see it as a value investor, so please tell me where I'm wrong.

"Climb up the value ladder, and let someone else occupy all those pesky 'low-value' rungs."

That's what I see many American management subscribe to. The part I didn't understand: those rungs are your "innovation feedstock", the raw material if you will, where you find your next innovation iterations. It's like saying, "meh, I'll let someone else deal with those pesky metallurgy details, and churn out jet turbines with the latest in metallurgy advances". It's a belief that innovation is a "home-run", "big bang" phenomena, and not Edison's "99% perspiration", daily grind-it-out, fight-for-every-inch iteration, that sometimes accretes into an edifice taken as a whole that is only much later celebrated as an "overnight success". If I rely upon general metallurgy advances to inform my design team of what's metallurgic-ally possible, then aren't my competitors availed of the exact same advances at the same time? Whereas, if I have my engineers, materials scientists, and "dirty" forging plant workers come together, asking themselves, "if we need a turbine that has these qualities, it must have a metal with those properties, then what will it take to come up with the materials science and forging techniques to reach that design goal", that's a trade secret that no trivial or even modest amount of reverse engineering is going to ever reveal.

It certainly has been this way for me personally in software and coding, so maybe I'm mistakenly ascribing and generalizing that experience with high-complexity endeavors to manufacturing. I certainly concede that for investors, the numbers show innovation is best modeled as a home-run, big-bang phenomena, and it doesn't make sense to invest in accretion. That's how the entire VC business model is presented, at least. But startups are a tiny fraction of the overall business universe. The successful stories in startups are the highest growth for sure, and the most exciting-shiny-chrome, but for index-investing boring-but-certain-profits level moats of defensible businesses, I see more opportunities in a model where I vertically integrate the value ladder, so the value ladder strategy is instead stated as:

"Climb up the value ladder, and vertically-integrate the entire value chain to capture all accretion benefits to a value equation greater than the sum of all its parts."

The above was my thinking since the 80's when I first heard about the value ladder approach of abandoning "low-value" rungs, when automation wasn't the big deal it is today. With automation now on everyone's mind, now I'm left wondering if the accretion benefits aren't amplified many-fold: exactly who is positioned with the expertise and knowledge base to actually automate, the organizations doing the manufacturing, or the ones who are focused on design (including "high-end" manufacturing), management, sales, and marketing (DMSM)? The growth during the onrushing automation ramp-up is likely in the automation and not the DMSM activities. If I am only junior-grade with my DMSM but I have figured out automation, then my COGS drops to the floor and I have a window of time during which I plow my profits into learning and getting my DMSM story straight to out-compete conventional DMSM shops, and take over their market niches. That window can be a hell of a long time if that automation is nearly perfectly opaque to outsiders, because it isn't "just" code, but data that drives the automation around machine learning, data that you can't get unless you actually were doing the original manufacturing at scale (ruling out replicating the automation by building a pilot plant, which only yields automation-delivering-unacceptable-quality).


You aren’t wrong at all. It’s just that it was in the short term advantage of a bunch of managers to adopt this mentality at the expense of the long term health of the economy.

Tariffs are totally parts of trading, it’s negotiation on a different layer.

I have an interesting take on this, from knowing a bit about Chinese culture (lived there) and for having friends and coworkers who are Chinese.

Culture in China is about unity. If you look at Chinese history, and if you watch Chinese movies, this is a recurrent theme. Unification through blood and war. This is the goal and China will get stronger and more stable over time. At what cost? Tiananmen, xinjiang, hk, the gfw, and so on... people know about it but are willing to ignore them for the greater goal.

Why this shocks us so much, as non-mainlander, is that our Overton window is much further left (the window of what is considered “normal” or “accepted” public discourse). We have lived through slavery, camps, revolutions for human rights. So there’s definitely a human asymmetry here, which makes it harder for any of us to find common ground.

I don’t think there are much solutions here, and I think that in time Chinese people will learn the same lessons we have learned.

I also think most of their distrust in western media is not because they necessarily disagree with it, but because it doesn’t promote their greater goal. And eventhough they know weibo, wechat, et al. Are heavily censored they continue to obtain their news from there, never ending the cycle.


Isn't the culture more like: There were many attempts to violently force the political union of a large group of people for the ambitions of a warlord, but in the end, it never working out? The provinces have also always acted fairly independently, which is still the case today right?

AFAIK the culture is more like loyalty to your family and village, and "Heaven is high and the emperor is far away". Heck even the languages of china are mutually unintelligible. Maybe in the end, china should split up into several separate countries, like the khmer region split up into thailand, cambodia, laos and vietnam. Maybe it should be split up into beijing-land, shanghai-land, guangzhou-land, tibet and xinjiang-land.


It is impossible to understand Chinese views towards Western values outside of the context of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Century_of_humiliation

If you go back over the last few thousand years, you'll see that every dynasty was overthrown by peasant revolt. It is just a matter of time.

"Culture in China is about unity. If you look at Chinese history, and if you watch Chinese movies, this is a recurrent theme."

This is because the governments (ROC and PRC) deliberately construct and promote this ideology. The idea of Chinese nation 中华民族 did not exists until roughly 100 years ago.


Your comment is not an interesting take at all. But it is incredibly patronising.

The solution is quite simple: mind your own business. Let time and history to tell. China never send army or CIA to overthrow other countries. If the other side don't want to do the business that's fine. Westerner like to spread their values, often with force.

“Mind your own business” the Chinese say while simultaneously getting upset when an individual in their individual capacity says something on an American website banned in China. Is irony not a thing in China?

Posting a picture of Winnie the Pooh gets you jail time in that country, so irony is reduced to things made of metal. They read 1984 and treated is as a manual instead of a warning.

That's not valid argument. The ban is a response to an individual not minding his business but China business. If the indificual say something about himself, your are right. Can you get it?

But the Chinese government only gets upset if some says something they don't like. If they say something positive, there's no issue. And when they get upset, they lash out.

Tyrant, bully, abusive - there are many terms for that sort of relationship. Is it any wonder that someone is upset about it, and advocating that the U.S. gets out of it?


Now we knows what this feels like...

We had a lot of sanction happy presidents and the American population barely bat an eye-lid as millions died from the fallout.

Only thing lost in this case is money, so far.


[flagged]


Please read the site guidelines. Your comment has broken them badly: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

> at worst some sort of astroturfer or Chinese national

That's a slur. Did you really mean it that way? Chinese people are welcome here. What sort of site would this be if they weren't?

People whose first language isn't English are welcome here too. Please don't use HN to attack people who are foreign to you. It's deeply against the values we're trying to practice here.


Apologies, I can't edit the above comment any more, but if I could I would amend it.

My original statement is not intended to be against a Chinese person, but the Chinese Communist Apparatus as it currently stands. I believe healthy suspicion of sudden "devil's advocates" on topics regarding state activities is more important than ever given the alarming trend of governments world-wide using clandestine "grass roots" attacks against free narratives.

I should have left out the final bit to place emphasis on suspicion that the grandparent comment came off as state-sponsored. Then again from reading the guidelines, I shouldn't have gone with the first sentence at all. Sorry.

[Edit] for posterity, I tried to clear things up in a later reply: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21199273


It's ok—honest mistakes are no problem here.

I appreciate you guys taking such a hands-on approach. It helped me bite my tongue and remember the human.

Assume your imagination is correct, can you argue with which part is false instead of who I am and what motive is?

The way you draw your conclusion reflects some interesting information.

[edit]: Thanks for the link. It seems China is building infrastructure for other countries. Of cause it's not free but it's better than bombing other countries in the name of promoting value of freedom. A lot of people from victim countries see the bombers as evil but I think they(bombers) are just cult believer consider themselves liberators.


Hmm... Let me try and state my concerns in a less-inflammatory manner.

First, I apologize for the curt parent comment. I slipped from the argument dangerously close to an attack against you, as a person. That is not okay in any circumstance, and I am sorry I stooped so low.

I suppose I should explain my point of view here. I am not a fan of the United States' foreign policy history, especially state-sponsored coups. I just found your statement:

> China never send army or CIA to overthrow other countries.

Incorrect given the information I have access to. All world powers, including China, have and continue to practice "soft colonialism", or Neocolonialism. The infrastructure projects in Africa were meant to serve as a common example of this occurring. Here's a more concise example from the EN wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neocolonialism#China

Note that this does not clear the U.S. or western powers of wrongdoing. In the last line of the above link, it points this out quite explicitly.

This makes more sense, then, when we look at the context of this comment, which is the growing concern in the light of the Hong Kong protests across the world with how the Chinese Government (not people) is seeking to change outside cultures to be more palatable to their official ideals.


What sort of infrastructure is China building in Xinjiang?

Roads, bridges, forests, power grids, water pipelines, solar farms, as well as indoctrination camps and mass surveillance network.

Having recently traveled to China, returning home made me very thankful to live in a Western Democracy. Many of my day to day problems are overstated, and I think our appreciation for liberty is under appreciated.

I think our appreciation for liberty is under appreciated.

Having grown up as a Chinese immigrant, I think this is true in ways that I wish the more fervent Americans could appreciate.

By that I mean I wish Americans respected the more general principle of enfranchisement more, but these days in practice that's just a straight up criticism of the GOP and anyone who votes for them, due to their gerrymandering and voter suppression practices.


Liberty is very hard to achieve and very easy to lose.

> The internet is an amoral force that reduces friction, not an inevitable force for good.

This is well said and something everyone in tech should remember. Unintended consequence is a law with teeth.


Why would you care about "good", a relative notion that means different things to different people, over reduction of friction, a clearly beneficial thing that accelerates technical and scientific progress?

If we could only "dissolve" all those parts of society and culture that are mostly pure friction, and spin the wheels 100x faster to the future...


So... I can't say "good" but you can say "beneficial."

Reduction of friction is not clearly beneficial! That's exactly the point. Superficially it appears to be, but it absolutely isn't the case. Reducing friction lets things happen faster. Both good things and bad things. And since the meaning of 'good' depends on where you sit, you can't claim that it's purely beneficial.


> reduction of friction, a clearly beneficial thing

Reduction of friction accelerates harms as well as benefits, it's not “clearly beneficial” without further knowledge of context.

Sure, it makes scientific progress faster, but it also makes genocide faster.


Faster isn't always better. Think of a control system with a delay element in it. Removing it may make the control system better. Or it may turn out that delay was dampening a positive feedback loop, and now the whole thing blows sky high.

Friction is the culture. Friction is when you ask someone on a date instead of jumping on them on the street. Friction is how you don't kill someone even though you are really angry about him/her right now. Friction is how you can't turn Yosemite park into a supermarket and suburban sprawl, even though it would been profitable.

they say power tools allow you to make mistakes faster. the internet is the same.

Does it reduce friction though? It just creates echo-chambers and move people in different echo-chambers further away. The frictionless internet then causes much greater friction in real life where you inevitably met with people from another bubble.

> There’s one rather glaring hole in this story of immediate outrage from Chinese fans over Morey’s tweet:

> Twitter is banned in China.

I didn't even realize until now. They are simply censoring (mainly)American social media posts. On the internet.


Wikipedia is also banned. Most social media is banned. Though these sites are generally allowed in HK. Many people also do use VPNs, but that's a different topic.

Not now - Chinese is turning Wikipedia into a censorship weapon. What you can see on Wikipedia (in Chinese) are largely edited by Chinese government.

[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-49921173


Let me clarify: Wikipedia is banned in Mainland China (what Westerners mean when they say "China"). It is allowed in Hong Kong and Taiwan - which are outside the great firewall. That doesn't mean they aren't censoring and editing the Chinese language Wikipedia. They definitely are. Also consider that many people from China (read: mainland China) are coming to the US and the west for school. They tend to read the Chinese language versions of Wiki, not the English ones.

Adobe recently blocked all Venzuelans because of an executive order.

Foreign companies are sanctionned by the US for dealing with Iranian entities even if their countries have no issue with Iran. (Huawei's executive was even arrested in Canada on behalf of the US for that).

My point is, why should we hold companies accountable for enforcing a certain national policy when A, companies have always done awful things in the name of their owners/shareholders and B, the US itself uses companies as a proxy for its policies?


Okay, two things:

First, to your question. Ostensibly the executive order is due to an illegitimate leader refusing to cede power and causing a humanitarian crisis. This is not dissimilar to how countries sanction North Korea. I would absolutely have preferred such actions to be passed in a democratic manner, and in fact the whole executive order mechanism needs serious rethinking, but the underlying concept is different.

Second, your B) question is a tu quoque fallacy, as you're appealing to hypocrisy. Just because the U.S. does it doesn't mean we should accept it from China. We also should be (and many are) angry at the US' actions.


You forget the part where now all South-American economies are in crisis thanks to US forcing pet leaders to replace "corrupt" ones. Now 50 % of population in Argentina is poor (counting homeless too) thanks to US Foreign Policy, but for them is OK to maintain the 10 % becoming nastily rich while others pay the price.

Argentina is poor because they elect populist leaders who spend more money on social programs than they collect in taxes and eventually default. Same as Greece. It is entirely self-inflicted.

Not entirely self-inflicted. A) Argentina "populist" leaders didn't have to go to the IMF and they provided a good climate for small to large enterprises with the obvious limitations that country's market has. When the current administration (conservative, neo-liberal) got in, Argentina didn't have debts but was negotiating with foreigner speculators who took advantage during last crisis at the end of 90's. So the current administration (those administration you guys love) worsened all the conditions for enterprises and made impossible to invest in any industry. They also let financial and venture capital to take the country's destiny in their hands. Four years ago, defaulting was unthinkable. USA Foreign Policy has much to do with it when they disturbed the local political process. B) Social programs benefits a small part of population, and they really need it. Actually, the actual administration is spending even more than before on social programs, and they're not the "elected populist leaders" you refer. While we can discuss if the incentives are effective for producing a labor force (I think they fail miserably), we can't discuss the basic rights of people to have something to eat until better economic conditions are met. C) Taxes are the weakest part of the system, but alone didn't hamper Argentina's capabilities to made business locally and internationally. And you forget that their nature are not different from any other places taxes in the world. US provided political and ideological support for this complete mess and you should feel ashamed before talking about other countries.

Yes, but the circumstance that caused the collapse of most fragile democracies in South America and Africa was the 70s oil crisis and subsequent governments (dictators, old elite, crazy bastards) that ran up massive debts.

Since diversity is a strength, it would seem that the ideal situation globally is to have a diversity of economic, political and legal systems. If instead, these systems around the globe tend towards similarity and strong coupling, the result is likely to be fragility and instability. By having weakly coupled diverse systems with well defined interfaces, the overall global system becomes more robust and disturbances in one part are less likely to propagate to the rest of the globe. Current tensions seem to be due to too tight coupling and poorly defined protocols and interfaces.

+1, well said! Diversity, having individual countries do their own thing and embrace their own ethnicity, and where it makes sense support free trade.

Sometimes in conversation I hear people talk about how we have to save the world, interfere with other countries, etc. I think this should never be done unilaterally. If something really bad and evil is going on in the world then many countries should agree and cooperate to try to fix things.

The trouble with unilateral intervention is that it can so easily devolve into just serving the needs of special interests.


There are no well-defined interfaces in human interactions. Human interactions are messy. The closest we get to well-defined interfaces is the law and even that needs regular human intervention in the courts.

You think totalitarian regimes like China and North Korea are OK, because "diversity"?

North Korea is totalitarian, and it will hopefully change to something acceptable.

I think of the current regime in China as more an authoritarian single party regime. We have tolerated or been allied with authoritarian single party regimes in earlier decades such as Taiwan under the KMT, Japan under the early LDP, and South Korea under Rhee.

China places a higher priority on enforcing social harmony than the US, but China has a history where there have been multiple periods of severe social disturbance causing 10s of millions of deaths, such as the Taiping Rebellion. In actual practice most people have quite a lot of freedom on most subjects most of the time since, "Heaven is high, and the Emperor is far away."


The Chinese Communist Party places a high priority on social harmony because that’s what benefits them. Having freedom as long as no one notices you isn’t freedom.

In the US there is a faction that is extremely strong on "privacy rights". This seem motivated by the idea that you are free to do as you please so long as you can prevent others from knowing about it, rather than depending on having strong rights to do as you please whether others know or not.

Strong privacy is the "security by obscurity" solution to being free.


So you're arguing China has strong privacy rights? How do "privacy rights" matter if you don't have the freedom to have privacy?

Freedom is subjective to one's past experiences.

I'm curious as to what happens if the NBA does in fact get banned from China. I've always wondered whether, as the Chinese economy grows and living standards rise, individuals would ever feel more entitled to individual rights. Of course maybe this is just a western bias.

If the NBA was blocked, would passionate Chinese NBA fans (of which there are many) fall in line? Or not?


I'm always bemused to have to say this, but: nobody likes censorship because they enjoy "falling in line". People everywhere support censorship exactly to the degree that they agree with the censors.

You probably didn't shed a tear when Alex Jones was deplatformed, because he's a scoundrel, and if this really did escalate to a full block of the NBA (which seems unlikely), by that point many Chinese citizens would probably think the same of the NBA.


This. So much this.

Deplatforming is deplatforming. If one supported the deplatforming of Alex Jones, and doesn't also support China on this, then they are a hypocrite engaging in severe cognitive dissonance.

Freedom of speech is not some "loophole" that allows people to say nasty things. It's a bulwark against authoritarianism. The ones who forget that need to study world history when it comes to freedom of speech and expression.


Twitter, Facebook, and any other entity that deplatformed Alex Jones are private companies and can deplatform whoever they want. In fact that is part of their freedom of speech. This is different from government-enforced silencing of speech, which is what is happening in China right now.

I feel no cognitive dissonance, but maybe you can explain more why I should.


If you want to see that sort of cognitive dissonance/hypocrisy on display, just go a few threads over and state:

> "Blizzard Entertainment is a private company and can deplatform whoever they want".


They might not word it this way, but I think what people really mean is "X is a private company and can deplatform whoever they want with the approval of their users".

I haven't seen anyone saying Blizzard's actions should be illegal. The common response seems to be "boycott", which Alex Jones' supporters were free to do as well


Is "cognitive dissonance/hypocrisy" really the only reason you can think of why someone might support deplatforming Alex Jones, and not the Blizzard streamers in this case?

"Twitter, Facebook, and any other entity that deplatformed Alex Jones are private companies and can deplatform whoever they want"

Would you feel the same way if the deplatforming was done by, say, AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile? Because Twitter and Facebook specifically get the same protection as if they are communication pipes (as opposed to being publishers).


NBA are not legally controlled by Chinese laws. They're censoring speech because they want to (a.k.a. it's profitable), not because they're being forced to.

What speech is the NBA censoring? The commissioner came out in favor of free speech. The GM has not been fired.

On the other hand, the Chinese government has stepped in to block the NBA because of the NBAs stance on free speech of players, staff, etc.


Why are you equating private entities deplatformimg vs government-controlled ones? They are fundamentally different things.

With companies out there that makes more in capital than some countries in a single year, the line between private entities and government is harder to discern.

How do you get a platform when it is the defacto platform?


There is no effective difference between private and public deplatforming. Freedom of expression is harmed by both.

Perhaps but the harm is vastly different in scale.

Private banning of speech doesn’t prevent the individual from stating those claims elsewhere. Government mandated banning of speech does prevent that speech from being used elsewhere.


Not exactly.

If I don't want someone to speak at my event and ban them, that's not the end of the world. There are probably others who would allow them to speak.

If the government bans someone from speaking, there is no recourse.

This is the state of the world in the USA and one of our cornerstone negative freedoms.


I agree with your first point. My anecdotal experience of talking to people from China is that there is a very real sense of nationalism that results in deference to the government. The idea is that under this regime the economy has grown strong, and everybody has jobs and food. That is worth the silencing of dissent in a country where mass starvation exists in very recent history. But how long does that last? At some point the people no longer agree with the censors, but the censors likely don't step aside and relinquish power. And to be clear the point at which this happens is probably not losing access to the NBA, but it does exist, and this NBA situation is an interesting barometer.

As I said in a different comment, Alex Jones is not that relevant to this discussion unless somebody can show that the United States government had a role in the deplatforming.


The difference is that the US government didn’t dictate that Jones be removed.

They'd just watch via VPN, if other bans are any indication. Of course not everyone knows how to use a VPN, but the NBA becoming unavailable might be an impetus to figure it out.

I read an article recently that made it seem as if VPN wasn't the panacea for GFW that westerner's think it is. Apparently the GFW throttles encrypted connections heavily outside of normal business hours.

I was honestly had no problems reading about Tieneman Square on Wikipedia while walking around Tieneman Sqaure last year during National Week. The thing is most of the people who know about this stuff already do and the regular Joe on the street isn't going to put work into it. The people on the ground are a lot of the time patriotic to a fault. It reminded me a lot of the non-questuoning patriotism that permeates midwest America. And honestly I got the idea they desperately want to be America (*with Chinese characteristics;) ).That being said using a VPN only is not the best solution. A suite of software solutions working in concert is a much better route. Certain VPN providers are better than others given their size or implementation but even still the large ones see huge reductions in reliability during patriotic times (i.e. National Week etc). Best to RYO or use a concert of software implementations.

You may have to compromise on either speed or quality, but watching videos is not impossible. FWIW I had the best connection at 4 in the night, when I assume no one else in my apartment complex was still online. (All data 1 year out of data. Maybe everything is different now.)

They do. It is a nationalistic rhetoric, much like what we saw here as well. At the end of the day, the legitimacy comes from some kind of populist support. Very unfortunate turn of events.

Yeah I think you are right. But that populist support is not guaranteed forever, and I wonder what happens then.

It is rather interesting to see Stratechery talk about values when normally the articles are about markets and capital. I don't how the latter, since they are inherently amoral, can accommodate values either. As a result the argument seemed a little forced. Surely if China is an important market for western companies then the rules of that market apply. It is only to be expected that in a global market there must a corresponding globalisation of the rules and norms. Free speech might not be on that list.

I do have to take issue that this is a cultural problem. I don't regard the Communist Party of China to be guardian of culture in China. The country did rather well for thousands of years before it's existence and will no doubt do well for thousands more after it's demise.


That is exactly what I try to point out, but "freedom" cowboys don't care about other perspectives about Freedom. And they actually don't understand it and then they forget every atrocity their country has committed and is committing right now, including trying to overthrow legitimate governments and destabilize other countries economies to gain competitive advantage. Moral and Ethics, I don't see them anywhere.

I like how you threw in the whataboutism at the end, as if the West has no moral right to criticize China because of the long list of atrocities they’ve committed. Well played.

Here’s the deal - China is a totalitarian state bent on reclaiming what they see as their rightful place in the world. They will stomp on anyone they have to, friend or enemy, real or imagined, foreign or domestic, to make that happen.

At the same time, the rest of the world, including the West and its allies, have the ability to force China to abide by international norms and the right to defend themselves from China’s aggression.

You may think it hypocritical, but from where I’m sitting the US and its allies have the moral high ground in this instance and no amount of bleating about everyone’s historical crimes is going to distract everyone from the realities of China’s ongoing atrocities against its own people, it’s Nine Dash Line, it’s blatant political and economic attacks on the free world and its disrespect for and undermining of centuries of international laws and norms.


For the uninformed, the Chinese communist party has historically been the foremost destroyer of (traditional) Chinese culture and history. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Olds

> And then there is Apple: the company is deeply exposed to China both in terms of sales and especially when it comes to manufacturing. The reality is that, particularly when it comes to the latter, Apple doesn’t have anywhere else to go.

For what it's worth, I know of multiple Chinese companies that are themselves moving manufacturing overseas, primarily to South East Asia. I'm not convinced that the multinationals have nowhere else to go.


> I'm not convinced that the multinationals have nowhere else to go.

Samsung is making most of their phones outside of China. It's clear you can push most multinational manufacturing back out of China. There are several dozen countries to redistribute that manufacturing to. I've probably read 50 or 60 articles in the past year that touch on the varied types of companies moving out of China, from bicycles to bathroom fixtures to clothing to tires.

The far bigger Apple issue, is that they don't want to lose the consumer side of the Chinese market. It's trivial for the Chinese authorities to snap their fingers and make Apple persona non grata in China. It wouldn't even take very long, a short duration of total disruption would be enough to wipe out Apple's market share. They'd never get it back, there are plenty of good domestic alternatives.

For a company the size of Apple, losing half their position in China could mean losing half a trillion dollars in revenue over the next ~20 years. Beyond the hardware, China's extremely large consumer market is no doubt perceived to be very important for Apple's services shift over time.


> Kunlun Tech had acquired Grindr without undergoing CFIUS review. TikTok similarly acquired Musical.ly without oversight and relaunched it as TikTok for the Western market; it is worth at least considering the possibility of a review given TikTok’s apparent willingness to censor content for Western audiences according to Chinese government wishes.

Musical.ly was a Shanghai-based company targeting the western market, once considered as a case study for similar types of companies.


The Chinese get pissed off at political statements Americans find innocuous. Europeans are angry over the dominance of American tech companies which they are unable to control. Americans are panicked at the very idea of anybody non-Western being associated with any technology they use, as we saw with FaceApp and 5G.

This was all inevitable, and it's going to lead to siloed-off, separate internets for every region in the world. I always find it amusing and a bit sad when people condemn the Great Firewall, and then immediately turn around and demand their country get one too. Neutrality is impossible; no platform can please everybody.


I don't think people want a Great Firewall. I just don't want economic power being concentrated by foreign states to suppress political speech here.

This is exactly my point. You, an American citizen, call it "economic power being concentrated by foreign states". But Chinese citizens call it "ordinary people boycotting offensive speech". It's the NFL kneeling protests and boycotts again, except divided by country rather than by red/blue within the US. It's annoying to have people you don't know come in and tell you your speech is offensive, and if you want that to stop, then you want siloed national internets.

Ordinary people boycotting offensive speech would manifest as people choosing to not watch NBA games because of this - which would be entirely within their rights if that's how they choose. However, if NBA is simply removed from the market, that's not a boycott by ordinary people, that's government sanctions.

Nobody, including Chinese citizens thinks this is "ordinary people boycotting offensive speech", this is government action.

How do you know? I see literally zero direct evidence for this in the linked post -- only that some people in China responded. Not everybody in China is working for the government.

When analogous statements are found offensive in the US, US citizens, US tech companies, and the US media can act with astonishing speed and coordination to stamp them out. That doesn't mean that the US government is directing all of it.


The Chinese consulate in Houston put out a statement condemning the tweet.

You have a track record of China using the heavy hand to dictate the messaging of corporations and individual citizens.

No coordinated message in China goes through without the explicit or implicit consent of the government, even if it starts "from the people". It's not hard to make the connection here.


> The Chinese consulate in Houston put out a statement condemning the tweet.

Okay, perhaps. But that could also be them jumping on a popular bandwagon.

I'm just raising this doubt because I've seen, many times on sites like this, enormous panics over supposed Chinese government actions, which actually boil down to totally innocuous actions from individuals. The most common cognitive bias when the West discusses the East is to think of it as a giant collective -- not being able to "tell them apart".


Here, the action was fast in a way that speaks of external coordination.

If someone in the US makes politically questionable speech, the fallout is stretched over days, and generally products aren't pulled immediately from retailers, etc. Here, we had many commercial actors respond at once (Alibaba, Tencent, Li Ning, China Basketball Association, etc.).

It reeks of state coordination and pressure, especially when Chinese government entities are making related contemporaneous statements. Even if it wasn't, it's overly reactionary; elsewhere, one tends not to immediately kill commercial relationships over a controversial statement by one executive, but instead see how the organization as a whole will react to concerns first.


try non-PC speeches in US, race, LGBT or gun related speeches you'll see

We have a lot of examples of that occurring in the past decade. There's no need to speculate (the "you'll see" part). The op's statement was obviously correct about speed of action. In the US protests about something tend to build and stretch out over many days or weeks more typically. See the prominent example of the famous Chick-fil-A protest (which went on for months). It took Walmart a month to take measures recently regarding guns (open carry in their stores) in reaction to the shooting that occurred in El Paso and it also wasn't government forced.

If it were Beijing, you'd have comprehensive action occur within a day or two and it would be a strict policy enforced by the government. All Chick-fil-A locations would be shut down immediately and whatever was upsetting would be removed (or the chain would never reopen); and while the authorities are at it, they might go ahead and engineer a forced ownership transfer for good measure.

I'll note that Chick-fil-A is booming in the US. It's now the third most successful chain in the US by sales behind McDonalds and Starbucks. That's despite their non-PC position on gay rights.


This has already been going on for months, though. It's gotta be front-of-mind over there.

The image of English-speaking westerners talking about "liberate hong kong" is a bit triggering for the average Chinese person, due to Hong Kong and England's history. It must be incredibly easy for CCTV to point at that and say that it's just the western imperialists trying to take HK away.


This is a strawman. Morey did not tweet anything containing "liberate Hong Kong". (That was subsequent, different events, by different people).

China promised 50 years of "one country, two systems"-- people in Hong Kong want to cash that check.


I wasn't trying to take sides on the HK situation itself, though, so it can't really be a straw-man on that topic.

The topic was whether the outpouring of sentiment from mainland China could be 'organic' rather than some immediate government dictate.


Picking something that is more extreme than what was said, and asserting that this could prompt swift Chinese organic reaction... does nothing to address whether the reaction to what was actually said was organic.

It happens all the time by the current President - and you see a diverse response from the American landscape. Some cheer, some ignore, some condemn. But if all the media simply decided they weren't going to air or even address the speech then I think you may have a point.

And now, according to Adam Silver: "We made clear that we were being asked to fire him, by the Chinese government, by the parties we dealt with, government and business,"

> Okay, perhaps. But that could also be them jumping on a popular bandwagon.

How could there be a bandwagon when twitter is banned in China (so no one could have ever seen the tweet), and immediately after the tween all Chinese social media blocked any posts related to the Houston Rockets? There was zero way for anyone in China to even know it was a thing or to be angry.


Lots of people in China (more than you'd imagine) use VPNs. If you want to verify this is true, ask anyone who's used Tinder in China.

I see tons of tweets that I’m supposed to be outraged about every day, and I don’t have a Twitter. People spread around screenshots in posts, articles, messages...

A lot of Chinese people have Twitter and Facebook accounts FWIW.

The Chinese government is heavily intertwined in every single business of some size in China. They ultimately do Xi Jinping’s bidding.

I'm going to take a wild guess that you're not a Chinese citizen and you are not on any forum that they frequent.

I find it truly stupid that Chinese government intervened, but if you think this move wasn't popular in China you're dead wrong.


If nobody is allowed to express support for Hong Kong on Chinese social media do we really know what their sentiments are?

I would love to truly know the sentiments, statistically, of what the Chinese citizens perspective on HK was. I've asked a few people but they dont want to talk about it or dont seem to really care. A lot of Chinese I know are nationalistic but dont care about the day to day to news. Plus I imagine the bulk of people would only know whatever news they were plugged into. It somewhat analogous to Americans who I talk to and wonder how they came to the conclusions they did and then it all makes sense when they tell me they are only plugged into one network or media outlet. And both parties dont want to look deeper at all and have no desire to. It's a shame.

Have you been on any Chinese social media?

> I always find it amusing and a bit sad when people condemn the Great Firewall, and then immediately turn around and demand their country get one too.

That's not at all what people are asking for here.


as an European i'm mildly irritated with US companies and scared shitless of what the Chinese are doing.

Every large organization has firewalled its internet protocol networks for decades. It's incomprehensible why some thought nations wouldn't do so as well.

> Every large organization has firewalled

The primary purpose of this is to enforce security for connections. Not every large organization employs content filtering, and those that do mostly only enforce a minimal standard of what is acceptable for work.


Not all subnets have Internet access, HTTPS is proxied for those that do, email attachments are scanned, and there is a large list of web sites to which access is blocked, likely including social networks like twitter and facebook. Depending on your employer, they may ask you to cease posting on social media when hired since they do not want to deal with employees causing controversy.

Clearly filtering for security and workplace appropriateness is equivalent to filtering an entire country's discourse and media. /s

It helps to know a little bit about what's been going on in Hong Kong, before you all line up and take your daily dump on China.

It all started a few months ago when someone committed a crime in Taiwan and fled to Hong Kong. To prevent HK from becoming a safe haven for criminals, the Chief Executive of HK proposed a new law to facilitate extradition of these crime suspects from HK to various jurisdictions in the region, including Taiwan and mainland China.

The proposed law even explicitly stated that it's not applicably to crimes political in nature. But some HK people were nevertheless concerned that it might be abused by China to target political dissidents in HK.

So they have taken to the streets to protest that law. As a result, the law was quickly suspended before it had a chance to pass, and a few weeks ago the HK Chief Executive officially announced the withdrawal of the law.

However, despite the concession from the HK government, the protesters pressed on, demanding four more concessions from the government, chief among them universal suffrage, or the direct election of the HK Chief Executive, who up to this point have been nominated from a narrow pool of Beijing-approved candidates, then voted on by a committee.

It's not entirely clear that China even had anything to do with the proposal of the law which started this ordeal. But the protesters have been shrewd to paint a picture, to great effect, of big bad China stomping on the poor helpless people of HK.

What I cannot stress enough, is the rampant violence and destruction from these protesters, which has done this great city, and many innocent citizens, unimaginable harm. Feel free to support their peaceful protests, but please don't simply pile on and encourage these violence and destruction.

(EDIT: If anything I said is untrue, please correct me. Use the truth to argue your side, don't be a coward and hide behind your downvote.)


This is unintentionally the clearest demonstration of the clash of cultural values in the whole thread.

Between harmony and human rights, it's absolutely clear to a westerner which one is more important.

From your tone, it is also absolutely clear which one you would choose.

> If anything I said is untrue, please correct me

It's possible to only say true things and still be biased. This is probably the most common way of spinning a story for "fake news". Some major events I would definitely include are:

- The 2015 Causeway bay disappearances which justified the fear of extradition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causeway_Bay_Books_disappearan...

- Carrie Lam doesn't actually have autonomy and needs confirmation from beijing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOft2Y6mH_g

- Escalation of force, hiring triads to attack citizens, blinding journalist with rubber bullets, shooting live ammo at students in the chest, etc etc.

There are a lot more I can add but halfway through I realize the details don't really matter. The difference in cultural values will make the interpretation of these events irreconcilable anyway.

To an individualist, the only fact that matters is that at least 2 million in a city of 8 million want the right to their own destiny. To a collectivist, the only fact that matters is that the government is building a more harmonious society so the ends justify any means.


> Between harmony and human rights, it's absolutely clear to a westerner which one is more important.

What have been the human rights violations from the government, aside from responses to protester violence?

Labeling yourself "human rights" does not automatically make you right.

> It's possible to only say true things and still be biased. This is probably the most common way of spinning a story for "fake news".

Certainly. And you are immune to biases and spinning "fake news" ... how?

> Escalation of force, hiring triads to attack citizens, blinding journalist with rubber bullets, shooting live ammo at students in the chest,

"triads"? "fake news" much?

What else from this list is anything but a response to protester violence? Or do you think the policy should just stand still and take the beating?

> To an individualist,

Keep throwing labels around all you want, it doesn't make you right.

Your freedom to shine your laser light ends where another person's eyes begin.


I am not immune to fake news. I think that's why I appreciated your original response so much. I wanted to see how others are interpreting the same events.

Human rights violation by china are well documented. You can look them up yourself assuming you have access to an uncensored internet. I cited disappearing people as the example that I thought was most relevant for the extradition bill.

The triad attacks are definitely real (we are in the age of smartphones after all): https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-49071502

I don't think you realize how much the difference in cultural values is making it hard for us to communicate here. Westerners consider what you call "violence and destruction" to be a fair price to pay to have rights guaranteed. Fighting is necessarily ugly but shining laser in eyes is laughably tamed compared to the lengths democratic societies have historically gone to protect their freedoms.

I do understand that some people just want to go on with their daily lives and ignore the atrocities going on in the background as long as it doesn't happen to them. I am not even arguing that's necessarily wrong either, just very different from western thought.


Likewise, I appreciate your honesty and candor.

> Human rights violation by china are well documented.

That may have been the case. But we are talking about human rights violations by the Hong Kong government here, and I don't think you have a case here.

> The triad attacks are definitely real

We can certainly demand an independent investigation into this once the violence and destruction stops.

> Westerners consider what you call "violence and destruction" to be a fair price to pay to have rights guaranteed.

I believe the bill was quickly suspended after initial peaceful protests. There's no reason to believe the bill wouldn't be withdrawn if peaceful protests persisted. That's why I believe the violence has been unnecessary and may have even been harmful to the cause.

FWIW, I oppose the bill and support the peaceful protests against the bill.

> shining laser in eyes is laughably tamed

Have you tried that on yourself? Maybe you'll have more empathy for the policy if you had. It looks deceptively benign but is in fact incredibly aggressive.

> I do understand that some people just want to go on with their daily lives ... just very different from western thought.

I doubt it's very different in the west.


A few points:

A) It’s very difficult to distinguish false-flag violence from hooligans

B) Once violence starts, it’s hard to stop it, but that doesn’t mean that the government should automatically get its way because a small minority of hooligans/false flag operatives got involved

C) Protesting for universal suffrage from an uncontrolled slate of candidates seems eminently reasonable from a western perspective; what do you think is bad about this?


This picture you're painting makes it sound like the protests are an overblown response to a minor grievance, like WW1 was an overblown response to the assassination of a minor archduke, without taking into account decades of cultural clashes and building tensions.

Yes, if you deliberately ignore any of the bad things the government did, and focus on the bad things the protestors did, that story is roughly accurate.

Please tell us all the bad things the government has done since the proposal of the extradition bill.

I can't tell you all but among them:

- Using the murder in Taiwan as a pretext to introduce the bill when it could easily have been handled ad hoc with Taiwan.

- Claiming it was a loophole left over by the British when it was very clearly by design.

- Initially refusing to suspend the bill in the face of huge opposition.

- Taking months to fully withdraw the bill and proudly ignoring the protestors.

- Blanket refusing an independent enquiry and unwaveringly supporting police no matter how brutal and unprofessional they've become.

- Seeking permission from Xi to withdraw the bill.

- Introducing an anti-mask law instead of attempting serious reform.

- Threatening internet lock downs instead of attempting serious reform.

- Not criticising the central government for threatening military violence and flagrantly manipulating coverage of HK on the mainland.

Those are just a few that stand out to me though I'm sure there are more I've missed.


This is a fair summary, but you can't divorce the protesters actions from the fact that there is no legitimate way for the protesters to alter the government. These protests were inevitable as the government basically lacks legitimacy in the eyes of the majority of the population. (Unlike the mainland government which is viewed as legitimate by and large by its citizens). It's only a matter of a trigger point.

Plenty of people in the US hate the current government, but you don't get protests to this degree (i.e. widespread violence) in part because some degree of accountability exists.


I supported Clinton's invitation of China into a more liberal trade arrangement,but it has not worked out as anyone in the US had hoped. Thompson's conclusion is an important insight: "Money, like tech, is amoral. If we insist it matters most our own morals will inevitably disappear."

How can we get Tim Cook to make a statement regarding democracy in Hong Kong? Either he refuses, which would be supporting the brutal crackdowns, or he forces China to act as they did like in the NBA case.

Tim only stands up to leaders and governments who cannot cause him physical of financial harm. Pretty much par for the course for many American CEOs but he stands out because how much he touts Apple's stance for rights.

Even if it means bad press for saying nothing?

There would be no bad press for saying nothing. There seems to be some debate whether public CEOs have the right to freely express their personal opinions on certain political issues, with a bunch of high profile cases that would be distracting here; but there's certainly no argument that public CEOs have the duty to express (or even hold) any opinions whatsoever on things that are major political events abroad; Cook responding to all Hong Kong related matters (as far as they don't directly concern specific actions that directly affect Apple) with "no comment" would not get any significant bad press as that's not breaking any taboos or even conventions.

Companies don't care for bad press, not even for bad quarters. They care for bad stock performance...

Apple is selling their image as much as anything.

As much as I support democracy, you can't force people to make a statement supporting it.

And not speaking on something does not mean you support it.


Tim Cook serves the shareholders of Apple. He realizes the moment he says anything that has a significantly adverse effect on share value, the shareholders will fire him. You're basically asking him to quit his job.

Cook is a friend of Trump, just saying.

Don't confuse "Cook is a friend of Trump" and "Cook is trying to stay out of Trump's crosshairs".

He's donated to both sides of the aisle, including a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton last election: https://fortune.com/2016/08/24/apple-tim-cook-fundraiser-cli...


Could be a good angle to work as Trump has done some stuff lately that's also likely to anger the CCP.

It appears that the third screenshot doesn't use the characters 火箭, but some other word?

火影,or naruto, so not surprising he's not seeing the rockets. Not sure if BT will edit the article or not

Screw up by me but point holds. Fixing.

A wild monkbent appears!

> China took the first shots, and they took them a long time ago. For over a decade U.S. services companies have been unilaterally shut out of the China market, even as Chinese alternatives had full reign, running on servers built with U.S. components

But, the U.S. companies like this equation - don't they? It helps them generate more profit to their shareholders and give them access to that scale of manufacturing. This led to the growth of the US economy. Now, you have a new player in the game who doesn't like to play by the old player's rules and the old player doesn't like it.


Yes, and importantly the new players rules are only the old players rules of the past. The 'American System' of economic development is essentially what's playing out on the Chinese side now.

The US of course doesn't need to like it, but it seems a tad silly to expect that a country that is very much still developing to act like a free-trading developed nation.


I see lots of Anti-China sentiment. I would be very careful here into not falling into their deliberate trap of making "The West" China's "Enemy".

China in its current totalitarian form needs an "Enemy" to survive, without it, it has to deal with difficult internal questions which will force it to adapt and change - and this what scares them.

Totalitarian governments rely on distraction and misdirection of the populace in order to survive. Without it to use as ammunition to unify the people against a commonly perceived "enemy", the very nature of its limiting rule forces the populace to start questions to try and improve their own condition. Questions like "freedom" and "censorship". Totalitarian governments are not equipped to satisfy difficult questions like this and will either adapt or crumble.

Thus the best way "oppose a government that is the sworn enemy of values you regard as precious" is to allow it to face its internal discord without giving it the "enemy" it so desperately needs as ammunition to use against you.

EDIT: There are many comments that I think are misguided attacking this concept, here is rebuttal to them:

Proposition: If China wants to make the west an enemy, it will do so with or without us by the total control it has over its populace.

Rebuttal: So the best counter plan is to help them in doing so?

Proposition: So the solution is don't speak out about real issues because you don't want to piss off Chinese citizens and make them think you are the enemy?

Rebuttal: Obviously not, but rhetoric implying war or xenophobia is hardly the answer either.

Proposition:Most totalitarian governments fail on the battlefield. Think of Genghis Khan, Napoleon, the empires that fell during WW1, or the Axis powers in WW2.

Rebuttal: Just because totalitarian regimes have fallen on the battlefield before, does not mean they will do so in the future. Not only is this proposition utterly foolish and dangerous but its not even remotely true in the nuclear age.

Proposition: Even if you watch or read the heavily controlled Chinese media, it's never about fighting anyone or pointing the finger at anyone.

Rebuttal: This is almost categorically untrue and uninformed. In fact, in times of political tension anti-west and anti-Japanese sentiment in the government controlled media is used almost without fail. No protests are allowed, but anti-west and anti-japanese protests are manufactured by the state.

Proposition:Should we allow economic coercion and suppression of political speech in the US by a state power? Can we not speak out in favor of those protesting in Hong Kong that were promised 50 years of "one country, two systems"?

Rebuttal: Of course NOT! But we should act on the defensive, and prudently, with our own best interests in mind.

Proposition:This theory has proved wrong. China has been welcomed into the WTO over the last 20-30 years and it has not reformed. It is now extending it's economic superpower into political and cultural power. It's not about making an enemy, it's about limiting this unwanted influence.

Rebuttal: To say the theory has proved wrong is premature, China took advantage of one sided trade agreements that created a competitive advantage for itself, subsidized by us. Limitations of its political and cultural power should be in the form of leveling out this competitive economic playing field, and not escalation into xenophobia or coercion.


> Thus the best way "oppose a government that is the sworn enemy of values you regard as precious" is to allow it to face its internal discord without giving it the "enemy" it so desperately needs as ammunition to use against you.

If the CCP wants to make the US out as China's enemy, they'll make us out to be their enemy, even if they have to lie and distort to do so. The CCP has near-total control of the PRC's domestic media can easily block foreign media if it doesn't already, so there's little stopping them. For instance, IIRC, they're currently pushing a false theory to domestic audiences that the HK protests are just a CIA orchestrated plot.

> EDIT: There are many comments that I think are misguided attacking this concept, here is rebuttal to them:

Why don't you post your rebuttals in replies to the comments in question?

> Proposition: If China wants to make the west an enemy, it will do so with or without us by the total control it has over its populace.

> Rebuttal: So the best counter plan is to help them in doing so?

You misunderstand: if they're going to do it anyway, it's foolish to try to constrain you actions in an attempt to control them. You gain nothing and only give them more control of the situation.

For instance: the CCP tries to blur the lines between the CCP, the PRC government, and the Chinese nation. An action against the CCP could be presented as an action against the nation in Chinese domestic media, do you think that should stop actions against the CCP? Similarly, the CCP will interpret actions to support Taiwan as hostile to it, does that mean the US should abandon (democratic) Taiwan to avoid some kind of censure in Chinese state-controlled media?


Lot of truth to the funding sources for HK protests originating in the west even if the protestors believe in what they are fighting for.

> Lot of truth to the funding sources for HK protests originating in the west even if the protestors believe in what they are fighting for.

What truth? The protestors don't actually need that much funding [1], and the help they need actually comes from older Hongkongers who are sympathetic to them:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/you-dont-have-to-face-it-alone-...

[1] Seems like their equipment typically consists of: an umbrella, a household respirator like the ones used for painting, protective googles, a hard hat, and bottled water. None of that is expensive.


Sources please. I, and everyone I know, pay for our own gear. We haven't received any offer of funding from foreign nations.

Can you share some sources on this please?

> China in its current totalitarian form needs an "Enemy" to survive

Not at all. The whole premise of Chinese policy and the key to the Party's survival is not about fighting enemies. It's simply about developing the country and putting it on an equal footing with the other superpower(s).

Even if you watch or read the heavily controlled Chinese media, it's never about fighting anyone or pointing the finger at anyone. When that happens it usually in response to a perceived attack.

They know they have enough to do without inventing themselves enemies to fight against. Their policy is to avoid clashes as much as possible.

I should also point out that the condition of the Chinese 'populace' has massively improved over the last 40 years and they are actually quite proud of it.


Ironically the biggest inflection point in China's increase in standard of living was Deng Xiaoping's market based reforms in the early 1970s.

This backsliding to authoritarianism under Xi is sure to lower GDP per Capita growth over the medium and long run -- you need inclusive economic institutions for economic innovation and creativity to be fostered.


Mao dealt with most of the large drug distributing organizations pretty effectively. This rehab process played a key role in the future expansion.

So what's the alternative? Don't speak out about real issues because you don't want to piss off Chinese citizens and make them think you are the enemy?

Perhaps differentiate between the CCP and the average Chinese citizen?

How? I don't know anyone that currently lives in China. I don't see posts like, anywhere, from people who currently live in China.

From my perspective, they seem to be basically cut off from the rest of the world. So how can I differentiate between the chinese government and the individual, when for all I know most of the individuals support everything their government is doing?


So...because you don't personally know any of these 1.4 billion people, you feel like it's okay to make whatever assumptions you want about every single one of them? Is that not dehumanization? Would you enjoy having others' assumptions of you being whatever worst crime your government has ever perpetrated? How about even the simple assumption that you are your government and agree with every single one of their current policies and actions?

> when for all I know most of the individuals support everything their government is doing?

They most certainly do, but that's not their fault. They've grown up with the CCP and aren't given the freedom to learn about the world from a broader perspective. They live in total ignorance of their government's control over them. Everything they know and understand is blessed by the CCP.

That's the fault of the CCP, not the individual.


Well, your issue isn't actually with the people with China. Therefore, it would be wise to frame the argument around Xi and the CCP, as opposed to "China." It's like when radicals in the middle east yell "death to America" they're not talking about the people, but instead "the system."

The entire NBA fiasco started because of a 7-word tweet - "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong." China wasn't even directly mentioned. This is about as mild as you can get.

Yeah I don’t disagree. I was more commenting on the general trend towards China bashing that I’ve seen online more recently. If we don’t bother to make the distinction in our writing we eventually won’t bother to make the distinction in our thinking, which would be playing into the hands of the CCP, who desperately want an enemy in the West.

> China in its current totalitarian form needs an "Enemy" to survive, without it,

This isn't historically accurate. China mostly been under a centralized authoritarian government since antiquity. In fact, there is a strong argument that China (literally "Center Kingdom" or "Middle Kingdom" in Chinese) became authoritarian because it had no rivals for thousands of years.

By contrast, European nations always were in a community of relatively equal rivals - a society of nations if you will. This rivalry forced nations to be somewhat competitive in terms of meeting the needs of their population, and adapting to new methods or technologies developed by their neighbors since they were always in danger of being overtaken by a rival.

If anything, the existence of strong rival nations weakens the cultural Chinese claim of being the center of the world.


When the government has 100% control of the media that the population consumes, how can the "enemy" ever appear to be anything other than the enemy to the people? Anything the "enemy" does can be spun into an attack/insult/weakness/capitulation.

This is the problem with only having 4-5 media companies as well, you have a point.

Every media organization aligned against Saddam when the intelligence agencies (US govt) signaled it, with 0 evidence.


See, one thing I don’t get is when people get into their anti Russian mode (which Russia deserves), we don’t get all this pearl clutching and people feel free to say what’s bad, but oh no, China, be mindful not to be harsh...

This is really good insight. But wouldn’t China craft their own ”enemy” by deliberating breaking trade deals and such?

I upvoted you for a thought-provoking perspective, but I think you're wrong historically. Most totalitarian governments fail on the battlefield, or they fail when the charismatic leader dies and his heirs are not so charismatic. Think of Genghis Khan, Napoleon, the empires that fell during WW1, the Axis powers in WW2, Libya post-Gaddafi, or Saddam Hussein. Totalitarianism seems to be an effective way to rapidly modernize a population to take advantage of already-discovered technological advances, and then to mobilize the population for war. It fails heavily at actually waging war, where the life-or-death competition between powers leads to a rapidly shifting reality that totalitarian governments cannot keep up with, because totalitarianism requires a near-total distortion of reality in order to keep the ruling clique in power. Additionally, liberal democracies often have a deeper bench of talent and technological developments waiting in the wings; totalitarianism requires the extermination of these institutions as potential threats to the regime, but liberal democracy cultivates these institutions in times of peace and then can draw on them in times of war. Witness how quickly the allies deployed radar, sonar, codebreaking, convoy systems, fire control computers, mass production, strategic bombing, and nuclear weapons during WW2: almost all of these inventions existed within Nazi Germany (some of them were discovered there), but their widespread development was blocked by Hitler's disfavor or inattention, and so they never got the resources they needed.

I suspect you're thinking specifically of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact nations during the 90s. There's a conflating factor there though: communism breaks up under internal pressures without an external enemy. (This is a pattern also replicated within many Latin American countries, as well as within smaller-scale communes within the United States.) Communism is one form of totalitarianism, but it's not the only one, and it's not the one currently practiced by China (which switched over to state capitalism in the 70s).


> I upvoted you for a thought-provoking perspective, but I think you're wrong historically. Most totalitarian governments fail on the battlefield, or they fail when the charismatic leader dies and his heirs are not so charismatic. Think of Genghis Khan, Napoleon, the empires that fell during WW1, the Axis powers in WW2, Libya post-Gaddafi, or Saddam Hussein. Totalitarianism seems to be an effective way to rapidly modernize a population to take advantage of already-discovered technological advances, and then to mobilize the population for war. It fails heavily at actually waging war, where the life-or-death competition between powers leads to a rapidly shifting reality that totalitarian governments cannot keep up with, because totalitarianism requires a near-total distortion of reality in order to keep the ruling clique in power. Additionally, liberal democracies often have a deeper bench of talent and technological developments waiting in the wings; totalitarianism requires the extermination of these institutions as potential threats to the regime, but liberal democracy cultivates these institutions in times of peace and then can draw on them in times of war. Witness how quickly the allies deployed radar, sonar, codebreaking, convoy systems, fire control computers, mass production, strategic bombing, and nuclear weapons during WW2: almost all of these inventions existed within Nazi Germany (some of them were discovered there), but their widespread development was blocked by Hitler's disfavor or inattention, and so they never got the resources they needed.

Most of modern China's advances came in times of freewheeling Jiang-Hu era, and Xi mostly coasts on inertia. Domestic electronics manufacturing has been on retreat for the last decade, being supplanted by government pushed initiatives. Billions are being bamboozled on "O2O," "AI," "5G," "Big Data" by people who don't have even a remotest idea of what those are besides nice CG animations.

Industrial parks that made local makes famous during Shanzhai era are being bulldozed year after year to be replaced by campuses of firms brandishing current tech fashion trend buzzword. This severely impacts the output of local original products. Things like cheap LED lighting, battery banks, vapes, selfie sticks, hoverboards, quadcopters, stick computers, damn fidget spinners, portable audio amplifier, loads of bluetooth gizmos, tons of cellphone accessories, and so on — all that stuff was originally a product of Chinese garage industry. I can not imagine anything like this coming in such amounts in current cultural and business climate.


Genghis Khan was neither a totalitarian leader nor did he fail on battlefields.

> or they fail when the charismatic leader dies and his heirs are not so charismatic.

As for totalitarianism - it's complicated, since totalitarianism in pre-modern societies looked very different. He would generally allow people in captured territories some degree of self-rule, as long as they sent the requisite taxes to support his war machine and didn't threaten his rule. But that's not all that different from the status of ordinary people in China: pay the requisite taxes and don't threaten the ruling party and you have a fair amount of latitude to go about your business unhindered. It's also very different from the degree of freedoms we're used to in the U.S, where threatening the ruling party is practically a national sport.


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We're getting pretty far afield from the original discussion - now you're talking about the U.S. rather than China or historical dictators, and we're talking private organizations rather than governments. But since I like arguing...

Liberty does not mean equality. The average common person cannot really do anything to Mark Zuckerburg other than delete Facebook (which I've done, and other people probably should do but for some reason don't). But that's different from saying nobody can threaten Mark Zuckerburg. There was nothing preventing Kevin Systrom from founding Instagram or Jan Koum from founding Whatsapp and then forcing Zuckerburg to buy them out for $1B and $19B, respectively. Nor was there anything preventing Brian Acton from quitting FB once his options vested, donating $50M to a competitor, and starting to work for them. Under many other regimes, these founders would've been offered a small payout to toe the party line in the beginning, and then disappeared if they refused to play ball.

Similarly, there's nothing you can do to get Republicans to turn on Trump. Democrats have already turned on him (before the election), but there's plenty you can do to get independents to turn on him, starting with providing a compelling alternative and educating people on why his policies won't work anyway. The press attacks him on a daily basis, and he attacks back, but so far all of these are just nasty words that rally his base and generate pageviews for mainstream media. He doesn't have the power to actually shut down these attacks, the same way Xi Jinping has banned Winnie the Pooh memes in China. And ordinary folks like me who are just exhausted by the controversy can just tune it out; I largely just stopped reading Trump-related stories because all they do is feed his ego at my emotional expense and I don't want to be a part of that.

The most effective way to actually seize and exercise your personal power is to recognize what you do and do not have the means to change, and to focus all your efforts on the former.


Yeah, if they think Genghis Khan failed on battlefields, I don't know who succeeded.

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If you come here for intellectual discussion, expect to have your ideas challenged.

FWIW, I thought the same as you when I got out of college, and it's only after reading a bunch more history and learning to separate reality as it is from reality as I would like it to be that I ended up revising that opinion.


This theory has proved wrong. China has been welcomed into the WTO over the last 20-30 years and it has not reformed. It is now extending it's economic superpower into political and cultural power. It's not about making an enemy, it's about limiting this unwanted influence.

I think the parent’s hypothesis has some truth, but I think it acts over much longer timescales than we assumed originally. I think as long as the elders remember the really bad times before their relatively recent prosperity, they’re willing to put up with a lot from the government, and they’ll serve as a stabilizing force. Once they die off and there are only people who remember the good times, I think we’ll see a population that feels much more “entitled” to reform. But those are human lifetime timescales, not a couple decades.

Westerners act like they really care about us and we are some kids who refuse to take their meds.

Some of you genuinely care about us and I can appreciate that, but as a whole, I find the Westerners' altitude towards us disturbing.

Reasons:

1. Knows very little about China except from cherry-picked news by Western media, but pretending to know everything about us, better than us. This makes many of your arguments baseless and extremely annoying to the eyes.

- How many of you have lived in China for more than 1 year and know the language and the culture? I have been in the US for 9 years, by your logic I am so qualified for the next POTUS.

- When was the last time you saw bad news about Taiwan on your media? Does this mean Taiwan is heaven on earth?

- Have you read Henry Kissinger's On China? Do you know who Edgar Snow is? Have you heard of the 1938 Yellow River flood and know its cause? If you answer no for all three questions, it is unlikely that your opinion about China worth a read.

- I saw one HNer wondered if any of us mainlanders know what's happening in HK. Excuse me? HK is physically connected to other parts of mainland China, Luohu port alone served 83.2 million passengers in 2015.

2. Double standard in just about everything.

- Terrorist attack in Paris, everybody mourns; terrorist attack in Kunming, freedom fighters!

- US fights with {UK, USSR, North Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, China, whoever-it-is-this-week}, we are just spreading freedom; China fights with the US (with no blood shed), you are just hiding your own problems.

- Care to explain why are Francis Cabot Lowell and Samuel Slater your hero if you care so much about intellectual property and fair trade?

- I see at least one post about HK on HN every single day, since June. So either the people from Kashmir don't deserve your attention, or being your ally means one can get away with this.

3. General arrogance towards us.

- For you internal affair, clearly there are always multiple parties involved, people should make observations from different perspectives and critical thinking is required. When it comes to us, well, you Chinese are all borgs that think and act alike. Apparently all the 90 million members of the CCP share the same brain, there cannot possibly be any conflict inside the party which affects its actions.

- I have witnessed multiple times, on HN, where people say that they can't wait to see a revolution happen in China or a joint military action that overthrows our government. Yes, millions of Chinese are more than welcome to die ASAP just so you can be more confident about Western values.

- When it comes to battling the climate change. The US citizens should do nothing and keep their current life style. How dare the Chinese want to eat beef like we do, owning big houses and lawns like we do, and drive pick-ups like we do. Per capita carbon emission and meat consumption is the wrong metric to use!!!!!!1111 You Chinese should just stick with bicycles and eat more rice.

(HN is especially bad in these regards. Seriously, even the 4chan folks are much more adorable than HNers, at least they know they are shit talking.)

The CCP treats us like shit. But when I see Westerners have discussions about China, I don't feel like you want to help us because your discussions are almost always filled with Western propaganda, misinformation, and utter ignorance. All I see is a massive circlejerk based on half-truth, half-misunderstanding. I know some of you fantasize that if more and more Chinese come to the West or see online discussions like this one, they will accept Western value and the CCP will collapse in no time. But the reality is, based on the reasons above, you only humiliate yourself and push us further away from you. Feel free to deny all your faults and blame the CCP for brain-washing us into disagreeing with you (as you have always did), but more and more mainlanders are agreeing with me.

Yes I registered to post this, yes I am a Chinese, yes I am saying something bad about you Westerners. I know some HNer can't wait to point these out and accusing me of being a wumao, sorry I took you chance :P

You may down vote me now.


This is the best response that I have gotten which I think a majority of Chinese people agree with and epitomizes my exact point that it is counterproductive to villainize one another.

Instead of letting contention escalate to coercion and violence we should focus on setting mutually agreeable rules of economic competition, and let whichever system is more successful in producing value succeed.

Important side point regarding intellectual property - our system here is also messed up and copyright/IP laws will no doubt be changed soon. The important part regarding that is setting common rules of engagement, and allowing those that are responsible for development of new methods and ideas to capture some part of the value that they created, without enforcing through the coercion of law an arbitrary monopoly. Such rules are in both of our interests, as Chinese people should also be able to capture the value that they create through innovation - perhaps why some think the innovation curve is so low in China is because there is not enough incentive for there to be more (There would be if we formed some kind of rules for innovators to be allowed to capture some value from the product/services they create).

I hope you realize, I am NOT anti-china, I am anti-Totalitarianism, because I think its not in both of our long term best interests. But I also think that if some are happy to live under what I would call "totalitarianism" I am 100% okay with that as long as I am allowed the same prerogative to chose what system I want to live with.


The beauty about villainize one another is that it is simple. No need to think or do research, just fallback to knee-jerk reactions. And it makes one feel superior when they think they are the good people that fights the evil.

It's human nature and nothing you or me can do will change it. (I mean, the need for antagonists is embedded into our brains, just look at the popular movies)

Yes, I totally agree that some of us did stole your stuff, and the fact that you also did it in the past doesn't justify our actions. Lack of innovation is indeed a big problem in China and it absolutely should not be mitigated by stealing others' innovations. Healthy, fair competition is what moves things forward and creates value. But many Westerners are acting like they have the moral high ground. Don't you love your bible? How about that story about throwing stones at some poor girl?

Like I said, I know many of you have good intentions (except the ones who want to see a war in China). But the gap between our cultures is way too big, misunderstandings are inevitable and you can't expect the average person to learn all the differences.

You say our government is totalitarianism and it's bad. I say we treat the government as our parents and it's part of our multi-thousand year culture.

You say democracy is the only right choice. I say not everyone has enough knowledge to make informed decisions and that's why you have a madman president.

You say the CCP is an evil dictatorship that uses the book 1984 as a manual. I say I am very thankful for their tremendous efforts in maintaining a stable, independent country, even if we are surrounded by hostile countries (Yes, Russia is a potential enemy and we all know it. No, North Korea is not our puppet state.)

Very few of us can stay calm and agree to disagree, the rest writes the history.


To be an anti-totalitarianist is to acknowledge that even parents sometimes make mistakes, not to say that what the majority says is true is right.

When people say something is “evil” what they mean is they don’t believe it’s in our long term best interest. Meaning even though paternalism got you to where you are today, doesn’t mean it will get you where you want to be in the future.

Finally you imply that those that stay calm and agree to disagree won’t write the future, while I won’t disagree, I would caution that if you let disagreement evolve into coercion and conflict without a channel for resolution besides violence, there will not be a future for someone to “write”.


Who exactly are you responding to? It seems like most of your statements are just further molding the issue as China vs West, when the whole point of the person you are responding to is that this is a huge fallacy. The real problem here should be more clear cut on the relevant parties e.g. CCP instead of China as a whole.

You are purporting a collection of statements from just one side of the argument, seemingly on purpose.

I am asking you, if you truly want this issue to progress to a healthier path, do not continue to push adversarial position, even though many in the west might do so.


You're equating Americans with all Westerners, claim nobody criticized the US wars of aggression, and so on. In the end, you claim being pushed closer towards the CCP by what random people say on the interwebs, really?

Do you have the faintest idea how many European countries talk shit about Germany and Germans 24/7? Only German Neo-Nazis pay close attention to any of that, nobody else would use it as excuse to vote for the extreme right-wing. Reason is not suffering from an inferiority complex, other than said right-wingers.

And trust me, as a German there's a lot to feel shit about, and not much to be proud of. But I still can laugh when people trash talk Germany, and nothing a foreigner says about Germany could make me angry, so I don't have to invent things about them, either. If you want to see me angry, have a German deny the Holocaust, or say that might is right, I'll be teetering on the edge of what is legal to say in no time, certainly on the edge of what the rules of any online forum would allow.

> I know some of you fantasize that if more and more Chinese come to the West or see online discussions like this one, they will accept Western value and the CCP will collapse in no time

With those cherry picked straw men about all Westerner you haven't even scratched the surface. As has been written decades ago, totalitarian revisionism requires control of the whole planet. The CCP is demonstrating it really wants to try going for that. It doesn't want just to bullshit you and leave us alone, it wants to silence us, as well, so we'd rather fight back.

We care about our own freedom, from that follows solidarity of all people who want to be free, too, but our own is the bedrock driving force here, and I don't think you fully grasp it, it's not merely buzz words because you've seen a bunch of hypocrites or people paying mere lip service. And the main question isn't so much how the CCP treats obedient or harmless citizens, anyway, but rather how it treats dissidents. One innocent person who gets tortured outweighs even a thousand billion people who look the other way. Until that is clear to you as well, you have understood little about the lessons of the 20th century from the perspective of serious Westerners. No words can change anything. Not even military force could. You can kill us, but not change this.

If you don't want solidarity, that's fine, but you can't give it back on behalf of others. Those dissidents still have it, and we will speak freely.

> blame the CCP for brain-washing us into disagreeing with you (as you have always did)

What precisely are you even disagreeing with? You agree the CCP treats you like shit, but you haven't said whether you agree with supporting resistance against being treated like shit. Being offended so deeply seems to override everything else, but that is essentially blackmail, not an argument.


I don't care how you, as an individual, think. Collectively, Westerners make themselves repulsive to the Chinese people. This isn't about some crazy people's online comments, it's how your mainstream media and your governments have represented you. A Chinese living in the US doesn't need to read HN to learn that the US is hostile towards China and the Europeans are nodding in the back seat. HN is suppose to be filled with educated people but the number of questionable comments about China is still through the roof, you can imagine how twitter is welcoming the eager, curious Chinese who have just learned how to use VPN and want some fresh air.

> ... equating Americans with all Westerners

In the context of China-related issues, I don't see the problem. The Europe usually just repeats what the US says, or stays quiet. You should be thankful that the US drew most of the fire, and most Chinese still have very good impressions about Germany.

> ... nobody criticized the US wars of aggression

I didn't say that, don't put words in my mouth. Also, a few people criticizing them for a while is far from enough. The US even made movies to whine about how invading other countries and killing those people makes their soldiers mentally sick, and I didn't see many Westerners boycotting these movies.

> ... talk shit about Germany and Germans ... nothing a foreigner says about Germany

Oh, so the West has never done any actions that upset us, in our face? The trade war is just a hallucination. The US has never bombed our embassy in Belgrade, send their aircraft carriers roaming around China and deploy missiles around China that aim at us. Do I really need to give more examples of these actions? Can you still stay so calm if China does these to Germany? Also, I still remember vividly how you Germans welcomed and supported Rebiya Kadeer. Imagine if China did the same to Osama bin Laden.

Even if I take a step back and only talk about what you say about us, you privileged Westerners can never imagine how we feel when all the mainstream media go against you, and how upset it is when it's perfectly OK to keep making jokes about how we have tiny penises even in the PC culture. Speaking of PC culture, I thought you agree that words hurt? Either that's a lie, or it's acceptable to hurt the Chinese using words.

> ... control of the whole planet

Bourgeoisies will lick anyone's butthole, as long as this person or entity is powerful and rich. I thought you are proud of your superior capitalism? Also, it is hilarious that a Westerner is accusing China for wanting to control the planet, could you please remind me how many oversea military bases does the US and China each have?

> ... I don't think you fully grasp it

I don't think you fully grasp how much we fear about your "freedom" either. I mean hey, the best CCP propaganda in what the West has done to the Middle East, your governments are all secretly pro-CCP ;)

> One innocent person who gets tortured outweighs even a thousand billion people who look the other way.

Well said! Now tell me what sanctions will the EU implement against the US for all the innocent people tortured by the US? I must remind you that I didn't say what the CCP did are fine, I just hate your double standard.

> ... perspective of serious Westerners

If you really are serious, you would have tried to learn more about China and made a lot fewer questionable actions. I mean, you put yourself in the position of a doctor, so it's your responsibility to get to know the patient.

> What precisely are you even disagreeing with?

I was referring to the fact that whenever I say anything good about the CCP or something that contradicts with what the Western mainstream media claims to be true, someone will jump out and say I have been brainwashed and I know less about China than they do. For what I am disagreeing with, if the three reasons I listed above still doesn't sum it up, let me give you a metaphor:

Say your friend is sick, this person is sneezing, has a running nose and is unhappy. You are worried about this but you have a solution: whenever you are unhappy, you play some video games and it cheers you up. So you skipped the first two symptoms and start to tie your friend's hands to a video game controller using duct tape. Your friend isn't denying the illness but is probably disagreeing with your solution.


> I thought you are proud of your superior capitalism?

You're just talking to yourself, this is a complete waste of time.


When a country takes actions that limit our freedom and attack our companies to enforce their values, it is next to impossible not to consider them an "Enemy."

There is not a way to help China deal with their internal questions; it is now a matter of pushing back.


Hey Zarro, I wanted to comment and thank you for this comment. it's a really insightful assertion and I think I agree with you quite a bit. We really need to push to differentiate CCP and China in Western media.

"If you ignore your bully he'll stop bullying you"

Have you ever tried that somewhere but high school? That's ridiculous.

yeah, that's what I was getting at. Even in high school it might very well not work.

It takes a lot of money and effort but it's China is only a decision away from pivoting it's story from external threats to internal ones.

> Thus the best way "oppose a government that is the sworn enemy of values you regard as precious" is to allow it to face its internal discord without giving it the "enemy" it so desperately needs as ammunition to use against you.

At the same time, is passive opposition ethical? Should we allow economic coercion and suppression of political speech in the US by a state power? Can we not speak out in favor of those protesting in Hong Kong that were promised 50 years of "one country, two systems" and just want to cash that check? What about the Uyghurs in camps?

I suspect that a rational, measured response to these issues is enough to be the boogeyman interfering in internal affairs that China wants.


火箭, unlike the "Lakers", is a common Chinese word (rockets). Expecting it to dominate the trending hashtag on a Chinese social media site is a stretch.

Even worse, the search term in the image is "火影" (Naruto, EDIT: the series, not the character; the Chinese name of the series refers to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Naruto_characters#Hoka... ).

No wonder they're getting results completely unrelated to basketball.


This was a mistake, since fixed, but even then there are no basketball references

Yeah, now it's "Rocket Girls 101" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_Girls_101

Probably censorship, but including "篮球" in the query would make it a lot more obvious whether the Houston Rockets are suppressed intentionally or not.


Try火箭队. I got plenty of news results on Baidu.

Anti-China propaganda machinery is in full force today. So many anti-China propaganda articles in a technical news site. This isn't what I was expecting when I joined Hacker News. I was expecting to see Hacker news, not this rubbish that has littered the front page today. I am even ready to be removed from this site today. I am not even Chinese. I have never visited China but I am able to see anti-China bullshit that is happening on this site.

I don't believe that it's actual propaganda, it looks more like a) people being honestly upset about behavior, b) self-marketing folks jumping on the opportunity to strongly condemn whatever is en vogue to condemn c) that becoming a bit of a self-propelling force.

I agree that the tenths article on the same topic that doesn't really add new information and produces largely identical comments isn't too interesting, but I don't believe that it's coordinated in any way. People like outrage, and they like to signal to each other that they are part of the same group, so they upvote and comment "I too am outraged".

And then there's just the randomness of the NBA, South Park and Blizzard happening yesterday/today, had those happened a week apart, it would have looked differently.

StackOverflow's PR disaster that unfolded over the last two weeks or so was similar in amount, but it was stretched over 10 days so there would only be one or two posts on the front page (granted: they did get flagged down and/or were removed by mods more quickly than the topics about China, possibly because there's more flame-war-potential in StackOverflow's actions than in "The West's" reaction to Chinese outrage).


How is this anti China propaganda? These are legitimate complaints that haven't been properly addressed nor called out for years.

Not really propaganda. It's real reaction from large portion of people. But the belief of mass is not always right.

Iraq was destroyed not only because of WMD as a lie but the biggest factor is that Westners as human rights activits collectively supported their government based on the belief that they own truth and have "moral responsibilty" meaning they are the judge but not god to decide other peoples fate by liberate them from evil human right abuser i.e. Saddam and Gaddafi. They are able to do that because western countries have more bombs while the "evils" can not defend themselves.

In today's world, Hitler doesn't create threat because it's obvious wrong and will be easily destroyed. The real threat is mobs of human activists that believe they stand on a high moral ground. They are more deceptive. They create chaos around the world. They show no remorse for the suffer of Iraq and Libya people because they don't think they cause the disaster.

Blaming the lie of WMD is another lie. The Western people collectively supported their countries to bomb Iraq and Libya that evetually created the chaos and disaster. That's the real root cause.

Human rights and democracy is the last cult in the world after communism collapse. I'm not saying HR and democracy themselvs are bad. But because the believers have done a lot of damages without knowing it's their crime that cause millions of death. The stupidity of mordem human only recognizes direct killing as a crime but never admit bigger scale crime indirectly caused by their "good" intention


One-sided complaints? When we point out millions of people which were murdered by US, we are downvoted and suppressed because we are a minority on this US-dominated website. I am seriously fed-up with the bullshit spread on this site. You can remove some of us and continue to discuss rubbish pro-US drivel. If there is a way to report users, please do me a favour by reporting my account. I want to get out of this rubbish website today.

I feel the same way that the quality of discussion here has declined significantly and even as an American I'm tired of politicizing everything in a pro-US light. Do you have any recommendations for alternative sources of tech news?

Unfortunately I don't know a website which is as good as Hacker News when coming to technical news. I wish there was a Hacker News site without politics.

You're probably looking at this from outside the mainstream Western perspective which is, for demographic reasons, inevitably the majority view here. I've posted a ton about this today. Perhaps it would help to review some of those posts:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21200971

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21199884

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21195089

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21195898

More comments on this at https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que....


Hi Dan. Is it okay for me to post? It's been about a year.

I've tried asking through official channels for a couple months, so I thought I'd ask casually here.

I don't care about my old accounts. This one is fine.


I apologize for some of my past behavior. It was unfair towards you. I see where you're coming from with respect to community cohesion and some of the tough decisions you have to make.

I have no interest in causing friction. I am here to nerd out about AI and Lumen. E.g. https://twitter.com/theshawwn/status/1169798426088939520


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