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In this light of recent heat up of issues with China, I want to share a positive story to contrast: I had a daily driver in Chengdu for over 1 month who spoke no English, zero, none at all - not even "yes" or "no". We communicated via Google translate (on VPN). He would play Chinese music and then some days I would play some American rock and roll. We bonded in inexplicable ways. I had always commented on how I love the carved wooden letter that hangs on the taxi's rear-view mirror. The ride was almost 1 hour in the morning and 2 hours in the evening back to the Hotel. We became friends. On the last day, he took the wooden ornament off, cupped it in his palm, held it against his chest, gave it to me with a glimmer in his eyes. Fuck, that was the most amazing human connection I've ever made.

I've worked in China in the semiconductor business, stayed there and absorbed some of the things the west does not even know. I recommend reading "Poorly Made in China (2011)" by Paul Midler. It is surprisingly good - factual, objective look of deep issues with China's way of doing things. I resonate with the book with my personal experience.

Diplomacy is about being able to negotiate well, build trust and foster long term relationships, acknowledge mutual interests, differences and work towards solutions to problems. China has lost the brand image, probably forever. Despite a few positive experiences on the individual level, I hate working with Chinese businesses and would never want to go there. Fuck the Chinese government and its tentacles (Chinese corporations). The Chinese leadership does not understand that leadership is about inspiring others, taking care of the weak, keeping your promises and being able to independently think, innovate and set an example for other nations to follow. The way it is going, I can guarantee with certainty that they can have all the financial leverage, moral leverage is what you need in the long term; they can never become a superpower.

Edit: grammar




> moral leverage is what you need in the long term; they can never become a superpower.

I do not understand what you mean by this, and what long term is to you. I want to be convinced, but I fail to see this as true.

What would be a superpower in your eyes, and which of the past examples of morally problematic powers (USSR, British/Spanish/Portuguese/French empires,for example) do you consider not to meet the definition, or not to have been "long term"?


I guess one thing that is obvious, is that an oppressive country like China can never win the race to attract the brightest, most creative minds. Nowadays people have options on where to live and from what I can see, these kind of people mostly prefer to live in more liberal societies.


I guess one thing that is obvious, is that an oppressive country like China can never win the race to attract the brightest, most creative minds.

They have over a billion people have have made significant investments over decades to indoctrinate nationalistic fervour. They have zero need to attract anyone. By statistics alone they have more “bright, creative” people than US+UK+EU combined, and far greater willingness to employ those people for national goals. The same people we have working on adtech and similar nonsense.


Would they even need to attract foreigners? They have more people than all of North America and Europe combined.


In fact they did attract foreigners, how many businesses want to cozy up to them? Some countries would very much like to deal with their citizens the Chinese way too.

They do not need anyone to migrate, which is entirely different.


I am not sure the foreigners, but actually right now more and more Chinese students studying aboard are back to China to work. In case you don't believe it, just added the link from QZ.com: https://qz.com/1342525/chinese-students-increasingly-return-...


This assumes that having the brightest and most creative people is necessary to become a global superpower. That's a particularly modern and Western way of thinking; a lot of powerful empires in the past got that way by fostering a sense of moral superiority in the ordinary people. The British empire, Ottoman empire, Roman empire, etc were all built on the idea that the people were better than everyone else so it was OK to take from other nations. And it worked - those empires lasted hundreds of years, thousands of years in the case of the Romans.

America has been a superpower based on capitalism for under a hundred years. That isn't long enough to see if it's a better way of building power than other philosophies just yet.


"a superpower based on capitalism"

This seems to me like a bag of words, not a real concept that means something. It's like saying America is "a superpower based on Christianity," or "a superpower based on immigration," or "a superpower built on the back of slavery," or "a superpower based on the proposition that all men are created equal." Capitalism isn't even a philosophy, it's a side effect of freedom.


# Capitalism isn't even a philosophy, it's a side effect of freedom.

Is it? In the country where capitalism came from "in 1831 a mere 4,500 men, out of a population of more than 2.6 million people, were entitled to vote in parliamentary elections" http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/citizenship/stru...


Voting has nothing to do with freedom. And Scotland didn’t invent capitalism, what are you talking about?


England / UK invented capitalism. In 1831 you already had GB. (correct quote was that you got 3% of the population as voters - but you argue that it doesn't matter anyway) I don't quite understand what kind of freedom they had at a time when the body that coins all laws was determined by 3% of the population.


This is probably the best defense one can have, but it is not clear that the door will stay open forever.


I see it as a difference where people want to join, or are forced to join. Nobody wants to be part of a immoral power, because the immoral stuff will happen to you too. People want a just and fair system.

I split it like this: do you have people at the borders to keep people out, or keep people in. If you have to use force to keep your own citizens and regions in, well good luck to you.

On the other hand, if you have to refuse people and regions to join you, you're in a very good position.

That's why you can only keep using force and supression for so long, and history has shown that we evolve to more fair, moral systems.


People want to join anywhere where it's economically better. Following the victor, whoever they are, whatever they believe, is a common feature of all empires. The reality is that most people are too busy for either politics or morality.


Maybe he's thinking the causes and effects in the reversed order.

PS, why US is not on your problematic powers list for what's done/doing in the Middle East?


>> moral leverage is what you need in the long term; they can never become a superpower.

> I do not understand what you mean by this, and what long term is to you. I want to be convinced, but I fail to see this as true.

I too am curious what it means. The only thing comes to mind is a variation of the just world fallacy.


> The Chinese leadership does not understand that leadership is about inspiring others, taking care of the weak, keeping your promises and being able to independently think, innovate and set an example for other nations to follow

Which nation is demonstrating this leadership then? In the current world, no one.

I believe firmly on the other hand: hard power is what makes a superpower, superpower. US is the superpower not for the moral sugar coating, which itself is an afterthought and curated national mythology by the said scholars, but for the dollar's reserve status and the military that enforces such status.

China probably couldn't be the superpower like US in 90s, a role model that everyone aspires to be. However in a world everyone is equally self-centric and nationalism-driven, it surely can be a superpower.

devy 41 days ago [flagged]

> they can never become a superpower.

China has long been a world super power for thousands of years, and probably only lost that title after European renaissance. Read some history[1] dude.

> I had a daily driver in Chengdu for over 1 month who spoke no English, zero, none at all - not even "yes" or "no". We communicated via Google translate (on VPN).

> I recommend reading "Poorly Made in China (2011)" by Paul Midler. It is surprisingly good - factual, objective look of deep issues with China's way of doing things. I resonate with the book with my personal experience.

> Diplomacy is about being able to negotiate well, build trust and foster long term relationships, acknowledge mutual interests and work towards solutions to problems. China has lost the brand image, probably forever.

I don't understand your sentiments here. You started your story by telling everyone you don't speak Chinese and can't communicate with local Chinese people and then later you said China lost the brand image, how can you come to that conclusion if you don't even speak Chinese understand the culture? Without understanding each other, how do you "negotiate well, build trust"? If all you know about China is based on the readings on NYT on China and a 2009 book about Chinese products (which btw, was originally published ten years ago in 2009[2], not 2011 as you mentioned) and your experience in semiconductor sector, then your view about China is very biased(due to NYT's long standing anti-China editorial board) limited, narrow minded and a decade outdated.

Lastly, your repeatedly usage of F-bomb doesn't make your arguments stronger, but make your seem like you have poor vocabulary.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_China

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poorly_Made_in_China


Hi, I'm curious what you think of the five demands


Disclaimer: I am biased just as most people here in the discussions. But I am bi-lingual and I read lots (hundreds) articles both in English & Chinese (Simplified & Traditional) and I've been to Hong Kong and have had personal experiences working with HK Police. And I also have Hong Kong friends both native (born in HK) and immigrants from mainland.

There was an OpEd[1] written by Ronny K. W. Tong, a former chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association, posted on SCMP, a major local Hong Kong newspaper published in English. I agree with it.

Of all the five demands:

1. Full withdrawal of the extradition bill.

This is kinda of BS, even though HK government has completed gave in on this. The bill is effectively dead. But just think about it, this is about a case where a murder suspect who committed murder and was supposed to be face justice. HK law is probably too lenient on capital punishment than in mainland, which the suspect is mostly like to be served with death penalty. I can understand the fear HKers towards a in-transparent justice system with potential political descendants abuse.

2. A commission of inquiry into alleged police brutality

This is also BS. My first hand experience with HK Police has been very positive and professional. Any riots with colour revolution approach and significant violence against law enforcement, major damages to public infrastructure like subway stations, government buildings, and not a single protester was killed but hundreds of HK police officers were injured some were badly injured, a few were blind due to protester shooting high powered laser beams into the eyes of officers in short distance and doxxing against thousands of HK police officers and their spouses/children, this is practically unheard of anywhere in the history. The restraint there is unmatched.

Can you imagine if this happened in the U.S.? Any protester & violent rioters dare to post threat to law enforcement/police officers, they will be shoot or tased or choked dead. Pretty sure you will get near zero chance to win in arguing police brutality with the judge either. Ok, maybe U.S. is not a good example to compare to because gun ownership makes it unique. But what about the HK Police during British ruling? I haven't seen any comparison report before 1997 vs. after 1997. I will challenge the protester to do some homework on that topic and leave it at that.

3 Retracting the classification of protesters as “rioters”

BS x 3. See #2. Protest became violent, lots of HK Police officers were hurt and injured, even officers' spouses and children became doxxing victims. If this is not riots what is?

4. Amnesty for arrested protesters

BS x 4. You know what's screw-up after all these arrests? The foreign judges free them! Yes, you heard that right. Hong Kong inherits the legal justice system from the British ruling, like any other western countries, the judges are appointed for life. And you know what, most of the top judges are foreigners who are also citizens from the Commonwealth, by definition, that means these judges also pledge the allegiances to other countries in additional to Hong Kong. How could the judge be unbiased if they have dual/triple citizenship? What if their allegiances to other Commonwealth countries has a conflict of interests to their jobs as Hong Kong judges? This is also unheard of in any countries with a fair record of justice systems. Obviously, those foreign judges doesn't like to be criticized.[2] They want to keep it that way.[3][4]. If I were a Hong Konger, I certainly won't like to be judged by a foreign judge especially the judge pledge the allegiance to a hostile nation (UK) with a strong political biased than my own country (China).

5. Dual universal suffrage, meaning for both the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive

This wasn't part of the 1997 deal between UK + China. Hong Kong had never had universal suffrage under British ruling. So what makes the protesters think they will have a leverage on negotiating that? If the government doesn't agree to it, they burn down the whole city, block the subway and airport and make every Hong Konger suffer? I am being cynical here, under the current situation neither Beijing nor Hong Kong government would consider that.

I've read many OpEds and discussions, the consensus of mainland media focus on the living standard of average Hong Kongers were the major cause of social unrest. I agree with that.

The five demands have no bearing on changing the lives of lower class Hong Kongers and on the future hope of young Hong Kongers. Instead, they should be asking for changes in legislation on public housing (one of most expensive places to live on earth), on economic stimulus in creating jobs for youngsters, narrowing a huge income gap between the ultra wealthy and the poor lower class (a city with slightly less population with 20 billionaires with net worth over $2B, totally $170B, or 55% of the GDP controlled by 20 people/families, how did Hong Kong end up like that?[5]). The social economical divide is astonishing.

Although democracy is arguably an ultimate destination for citizens to ask for, democracy doesn't necessary solve Hong Kong's social + economical problems that I outlined. Additionally, democracy doesn't necessarily bring prosperity, there are authoritarian states that people have a much better living standards, namely Saudi., UAE, Qatar and a bunch of middle eastern countries, and then there is Singapore.

The 5 demands of Hong Kong Rioters totally miss the point of urgent issues and introduce violence and break law & order is the wrong way for all of Hong Kong people. Let alone vast majority of the Hong Kong people did not fully agree with the protesters to begin with.

That's my opinion on the 5 demands.

[1]: https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3017719/hong-ko...

[2]: https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/209614...

[3]: https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/2096355...

[4]: https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/opinion/article/2128060/why-c...

[5]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Hong_Kong_people_by_ne...


>This is also BS. My first hand experience with HK Police has been very positive and professional. Any riots with colour revolution approach and significant violence against law enforcement, major damages to public infrastructure like subway stations, government buildings, and not a single protester was killed but hundreds of HK police officers were injured some were badly injured, a few were blind due to protester shooting high powered laser beams into the eyes of officers in short distance and doxxing against thousands of HK police officers and their spouses/children, this is practically unheard of anywhere in the history. The restraint there is unmatched.

Uhh have you seen the videos protesters are posting on Reddit? HK police ganging up on someone and kicking them while they're down, shooting someone in the torso point blank, going in plainclothes among protesters and throwing Molotov cocktails. I hope you get paid a bonus when they order you to drive the tank.


> I had always commented on how I love the carved wooden letter that hangs on the taxi's rear-view mirror

In many cultures it is disrespectful to make such comments, because they convey a thinly veiled demand to get the thing, otherwise the other person loses face for not being generous.


Yeah, but that’s within the culture. They’re not dolts. They know foreigners aren’t well versed in their nuances.

Can you imagine thinking that Americans would feel disrespected because a visiting foreigner made a cultural faux pas?

Oh my god, they didn’t stand up for the anthem!!! They asked my salary!!!


I get your point but I've seen a lot of Americans be outraged at non-native English speakers use words or expressions they deem inappropriate, and show zero tolerance for the fact the people in question aren't necessarily fluent.

It happens a lot here in fact.


Right, or Parisians or people in Quebec, non metro Germany, non coastal China, etc. Those aren’t cultural faux pases, really.

The situation described is two people who are acquaintances from different places trying to have an interested conversation, not just random people bumping into each other.


Americans are currently feeling extremely disrespected and salty af because the Chinese government built from a different culture made a cultural faux pas of demanding organizational accountability for the speech of an employee, something that happens every day in China, both now and before there was ever a Communist party.


Not sure why this has been downvoted. It's an interesting way of looking at the issue. You don't have to agree with what China does.


Perhaps I missed this obvious cultural sensitivity, I thought his gift to me was from genuine generosity in the true sense of the word.


Don’t let some rando from the internet re-frame your personal experience. You know better than them


Don't change your opinion based on one random comment.


Too little info to tell for the specific case, but I heard many such stories, not just from east Asia.

In general, gifts are complex. In some cultures you must refuse it some specific number of times, not to look greedy. But then you have to accept it, because getting help/gift is a bit submissive and results in gratefulness, and however little, the feeling of owing them back, which can create social ties.


While you may have missed it, you're the best judge of whether he gave it to you out of genuine goodwill. If he did, then you're good.


In the context of their continued friendship, it's quite likely that parent comment, as far as we can tell from the limited description of its delivery, would be interpreted favorably by the other party.



> The way it is going, I can guarantee with certainty that they can have all the financial leverage, moral leverage is what you need in the long term; they can never become a superpower.

I feel the same. This is especially apparent with how they handle their territorial disputes in South East Asia.

Hard to become a superpower when you are antagonizing your neighbors.


> Hard to become a superpower when you are antagonizing your neighbors.

I think the historical super-powers would disagree. Rome conquered all its neighbours. Britain had mostly terrible relations with France from the 11th to the end of the 19th century (and, at least according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_modern_great_powers, both can be reasonably viewed as superpowers in the 19th century).

And I'm fairly sure that the USA's relations with Latin America could readily be described as "antagonizing your neighbors" ...


Yeah this. Not just Rome, but think about the Spanish Empire. They conquered south and middle America seeking gold and forcing Catholicism on the natives. The British Empire? Hard to argue it was some sort of moral authority. They were just as bad as the Spanish. What makes a super power? Money and military. That's all. We can dress up American power with all the highest ideals we like, none of it means a thing without money and might.


Rome conquered all its neighbours

This is not entirely true; Rome sent in the legions only when it had to. It “conquered” most of Britain via soft power, coopting local elites, introducing hypocausts, aqueducts and so on. Where it had to use hard power, it failed hence Hadrian’s Wall.


Then in the 20th century there were two proposals of Anglo-French union (1940 and 1956). That would have made an interesting alternative timeline. :)


World has changed a lot since Roman empire, the British empire and the French colonialism. I am not convinced if the same dynamics still apply. You acutely omit the fall of the Nazi party for example. They didn't like their neighbors, tried to invade them and we all know how it went. You should be making a list of all the potential superpowers that didn't become by pissing off their neighbors.


I wonder if the Nazis had stopped at Poland, Austria, and Hungary and just built up their power more slowly if they wouldn't have survived? The U.S.S.R. was no better but they had far more staying power and the remnants of that still influence politics to this day.

The main point I take from history is that the past does not necessarily determine the future. There's no such thing as fate. The Nazis could have won if they didn't make certain strategic errors. If Rome didn't make certain strategic errors, it would still be an empire today. China itself is older than Rome and there's really no guarantees that they don't win this whole cold war or whatever it is that's brewing.


I think the point I was trying to make is - I cannot imagine an empire such as the British empire going around conquering and taking over the world today. We have nuclear power. We have instant communication on a global scale. Organizing is easier than ever on the internet and once we have satellite internet, it is game over.

I just don't see the same type of century old analogies panning out in today's world. A superpower cannot antagonize, bully, invade and destroy neighbors like they used to in 13th century.

Your point of the Nazi party sounds plausible - if Nazi party had slowly built up their power, I think they'd had a hard time spreading on a global scale.


Maybe. I think nuclear weapons are a deterrent for these world wars that happened in the 20th century and I agree on that point.

But the cold war still happened and it lasted a long time and there were many proxy wars fought in the process.

If world economy tanked for some reason and we found ourselves in another great depression, then all bets are off, though. Desperate people will do desperate things. They are more easily manipulated.

Any number of things could shift and the world is not as well put together as we would like to believe. It's a lot of duct tape and glue holding the whole thing together.


How is China older than Rome? I see no more continuity in culture or society between those.


China has had dynasty changes and civil wars for sure. But the language and culture are continuous for thousands of years. How many people speak Latin these days versus Mandarin?


Try again but ask about Romance languages.

Rome never forced Latin language on their members the way Mandarin was. Count the extant variants of Chinese and how they declined. In fact Greek was held in high esteem in the Roman empire.


> Hard to become a superpower when you are antagonizing your neighbors.

Er, is this true? I'd have thought quite the opposite: hard to become a superpower _without_ antagonizing neighbors.


Do you truly feel that the US has antagonized Canada and Mexico within the past 100 years? I'm pretty sure they're our closest allies.


100 years seems like an arbitrary cutoff, and we sure as hell "antagonized" Mexico on our way to becoming a superpower not that much earlier than that by... Taking half their territory.

Canada has almost always been a virtual non-entity due to things like their incredible population sparsity and longitudinal cultural/economic integration with regions of the US. They are a counterexample, but the pattern very much points in my direction IMO.

On top of that, we're talking about _becoming_ a superpower, not being one. Once you're already a superpower, your neighbors often become varying degrees of vassal, which is why Mexico and Canada are among our closest allies. You're hardly a superpower if you haven't neutralized your neighbors (diplomatically or otherwise). Look at the blood feuds over tiny bits of land in the rest of the world, and consider how cool Mexico seemingly is with their land's massive, unprovoked conquest. They accepted it (and their good relationship with us) because they didn't have a better choice.

How many superpowers can you think of that didn't antagonize their neighbors, especially on their way to becoming one? Rome? Persia? Britain? Russia?


I definitely think there has been some antagonism from the US government towards Mexico a lot more recently than 100 years ago


It's technically (just) more than 100 years, but the Zimmerman Telegram (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimmermann_Telegram) is not something your (potential) enemy sends to one of your "closest allies".


The line of 100 years just misses the US occupation of Veracruz and the Zimmerman Telegram (or the Mexican Revolution in general), which was one of the lowest points of US-Mexico relations. US-Canada relations were pretty testy in the pre-WWI era as well, and the declassification of War Plan Red [1] did cause a brief stir.

Then again, the US has antagonized many countries simply by electing Donald Trump.

[1] In the inter-war period, the US military used a series of color classification schemes to sketch out what the US response to wars with various countries would look like. Red was Britain. And in event of war with the UK, the US plan was to invade Canada, irrespective of Canada declaring neutrality (which was Canada's plan in such a scenario).


Which countries has it antagonized? China? Canada and Mexico have signed onto the USMCA. Japan and India's leaders both seem to adore Trump. Watching Trump at the U.N. two weeks ago, he seemed to be a very capable diplomat and seems to have good relations with most nations.


"I'm altering the deal, pray I do not alter it further." But yes, totally okay with USMCA, that's why we decided to put the US first in the name.


Canada and Mexico signed the USMCA not so much because they felt it was better than NAFTA but because they didn't want Trump to do any worse. And it's not like Canada is happy about Trump's emergency steel tariffs that hit Canada's exports--the fact that USMCA would cause Trump to lift them was one of they reasons to sign it, and Trump certainly was in no rush to lift them afterwords.

Not to mention there's lots of dislike towards Trump's tendency to rip up treaties just because Obama signed them--Vietnam wasn't happy about Trump dropping TPP, Europe was not a fan of him leaving the Paris climate treaty or the Iran nuclear treaty, etc.


Yeah but superpowers do try to avoid it, not actively foment it.


Considering the three past superpower: UK, USSR, and USA. I find that the degree of which they antagonize their neighbors depend on their geography.

UK is an island and a seabased power whose primary interest in Europe was to prevent the creation of a dominant European power which could overpower it. Therefore it created a number of alliances and rivalries to serve this purpose. On other continents, however, it were more aggressive to secure trade and colonies.

The USSR as a landbased Empire that had a flat border to the west, was fairly hostile to its western neighbors in Eastern Europe and even to China to the East. Although a Russian would argue that they created buffer states in response to the memory of being invaded twice by Napoleon and Hitler.

The USA is a sea based empire with a continent behind it. Therefore it originally was very hostile against its neighbors, be they Native American or European colonies. After securing the continent by reaching the Pacific, it ensured the dominance of the Caribbean through the Monroe Doctrine (similar to China's position vis-a-vis the South China Sea) today. And then afterwards played Balance of Power against any major power from emerging on Eurasia.

China has a number of formidable foes on its immediate periphery. It is almost impossible to dominate them all militarily, especially with the US against it. Therefore it will attempt to establish economic dominance over Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The Belt and Road initiative alleviates it from a over reliance on Sea based imports of oil (especially through the Strait of Malacca which the US navy could easily blockade).


Assyria was a superpower for a lot longer than the USA has even existed. Their relationships with their neighbors was almost entirely antagonistic.

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f4af/bb82f1b7920fa9444e29eb...

Nearly the entire history of the Ancient Near East was superpowers antagonizing their neighbors. Throughout human history, superpowers NOT antagonizing their neighbors is almost unheard of. The easiest way to become a superpower, historically, was to antagonize your neighbors.


Their goal is never be become a superpower.This is just western paranoia Their action is based to protect their interest and to avoid chaos in their society. China experience with the west is based on their experience in the Opium war.


Never assume. Chinese presence in the South China Sea, Vietnam's EEZ hints otherwise. Chairman Xi is a somewhat ambitious bureaucrat with no sense of humour. We'll see how he handles HK: soft power or Tianamen style.


So to sum up - we should deal with a regime that runs concentration camps and threatens its neighbours because you once met a nice taxi driver. I'm convinced!


No, to sum it up: bad, immoral, oppressive governments do not reflect the perfectly good human qualities of some/most of the population they govern. Hate the Chinese government, not the Chinese people.


What a shallow reading! The point is that you can have wonderful individuals in an otherwise hostile culture. Or, human connections transcend barriers. I’ve had similar experiences as a foreigner in China among other countries.


I've read stories of wonderful individuals who were also Nazis, but the Nazis still needed to be destroyed.


Try reading the rest of the comment.




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