PRI president Steve Mosher writes about China’s House of Cards
For two thousand years, the Chinese Empire has sought to overawe visiting barbarians with the magnificence of the imperial court. It still does today.
As Air Force One lands at the dragon-shaped Beijing International Airport, President Trump will be treated to a skyline that didn’t exist until a few years ago.
Most of Beijing’s old residential neighborhoods — called hutung’s — were deliberately destroyed in the frenzied build-out that preceded the 2008 Olympics. They have been replaced by stadiums like the Bird’s Nest (which actually resembles a giant bird’s nest) and by high-rise office buildings.
Then there are the Leaning Towers. The headquarters of China Central Television — the Beijing regime’s primary propaganda outfit — the Leaning Towers consist of two towers leaning at different angles joined 36 stories up by a 250-foot, L-shaped overhang. Unlike the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which acquired its tilt naturally, the awkward structure was designed to look like it is falling over.
As such, it could stand as a metaphor for the reckless building boom that has plunged China into a level of debt that few nations have ever recovered from. Without going through a devastating economic meltdown, that is.
For the past twenty years, China has kept roughly half of the world’s cranes busy turning wheat fields and peasant huts all over China into skyscrapers. For someone like myself, who first visited China in 1979, the transformation is almost miraculous.
The luster begins to fade when you realize that the land was stolen by rapacious Communist officials from poor workers and peasants who had lived in these huts, and farmed these lands, for centuries. It disappears entirely when you understand that many of these new apartment and office buildings are often nearly devoid of tenants. This means that the soft construction loans that were so generously doled out by the Party’s managers of state-owned banks to their Party comrades who run construction companies will never be paid back.
China’s Xi Jinping should have asked Donald Trump what happens when you overbuild.
Instead, back in at the 2012 Party Congress, the newly installed Party Supremo announcedthat he intended to double the size of the economy by 2020. The regime’s central planners swiftly calculated that this required an annual GDP growth of 6.5 percent, and ordered everyone to fall in line. In order to hit this target, the state has been recklessly printing money and rolling out debt ever since.
As a result of these practices, the country’s debt has been ballooning in recent years. The Institute of International Finance estimates that “China’s total debt surpassed 304 percent of GDP as of May 2017.”
Knowing something about Chinese accounting practices, I would guess that even this startling number is a gross underestimate.
Consider that most Chinese businesses keep three sets of books. The first two are cooked, one to convince the government that the company owes no taxes, the other to mislead business partners (especially foreign partners) that it is barely turning a profit. The only accurate accounting of revenues and expenses is to be found in the third set, which the proprietor keeps carefully hidden away from prying eyes.
It is a safe bet that many local, city, and provincial governments are fudging the numbers, or keeping bad loans off the books entirely, in the accounting they send up the chain of command to Beijing.
The China that Xi Jinping will showcase to the American President thus contains lots of beautiful new buildings, and cranes that are busy constructing even more.
The builder in Donald Trump will probably be impressed by all the new construction, but the businessman may question whether such an overheated economy can long survive.
Trump knows that the Chinese economy is essentially derivative. It feeds parasitically off of the U.S. consumer economy, soaking up $500 billion a year in foreign currency, which it then uses to prop up its failing state-owned enterprises.
He also knows, thanks in part to Peter Navarro, all about the “dizzying array of illegal export subsidies, currency manipulation, intellectual property theft, sweatshop labor, and pollution havens” that China has used to seize market share from both Europe and North America.
Finally, he knows that America’s ruling class – that loose coalition of Globalists and Progressives also known as the Washington Establishment – literally sold out America when it allowed China to join the World Trade Organization. As Lenin might have said, the Establishment “sold China the rope that it is using to hang us.”
But if the Establishment made the classic Capitalist blunder, Comrade Xi may have made the classic Communist one.
Like all good Communists, Xi apparently believes that he can simply command the economy to grow … and grow it will.
Acting on the belief that the economy was his to command, the late Chairman Mao nearly destroyed it. He launched the Great Leap Forward in the late Fifties, ordered his people into communes, and commanded them to catch up to Great Britain in steel production in three years.
Xi Jinping, acting out of the same belief, has set the Chinese economy on a similarly dangerous course. He is so bent on surpassing the United States and achieving his “China Dream” of world hegemony, that he ordered the Chinese economy to double in size in eight years.
Mao’s blunder led to a massive famine costing 45 million lives. Xi’s blunder has led to a debt bubble so massive that it may turn China’s beautiful new façade of modernity into nothing more than a world-class Potemkin Village.
Last year, for the first time in our nation’s history, the American people elected as president someone with no experience in government. Trump has never been a senator, a congressman, or a governor, nor even a cabinet secretary or a general. What he does bring to the table is the acumen of an entrepreneur who has spent his life in construction and finance.
If anyone understands that China is sitting on a mammoth debt bubble of its own making, it is Donald Trump.
The President needs to make clear to Xi that he holds a very, very sharp pin.
Then he needs to begin to do what he does best: negotiate in earnest.
Right now Steve’s important new book, Bully of Asia, is just coming off the presses at Regnery publishers. Here’s your chance to get that landmark book and helpy PRI as well.
Steve is an internationally recognized authority on China. He is also the author of numerous books on China, among them Broken Earth: The Rural Chinese, A Mother’s Ordeal: One Woman’s Fight Against China’s One-Child Policy, and Hegemon: China’s Plan to Dominate Asia and the World. He’s written hundreds of scholarly articles, editorials, and opinion pieces. This book, The Bully of Asia, is indispensable to understanding America’s greatest foreign policy challenge today.
The signs are everywhere.
China unilaterally claims the entire South China Sea as sovereign territory, then builds artificial islands to bolster its claim. It suddenly activates an air defense identification zone over the East China Sea, and threatens to down any aircraft that does not report its position. It builds roads into Indian territory, then redraws the maps to show that it is actually Chinese territory. China is still forcibly aborting millions of its children, leaving tens of millions of Chinese men without spouses, ripe for the military conquest of countries where women are more plentiful.
The People’s Republic under President Xi Jinping is quickly becoming The Bully of Asia. Here’s your chance to learn more about the threat China poses to global security. With your donation of $20 or more to the Population Research Institute, we’ll send you a copy of “Bully of Asia” as our way to thank you in helping to end population control around the world.
Abortion Providers Sue Texas for Banning Dismemberment Abortion
A Texas law banning a gruesome and inhumane abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation (D&E) is being challenged in federal court.
This past Thursday, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division opened a trial on the state’s D&E ban.
D&E, better known as ‘dismemberment abortion,’ is one of the most brutal abortion procedures legally permitted in the United States. The procedure involves tearing apart the unborn child limb by limb, causing the child to bleed to death. The baby is removed in pieces from the uterus using forceps or vacuum aspiration. Afterwards, the woman’s uterus is scraped with a long metal curette to remove any remnants of the baby or the placenta left in the womb.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has vowed to defend the state’s dismemberment abortion ban in federal court.
“I will always fight to protect the basic human rights and dignity of the unborn,” Attorney General Ken Paxton told PRI.
“The Texas Legislature, through the passage of Senate Bill 8, took reasonable steps to prohibit the live dismemberment of babies still in the womb, a brutal, gruesome and inhumane procedure that involves an abortionist tearing a fully formed child apart limb by limb,” Paxton said, “It’s time the American people fully understand the horrific practices occurring in our country.”
This past June, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 8 (SB 8), a sweeping pro-life law banning dismemberment abortion in the state. SB 8 also prohibited the sale of fetal body parts and required abortion facilities to at least treat the remains of aborted babies with the minimum of respect by burying or cremating them.
In August, Judge Yeakel placed a temporary restraining order on the Texas dismemberment ban, preventing the law from going into effect. In September, Yeakel extended the hold on SB 8 until November 22.
Federal and state courts elsewhere have also recently overturned or have placed holds on dismemberment abortion bans in other states.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson of the Middle District of Alabama struck down Alabama’s dismemberment abortion ban, claiming the law was unconstitutional. Courts have also placed temporary or permanent injunctions on dismemberment bans in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. Dismemberment laws in Mississippi and West Virginia have remained unchallenged.
The Kansas Supreme Court is currently hearing a case that will determine the fate of Kansas’ dismemberment abortion ban. The Kansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act was signed into law in 2015 by pro-life Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. Due to a legal challenge, the law never went into effect. The Kansas Supreme Court is expected to hand down a final decision sometime this later week.
While pro-abortion advocates in Texas and other states have challenged dismemberment laws through federal courts, the Kansas case is being argued through the state courts. A majority of the sitting justices on the Kansas Supreme Court were appointed by pro-abortion former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who also served in Obama Administration as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Under Sebelius’ leadership, the HHS rolled out and implemented the onerous HHS Contraceptive Mandate which triggered the largest cascade of religious liberty lawsuits in U.S. history.
As Margot Cleveland, University of Notre Dame professor and former longtime federal appellate law clerk pointed out in an article last week, the Kansas case could have greater implications for the people of Kansas than the other cases pending in federal courts. While federal law, through the Supreme Court’s precedent set out in Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and others, has already long held that women have a so-called fundamental “right” to abortion, a liberal judgement from the Kansas Supreme Court could create a similar or perhaps worse purported “right” to abortion in the Kansas state constitution.
While the direct termination of the life of an unborn child is always contrary to the fundamental and inherent right to life for every human being, until Roe v. Wade is overturned, it is all but impossible from a legal perspective to unconditionally protect the right to life for the unborn. The state of Texas has maintained that the state has an interest in “promot[ing] respect for the dignity of the life of the unborn” by ensuring that, at the very least, the unborn child is not submitted to cruel and inhumane dismemberment procedures.
Roe held that the state could not restrict access to abortion prior to viability except to protect women’s health. But Supreme Court’s decision in Casey changed that. States are now able to regulate abortion for reasons other women’s health even prior to viability, just so long as those restrictions do not create an “undue burden.”
In the Texas case, pro-abortion advocates are arguing that banning dismemberment abortion places an “undue burden” on women’s access to abortion.
However, the Texas dismemberment abortion ban can only be applied to a limited number of cases. D&E abortions are generally only performed in the second trimester after 15 weeks gestation. D&E abortions only constitute a small percentage of the total number of abortions committed in the United States, hardly constituting an “undue burden” to abortion access. And even though dismemberment abortion is never medically necessary, the Texas dismemberment ban even carves out an exemption for a “medical emergency.”
Most countries worldwide set gestational limits on abortion prior to 15 weeks. Even countries that have legalized abortion place significant term limits on the procedure. It is difficult to imagine that laws in Western European countries such as France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, and Italy which prohibit abortion on-demand after 14 weeks gestation or less constitute an “undue burden” on abortion access. After all, each of these Western European countries have far lower maternal mortality rates than the United States.
And as a recent Marist poll has shown, an overwhelming majority Americans are in favor of restricting abortion to the first trimester or to cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother. It is difficult to believe that abortion restrictions that comport with term limits that nearly 80% of Americans agree with constitute an “undue burden.”
The state further has a compelling interest in ensuring that human life, human dignity, and bodily integrity are protected by law. The state has the right, and in fact the duty, to ensure that unborn children—who are guilty of no wrong—are afforded the same constitutional legal protection afforded to criminals who are rightly protected from the imposition of “cruel and unusual punishments.”
The plaintiffs suing the state of Texas claim that D&E is the only “safe, studied, or medically appropriate” procedure for second trimester abortions, despite the fact that abortion, particularly dismemberment, is never safe or medically appropriate for the unborn child. D&E further carries health risks for the mother, including, in some cases, uterine perforation and excessive blood loss, not to mention the well-documented risks abortion poses to women’s physical, emotional, and psychological health in general, particularly during the second trimester.
As the state of Texas points out, several abortion procedures which do not dismember the unborn child while still alive are still legal including fetal injection of intracardiac potassium chloride, transabdominal injection of digoxin, and cutting of the umbilical cord. And as plaintiffs themselves admit, abortionists could simply induce labor instead of dismembering the unborn child.
According to the plaintiffs, potassium chloride and digoxin are not indicated for abortion. Texas state law prohibits the off-label use of drugs to procure an abortion. Yet evidence purportedly obtained by the state of Texas found that abortion providers in Texas already use digoxin to abort unborn babies prior to initiating D&E.
So if D&E is never medically necessary, if a ban on D&E does not constitute an “undue burden” on abortion access, and if a ban on D&E does not even eliminate the possibility of a second trimester abortion, what could possibly be the motivation for abortion providers like Planned Parenthood to fight so hard for keeping baby dismemberment legal? Perhaps the real reason has something to do with the method’s effectiveness.
At 15 weeks gestation, dismemberment abortion is the cheapest option and the only surefire way to ensure that the baby comes out dead. Abortionists don’t want to be bothered with lawsuits for botched abortions or criminal investigations into cases of infanticide. Instead, they’d rather tear tiny unborn babies apart limb by limb. Their depravity knows no bounds.
After the recent fatal attack by a terrorist who mowed down kids and pedestrians with a rental truck in New York City, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made a startling admission: he actually uttered the forbidden words, “Radical Islam.” He further revealed that the terrorist had been radicalized not in his home of Uzbekistan, but only after his arrival in the United States.
Not surprisingly, NBC news offered this headline in reporting the massacre: “Muslim Americans again brace for backlash after New York attack.” Not to be outdone, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NYC) bellowed tired banalities on MSNBC, wrapping up with his solution: New York should fight terrorism by “strengthening regulation of truck rentals.”
Meanwhile, New York Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan responded to the attacks by saying that we must “work towards greater respect and understanding among all people so that heinous and evil acts like this become a thing of the past.”
Consider: the terrorist, whom I will not dignify with a name, shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he careened on his murderous rampage.
Understanding? Your Eminence, what is left to understand?
Moreover, if there is one salient fact to “respect,” Raymond Cardinal Burke made that fact perfectly clear: “There’s no question that Islam wants to govern the world,” he writes in his book, Hope for the World: To Unite All Things in Christ. “There is no place for other religions…as long as Islam has not succeeded in establishing its sovereignty over the nations and over the world.”
Father James V. Schall, S.J., points out that “we have become used to such ‘terror,’ as we uncritically insist on calling it. This ‘getting used to it,’ however, is why such atrocities continue to happen. The strategy of those who initiate them is to deflect their enemies’ attention away from understanding Islam, what it says about itself. Such man-made flare-ups are like hurricanes. One follows another inevitably. No one can halt them. We can only prepare to mop up the next mess.”
But to “mop up” properly, Cardinal Dolan insists, we must do so with “understanding” and “respect.” If I may apply the words of Father Schall, the cardinal is indeed Islam’s “enemy,” but his attention has been “deflected away from understanding Islam.”
Father Schall respects Islam so much that he takes it seriously, on its own terms, not from the point of view of vapid sentimental happy-talk of Catholic versions of Rodney King – “Why can’t we all just get along?”
To the believing Moslem, Father Schall observes, “getting along” with Islam means surrender. “Islam is what those who take it most seriously, those who lay down their lives for it, claim that it is,” he writes. “The duty of Muslim thinkers and believers, in different places and periods of time, is to select the best prudential means, be it arms or peace, to achieve a world order subject to the law of Allah. Ultimately, real peace on earth can only exist when everyone in practice submits to Muslim law. Until then, those not under Muslim law are technically at war with Islam, which sees itself involved in a just war against unbelievers of all sorts.”
Father Schall’s reflections, which appeared in Crisis Magazine in September, reflect his unflappable common sense that he has applied to Islam in the years following the historic Regensburg Address of Pope Benedict, another realist. Schall’s article bears the striking title, “Why I believe in Islam,” reminiscent of the tireless work of Dr. Fred Schwartz fifty years ago regarding the Communist menace. “You can trust the Communists,” Schwartz insisted at every turn – “to do exactly what their ideology tells them to do.”
Cardinal Dolan’s remarks call to mind the remarks to Congress made by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone two years ago regarding the death of Kate Steinle. While walking along the docks with her father, Miss Steinle was murdered by a repeatedly-deported illegal alien criminal who had sought refuge in San Francisco because it was a “sanctuary city.” The archbishop extended his condolences and prayers to the Steinle family, but insisted that we not use her murder as an excuse to apply “guilt by association” to the millions of criminal illegals already in the country.
Undoubtedly, Archbishop Cordileone would urge us to “greater respect and understanding” for illegal aliens. At least he is consistent: two years after Steinle’s murder, he joined his fellow California bishops in supporting the continuation of San Francisco’s illegal “sanctuary city” status.
Sometimes the drivel dribbles down to the parish level – alas, to countless parishes. When our own rural parish in Virginia requested the use of our parish hall for a presentation on our bishop’s support of Muslim immigration, one Jeff Caruso, who has the peculiar role of diocesan lobbyist and doctrinal expert, inserted himself in the process by forbidding the issue to be discussed on parish grounds, giving this “explanation”:
“The singling out of Muslims as a security threat also reflects a bias against one religion that is at odds with the teaching of the Church which views that religion as part of God’s plan for salvation.”
Well. Allahu Akbar, Mr. Caruso!
Let’s face it: the magnitude of the magisterial blind spot infecting the American hierarchy and its chancery apparatchiks is simply stunning. When one adds the virtual disappearance of the defense of the Church’s moral teaching, the affliction approaches the textbook definition of a “black hole” – nothing can come out of it, the gravitational field (in this case, ennui) is so strong.
True to form, Cardinal Dolan, who yearns for “greater respect and understanding” of Islam, calmly shrugs when he admits to the Wall Street Journal that he and his fellow bishops haven’t taught the fundamental truths of Humanae Vitae for fifty years, even though the faithful are “hungry” for those truths so beautifully elucidated in that encyclical. They’ve had “laryngitis” on the moral teaching of the Church, he told the Wall Street Journal of March 30, 2012.
So much for the “greater respect and understanding” of the fundamental truths of the Catholic Faith.
We seem to be suffering from a Black Hole Plague: After all, Intellectual Chaos Is Contagious
The Washington swamp is not alone. Consider how America’s intellectual life has deteriorated – our culture has suffered through three generations of increased illiteracy, widespread moral degeneration, and the destruction of our past by Big Brother’s Ministry of Truth and his ministers in so many of our once-revered institutions.
The chaos and rot extends far beyond our hierarchy (note: not “our Church” – which is unassailably the Mystical Body of Christ). One wonders what institution has been spared. Our entire Federal Government swarms with corruption and malfeasance. The FBI used to be sacrosanct. The IRS was once carefully objective. The Department of Justice once stood far above the country’s chattering partisans. Both branches of Congress have abdicated their constitutional responsibilities to an unelected and permanent Deep State.
Abortion extremists have made the courts a war zone.
Hollywood, the media, entertainment (even football!) are now oozing with rot. The notion of patriotism has been hijacked to mean love of the Military-Industrial complex. Civic responsibility – even the notion of citizen itself – is under siege.
Can a people thus besieged suddenly arm itself, morally and intellectually, in a community sharing a common good?
But wait … a “people”? That’s offensive! We pride ourselves in our diversity!
Sorry folks, that will not last. As Russell Kirk once made clear, when faced with the choice between chaos and order, the masses will always choose order. Even if a few eggs are broken.
Donoso Cortes, a noble Catholic Spaniard who died in 1853, put it this way:
There comes a time when a people must choose: Christ? Or Barrabas?