Tags: China

Throwing Paint On Mao: William F. Buckley in 1989


Take a moment this month to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre with a spot-written piece by National Review’s founder.

William F. Buckley describes the paint-bombing of a Mao portrait many cubits in area:

The report was published that three men had defaced the picture, splattering paint on it. But this act had not been done by protesting students. On the contrary, they were outraged by it. Within a matter of hours, a fresh picture of the Great Helmsman was back up there, and students who were representative of the demonstrators went so far as to allege that those who had thrown paint over the face of the great man had been agents provocateurs, put up to it by Li Peng, to document the ultimate blasphemy of the demonstrators. Several students were quoted lamenting the deed and praising Mao Tse-tung, who, after all, as one of them put it, “liberated our country.”

Full June 30, 1989 article by W.F. Buckley.

Tiananmen slideshow.

Tags: China , History

Climate Conference Collapsing


The global warming crowd just experienced a double whammy.

COP 19 was shocked when China led a block of 132 nations in a walkout over “loss and damage.”

Loss and damage is an entirely bogus concept which would assign legal liability to prosperous nations for natural disasters and other problems experienced by developing nations.

The hunger strike by Philippine negotiator Yeb Sano over Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda has been the most dramatic moment of these negotiations. Climate campaigners have seized upon the Philippines typhoon as a rationale for supporting the proposed UN global warming treaty.

While we continue to encourage donations and humanitarian assistance to the Philippines and others in need, “loss and damage” is nothing more than a bid by developing nations to reap a tremendous redistribution windfall.

As Marc Morano of Climate Depot said at CFACT’s UN press briefing yesterday, “Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda was not the most powerful typhoon to hit the Philippines in recent history… it was the seventh worst.”

While climate pressure groups continue to attribute the typhoon to man-made global warming, there is no scientific or historical basis for that claim. Neither pro-warming scientists nor those who question warming accept the connection. However, campaigners and delegates from developing nations at COP 19 are asserting the typhoon-warming link as fact.

The Guardian attributes the walkout in part to the Australian delegation which wanted to table funding loss and damage until after a full treaty is signed in 2015. The Australian delegation is apparently fearlessly following the national mandate they received in their recent election and are openly speaking out against the most egregious elements of the climate process.

As UN delegates were waiting to find out whether China’s coalition would be able to successfully pressure prosperous nations into agreeing that the weather in the developing world is their fault, they learned of a second stunner.

Poland fired its environment minister, who is also president of the UN climate summit, just two days before the end of the COP. Why? Because Polish prime minister Donald Tusk wanted someone with a deeper commitment to fracking.

Poland has been bullied for decades and they are not about to cede their energy independence to Russia, the UN, or anyone. (Nor, should they.)

Reuters frets that “the president of the talks has the power to wield the gavel, fighting off any last-minute objections and therefore forcing through some sort of agreement . . . but if the president does not have the authority of his government, then his power in the eyes of other countries is reduced.”

Poland is the host country for COP 19. With Australia blocking treasured warming-left initiatives, Russia formally calling into question the fairness of the entire UN process and Poland scheduling a coal conference and firing its environment minister in the middle of the COP, it is clear that many major countries no longer feel a need to go along with the global warming agenda.

Add all that to a 132-nation walkout, and one must ask: Can COP 19 recover and keep the global warming treaty on schedule for signing in Paris in 2015? Let us hope not.

Meanwhile: Bravo, Poland! Bravo, Australia! (And, dare we say?) Bravo, Russia!

Tags: UN , COP 19 , Warsaw , Global Warming , climate , CFACT , Poland , China , Russia , Australia

The China-Hating Season Is Upon Us


It must be an election year: Washington has noticed that the brutes in Beijing still aren’t reading their Bastiat, and a World Trade Organization complaint is in the works. I do not think that the Obama administration, even if it knew what to do, would be willing to do what it takes to radically improve U.S. economic competitiveness vis-à-vis China, since he was carried to Washington upon a great swell of votes from the less productive corners of the fruited plain, but it’s nice to have inscrutable foreigners to blame. Really, what would Washington do without the Chinese?

On the one hand, it is good that the United States and China are members of a free(ish)-trade convention, giving them a forum at the WTO for resolving differences. WTO rules are arcane and convoluted, but the organization enjoys reasonable credibility in settling disputes that arise under its purview. As China becomes a more mature and normal country, it is important that it learn to comply with the obligations into which it has freely entered. (Not that the people of China can be said to have “freely entered” into anything, but you know what I mean.) U.S. China hawkery does tend to ebb and flow with election cycles, one cannot help but notice.

So, free trade would be a good thing, and free(ish) trade under the WTO is probably a second-best outcome preferable to other politically available options. So, rah-rah for us.

Sort of.

I cannot help but notice that our own customs regime is an embarrassment. (“Not as bad as in China!” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of public policy.) For example: We charge a relatively straightforward protectionist duty on imported passenger cars and special-purpose vehicles, depending on various features (interior capacity, size of engine, number of engine cylinders, etc.), but then, of course, we mess with it. Some car parts get attached post-import, so Mercedes-Benz is required to do a separate parts-duty calculation for the aluminum roof racks that are permanently affixed to M-class sport-utility vehicles. (Read all about it here.) Never mind the 2.5 percent duty — consider the trade consequences of the fact that Mercedes-Benz has to go to the federal government for an official ruling about its roof-racks before it can do business. It’s not just the cost of the tariff per se, but the cost of compliance, too — Mercedes sells five different classes of SUVs and crossovers in the United States, with multiple models in most classes.

So, Mercedes-Benz gets hassled, but sometimes imported parts get preferential customs treatment. If you’re Nissan Forklift, you get to participate in the foreign-trade zone program that allows for delayed or reduced duties on imported parts — provided, of course, you are doing your business in the home district of a sufficiently powerful member of Congress. American mercantilism is a lot like Chinese mercantilism, but less patriotic. It’s the makework fallacy as national policy.

Lest you think that there is anything other than straightforward protectionism going on, take the program administrators at their own word:

This event was notable in that it opens the door for a new industry sector to lower its Customs-related costs through the Foreign-Trade Zones Program. How does this event benefit the the Marengo area? “By utilizing the FTZ program to level the playing field with its overseas competitors, Nissan Forklift can be more competitive. This results in job retention, and capital investment; and both of these lead to increased economic activity in Marengo as well as providing much needed support to the U.S. manufacturing base,” says Craig Pool, President of the Foreign-Trade Zone Corporation. 

Clear enough? U.S. trade policy provides publicly funded benefits for rent-seeking business interests and acts as a tax on U.S. consumers of foreign goods and many domestic goods containing foreign components. There is little or no evidence that it accomplishes anything that makes the U.S. economy more productive, or that it improves wages or employment. But it is a good way for congressman to send goodies back to the district.

And it is not as though the United States is totally shut out of the Chinese market: It’s worth noting that the best-selling passenger vehicle in China is a Buick — weirdly enough, a Buick is a status symbol in China. Consumer preference still matters, and in many sectors in which the Chinese economy is relatively open to imports, the United States is outperformed by other countries.

So, sure, make China play by the WTO rules — but don’t expect to get too much out of it.

Tags: China , General Shenanigans

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