Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Have We Sold Our Future? China Waves A Big Stick Over The States

The future of our country has been sold out by the greedy capitalists who own and run the Bush administration.

In order to fund the Iraq war (which protects oil company profits and big defense contractors like Halliburton), our government, under the, er, "leadership" of the Bush administration, borrows massive amounts of money from the Chinese.

With that huge debt comes huge influence by a foreign nation over our economy and our government.

From time to time, whenever the U.S. government considers taking a stand which might make the Chinese "look bad," China brandishes the big stick of this massive debt. It uses the threat of destabilizing the dollar to quickly whip the Americans back into line. Many economists call this the "nuclear option" -- liquidating its vast holding of U.S. treasuries if Washington imposes trade sanctions.

This is exactly why Bush has refused to boycott the opening ceremonies at the Olympic Games. And this is exactly why Bush removed China from the list of worst human rights abusers in the world -- ironically, just three days before China began its latest brutal crackdown in Tibet. Gee, thanks, George, for basically giving a green light to genocide! (Oh, yeah. I guess you won't say anything about China's genocide in Tibet, as long as they keep financing your genocide in Iraq.)

Starting last fall, the Chinese government began a concerted campaign of economic threats against the United States, hinting that it may liquidate its vast holding of U.S. treasuries if Washington imposes trade sanctions to force a yuan revaluation.

Two officials at leading Communist Party bodies gave interviews warning -- for the first time -- that Beijing may use its $1.33 trillion of foreign reserves (U.S. debt) as a political weapon to counter pressure from Congress to expand human rights and/or correct the trade imbalance with the States.

Chinese cabinet and academic officials let it be known that Beijing has the power to set off a collapse of the dollar, if it chooses to do so.

Hillary Clinton, contender for the Democratic nomination for president, has called for legislation to prevent America being "held hostage to economic decicions being made in Beijing, Shanghai, or Tokyo." According to Clinton, foreign (mostly Chinese and Japanese) control of 44 percent of the U.S. national debt has left the country dangerously vulnerable to foreign influence.

Whose bright idea was it to cede control of our monetary policies and governmental policies to a foreign power -- while getting almost NOTHING in return?

Please explain to me why selling out our nation's future and our children's birthright for the sake of short-sighted corporate profits is not considered treason. And why aren't those responsible in the Bush administration (from the President on down) and in corporate America being held responsible?

Biggest Trade Deficit In The World

The United States and China share the most imbalanced trade relationship in the world. The United States imports more goods from China than it exports to a tune of at least $202 billion each year. All told, China alone accounts for nearly 26 percent of the United States' $725.8 billion trade deficit.

This imbalance has been the subject of a major political backlash within Congress, where some have charged that the US is "destroying its industrial base to support a communist country's industrialization."

Experts say the trade imbalance is caused in large part by China's low wages and poor workforce. As long as wages are low, the United States will continue to gobble up cheap products made in China, while Chinese consumers will prefer to buy cheaper, Chinese-made alternatives to American products.

Inferior, Dangerous Products

I used the word "cheap" rather than "inexpensive" to describe Chinese products; they are, in fact, both. And the consumer protections and environmental standards we take for granted here in the States range from non-existent to "rarely and inconsistently enforced" in China.

For two recent examples which have negatively impacted Americans, China has exported to the United States children's toys with toxic levels of lead, and pet food with toxic levels of melamine (from tainted wheat gluten and rice protein), resulting in the deaths of dozens or hundreds of beloved family pets in the U.S., and the recall of 60 million cans of pet food imported from China.

Lead-based paint was banned for toys 30 years ago in the United States. But now that China manufactures 80 percent of the world's toys, one can only imagine the number of children worldwide who have received lead poisoning as a result (at low levels, reduced IQ; at higher levels, death).

Just today, the Chinese government demanded an apology from CNN commentator Jack Cafferty after he said the United States imported Chinese-made "junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food," adding: "They're basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years," according to a copy of his comments carried on YouTube.

(Side note: for a real laugh-a-minute good time, check out the Chinese comments on the video. Inferiority complexes and violent threats abound.)

Entering The Labyrinth

So how and when did I become concerned about all this?

When I posted news video of the pro-Tibet protests surrounding the running of the Olympic torch in Paris a few days ago, I really had no idea of the hornets' nest into which I was stumbling. It seems every avenue I turn down in my political education opens up whole new labyrinthine worlds of knowledge, and this was certainly no exception.

One of the first things I noticed in the comments section of the video was that most of the comments were (a) pro-China, anti-Tibet and (b) posted by YouTube profiles which had been freshly created in the days since China's violent crackdown on pro-independence protests in Tibet.

It didn't take me long to figure out that the Chinese government was responsible for creating these accounts in a desperate attempt at repairing their image in the eyes of the world. Their abysmal human rights record and long history of suppressing dissent (everyone remembers Tiananmen Square, the pro-democracy protests that were crushed by tanks and troops in 1989) has, understandably, left them with a badly tarnished reputation in the world community.

Now, in some ways I'm a typical schlub who doesn't really register unpleasant realities until they are in my face. I didn't (I'm ashamed to say) really inform myself about the extent of Chinese influence on our governmental policies, public debates, and monetary decisions until that fact was brought to my attention by the comments on the YouTube video I posted.

But now that my eyes have been opened to this stuff, I am noticing, big time. Hey, China: Congratulations. You've converted one idle dabbler into an active adversary. It is ON, now.

The YouTube shenanigans aren't all the Chinese have been doing. The Chinese consulate made the recent running of the Olympic flame in San Francisco its top priority. Several hours before the ceremony, the Chinese bussed in more than a thousand Chinese supporters -- including some from as far away as Los Angeles -- and put all the out-of-towners up in local hotels.

But the pro-China supporters weren't content to merely demonstrate. They actually beat and roughed up pro-Tibet demonstrators (right here on American soil!), injuring several, ripped banners and flags from their hands and called them "betrayers" and "not qualified to be Chinese."

An eyewitness account from an anti-Beijing protestor on the ground:

Things grew even worse when the four protesters went to open a banner about the human rights abuses in China. Immediately, someone came up to grab their banner. When the police did not respond, the pro-Beijing supporters became even bolder. During the conflict, someone hit the back of Guo's head causing his head to bleed. Guo's wound did not awaken any sympathy from the people around him, and they continued to push him back and forth and wrap him with red flags. "It seems like the assembly of condemnation during the 'Cultural Revolution' period," Zhou declared.

Zhou tried to push through the crowd because his friend Guo [bleeding after having been struck in the head by Beijing supporters] was getting away and disappeared in the red flags, but he saw a scene even more shocking, a group of pro-Beijing Chinese were beating a man, obviously a Chinese, who was trying to display a flag with the slogan "Let Justice Be Seen."

By helping the guy, Zhou made himself a target also. "They called us 'American Dogs,' 'animals' and pushed and beat us. The spectators and police were in shock, until a Westerner passing by shouted to them, 'Don't you know this is America?!'" said Zhou.

The boldness of the Chinese thugs no doubt sprang not only from the inaction of the San Francisco Police Department, but also from the smug knowledge that the United States owes their country lots and LOTS of money.

Chinese-scripted 'protest against the Dalai Lama' in Seattle yesterday

All the stops were also pulled out for the Dalai Lama's appearance in Seattle this week. A protest against the Dalai Lama's visit was staged April 14 (under the close supervision of Chinese officials, no doubt) by about 400 Chinese nationals on the campus of the University of Washington. Of course, the 400 anti-Dalai Lama protesters received the press coverage, while the 8,000 Dalai Lama supporters inside to hear His Holiness speak went virtually unmentioned.

And during the Dalai Lama's speech to an enthusiastic crowd of 50,000 supporters at Qwest Field, an airplane trailing a banner reading "Dalai Lama Pls Stop Supporting Riots" flew over the field.

There is, of course, an inequity here. The Chinese in America take full advantage of the relative openness of our society, while not extending the same latitude to American visitors in their country. Since the avenues of public demonstrations and online forums such as YouTube are available to them here, they use those venues to push their views (many, myself included, would say "propaganda") while shutting down any dissent at home in China and in occupied Tibet. Protesters in China and Tibet are arrested, beaten, shot, or run down with tanks by their own people for doing much the same thing that they are freely allowed to do here -- protesting government policies.

When America says China is maybe a little more violent than necessary in its crackdown on Tibet, and, you know, probably shouldn't be shooting and beating so many Tibetans, China screams "You can't interfere in our internal affairs! China is a sovereign nation!" Chinese President Hu Jintao actually had the cojones to flatly state: "China does not interfere in other countries' internal affairs, nor does it try to impose its own will on others."

Yet when the U.S. meekly suggests that maybe China should adjust the value of its currency because of our massive trade imbalance, then Beijing threatens to collapse the value of the American dollar, and instructs Congress to do no such thing. "Does not interfere in other countries' internal affairs"? "Does not try to impose its own will on others?"

(When the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry M. Paulson recently visited China -- one of many trips he's made there, trying to convince them to raise the value of the yuan to help correct the trade imbalance -- he, of course, once again came back empty handed.)

I'm the last guy in the world who'd want to be some flag-waving, xenophobic reactionary. But it disturbs me -- no, it PISSES ME THE FUCK OFF -- when some government bureaucrat in China gets to set the terms of the debate here in America, while Americans (or, for that matter, Chinese citizens themselves) have no voice or rights at all in China.

And when I realize it is our own government that has allowed this to happen, for the sake of some war profiteer's bottom line, and to pay for a stupid war in Iraq for oil profits, I realize that we must change our government -- before it becomes a branch office of Beijing.

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