Megan McArdle on Patrick Collison on China

By the time someone gets to be chief executive of a successful firm, they have generally been trained out of saying anything surprising in public. So I was positively astonished Monday when I saw Patrick Collison, the CEO of payments firm Stripe, tweet that “As a US business (and tech) community I think we should be significantly clearer about our horror at, and opposition to, the atrocities being committed by the Chinese government against its own people.”

On first read, that sentiment might seem banal. Of course we should clearly oppose China’s intensifying political repression. But is easier to list American business leaders who have cravenly excused the inexcusable than to name those such as Collison, who have been brave enough to state the obvious. When it comes to China’s human rights abuses, the position of the American business community is prone…

“It must be possible,” Collison tells me, “to acknowledge the basic facts — for example, that concentration camps and forced sterilization programs are reprehensible evils. If it becomes de facto unacceptable to do so, as part of some kind of self-perpetuating silence, it really seems to me that that’s a positive feedback loop that we should hurry to break.”

There is much more at the link, definitely recommended.

Comments

It won't happen, not from the companies with skin in the game. I don't see Apple doing it or Tesla

It happened. Stripe's CEO made it happen.

One would guess the only reason we heard from Stripe's CEO is because Stripe has no business opportunities in China.

What are we to do with these seditious "American" corporations? They are led by and employ foreign visa holders, they bow to the pressure of our rivals while pushing leftist propaganda on our own people, they use their funds to launder money for our overlord's evil activities.

You guessed wrong:

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/09/stripe-strikes-global-partnerships-with-chinas-alipay-wechat-pay.html

The fact that Stripe would even give up possibly the world's biggest market in digital payments is telling.

SL is typically wrong.

By definition, a sunk cost is a cost that has already occurred and cannot be recovered by any means. Thus, sunk costs should be ignored when making new decisions. Investors that funded sunk costs, however, are often obsessed with recovering them.

To understand what happened with foreign investment and investors in China we should go back to the 1990s, that is, 25 years ago, not just 10 years as McArdle assumes. I was there in 1994-97 advising on the reform of state enterprises and the opening of some industries to foreign investors. Let me put the problem this way: in 50 years as an economic adviser, I never saw such strong competition to enter into an industry, followed by the newcomers' strong pressures to close entry once they were authorized in. Are those foreign investments sunk costs? Well, it depends on the probability of recovering at least part of them, and in the past 25 years, the Chinese government has been renegotiating the conditions for recovering them. In the 1990s American companies had the option of leaving the Chinese markets to European and other companies, but once they were in, they have not been different than the foreign lenders to Argentina's successive governments in the past 200 years.

The China market has always been too big for western business to ignore. That's what colonialism was all about. Wasn't Herbert Hoover a player their in the 1920s, and the book/movie Oil for the Lamps of China was written by the wife of a Standard Oil executive there in the 1930s. There was a saying that one could make fortune if one could just convince every man in China to lengthen his shirt tails by an inch.

The Stripe CEO is 100% right, of course. Will they make him apologize and recant his sins, like the owner of the Houston Rockets?

"There’s a legitimate argument that businesses should be loath to take political stands ... But that defense is hard to maintain as my inbox overflows with messages from companies that want to be sure I know about their latest initiatives to fight systemic racism and police brutality."

Yes, corporations have no business acting like they're moral authorities. And I'll eat my hat if anyone in NBA or NFL says a word about Hong Kong or the Uighurs next season. China won. They're untouchable.

Next season would be too late. It would have to be now but the NBA is more rightfully concerned with the virus and BLM at the moment. There's literally too many things going on right now. #2020

You're right, of course. People can only focus on one issue at a time. It's too bad that the Hong Kong protests weren't going on right when the NBA was starting up its last season; that would have been the perfect time to speak up.

"Yes, corporations have no business acting like they're moral authorities."

I agree but only up to a point. Didn't we learn something from the IBM Holocaust era? At what point do we become complicit in the banality of evil?

Yes, China is doing some bad things, as has the United States on many occasions. We should never forget, though, that China's competent response regarding the virus shows, by comparison, that the US is doing a good impersonation of a failed state right now, and that this impersonation implicates much more about our society than simply the present occupant of the White House. It is true that organizations in the US may still pull some vaccine rabbits out of their hats, making us feel competent. But the future is looking somewhat bleak at the moment.

There's always someone who comes along to say, "look away from the concentration camp."

Criticism, from the citizens of a country that can't even get its people to wear masks to protect themselves and others from a virus whose harmful characteristics many of them deny, comes with a certain weakness inextricably attached to it.

Meanwhile, the US surgeon general gives US citizens lessons in making masks from t-shirts.

There is no shortage of masks these days. There is a shopping basket full near the front door every time I'm at the supermarket. In March, sure, but supply chains need time to ramp up.

Shopping basket full of what quality? I still see people wearing bandannas like the bad guys in old westerns. Their effect is minimal, and by giving a false sense of security, may actually be harmful in net effect. I am glad to see supply chains ramping up so that some of us can have half-assed masks, and then eventually cheap ones that work. That it has taken us six months, millions of infections, and more than a hundred thousand deaths, and that by some metrics things are getting worse, is hardly reason to feel complacent in this regard, and indeed in almost no regard except for the promise of vaccines..

Incorrect and misleading. Even a single layer is pretty effective. Not great for performing surgery, but like 10x better than nothing when getting groceries.

Source? Kind of fabric? Virus in or out? Droplets? Aerosols? I am afraid the lack of detail ("like 10x") may be telling here. If you do have a study, I would be very interested in reading it.

And please do not tell me that any number is infinitely more than zero, by multiplication.

Trump also created his own concentration camps filled with minority groups he dislikes. You conveniently forgot to mention that.

Where are they?

My guess is it's those cages that Obama definitely never also used for children.

The cages that were used by the Trump admin as a part of policy in large numbers and in small numbers as an unintended consequence by Trump et al.

"Obama's concentration camps were smaller so shut up!"

China's response to the virus was to lie, obfuscate, and double deal. If they had undertaken basic public health in any sort of manner that put the well being of humanity ahead of the PR concerns of the Party there would be no epidemic.

Instead the frontline docs were reprimanded and disappeared. The samples collected were ordered destroyed. And China sat on information for a week when the problem was doubling every few days.

Then of course they either flat out lied or were utterly incompetent with their whole "no human-to-human transmission", no "asymptomatic spread", and transmission is concentrated among febrile individuals. We are, of course, supposed to overlook them buying up PPE that would not be that useful if these statements were true but just happened to be occurring right as these falsehoods were becoming the received wisdom of the WHO.

China blew the world's chance to contain this. It also blew the world's chance to make informed policy decisions when they mattered most. 95% of all the deaths are blood on China's hands.

Maybe so, but once they admitted to human transmission, they did very well. And Taiwan was smart enough not to believe them. The US was not so smart, and continued with a stupid and incompetent response that continues as we write.

That's a pretty big qualifier. Pandemic control is not rocket science: force people to stay indoors -- including by literally barricading the doors of their houses or apartments -- and, yes, things will get under control in 6 weeks or so.

The point is that China's effectiveness in stopping the pandemic through brute force and China's effectiveness in suppressing news about the virus and pretending there was no problem are two sides of the same coin.

The new US slogan: "Give me liberty and give me death."

To be fair I think that's a very fair and sensible choice. It's not a necessary one- just wear masks inside in public places and keep 6 feet away and that's all you need. But if given the choice between crushing depression and lockdown and the level of deaths we are experiencing, its totally reasonable to want to open up.

wakey wakey
wokey wookies
53 countries just backed chinas new national security law/crackdown
on Hong Kong

Taiwan, South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia are not remotely police states, and yet somehow seem to have gotten the virus under control. Right now (things could change) it looks like most European countries have also gotten it under much better control than the US. This seems like it should be a much bigger issue in contemporary politics than it is.

'they' (the Chinese government) did not do well, in the same way that the Japanese government did not 'do well' either - in both countries it went away bcz everyone already knew it's a good idea to wear face masks and social distance, and that has everything to do with past experience and nothing to do with the government (I live in China btw). the only thing the government deserves credit for is its usual treatment of its own citizens, if you consider that a credit

during the time china was being deceptive about human transmission
the virus spread to italy and california

In Hong Kong, the nursing homes actually have regular practice for pandemics. The world is supposed to make it's own informed policies. Even before the pandemic airports in Asia thermally screened passengers. It's not a perfect system but it indicates there was a long standing commitment to taking the risk seriously. Meanwhile, Trump's administration abolished in 2018 the directorship of Global Health Security and Biothreats. Pandemics were just not that important in the wider set of priorities of the administration and Americans just have to accept that fact.

I can forgive a lot more incompetence than I can malfeasance. China had a system for reporting novel infections. Docs used it. The CCP responded by reprimanding and in some cases disappearing the docs. Work was being done to identify the novel pathogen, the CCP ordered the samples destroyed.

And on it goes. It is not just that China failed, but that the CCP actively subverted it owns protocols and put its PR above human well being.

The US is currently, and is likely to remain, around the middle of the pack when it comes to pandemic response among peer countries. I find it hard to believe that all of Western Europe is run by incompetent hacks that all made org chart changes that decimated their pandemic response.

Far more likely, some places were luckier than others with how soon and how hard they got hit with the fallout from CCP malfeasance. But we can pretty much absolutely say that had China been honest with the world even a week sooner (you know still spot them a whole month of incompetence and obfuscation) we likely would have prevented over half of the global deaths to date.

In my present view the constant hunt for malfeasance is what leads to the state of incompetence in the US. I may be wrong, but it appears to me that our public health apparatus is more interested in racism, guns, bullying, xenophobia, and the like than it is in difficult phenomena that do not respond to the magic of tweets such as viruses and whether masks work or not.

Excessive concern for PR seems to be the case for elected and un-elected politicians everywhere. They all need to be liked and respected so we get malfeasance when there is a trade-off.

That some doctor in China is silenced is pretty normal for authoritarians and Trump doesn't care because he's kinda a wannabe.

This has not been my experience with authoritarians in MSF. By a number of objective metrics, several African dictatorships did vastly better with their Ebola metrics than the CCP.

And it was not just "some doctor". It was all of them. Including the ones specifically tasked with infection control. I am well acquainted with autocracy and its impact on medicine. China's malfeasance makes pretty much every other dictator look good.

Trump dun't care.

Contrary to Mr. Trump, and increasingly his deranged opponents, the world does not revolve around Mr. Trump.

One can part ways with Mr. Trump and still apportion responsibility based on basic public health measures. When doing so, quite literally over 95% of the deaths worldwide are attributable to the CCP. Whatever Mr. Trump is responsible for, good or bad, is a rounding error in comparison.

Obama Cut CDC Funding
"The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) takes a hit of about $270 million in the Obama administration's proposed fiscal year 2014 budget, including significant cuts to biodefense and emergency preparedness programs, officials revealed today.

CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, speaking at a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) press conference, said the "overall program budget would come down by about $270 million" under the budget proposal, compared with spending in fiscal year 2012."
https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2013/04/cdc-preparedness-funds-take-hit-proposed-2014-budget

But here's the reality: the CDC's budget is now more than 7 percent larger than it was under President Obama's last two budgets. That is, the actual enacted program budgets for the CDC in 2016 and 2017 were both under $7.2 billion, but for 2020 the budget Congress adopted for it is nearly $7.7 billion."
https://mises.org/wire/cdcs-budget-larger-now-under-obama

Also under Obama
"Cuts to the CDC have already contributed to the loss of nearly 50,000 jobs in state and local health departments since 2008. This year, the administration argues that “efficiencies” will make possible the specific cuts it has proposed in areas such as adult-immunization funding and epidemiological support. But CDC advocates and public-health officials are sceptical. A proposed $47-million cut to the Strategic National Stockpile “is a lot more than just efficiency. It’s going to cut capability as well,” says Crystal Franco, an associate with the Center for Biosecurity of UPMC in Baltimore, Maryland. “We are reaching the tipping point where preparedness efforts are going to be reversed because of the lack of funding,” she adds."
https://www.nature.com/news/us-disease-agency-in-fiscal-peril-1.10109

Diverting attention away from CCP's atrocities and focus on the American response to the CCP-Coronavirus is what a useful idiot would do. You might as well say that the fascists made the trains run on time.

I'm in favor of attention on CCP atrocities and went as far as to say that I don't have a problem with it coming from business leadership. There would be more attention if it came from political leadership but that seems lacking so business is stepping forward. It appears Trump doesn't care enough about Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Look at the map at this link... https://www.axios.com/countries-supporting-china-hong-kong-law-0ec9bc6c-3aeb-4af0-8031-aa0f01a46a7c.html

I think it has become pretty clear who the real idiots are with respect to the pandemic. When a government fails, whether in international relations, a pandemic, or other tragedies, a favored tactic is to find a foreign scapegoat. In the case of the US at present, we are, as Catinthehat states below, reduced to being a debate team. As Stalin famously asked, How many divisions does a debate team have?

File this under the trains ran on time under Mussolini- the roads were great under der Furher

Free speech advocates clam up when it comes to China. They can only muster the courage to speak out against blue haired SJWs peeing on statutes but not real oppression of the bloody boot kind when it hits them in the face. Kudos to PC.

This is a terribly confused attempt to preempt criticism of SJWs.

This is a terribly confused diversion away from what's happening in China. It is always about SJWs isn't it?

Not really. If anything there’s probably strong overlap between people who are highly critical China and people dislike SJWs.

the free speech advocate in chief
just defined & sanctioned huawei & zte as security risks

Quite the opposite

The idea of businesses being moral agents is laughably naive. Businesses act in accordance with what they think their customers will care about. And Americans by and large don't care about whats going on in China.

Yes but aren't leaders are supposed to lead them them to care if Americans would if they had the time to consider it. China becoming more like Hong Kong and Taiwan over the course of the next 60 years rather than the other way around is in the interest of regular Americans who care about the long term.

I doubt that the effectiveness of the US political culture over the past six months makes the Chinese think that convergence is a worthy goal.

Of course, I mean political leadership. I don't know about business leadership but I don't have an objection to business leaders saying something.

The banal concessions to the cause should be beneath this blog.

Patrons appreciate appropriate tokens of respect, so it is nice to see two visionaries get the benefits of bottle service on-line.

Cato Institute and Fraser Institute on HK:

https://www.cato.org/blog/we-stand-people-hong-kong

"With its imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong, Beijing is violating the territory’s autonomy to a degree that fundamentally subverts the liberal system that made Hong Kong one of the world’s most remarkable success stories."

Right now China's approach is too much stick and not enough carrot. Hong Kong is going to be a disaster unless something changes. If the U.S. president doesn't much care then there isn't a critical mass made from the political leadership of Europe and the Anglosphere, so it seems.

We're not really for doing foreign ally maintenance now, in case you didn't notice. Every country for themselves. A coordinated pushback is not possible. God Money please help us.

Just wait, I have to mark this on my US Happy Fun Time federal election bingo card:

Increasing tension with China: Tick.

America is just catching up with Australia.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/australia-china-defence-policy-strategic-12888814

Australia is buying US boomsticks and we're the ones catching up? This is definitely a game countries have played for a very long time. It's just a little more obvious when a player has a fixed election cycle.

Patrick is an Irishman, not American. He can't vote in US federal elections.

It's not what happens, it's what gets repeated.

Geopolitical point scoring and Russian/Chinese baiting/blaming are n*ocon equivalents to cancel culture.

Surprisingly there is a lot of overlap from the SJW left and n*ocon: No self-awareness, no self-criticism, lots of good ideas - just poor implementation, the use of collective guilt shaming, and the belief we always can reinvent and erase failures to meet utopian ideals.

Milton Friedman famously argued that making profits is the goal of business . He was critical of the view that businesses have social responsibility . If so would Friedman have endorsed CEOs if companies with huge stakes in China pretend all is well in that country?

if enough of your customers are SJWs, or vulnerable to be influenced by SJWs, then being socially responsible IS the profit maximization strategy - friedman lived in a different (not necessarily worse) age, and todays CEOs need to get with the program

Friedman
He described business owners who talked about “social conscience” as “unwitting puppets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.”

That seems to describe current American corporations. They are trying to force FaceBook to silence political speech. They are supporting a radical left that seeks to destroy over 200 years of laws and traditions. They are blind to human abuses when they see an advantage.

Friedman was not just interested in profits. He was interested in fostering free markets and the efficient allocation of limited resources. For Friedman free markets and freedom go hand in hand.

Friedman feared corporations and governments forming alliances. He attacked "Big Business" saying he preferred policies that promoted competition which in turn increased individual freedoms. Corporations should do what is best for society and depend on the profit motive for the signals to see if they are providing those services effectively.

Look how dependent American corporations have become on the handouts and controls of the government. If they want to maintain beneficial relationships with the government they must increasingly become an arm of the government. Watch today as corporations get handouts while they are also making "charitable" contributions to groups favored by the mob. They promote the cancel culture. Corporations are increasingly dependent on governments and their profits are dependent on being servants to the government. Corporations in China have that relationship. American companies here are on the same path.

In addition, corporations are poor agents for the delivery of social services. I think Friedman would say that it is fine for Bill Gates to spend his own private funds as he sees fit but that Microsoft should concentrate on profits to tell them how to run their business. When corporations and governments start making alliances the free markets start to break down. When they break down individual freedoms also are reduced.

A culture war within the U.S. is bad enough, but a culture war between the U.S. and China can come of no good. Alipay and WeChatPay dominate consumer spending in China. Several years ago Stripe made a deal with them to connect retailers in the U.S. and elsewhere which are customers of Stripe with Alipay and WeChatPay, a deal that does little for Stripe (other than avoiding a loss of Stripe's customers if they can't connect to consumers in China). In other words, Stripe is spending huge just to maintain its relationship with Stripe's retail customers located outside China. I might voice a complaint too if I were Stripe. Opening the China market would have the effect of opening China's approach to repressed minorities in China. I would guess that China would make the same argument: opening the U.S. market would have the effect of opening the U.S. approach to repressed minorities in the U.S. Does this degenerate into a war of words over which country treats its minorities worse? Within the U.S., the culture war has degenerated into a war of words over which side's supporters are the bigger fascists! Open markets: let Stripe compete with Alipay and WeChatPay in China, and let Huawei compete with U.S. telecom companies in the U.S. (Nokia and/or Ericsson would likely become affiliates of one or more U.S. telecom companies if there were open competition), and let freedom ring.

China's Great Firewall blocks US tech companies like Google and Facebook from competing in their domestic markets. This is easily a multi-trillion dollar opportunity. I haven't heard anybody in DC bring this up but we can all bet that even the most corrupt pol understands what a trillion dollars is.

This is basically the SJW line that “white silence is violence,” where someone argues that some entire community ought to publicly take his position, except with more sophisticated language and establishment support. People in the US are not being silenced from criticizing the Chinese government if they want. To the contrary, the “politically correct” opinion on China in the US is that China, or at least the Chinese government, is always in the wrong. (There is sometimes a political correctness norm against blaming Chinese people, but this norm is never prevents advocacy of policies such as tariffs that directly hurt Chinese people who have nothing to do with their government). Media coverage is predominantly critical and US mainstream media runs criticisms of China, or at least the Chinese government daily. It’s actually far less socially acceptable for—and thus far less common to see—media, business, etc. in the US defending China (compare this to something like the SCMP, which prints both criticisms and defenses of China in a regular basis).

If you really want to see what it looks like when businesses are censored from taking a view on another country, I’d focus on the anti-BDS laws on Israel. A business that expresses its opposition to the Israeli government by boycotting Israeli goods will be widely denounced as anti-Semitic, barred from government contracts in the federal government and many states, and can technically be criminally prosecuted under US law (though actual prosecutions are rare, there is certainly a chilling effect). By contrast, when businesses announce they are boycotting China (which they do all the time), they are rarely if ever accused of racism and instead generally hailed as heroes by all sides of the political spectrum for bringing jobs back to the US. It takes no courage for a US business to criticize or even “cancel” China.

"It takes no courage for a US business to criticize or even “cancel” China."

I don't see this even if I agree there's more anti-CCP coverage (but for good reason). The fact that the NBA had to apologize, Hollywood has to censor their films, and numerous firms had to change how they treat Taiwan tells me that it is too difficult for any business to resist orders for compliance from China. US businesses need the US government to do its job because US industry doesn't have that kind of leverage or authority.

McArdle isn't saying that businesses must speak out and that "their silence is violence".

Perhaps she is saying that it is morally praiseworthy for businesses to speak out against the PRC's brutal authoritarianism (it is), but there is no obligation or forced swearing of allegiance to the party line being laid here.

brutal authoritarianism

Do the Chinese authorities sic trained dogs on the Uighurs?

Are you asking me seriously if the Chinese authorities have trained dogs? If such a thing is known outside the USA?

How many big corporations in the U.S. have issued strongly worded rebukes of China? The much more common approach is polite diplomacy and the avoidance of any controversy. Remember Mark Zuckerberg going for a jog in Tienanmen Square? Is Goldman Sachs going to put its substantial interests and difficult-to-get licenses in China at risk by upsetting the leadership there?

It would be surprising if many companies were taking moral stands that would harm their business. It's pretty obvious that many big companies figure that being (for example) pro-BLM is good for business. They may be right or wrong, but that's the best explanation for their behavior. This is a pretty low-cost signal for most of these companies, as they probably don't think they're risking losing a lot of business to people incensed by pro-BLM or anti-racism messages, and they probably aren't actually modifying their behavior in any other ways. (For example, I'm pretty sure Nike still employs armed private security and calls the police when it looks like their employees or property are under threat.)

Being pro-HK-democracy or pro-Taiwanese-independence, on the other hand, is very bad for your business if you need to do any of that business in China or with Chinese companies. Making those statements costs a lot. So it's a much smaller set of companies that are going to be willing to make them.

The CCP has lied, cheated, and created massive numbers of problems for decades. At some point, the US has to respond to their blatent theft, export of pollution, bellicosity, and general hazarding of global health. If the CCP were a private corporation, they would have incurred trillions in liability in US courts.

Expecting corporations to have some duty to not to enable crooks is actually written into US law. We need to stop giving the CCP a pass just because their harmful policies are undertaken under the guise of national sovereignty.

Tariffs, sinking the PLAN … something needs to give before the CCP once again kills hundreds of thousands for PR purposes.

I think . it's too late. We're not reacting much to Hong Kong. They made the right calculation.
Next will be Taiwan. They will have the element of surprise and the US won't have the muster to react militarily. It would take full scale war to reverse.
Tariffs have been tried and they hurt Americans producers and consumers just as well and are not popular at home.
China is the dominant manufacturer and the dependence of the western economies will take years to reverse. Right now we' re reeling from the economic consequences of the pandemic and it's not the time. It's too late. It will never be the time
Deng Xiaoping’s said : “Hide your strength, bide your time, never take the lead.
They did that. They're done biding their time.
We never envisaged that you could have a kind of communist dictatorship that would make a country strong both militarily and economically. We always thought there was a natural evolution, that they would ditch the party for democracy once strong economic growth and prosperity set in. They proved us wrong.
The US has become a debate team while they grow in strength.

The US is responsible for millions of deaths in the Mideast just in the past 2 decades alone. The US government and Americans have no legitimacy and moral authority.

Millions you say.

Interesting hypothesis. What exactly is your control population? I mean we stayed out of Syria and that turned out so great. We let the locals take care of Yemen which is also not totally a humanitarian disaster.

Funny how that works out. Almost as though the Middle East is a murderous bit of geography regardless of Americans dumbing their blood and treasure in trying to make it less so.

As opposed to China which sent the weapons to needed for the Rwandan genocide COD. Or you now, places like Yemen and Syria.

We didn't stay out of Syria. We've been involved and continue to be involved. Special US envoy to Syria, James Jeffery, recently pledged that the United States will continue to deny Syria - international funding, reconstruction, oil, banking, agriculture & recognition of government. Also the US just imposed in June the "Caesar Civilian Protection Act" on Syria which is basically a siege designed to produce a famine and regime change in Syria.

Right, what exactly is the moral course for the US to steer when the next Middle East strongman decides to start a few wars or murder his countrymen?

I mean clearly putting boots on the ground to depose him is out. As is, apparently, financial sanctions for war crimes. I assume our overlooking of Saudi flaws and engagement with their government is likewise a bad call.

So what is the moral response? Because when we play hard ball, when we buddy up, or when we enforce the basic Geneva Convention Protocols … all of those end with blood on our hands. What is your preferred policy (which of course must be followed even handedly with states ranging from the Islamic theocrats to secular strongman states to populists republics).

Ok so you concede that the US is responsible for millions of deaths in the Mideast just in the past 2 decades alone, and that Americans have no legitimacy and moral authority.

Oh don't be deliberately obtuse.

We all know that the Mideast has been in the throes of repeated, bloody conflicts for decades. Arguably it goes back to the rise of the House of Saud or even the pre-Islamic days.

Iraqi instability and conflict, for instance, was present throughout the 30s. The had nice little violent coup in '41 to place an Axis sympathizer in charge than got beaten down by the British as part of the whole defeat Hitler thing. There was regicide in '58 and the first Ba'athist coup in '68.

And all of that was before the US ever seriously interfered in the place.

At the end of the day I believe that Arab leaders are responsible on their own. If the tyrants in Saudi Arabia or Syria kill people they are ultimately responsible.

Do Americans make the situation worse? Sometimes. But I note that you retreat into this BS precisely because you cannot provide a simple answer about what is the moral approach. The US's moral standing is called into question when we topple a regime that elected to use chemical weapons on children and launched not one but two wars of aggression against its neighbors and then murdered their own citizens while negotiating and end to the war. We are tarred with playing nice with a less murderous dictator. And we are tarred when we refuse to allow our economy to support another murderous dictator.

You know it, I know it, the world knows it. The US tries, sometimes succeeds and sometimes fails. But filing away "millions" of deaths as American responsibilities requires some serious derogation of the agency of the people and leadership in the area.

I guess I was wrong, but I did not expect someone like you to trade in that sort of paternalism, I mean you sound just like an old school imperialist with dodgy racial theories.

Here's a suggestion. Instead of the dramas of malfeasance, why don't we actually do something about the problem? Taiwan distrusted the PRC with respect to human-to-human transmission. As I understand it, Taiwanese doctors called their counterparts (and probably in some cases countymen/women) in the PRC and asked the crucial question: are there any doctors getting sick? Affirmative. Taiwan closed the country to travel from the PRC. Done. What did we do? Trump and the administration and probably many others were content with sweeping condemnations of Chinese perfidy, with a largely symbolic, very late, and extremely porous travel quasi-ban. When you are dealing with reality, symbols only take you so far.

From what I have been told, the travel ban was not enacted sooner and more broadly because of a lack of buy-in on capital hill. Certainly this in keeping with the reporting at the time which regularly detailed Democratic opposition to this "racist" approach.

Partisanship squabbles aside, the root problem is that the US believed the WHO. In retrospect this appears to have been tantamount to just believing Chinese propaganda and it only came out later that the WHO put One China politics ahead of human health.

Exactly. Very few Americans were able, for countless reasons boiling down to a preference for unreality, to do the one thing necessary, that Taiwan handled with a phone call. It would have been better to fire the entire administration, the entire public health apparat, Congress, the NYT, the National Review, all of them, and bring in the appropriate person from Taiwan as temporary dictator.

Lol, what exactly would be the correct argument for "defending China['s government] on any of these human rights and democracy issues?

How can we send a message of opposition to Chinese human rights violations while pursuing a trade war whose objectives are ..... whatever, downgrading human rights as an objective of US foreign policy generally, and systematically weakening our own economy by creating obstacles to international trade and investment generally, failing to address the structural Federal deficit, and restricting immigration.

Raised in a different education system where standing up to the big boys is seen as noble.

"the position of the American business community is prone…"

Surely supine rather than prone?

Don’t like commenting on these sort of posts. Not because I don’t think bad shit is happening or think there is a lack of nuance or understanding. Neither am I overly concerned about censoring my speech because I worry about what might happen to me if I don’t.

There’s just no point. Americans in general don’t really care enough to do anything but virtue signal. Maybe that will change. Don’t know. The talk is cheap, but the costs incurred by liberals/reformers that let western rhetoric get them a bit light headed can be very high.

Best thing the US can do is to begin decoupling by not allowing certain companies to dominate telecoms. In the end of the day, that’s what it will require, decoupling. If you don’t, then Chinese always has leverage, because the Party doesn’t really care about the economics when push comes to shove. And in any case, a few of them believe free trade is waning, not waxing anyways. Some advisors expect the return of a more mercantilistic system.

It might help if there was a president willing to do the same. The US hasn't had one for some time.

The Associated Press reports that the Chinese government has added forced abortion and mandatory birth control to the mass surveillance, concentration camps and family separations that it has already inflicted on its Uighur community. This is inching close to attempted genocide, and it is what inspired Collison’s tweet.

The AP article is based on a publication by Adrian Zenz. Presumably Collison only read the AP article and not Zenz's publication nor the data upon which Zenz's article is based:

https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1193454.shtml

One graphic used in Zenz's report, which he claimed came from the annual Xinjiang Statistical Yearbooks and was calculated himself, showed a decline in the natural population growth rate in the ethnic counties of Hotan and Kashi from 2005 to 2018 - from around 15.5 per mille to around 2.5 per mille.

In the AP report, Zenz was quoted as saying, "This kind of drop is unprecedented" and "part of a wider control campaign to subjugate" the Uygurs.

However, they fail to mention data of the natural population growth rates of the Han-majority counties in the same period, which shows a drop from 6 per mille in 2016 to nearly zero in 2017. A small inflection appeared from 2017's nearly zero to 2.5 per mille in 2018.

Huang Wenzheng, a demographic expert, told the Global Times the decline in the natural birth rate cannot simply lead to a conclusion of a so-called "birth control campaign," as many reasons, including economic development, getting more people in higher education and decreasing fertility intention, may contribute to the result. Generally, many ethnic minorities in the world have seen their birth rates decline as their economies and education improves.

The change in the number of college students in Xinjiang in the past decades echoed Huang's remarks. The number of college students per 10,000 persons was 90.44 in 2005 and 150.78 in 2018. The number of students enrolled at institutions of higher learning increased from 188,752 in 2005 to 398,751 in 2018, according to Xinjiang's Yearbook 2019.

Huang also said that in view of Zenz's data, both Han and ethnic minorities have seen a decline in natural population growth rates since 2014, even though China lifted the so-called one-child policy in 2015. Compared to the national birth rate during the same period, Xinjiang experienced a sharp decline, which shows that the natural birth rate followed the economic development in the region.
An example of flawed data was also found in Zenz's report which showed new IUD placements per capita in Xinjiang from 2010 to 2018 much higher than the national rate. He claimed to use sources from the Annual Health and Hygiene Statistical Yearbooks of China, and new IUD placements are estimated as total placements minus removals.

The Global Times read the yearbooks of hygiene statistics, and found that the data on the removal of IUDs was not released every year, which raises the question as to how Zenz acquired the estimated number when no data was in his claimed source.

The new IUD placement per capita in Zenz's report also has problems. Zenz claimed in 2014 that 2.5 percent of newly placed IUDs in China were fitted in Xinjiang, and the number rose to 80 percent in 2018.

The Global Times found from the yearbooks on health and hygiene in 2014 and 2019 that in 2014, the number of IUDs used in Xinjiang was 2,805,038, accounting for 2.1 percent of the total number in China (129,974,784). In 2018, the number of placements of IUDs in Xinjiang was 328,475, accounting for 8.7 percent of the total number nationwide, 3,774,318. Various birth control measures are widely used in other places in China, while IUDs are preferred in Xinjiang, which explains the higher ratio.

The 80% cited in Zenz's report cannot be arrived at by any calculation, except by misplacing the decimal point.

As for the Uygur population in Xinjiang, it saw an increase in the past decades. Data from Xinjiang's Statistics Yearbook in 2019 showed that there were 5.55 million Uygurs in 1978, while in 2018 the Uygur population increased to 11.68 million.

"The 'research' is malicious as it distorts China's previous family planning policy, which is stricter on Han people," Huang said.

For a criticism that seems weak. 80% being 9% is a pretty big mistake. But it doesn't seem they really try to contest the overall picture of a crackdown on Uigher reproductive rights.

Unlike any other society, communists make war on their own people. Why we thought we would reform them, I don't know.

And why she writes for the Post I will never understand. It is a mouthpiece of Marxist thinking.

I did not see "Free Hong Kong" or "Uigher Lives Matter" among the NBA-approved slogans for NBA players to put on their uniforms. They believe in nothing. I would expect most US corporations to do much the same. US corporations are surfing public opinion but will never offend the wealthy or powerful.

What about "Free the Confederacy" or "White Lives Matter"? Why doesn't the NBA or other US corporations support secessionist and independence movements on US territory?

Nothing like American Exceptionalism to get away from the domestic cr*p pile.

So where does US conduct in the Middle East for the past 20 years and the estimated 500k+ brown people dying there from US actions whether direct or otherwise factor in?

What moral foundation does any US govt. action or business have a leg to stand on when calling out despotic regimes for the past 2 decades?

Why aren't there calls for reparations on behalf of normal Iraqis, Afghanis, Libyans, Syrians, Iranians and Palestinians with their destroyed families based and even more failed states by US policies and US proxies - be it embargoes or invasions.

Weren't these the same clowns that applaud bombing any Muslim nation 20 years ago?

Uighurs are a convenient victim right now, they don't really care about them, they just want to 'stick it' to China for geopolitical points.

Uighurs are the Al Qaeda/MS13 to the Chinese mainstream.

Uighers are an ethnic group with over ten million members in Xinjiang alone. Comparing them to a terrorist group like Al Qaeda or terroristic criminal gang like MS-13 is racist and encouraging genocide.

Likewise your truly extraordinary what-about-ism that forcible sterilization of your own population is okay, because the U.S. bombed some bad people in the Middle East and there were civilian casualties whose skin color is brown (very important information). Complete garbage.

The Uighurs in Xinjiang have increased in absolute numbers and as a proportion. China has population control policies on its entire population, with even stricter policies on its majority.

By contrast, American Indians were targeted with mass sterilization as recently as the late 70s, when the US majority population was not subject to population control policies:

https://time.com/5737080/native-american-sterilization-history/

Some (brown) casualties huh? You don’t care about Iraqi, Syrian, Afghani, Libyan, Palestinian, and Iranian civilians?

And my favorite 'whaboutism', the classic cop out when pointing out gross contradictions in words and deeds and dramatic moralizations.

The report on forced sterilizations has not been independently verified but the work of one "China Expert." Every article cites the same guy Adrian Zenz - if they bother to cite it.

And if you bothered to connect dots, China has always limited births of their people; nothing new given the extreme collectivism of that society. I’m not doubting they are targeting Uighurs though but we can still can be skeptical and not overreact, right, given the scant independently verified evidence?

But of course, the US govt., its people, and media are a rational and deliberate people, they would never react based on their limbic system feelings from bogus reports or intel when proceeding on US/foreign country destroying adventures or policies.

The idea that criticizing China from the US takes courage is laughable. It takes courage if you're in China, possibly working to get the information out about what's going on. I 'm wondering why this isn't signaling . In any case, Human Rights Watch has plenty of info on its website about China and other crimes. For all I care , boycott China, but sounding off at dinner parties or on Twitter isn't worth much.

It takes considerable commitment to human rights to criticize China in public, if your company would benefit from being able to do business in China.

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