How Long Before Danielle Ryan is Assassinated?

by Paul Craig Roberts

https://www.paulcraigroberts.org (August 29, 2019)

Danielle Ryan is an Irish journalist. A real one, not a presstitute. She says things that journalists nowhere in the Western world are any longer permitted to say. For example, Western journalism no longer is connected to factual reporting. It is simply used to get whoever the oligarchs want got.

Danielle notes that it is impossible to be a journalist today if you have any respect for facts, truth, and objectivity. Those are what get you fired. She is very gentle about it:

 

 

No one could reasonably expect journalism to be an entirely mistake-free profession, but the rate at which demonstrably false stories percolate through the media ecosystem is alarming – and the more mistakes, it seems, the higher the reward. [Rachel Anne] Maddow has been held in almost heroic regard by her network, regardless of how many false and wacky stories she promotes.

 

From Iraq to Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, journalism has thrived on lies and misinformation. Many of the pundits and columnists who were the biggest cheerleaders for the Iraq war, for example, are still regularly called upon to offer their sage advice, insights, and predictions for new military adventures. https://www.rt.com/usa/467566-msnbc-odonnell-media-accountability/

I find the stupidity of Americans and Europeans to be extraordinary. How can any person endowed with an IQ above eighty sit in front of TV media such as MSNBC, CNN, BBC, or read newspapers, especially The New York Times and The Washington Post or listen to NPR? Only people who are mentally and emotionally weak and seek refuge in the blue pill. Those who cannot face reality are the consumers of Western presstitute news.

Indeed, why do Americans and Europeans waste their time with the media? The media is totally predictable. Here is the ironclad formula:

 

 

Trump is wrong and so is white America unless the insouciant white gentile fools are fighting for Israel in the Middle East and demonizing Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea in the financial interest of the military/security complex.

 

In the Western presstitute media, you will never find any different story.

Copyright (c) 2016 PaulCraigRoberts.org. All rights reserved.

https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2019/08/29/how-long-before-danielle-ryan-is-assassinated/

The Chinese Communist Party and Rotary International

Some Salient Facts

by Godfree Roberts

http://www.unz.com (August 29 2019)

China and the US are one-party states. China, a socialist state, permits limited capitalism (Huawei) and disallows factions in government. America, a capitalist state, permits limited socialism (Medicare) and permits factions (Democrat and Republicans) in government.

Our Capitalist Party exists for its own benefit while their Communist Party is a service organization, like Rotary International. If we imagine the effects on America if our government had been answerable to Rotary International for the past seventy years then we can imagine why China has thrived.

It is as difficult to join the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as it is to become a successful capitalist. Admission is highly restrictive and the process takes years. Candidates must explain their motives for applying; list personal shortcomings along with detailed personal, financial, and political information about themselves and their families; include recommendations from two Party members; and supply character references from two non-relatives who will be accountable for them for life. During the application process, they attend weekly classes in Party history and ideology and participate in volunteer activities.

Three-quarters of university graduates apply but a tenth succeed.”I was very excited”, said Allen Lin {1}, a twenty-three-year-old college senior who credits his admission to his high grades, service to student government, and assistance to classmates, “Joining the Party is not easy – of the forty students in my class, only five were admitted”. Eric X Li, a Fudan PhD multi-millionaire venture capitalist whose advocacy of Chinese governance has won world renown, has been rejected three times. Xi Jinping overcame seven rejections before being admitted. Jack Ma, a teenage student at a second-tier teachers college, was admitted immediately.

New members swear an oath, “I promise to bear the people’s hardships first and enjoy the benefits last”. 300,000 Party members gave their lives in the war of liberation. Mao lost his wife, a son, two brothers, a sister, and three nephews. Premier Zhou Enlai lost all his children and the first president, Zhu De, saw his pregnant wife tortured to death and her decapitated head nailed to the city gate.

The Party’s fundamental responsibility is creating policies and mobilizing public support for them. Many Party members will do little more than conduct door-to-door surveys on rainy Sundays or lead local cleanups, but some will head huge corporations and others will be officials, university professors, or journalists. All ninety-million will be able to explain new government policies to friends and workmates (though they may find this boring) so that everyone knows where the country is going and how to participate.

Their motto is, “Serve the People”, and all 90,000,000 current members are volunteers who contribute $1,000,000,000 in annual dues and billions of volunteer hours leading China towards Datong {2}.

The Party’s ability to mobilize is impressive. One night in 2010 a Shanghai high-rise fire killed fifty-eight people. The Minister of Public Security arrived from Beijing at two am and, by dawn, had coordinated twenty-five fire stations and a hundred fire trucks, a thousand firefighters, police, hospitals, finance, insurance, housing, donations, counseling, criminal investigations, and local schools. Forty-eight hours later, state-owned insurers began compensating families for lost property and $250,000 for each death. A week later, Shanghai mayor Han Zheng admitted, “We are responsible for poor supervision of the city’s construction industry which caused the fire”. He implemented new building codes, fired or demoted thirty officials (of whom twenty-two were indicted and most went to prison, two for sixteen years). The contrast with London’s 2017 Grenfell Tower fire is stark.

It appears that most folks are happy with the course they’ve plotted:

Members don’t benefit financially from participation and half have at least a junior college degree, forty percent are women, one-third are “exemplary farmers, herdsmen, and fishermen”, a quarter are white-collar workers, a sixth are retirees. Ten percent are ethnic minorities (ethnic minorities make up 8.5% of China’s population) and seven million civil servants are Party members.

Two-thirds of Party leaders have graduate degrees and one-fourth have PhDs.

Members vote democratically – on a one man, one vote basis – for senior Party and government appointments.

Surveys suggest that the Chinese are pleased with the Party’s supervision of their government.

Selected Notes:

{1} Membership in the Communist Party of China: Who is Being Admitted and How? | JSTOR Daily. By: R.W. McMorrow. December 19, 2015

{2} http://www.unz.com/article/social-credit-datong-dreams/#comment-2696175

Godfree Roberts Archive: http://www.unz.com/author/godfree-roberts/

http://www.unz.com/article/the-chinese-communist-party/

A San Francisco Every Month

How China’s Urbanization Pays for Itself

by Godfree Roberts

https://www.greanvillepost.com (August 22 2019)

 

 

The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.

– Confucius, Analects

 


China’s construction is vertiginous (Wharton Education)

San Franciscans unable to afford the $3,600 monthly rental for a one-bedroom apartment sleep in the streets and, like most world cities Beijing recently faced a similar problem. Twenty-three million prosperous Beijingers wanted meals from local restaurants but the quarter-million migrant workers who delivered them could not afford the city’s eye-watering rents. Resourcefully, they found neighborhoods condemned for renewal, hooked up illegal wiring to leaky buildings, and moved in until the inevitable fires drove them as TV cameras recorded their misery. The city built one-hundred thousand low-rent apartments in twelve months, the problem vanished, yet Beijingers barely noticed. China has been building homes for a million people – the entire housing stock of San Francisco – every month since 1950.

* * * * *

China’s landlords, the world’s oldest social class, maintained their grip on the country’s land for three thousand years until, in 1949, Mao placed it in public trust, divided {1} it, and began a series of experiments that continue to this day. In 1960 he combined individual plots into communal farms for the Great Leap Forward. In 1978, Deng redivided them into family plots that proved inefficient, but attempts to recombine them into larger, more efficient farms failed until 2012. Then a Trial Spot in Sihong County created land management rights that farmers could rent or pledge as collateral, so long as their land remained agricultural. Beijing promoted Sihong’s solution nationwide and, today, millions of rural people are unlocking twenty-two trillion dollars of previously inaccessible wealth. One farmer, Sun Zeshun {2}, leased his plot to an agribusiness corporation, became a roofing contractor in a nearby town, and used his new income to build a house and buy an SUV, “Life is much better now. I have more freedom and my income is less affected by weather”.

Urban experiments began in 1953 when, to maintain food production and prevent slum formation, the government issued urban hukou, residency permits, to rural people only if they attended university, joined the Army, or worked in state-owned enterprises. The UN’s Alain Bertaud {3} says,

 

 

Urbanization didn’t happen because the government wanted the country to urbanize – they actually kept the hukou in order to slow it down. But the economy asked for it and people voted with their feet. The government has to cope with urbanization rather than it being a deliberate policy decision. In a way, they are paying the price of this rapid urbanization now.

 

Every year since then, as housing becomes available, ten million people converted their rural hukou into urban permits and soon only Tibet will retain hukou – so people won’t move to the country and overgraze fragile ecosystems.

In 1960, city governments began building hundreds of millions of homes to accommodate the biggest baby boom in history, and, though individual floor space was only forty square feet, they charged tenants nominal rent. Planners trying to build a more productive economy saw housing as a nonproductive expense, but public attachment to its low-cost accommodation made reform difficult. Then, in 1981, a Housing Privatization Trial Spot encouraged renters to buy the homes they lived in – for half their market value and the experiment’s success reverberated in every city in China. Within seven years, tenants purchased two-thirds of all urban housing – worth one-third of China’s GDP – and unleashed the biggest real estate boom in world history.

Planners had capital to invest, the economy boomed, and housing became a pillar of the country’s welfare system. When markets overheated, city governments simply released more land for development to keep housing-supply aligned to local wage rises. When oversized apartments created problems, a Trial Spot halved their value by applying a progressive sales tax to floorspace, forcing speculators to release thousands of units onto the market. Yet local price bubbles regularly caused social unrest because, though eighty percent of buyers paid cash, twenty percent or would-be owners – rural folk moving to cities, cash-strapped first-time buyers, students, and migrant workers – found city prices out of reach. Another Trial Spot, in 2007, allowed them to pay half the deposit while the government paid the other half and guaranteed to buy or sell its interest on demand. Yet another Trial Spot gave land, permits, utilities, and loan guarantees to developers to build rent-only dwellings – on condition that rentals remained below fifteen percent of local wages. The canny developers pre-sold entire projects to insurance companies and retirement funds for their secure, long term cashflows. The work of urbanization will continue through 2049 when half the current rural population will be living in new cities.

Two million people living in regions prone to natural disasters, severe desertification, soil erosion or water depletion need special assistance. Planners are spending thirty-billion dollars (of which each villager contributes five hundred) building cities for them and will complete their relocation in 2021. The publicly-owned banks financing the project will recoup their investment over thirty years from increased tax revenues because, in addition to normal wage growth, each year of city life adds two percent to residents’ income. Meanwhile, planners are spending five billion restoring and reforesting the vacated land.

Some local governments are blurring the urban-rural divide. In 2018 Beijing Province began providing its fourteen million urban and seven million rural residents with the same world-class education, healthcare, employment, social welfare, and housing. The positive public response encouraged the city fathers to extend the largesse to the rural poverty belt in adjacent Hebei Province.

Rural folk are naturally reluctant to leave their ancestral villages and gravesites until their new towns have utilities, public transport, schools, jobs, and shops, and their hesitation leads to tales of “ghost cities”, says Wade Shepherd {4}.

 

I’ve been chasing reports of deserted towns and have yet to find one. Over and over, I would read articles in the international press claiming that China is building towns that are never inhabited – only to find something very different upon arrival. Ordos, the most famous “ghost city”, took ten years to populate but now has a thriving downtown and rising home prices. Xiangluowan, Lanzhou, Zhengzhou, Zhujiang, and Zhengdong, former “ghost cities”, now host the biggest urban migration in history. Newer cities – backwaters a decade ago – are complete and awaiting occupants while others, like Xinyang New District, are finishing construction.

 

Today, most urbanites and almost all country folk own their homes and fifteen percent own a second property. By 2020 housing will account for sixty percent of personal assets (twice the US level) and individual living space will be 450 square feet (half the US average). Housing quality already exceeds Japan’s.

The absence of property taxes makes carrying costs negligible and speculative pressures remain strong so the government barred rich people from buying extra homes and warned speculators to blame themselves if policy changes cause losses. As the Prime Minister said, “Houses are built to be lived in, not traded”. A homeowner in remote Kunming told me of his attempts to buy a second property after the policy went into effect:

 

 

Over the last few days I must have gone to nine banks and none of them will let me mortgage my property for a loan to buy another $300,000 apartment that is coming on the market in my neighborhood. The bank managers all told me that the government imposed tough restrictions on loans since last year so, if I really want to borrow the money, I will have to pay shadow bankers thousands in extra interest. Also, I cannot buy normal houses in my market because I already own one so, according to their policy, I cannot buy or sell my current one inside three years. When I bought my current apartment last year I could not buy in locations Kunming had zoned for college graduates who want to settle here. So our local real estate bubble isn’t going to burst anytime soon, as far as I can see.

 

As a first time home buyer, he was required to make a thirty-percent deposit, so he put down $100,000 – $37,300 from savings and $63,700 from his father, sister, and friends (for a second home, the deposit jumps to sixty percent and third homes must be purchased for cash). He’s willing to invest in housing because, along with everyone else, his wages have grown twelve percent annually for the past decade and annual per-capita disposable income has jumped from $1,800 to $8,000.

An airline stewardess friend owns a shabby, $300,000, fifteen-year-old {5}, one-thousand square foot apartment in outer Shenzen, across the bay from Hong Kong. Her fiance’s similar flat inside Shanghai’s Inner Ring Road, she says, cost one million dollars while, in her inland home town, it would be one-hundred fifty-thousand. Like most employees, she contributed to her employer’s Housing Provident Fund which matched her contribution when she signed the sales agreement. Since her salary is over twice the payments, loan approval was automatic.

With seven of the ten most expensive cities on earth for residential property, Chinese prices are disproportionate to local incomes. The minimum wage in coastal Xiamen, for example, is $300 and the average wage is $2,000, yet ninety percent of families own apartments, of which eighty percent are mortgage- and lien-free. Their secret is collective action. Chinese evaluate potential spouses more realistically than we do: a good-paying job and a home are essential for familial approval, so multigenerational clans and even school friends pitch in and, since parents often move into their children’s homes in old age, they often contribute a large portion of their savings. Low-income parents take second jobs to help with the deposit, canvass their social networks, and borrow the balance. Since owners spend one-third to one-half of their incomes on mortgage repayments, only eighteen percent of households nationally have mortgages {6} and loan default rates are barely one-third US levels.

Access to housing in big cities is becoming difficult and, partly because cities have low population densities {7}, and Tier One cities are capping their populations. Non-residents moving to Shanghai must buy for cash and pay city taxes and social insurance for five years before applying for a Shanghai hukou. Tier Two cities are deleveraging and Tier Three and Tier Four cities are optimizing their population density, infrastructure, and efficiency.

This urban growth has lifted demand – and competition – for skilled workers. The balmy island province of Hainan (population nine-million), is developing medical tourism and advertised, “Talented people coming to Hainan won’t have to worry about affording a home”. Medical professionals receive eighty percent of their home’s equity after five years and clear title after eight. Inland Chengdu (population fifteen-million), lures researchers and entrepreneurs with subsidized rents and home finance, cash incentives, prioritized service at banks and hospitals, discounts on subways, free bicycles, and free entry to museums, events, and the local panda research center. Nanjing, plagued by labor shortages, lowered home deposits to five percent and was rushed by cash-strapped couples.

Since the effective size of a labor market is defined by the average number of jobs accessible in a sixty-minute commute, well-designed infrastructure is vital to the current phase of urbanization. Cities generate ninety percent of the world’s economic growth, so Chinese planners studied prosperous megacities like Seoul and Tokyo and concluded that there is no need to limit their size if they are well planned. Now they are creating nineteen supercity clusters, the five biggest of which average 110 million people, which they expect to generate ninety percent of the national economy by 2030.

The first step is to strengthen the links between cities along two horizontal and three vertical corridors to create mega-regions, of which Beijing has prioritized three to drive national economic development by 2020: the Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta, and Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and planners expect two medium-sized clusters, Yangtze Mid-River, and Chengdu-Chongqing, to eventually join them.

Though each is ambitious in its own right, the government plans to turbocharge them by linking the clusters along two horizontal and three vertical corridors, the five biggest of which will average 110 million people, three times the size of Tokyo. The two horizontals are the Land Bridge Corridor in the North and the Yangtze River Corridor; the three verticals are the Coastal Corridor, the Harbin-Beijing-Guangzhou Railway Corridor, and the Baotou-Kunming Railway Corridor.

By linking the Yangtze River Corridor’s existing airports, railways, highways, and waterways horizontally they will anchor the “land” end of the Belt and Road Initiative, while the Coastal Corridor anchor the maritime road. Clustering will reallocate resources from bigger cities to smaller ones which tend to be at earlier stages of industrialization, and help them move up the value chain and away from heavy polluting industries. New free trade zones (FTZs) will help bigger clusters attract innovation-based investments and focus on the Made in China 2025 industrial strategy. Alain Bertaud says,

 

 

When I saw the original plan for Shenzhen, a fishing village that became one of China’s richest cities, I told them, “You’re being too ambitious”. But I underestimated China’s enormous ability to get these things done.

 

 

 

The mayor of remote Chongqing {8}, whose thirty million people are clustering with Chengdu’s eight million says, “We became part of the high-speed rail network in 2017. Today we’re seeing China’s old pattern of provincial production based on self-contained industries being replaced by a more rational division of labor and production across the nation in a unified, efficient domestic market. Our objective was to become the economic center and major growth pole of Western China by 2020 and for our large urban and rural areas and to balance our urban-rural development. Today, fifty-one percent of us live in urban areas and forty-nine percent in rural areas. Once our urban population reaches seventy percent we will have three urban layers: one large metropolis, thirty medium cities, and a hundred small cities. We’re creating a livable, green, drivable, safe, healthy Chongqing.

 

Of all the urban projects, Beijing’s Xiong’an New District, sixty miles to its south, is probably the most ambitious. The forty square mile development, which physically connects the world’s richest city to its poor hinterland, will re-house industries incompatible with the needs of a world capital. Its twenty-five-acre city hall opened last year and seven hundred miles of new track put Beijing thirty minutes away and keep all commutes in the region under sixty minutes.

More commuter lines connect the district’s city centers, universities, factories, hospitals, offices, institutions, and government departments and, to optimize space, much transport, water and electricity infrastructure is underground. Four high-speed train lines will run through the region and connect its three new airports: Beijing Daxing, Tianjin, and Shijiazhuang. Since airlines must choose between Beijing’s existing airport and Beijing Daxing, planners doubled the speed of the trains running to the more distant airport to make them equi-temporal.

Xiong’an’s infrastructure runs on 5G Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, big data cloud computing, smart sensors, smart lighting and integrated facial recognition – all to reduce energy, time and manpower investment, improve energy efficiency, and reduce management overhead. Local media claim it will have neither traffic lights nor traffic jams because Alibaba’s CityBrain AI platform provides its traffic management and Baidu and China Mobile are running remote controlled self-driving vehicles.

Who will pay for this whizzbang technology? Alain Bertaud says the new clusters will give Xiong’an a productivity edge over competing cities, just as the Industrial Revolution gave England a productivity advantage over the world in its day. Like China’s high speed rail network, it will pay for itself.

Endnotes:

{1} In Fanshen (1966), William Hinton tells how this was accomplished in a single village.

{2} “China’s Reforms Allow Villagers to Rent Out Land and Boost Incomes”, Bloomberg

{3} “Endless cities: will China’s new urbanisation just mean more sprawl?” by Helen Roxburgh, The Guardian. Bertaud, formerly the World Bank’s urbanization advisor, now advises Beijing.

{4} “Ghost Cities of China: The Story of Cities without People in the World’s Most Populated Country” by Wade Shepard, Asian Arguments (May 15 2015)

{5} Chinese housing has a designed life of thirty years

{6} The corresponding figure is fifty percent in the USA.

{7} London’s population density is twice Beijing’s.

{8} The China Wave: Rise of a Civilizational State (2012) by Weiwei Zhang

_____

Godfree Roberts, a senior contributing editor with The Greanville Post, is a British expert on Chinese and Far Eastern affairs. He resides in Thailand.

https://www.greanvillepost.com/2019/08/22/a-san-francisco-every-month-how-chinas-urbanization-pays-for-itself/

Xiong’an New Area

The Urban Center of a New Millennium

by Daniel Hyatt

http://www.china.org.cn (July 21 2019)


An aerial photo of Rongcheng county, Hebei province, April 01 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

Some 100 kilometers south of Beijing, China is building a city of the future. The Xiong’an New Area is a modern metropolis of the new millennium. Plans of the city reveal that urban life in China is about to embark on a transformative journey where innovation is not only the foundation but also one that is grounded in a symbiotic relationship with the environment.

When the Xiong’an New Area project was announced in April 2017, it appeared to be a distant dream. Barely two years on, residents are beginning to get a sense of how science can completely revolutionize their daily routine. Life here thrives on high-end technology that is integrated into almost every aspect of living.

Like a scene straight out of a sci-fi movie, the everyday experiences of shopping and transportation are smart – and often automated. Bookstores and supermarkets will be unmanned and instead use facial recognition, the Internet of Things, and QR code payments to make transactions. Driverless cars and unmanned logistics vehicles are now undergoing testing while self-driving buses have already been introduced in the Xiong’an New Area.

Fintech companies, whose business models hinge on the applications of various forms of technology, are drawn to the concept of a cutting-edge economic system. Utilizing breakthroughs in cloud computing, big data, and blockchain, plans for fintech labs are underway in the city. China’s big-three tech firms, Tencent, Alibaba, and Baidu, are all moving in. According to the Xiong’an New Area advisory committee such high-end industries will be fueling seventy to eighty percent of the economic growth in the area.

5G will form the Xiong’an New Area’s backbone. Being a testbed for this new high-speed communication standard, it will help make the technology more commercial and bring it more into mainstream applications. The Xiong’an New Area is already providing real-world scenarios to fine-tune 5G implementation in the areas of city management and autonomous driving. Companies have already launched facilities like virtual reality-based tourism business models, artificial intelligence labs, and industrial application institutes that rely on 5G.

The Xiong’an New Area is clearly aligned with China’s shift to high-quality economic development as policymakers grow increasingly more concerned with the real outcome of programs rather than in statistical growth. It goes without doubt that rapid economic growth has played its part in China’s opening up and its growing prosperity, but looking ahead, it will be the quality and sustainability of development that truly matter.

Industrial and technological advancements that do not give due regard to the environment will only lead to disaster. That is why green development is a key priority in the development of the Xiong’an New Area.

According to the city plans, a massive seventy percent of the total area will be covered in vegetation and water. The Baiyangdian wetlands are next to the Xiong’an New Area and will cover around 360 square kilometers. An arrangement has been made where both areas will mutually support each other. Presently, the restoration of the Baiyangdian Lake basin is in progress and the treatment of pollution is being carried out as a high priority.

The Xiong’an New Area also encourages a healthy lifestyle where walking and cycling are catered for. There will be a strict check on the number of cars, and to help people get around easily, an efficient transport system is being built which has a minimal carbon impact.

The need for the Xiong’an New Area arose to avoid the “big city malaise” as Beijing is expanding both vertically and horizontally at an exponential rate. Of greater concern is the horizontal expansion as it takes services and facilities farther from residential neighborhoods. Even now government offices are so spread out that commutes among them are taking residents more time.

The solution has been to shift Beijing’s non-capital functions to Xiong’an by constructing hospitals, colleges, and headquarters of businesses, as well as financial and public institutions. With this relocation, the pressure on Beijing’s resources, traffic, housing, and government functions will drastically reduce.

Building an entirely new city was an exercise in relocating the villages that fell along the belt of three counties of Hebei province: Rongcheng, Anxin, and Xiongxian. The first round is proceeding smoothly and over seventy percent of families have signed up to transfer their lands. Meanwhile, most of them have opted to move into apartments in the new city when construction is complete.

This is not the first time Chinese people have transformed their ancestral lands for the good of their country. Shenzhen, the tech capital of China, was once a sleepy fishing village. Shanghai’s Pudong free-trade zone was also an undeveloped swath of land just decades ago. But due to their commitment, the people turned their cities into economic hubs. The people of Hebei will also ensure this happens for the Xiong’an New Area.

When taking a decision to relocate, it all comes down to an area’s commercial power and Xiong’an is poised to become a magnet for investment. Foreign companies have expressed intentions of collaborating with city authorities in the fields of environmental management, intelligent transportation, and the building of information infrastructure. They have even promised financial and technical support along with a flow of fresh talent.

With the potential it offers, the Xiong’an New Area has already attracted widespread global attention. It is a part of the future that is already here. State-of-the-art, yet co-existing in harmony with nature, the mega-project is a lesson in developing urban centers of the 21st century.

_____

Daniel Hyatt is a Pakistan-based freelance journalist and commentator on modern China.

The article was written in Chinese and translated by Zhang Liying and Li Jingrong.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China.org.cn.

Follow China.org.cn on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.

http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/2019-07/21/content_75010091.htm

Hong Kong Hotel Workers Paying Price …

… for Protests as Mira, InterContinental Force Staff to Take Leave

* High-end hotels and others all struggling as occupancy rates plummet

* Staff say they are being forced to take leave in what is normally peak season

by Kanis Leung

South China Morning Post (August 22 2019)

 

Anti-government protesters fill Victoria Park Road and Gloucester Road in Causeway Bay during last weekend’s rally. Photo: Dickson Lee

Hong Kong’s hotel workers are paying the price for nearly three months of anti-government protests, with many placed involuntarily on paid and unpaid leave as occupancy rates plummet.

The Post has learned that the Mira Hong Kong, in the bustling tourist district of Tsim Sha Tsui, has become the latest of the city’s high-end hotels to put employees on leave, with scores of housekeeping staff at the 492-room hotel set for an unwanted break.

A few streets away, the 503-room InterContinental Hong Kong hotel has asked permanent members of staff to take annual leave and unpaid leave to save money, with ten hotels operated by tycoon Li Ka-shing’s CK Asset Holdings reportedly making a similar move.

The growing trend emerged as the government warned that the extradition bill protests, now in their third month, had damaged the city’s economy, reporting shrinking figures in tourist arrivals and room occupancy rates.

A worker at the Mira, who wished to remain anonymous, said the company had assigned annual leave and other holidays for staff on the roster this month without asking them.

She estimated one-third of the 100-strong housekeeping team were being asked to take a break, as the hotel’s occupancy rate fell to between fifty and sixty per cent.

While bosses had not officially told staff about the move, the worker believed it was because of the poor economy.

“I feel unhappy … It is summertime which should be very busy. This is all because of the protesters”, the employee said.

 

 

They should protest peacefully instead of making Hong Kong unstable. Tourists are not willing to come to Hong Kong any more.

 

 

Also See: https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/hong-kong-economy/article/3022493/tough-times-hong-kong-tourism-workers-two-months

The city has been rocked by protests since June 9, sparked by now-abandoned legislation that would have allowed the transfer of fugitives to jurisdictions with which Hong Kong does not have an extradition agreement, including mainland China.

Clashes have broken out in various parts of the city over the past eleven weeks, including at Hong Kong International Airport, where operations were disrupted for six days in a row last week. During two days of that period, nearly 1,000 flights were cancelled.

Commerce minister Edward Yau Tang-wah earlier said the number of inbound tourists dropped more than thirty per cent for the first ten days in August, and industry figures said the protests could be worse for Hong Kong than the 2003 Sars outbreak.

According to the Catering and Hotel Industries Employees General Union, the InterContinental Hong Kong sent an email to staff saying the protests had hurt the economy and its occupancy levels were down considerably.

“It is only right that we take ‘corrective measures’ to protect our payroll and prevent our bank balance from slipping further in the red”, read the email, seen by the Post.


Hong Kong’s tourism industry has been hit by a drop in visitors, and two days of chaos at the city’s airports where hundreds of flights were cancelled did not help. Photo: Bloomberg

Under the plan, some staff, including department heads, are to take one day of annual leave and two days of unpaid leave in August. Next month, all permanent staff are being forced to take two days of annual leave and another two of unpaid leave.

The union’s organising secretary, Ho Hung-hing, could not say how many staff members had been affected, but added that even though workers were not happy with the arrangement, they had to do what they were told.

Ho said that previously frontline employees had not been allowed to take holidays during peak seasons, because of manpower shortages.

“When [companies] claim to have quieter businesses now, they then resort to [hurting] the workers”, Ho said.

Meanwhile, CK Asset has reportedly asked staff to take unpaid leave at ten hotels, including the Harbour Grand Hong Kong in North Point and the Harbour Plaza 8 Degrees in To Kwa Wan.

According to the Labour Department, the timing of annual leave should be appointed by the employer after consultation with workers or their representatives. Bosses should also confirm this through a written notice to staff at least fourteen days in advance unless a shorter period was mutually agreed upon.

Mira’s spokeswoman said she had no information on whether her company had made such a move without consent from workers, but admitted that it should not happen under normal circumstances and that the hotel would follow up on cases if there were any.

She said encouraging employees to clear their leave near the end of the year was a normal practice.

“Managers try to arrange rosters according to workers’ preferences, but there are so many people that we can’t honour every colleague’s request”, she added.

She said employees could still discuss arrangements with their managers after receiving their rosters.

The Hotels, Food and Beverage Employees Association urged bosses not to force staff to sign agreements on unpaid leave, saying doing so might breach the Employment Ordinance.

The Post has contacted InterContinental Hong Kong and CK Asset for comment.

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/hong-kong-economy/article/3023830/ordinary-hongkongers-feeling-pinch-anti-government

Roots of Chaos in Hong Kong were Planted in Washington

by Salman Rafi Sheikh

New Eastern Outlook (August 21 2019)

A significant part of US foreign policy rests on the notion that it should promote the “politics of chaos” as this chaos, as I pointed out earlier, plays a key role in maintaining US hegemony on the international stage. This “politics of chaos” is thus not just a strategy against rival states and strategic competitors; it is also a display of the US deep-state’s obsession with running the world unilaterally and denying other (emerging) powers their due status and the ability to challenge the US primacy. What, therefore, we are witnessing in Hong Kong is not just an indigenous uprising against China; it is more of an engineered “politics of chaos” that is aimed at destabilizing the region in order to hurt China both politically and economically. Could this just be a coincidence that the timing of the protests syncs perfectly with the dawn of made-in-China 5G technology, an invention that has the potential to take over the world and thus dispel the US hegemony?

Protestors in Hong Kong have not disappointed their financers. Numerous protestors have been seen carrying US flags; playing the US national anthem, and invoking the US Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.

Those protesting claim this Act will help in implement universal suffrage in Hong Kong by 2020; in reality, it would end up becoming a tool in the hands of the US elites, allowing them to impose sanctions on Chinese political figures under the pretext of them committing alleged violations of human rights. This particular legislation would require the White House to carry out an annual review to determine whether Hong Kong’s special trade status, which allows it to be recognized as a separate customs territory to mainland China, can still be justified.

The Act aims to countercheck Hong Kong’s “autonomy and freedom” that are being eroded through “Chinese interference”. It would empower the US president to

 

identify persons responsible for the abductions of Hong Kong booksellers and journalists and those complicit in suppressing basic freedoms in Hong Kong, including those complicit in the rendition of individuals, in connection to their exercise of internationally-recognized rights, to mainland China for detention or trial, and to freeze their US-based assets and deny them entry into the United States,

 

thus giving the US president a free hand to impose sanctions against most any individual it deems dangerous or uncontrollable.

This legislation, which is nothing short a recipe of direct interference, is apart from the already-present “black hand” US officials in Hong Kong, financing the protestors and helping them organize on a large scale.

Chinese authorities have so far practised restraint. But then the degree to which the protests are rising and spreading, funded of course by proxy entities, means that the US is deliberately provoking China to take action. If the Chinese quell the protests by force and if some protestors die as a result, this will let the US lure its western/European allies into an economic boycott of China. This would hurt China in the sense that a number of European countries, like Germany and Italy that have flourishing trade and investment ties with China and are far from enthusiastic to jump on the US’ anti-China bandwagon, will be forced to take some action against China. The deep-state in the US is, therefore, eager to use Hong Kong crisis to its advantage and punish Beijing for the way it continues to defy US sanctions on, for instance, Iran.

Igniting protests in Hong Kong directly serves US interests vis-a-vis China. If large scale protests break out in Hong Kong and a civil-war situation becomes possible, it would result in a massive capital out-flight from the world’s third-biggest capital market. In the absence of this financial market in Hong Kong, China would have to work its future financial arrangements through countries over which it doesn’t have political control.

The “Hong Kong move” is perhaps the next move after the trade-war the US had imposed upon China and lost due to Chinese resilience and ability to fend off external economic pressures. Even the US allies in the region – specifically, India and Japan, two crucial partners in the US “Indo-Pacific strategy” – have refused to join the US’ anti-China effort and are in fact seeking rapprochement. On the Huawei front, despite US efforts at potentially criminalising the company, the company announced a thirty percent rise in revenue and has signed fifty 5G contracts, 28 of which are in Europe, so far this year.

The only viable option left with the US to “control” and “pressurise” China into submission is massive destabilization in Hong Kong and thus shut doors of external investment and capital on China’s “closed mainland economy”.

If the US, therefore, can manipulate Hong Kong’s autonomy, it can cripple China’s economy. Already, the US has big presence in Hong Kong. There are over 85,000 American citizens living there, and nearly 1,400 American businesses operate there. The US trade surplus in Hong Kong in 2017 was $32.6 billion.

Accordingly, the ultimate goal being massive instability to cripple China, what we should expect in the future are more violent and massive protests than has so far been the case. A lot of it would, in fact, depend on how the Chinese manage the situation. The Russians are already discussing with the Chinese a joint strategy to counter protests in Hong Kong and Moscow. Moscow is, of course, far more experienced than Beijing in managing and defeating foreign-funded protest campaigns and it is all set to leverage this experience vis-a-vis the US “black hand” in Hong Kong as well.

_____

Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.

https://journal-neo.org/2019/08/21/roots-of-chaos-in-hong-kong-go-deep-into-washington/

How to Make Sense of Foreign Protests, Conflicts, and Uprisings

by Caitlin Johnstone

Medium.com (August 28 2019)

Zero Hedge (August 28 2019)

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, our government-funded media outlet, has published an article titled “Australian expat living in Hong Kong throws off business suit to join protest movement” {1}. The entire story is in the headline: some random guy, who ABC keeps anonymous but for the name “Daniel”, has joined the protests in Hong Kong. That’s it. That’s the whole entire bombshell newsworthy news story.

“In Australia, we have proper democracy but in Hong Kong, democracy is being slowly eroded away and I’ll try to do whatever I can to try and help the cause”, the anonymous guy told ABC.

This sort of enthusiastic empty non-story cheerleading is typical for western media coverage of the Hong Kong protests so far, while these same media outlets consistently ignore or downplay protests against the government of France, Israel, Honduras, India, Indonesia and any other region that happens to fall within the US-centralized power alliance. It’s an amazingly reliable pattern: the entire western political/media class finds protests and uprisings endlessly fascinating when they are in opposition to governments which haven’t yet been absorbed into the imperial blob like China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Syria, pre-collapse Libya, or then-Moscow-aligned Ukraine, but any protests or uprisings within that empire are ignored at best or demonized at worst.

If dissidents in the United States began donning yellow vests and holding aggressive demonstrations in the current media environment, you could safely bet your bottom dollar that they would be ignored for as long as possible and then smeared as fascists, antisemites, and/or Russian pawns thereafter. This would happen with absolute certainty.

This very reliable trend in the western media is very interesting, because it also happens to be the known position of the US State Department.

In 2017 a memo was leaked to Politico {2} in which the sniveling John Bolton lackey {3} Brian Hook explained to Washington DC neophyte Rex Tillerson how to perform his job as Secretary of State with regard to human rights violations. Hook explained that the US government must downplay and ignore the human rights violations of US allies like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Philippines while aggressively targeting unabsorbed governments like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea for any allegations of human rights violations on their part.

 

 

“In the case of US allies such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines, the Administration is fully justified in emphasizing good relations for a variety of important reasons, including counter-terrorism, and in honestly facing up to the difficult tradeoffs with regard to human rights”, Hook explained in the memo.

“One useful guideline for a realistic and successful foreign policy is that allies should be treated differently – and better – than adversaries”, Hook wrote. “Otherwise, we end up with more adversaries, and fewer allies. The classic dilemma of balancing ideals and interests is with regard to America’s allies. In relation to our competitors, there is far less of a dilemma. We do not look to bolster America’s adversaries overseas; we look to pressure, compete with, and outmaneuver them. For this reason, we should consider human rights as an important issue in regard to US relations with China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran.”

 

 

 

This State Department memo is really all you need to understand what’s going on whenever there’s any kind of uprising or conflict in a foreign nation. Hell, it’s almost all you need to understand the dynamics of empire in general. And, combined with the consistent pattern we’ve seen in coverage of protests and uprisings against empire-absorbed governments versus unabsorbed ones, it certainly tells you all you need to know about the state of the western media.

In theory, the US Department of State was meant to serve as a counterpart to what was then called the Department of War (later falsely re-titled the “Department of Defense”). In theory, the State Department was meant to specialize in peace and diplomacy in the same way the War Department specialized in war. In practice, the warmongers just got two war departments.

Understand this one basic concept and you can understand all the hot topic foreign policy issues of any given day: there is an alliance of nations, centralized around US military and economic power, which effectively functions as a single empire. This empire works tirelessly to either absorb unabsorbed governments into its blob, or at least to undermine and marginalize them so they can’t impede the empire’s growth. The goal of the empire is total global domination without causing a nuclear war and without the public noticing that they’re living in an empire. In this sense, it’s essentially a silent, slow-motion third world war.

I see some of my readers voicing confusion about the protests in Hong Kong, but if you understand the basic dynamic I just described you’ll see that this is really no different from the protests and uprisings we’ve seen in Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Libya, and Ukraine: the western political/media class are backing an uprising which benefits the imperial blob and undermines an unabsorbed government. This doesn’t mean that the protesters don’t have grievances or that none of those grievances are legitimate, it just means that you’re being told to cheerlead for an agenda by empire narrative managers solely because your doing so benefits that empire.

So don’t. Refuse to be a pro bono CIA propagandist. This doesn’t mean you need to oppose the protesters in Hong Kong, Venezuela or anywhere else, it just means that the only people who benefit from westerners cheerleading a CIA-approved uprising against an unabsorbed government are your rulers, who work endlessly to manufacture support for pro-empire agendas.

People who don’t get this sometimes tell me that we should “support” the protesters in a given unabsorbed region, but they’re always very reluctant to say what they mean by “support”. Do they mean simply joining the western mass media in uncritically cheerleading for an uprising which benefits western power structures? Do they mean to send them money? Weapons? An emotional thumbs-up? Prayers? Getting someone to say what they mean when they say we should “support” the Hong Kong protesters or whomever is like pulling teeth because it would bring up a lot of cognitive dissonances to actually turn and examine what’s behind the impulse they’re following: narrative management. They’re promoting pro-empire narrative management, and nothing more. And they’re doing this because the empire narrative managers trained them to.

“Centrist” empire loyalists tend to ignore the protests in places like France while amplifying and cheerleading the protests in places like Hong Kong. Right-wing empire loyalists sometimes do it a little differently, actively conflating the Yellow Vests protests with protests in places like Hong Kong despite the very different forces that are at play in those two situations. But in both cases, they’re effectively mirroring the same State Department posture that Brian Hook tried to educate into Rex Tillerson in 2017.

Don’t subject yourself to such indignities. If the political/media class is going to propagandize the masses into supporting the advancement of the agendas of the empire, at least make them do it without your help.

Links:

{1} https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-27/the-australian-expat-who-joined-hong-kongs-protest-movement/11441202

{2} https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/19/tillerson-state-human-rights-304118

{3} https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-nuclear-usa/us-secretary-of-state-names-brian-hook-special-envoy-for-iran-idUSKBN1L129X

 

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https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-08-27/how-make-sense-foreign-protests-conflicts-and-uprisings