Elsewhere on China’s periphery, Taiwan has a presidential election in less than two weeks. China’s President Xi Jinping began 2019 with a Jan. 2 speech identifying Taiwan as the focus of his campaign to make China great again. If — when, probably — on Jan. 11, 2020, Taiwan reelects President Tsai Ing-wen, the Taiwanese will have joined Hong Kongers in disdaining the “one country, two systems” fudge as a formula for the incremental suffocation of freedom.
Thirty autumns ago, as the Berlin Wall crumbled and the Soviet Union teetered, approximately 1.5 billion people lived under communist regimes. Today, approximately 1.5 billion people still do. The 1989 figure was 29 percent of the world’s population compared with 20 percent in 2019, but 89 percent of today’s 20 percent are caught in the tightening vise of China’s Leninism, whose inviolable tenet is that nothing shall challenge the party’s supremacy.
With this year’s revelations about the million, or perhaps millions, swept into the gulag archipelago in northwestern China, it is possible to hope that in 2020 we will hear less from U.S. businessmen who are as obtuse as they are cocksure. Just 51 days before the New York Times published more than 400 pages of documents on China’s concentration camps, presidential aspirant Mike Bloomberg said the CCP’s leaders “listen to the public” and “Xi Jinping is not a dictator.”
Not content to just “listen to” the public, the CCP, using ever more sophisticated technology, surveils almost everything done by almost everyone. Perhaps 2019 foreshadowed the day when today’s Bloombergs will be remembered as Charles Lindbergh and others are remembered because they thought dictators in the 1930s were “the wave of the future.”
Would that the United States’ serial grovelers had the gumption of the creators of “South Park.” When China, a supposedly great power that was actually discombobulated by this animated TV series, banned it, the creators said: “We welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. . . . Xi doesn’t look just like Winnie the Pooh at all. . . . Long live the Great Communist Party of China! May this autumn’s sorghum harvest be bountiful! We good now China?”
“We have to stand with Hong Kong, but I’m also standing with President Xi,” said the United States’ president, who also said of Xi: “He’s a friend of mine.” Xi should reciprocate friendly feelings because President Trump’s biggest blunder, made three days after his inauguration, was jettisoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership, thereby unraveling a 12-nation fabric of commercial cooperation that excluded China.
Two other Trump chums are Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The former continued his incremental dismemberment of Europe’s geographically largest nation, Ukraine, and the latter took Trump’s warning against attacking the Kurds as seriously as Trump meant it.
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un does not have to settle for mere friendship — in 2018, Trump said, “We fell in love” — but in 2019, the romance seemed unreciprocated. Kim ended a 522-day self-imposed moratorium on ballistic missile tests, but Trump minimized their importance because the missiles could not reach the continental United States — just South Korea, Japan and the 80,000 U.S. forces in both places.
However, North Korea has given Trump until right now — the end of this calendar year — to make additional U.S. concessions, beyond the scaling back of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, to avoid “shocking punishment.” Fresh concessions are North Korea’s price for resumption of negotiations that will lead, if the future is like the past 25 years, to other concessions.
However, because nuclear weapons are at issue, you must remember this: In 1945, having witnessed the New Mexico birth of something used on Japan three weeks later, the Manhattan Project’s leaders would have been have been pleasantly surprised had they known that 2019 would be the 73rd year without the use of what they had created. Sometimes what does not happen is itself momentous.
Source: Washington Post – The 235 days that rattled China and shook the world