It's Time to Tell China to F*ck Off
I like buying $5 t-shirts as much as the next guy. And I look damn good in a v-neck and jeans. But I tell ya, I will happily pay double for my shirts if it means we can tell China to pack sand.
Seriously. I know this probably sounds pretty radical. I mean, 10 bucks is a lot for a t-shirt...
But I am now 100% convinced that the Chinese government is the enemy of everything right and good in this world. And I don't want any part of it...
I know, capitalism is not supposed to be a moral system. But the fundamental truth that capital will flow to where it is treated best has been subverted by the short-term thinking that quarterly earnings reporting encourages. Companies are seduced by the numbers: "Yeah, China is stealing our code, but man, look at our sales growth!"
In the "dog bites man" scenario, the dog puts up with man's crap for as long as he can stand it. But even dogs have their limits. Pile enough crap on them, and they will eventually bite...
It seems like the U.S. has been operating under the assumption that engagement, the internet, and the free flow of information and ideas will eventually transform China into an actual trading partner that finally embraces democracy and all that.
Ummm, [*cough, cough*] bullshit [*cough*].
China is playing a different game. Trade agreement? HA! I don't think they care in the least if the U.S. decides to grace them with some kind of trade partner status. Seems to me they've already gotten what they want from Western tech companies...
Imagine swiping your card at the gas station and the display says you've used up your allotment of gasoline for a person with your social grade. Yeah, the real-time facial recognition software on the surveillance camera saw you kick your neighbor's dog. Your grade fell to a "D" — needs improvement.
Maybe if you wear your $5 "Communism Rocks" t-shirt around you'll be able to gas up your Chevy Epica next month...
I've been told the whole "social score" thing was an episode of Black Mirror. I don't know, that show gives me the creeps. But the whole concept has apparently been spelled out in a secret Chinese communist document from 2012 called Communiqué on the Current State of the Ideological Sphere Document Number Nine, or the Communiqué on the Current State of the Ideological Sphere.
It's secret. And apparently written in Chinese. So I'm learning about it secondhand. But the New York Times says it sounds like it was written by current President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping.
You may have heard about Western internet companies being asked to censor the internet in order to squelch anything that challenges the communist government there. Google (for instance) acquiesced for a while, then decided to just abandon China altogether.
The issue is spelled out in this quote, from a book called We Have Been Harmonised by Kai Strittmatter:
The days when the party eyed the internet with fear and anxiety are long gone. The regime has not only lost its fear; it has learned to love new technologies. The CCP [China Communist Party] believes it can use big data and artificial intelligence to create steering mechanisms that will catapult its economy into the future and make its apparatus crisis-proof. At the same time, it intends to create the most perfect surveillance state the world has ever seen.
Sounds a lot like Orwell's 1984. Apparently it goes live online next year...
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The Arrogance of Democracy
It literally hurts me to write this. Americans, democratic people, capitalists: we are arrogant. We still suffer the neo-con delusion that freedom and money fix everything. Seems to me that the current trade negotiations with China are just buying time. Their president faces no political expediency. There are no Chinese elections coming.
Trump twisting in the wind trying to convince a cracking stock market that a deal is coming soon, that China wants a deal badly, is a little sad. There's no deal coming, at least nothing with any significant concessions from China.
The stock market won't like it, not right away, but Trump should save some face and walk away from the table. And the market really won't like this one, but he should revive his ideas of delisting Chinese companies from U.S. markets. Yeah, Alibaba, Tencent, all of 'em...
Because China has built its own internet to serve the purposes of a communist government that does not have America's best interest at heart. Clearly, Amazon wouldn't kowtow to the Chinese government, so China made its own copy: Alibaba. Not a chance in hell the Chinese Communist Party is gonna let people share their gripes on Facebook. So they built Renren.
Jack Ma is no self-made billionaire. He's a shill. And American investors have been duped into funding him. Let's just stop and put an end to this before they take the $5 shirt off our backs.
I've been skeptical of Chinese stocks for a while now. But I've seen all I need to see. If you own Chinese stocks, consider selling them.
Until next time,
A 21-year veteran of the newsletter business, Briton Ryle is the editor of The Wealth Advisory income stock newsletter, with a focus on top-quality dividend growth stocks and REITs. Briton also manages the Real Income Trader advisory service, where his readers take regular cash payouts using a low-risk covered call option strategy. He is also the managing editor of the Wealth Daily e-letter. To learn more about Briton, click here.
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