On Poking Dragons

I wonder how many Americans quite understand what the Us is facing in its aggressive confrontation with China. Washington clearly prepares the public for another unnecessary war.  Given America’s routine defeat in war and catastrophic miscalculations in fighting small powers, picking a fight with what, increasingly, is again becoming the Middle Kingdom seems less than bright. Yet within the Beltway there is the usual smug complacency, the unshakable arrogance that appears to think the China is just a big Norway or Guatemala that needs to be put in its place.

A quick glance at China:

China easily leads the world in civil engineering, building roads, bridges, ports, rail lines, long-distance high-voltage transmission lines, and digital infrastructure. People returning from China, including yours truly, discribe it as being like coming back from a more-advanced planet.

Everyone talks about the high-speed trains, with good reason: 180 miles per hour, quiet, comfortable, huge windows, with very short stops at villages between major cities, giving rural populations the speed of air travel without the nuisance. by contrast, American rail looks like something out of 1955.

The importance of  civil engineering is more thans symbolic. Infrastructure facilitates commerce. China is of course the manufacturing powerhouse of the world. By contrast, America simply ignores infrastructure, spending instead on the military and long since having largely abandoned manufacturing.

China leads the world in ship-building, with South Korea being another major player in this game. America has almost no ship-building except for military, and this has been criticized by the Government Accounting Office for primitivism  and slowness.   Ship-building obviously is important for commerce, and also for military purposes–China now having the world’s largest navy.

China leads the world in Five G, in patents, technology, manufacturing capacity, installed base. this is not always well understood. Five G allows the transmission of large amounts of data with short response times–high throughput, low latency, as we say. Huawei now has what it calls Five.five G, an improved version. Five G is important for controlling factories, smart cities, and so on. Beijing takes it seriously, China now having around 3.6 million installed base stations versus something like 100,000 pseudo-Five G base stations in the US.

China finds its brightest students by rigorous testing, and then sends them at government expense to its excellent universities. The US deliberately enstupidates its schools at all levels to make minorities look smarter than they are. How is this going to work?

China dominates the planet in electric vehicles. Its lead over the US is so great as to be insuperable in technology, batteries, price, and productive capacity. If you follow tech news, you see things like a Chinese ev battery that charges in ten minutes. As many have pointed out, BYD’s sub-ten thousand dollar car will find an almost unlimited market in the Global South. No other country is even close. Biden’s high tariffs on Chinese evs will sserve only to allow American companies to continue selling wildly over-priced behicles to Americans who will have no choice.

China, Russia, and perhaps Iran have developed hypersonic missiles, of which America doesn’t have any.  This is interesting. Americans have always assumed technological superiority over Russia and China. Judging by the poor performance of Western weaponry in the Ukraine, this seems questionable.

In other fields, America maintains a lead, or at least an important part lead, though usually not by competing but  by strong-arming, sanctions, and tariffs. The greatest of these is semiconductors. The situation is curious. The Chinese have the brains, engineers,and savvy to design and make high-end chips, but Washington has a stranglehold on the equipment needed to manufacture them. However, China has a recent history of horrifying Washington by doing things it wasn’t supposed to be able to do, such as make chips in seven and five nanometer nodes and stay neck-and-neck with the US in supercomputers. But it has not been able to make the advanced lithography tools needed at the forefront of the chip business. If it does, it will be Katie bar the door, but it hasn’t.

China leads the world inproduction of steel and aluminum.  America can’t compete, so it imposes tariffs.

It leads the world in solar panels, leads in technology, production capacity, and price. America can’t compete, so it imposes tariffs.

China remains behind America, but not by much, in aspects of its space program. However, it has an extensive and robust launch capacity, a successful space station in some ways more advanced than the International Space Station, and moves rapidly toward reusable launch vehicles. Years back now, it sent a successful fully automated moon-sample return mission to our satellite, and, later, a combination Mars orbiter, lander, and rover, all functioning perfectly on the first try. NASA and Space X maintain a lead, but it isn’t a growth stock

There are other fields in which America holds a lead. Jet engines, for example. My point is that Washington seems to suffer a recto cranial inversion, imagining a superiority it only barely has but probably, all things considered, doesn’t. China has four times the US population, the Han by agreement among psychometrists have a five or six point advantage in mean I.Q, and an intelligent government focused on increasing its commercial superiority.

It is all the fashion in America to decry authoritarianism, but this allows Beijing to take decisions and then carry them out, over decades if need be. It also allows a noticeable system approach. In America, individual states or corporations undertake projects like high-speed rail or Five G.  China tends to do things on a whole-country basis. The difference in results is clear.

Washington, which subsidizes its own industries, complains that Beijing does the same–but the Chinese system works.

{what China doesn’t have is a sprawling, over-extended, low-grade, incomprehensibly costly military draining funds desperately needed to bring America up to modern standards domestically. China is not an appendage of its military. It seems to have figured out that wars cost money and, if there is one thing the Chinese really really like, it’s money.

Sez I, a little more realism in the Yankee Capital might be a good idea, a bit less huff and puff, more spending on America and less on a blood-sucking arms industry. But what do I know?



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Comments 74

  • We are doomed! Let’s smart citi it up and get the joos livestock (Americas consumer class) stateside on the Chinese social credit system asap. Gonna need to do away with physical cash pronto so the machinations of the livestock will be in better focus as their activities can be analyzed in real time. The estados unidos unfortunately only has jerkoffs running for president again…..


    Three spigots of liquidity, one American, one European and one Asian. These spigots will work over time to solidify these three entities like it or not. Coordination on the back end, chess board for all the players on the front end. No snuffing out of any of the big three, don’t even try. That’s the NWO, read em and weep….

  • This will sound simplistic, but they don’t have any freedom.
    [And yes, I know our situation here very well.]

    • “…but they don’t have any freedom.” The Chinese? How many millions of them travel all over the world for work or tourism to see how other systems work? No restrictions thete.

    • I worked for a US company in China. It’s a much better place than it’s portrayal in the West. I would suggest that our freedoms are illusory and amount to little. When has voting or speaking freely really changed much? It’s a common misconception that the Chinese want a US type system. They had Emperors and want this type of government; they think the US system is messy.

  • Fred, I sort of agree with you. However, many moons ago, I was a simulator instructor for a well-known aviation training company. I had a number of Chinese pilots. They were former Chinese Air Force pilots and while they could fly okay, they couldn’t navigate worth a hoot. They had been trained to fly headings provided by ground radar controllers. They had some English-speaking translators who were with them. I liked them and enjoyed being around them. The translators told me the reason they were buying American-made airplanes and other things such as cars was because Chinese manufacturers couldn’t build them. In other words, they are good with semiconductors but not so good with other things.

    • They’re not all that good as semi-conductors. They aren’t even close to state of the art in chip making.

      China isn’t all that Fred says it is. Their workmanship is an atrocity, and they hide the major goof ups their high speed trains have been in, often, literally, burying the wreckage and quietly hauling off the corpses. I avoid buying Chinese junk whenever possible.

  • America is a floundering, bumbling, arrogant Has Been that, under the vaunted
    Invisible Mind of Capitalism, has labored to eviscerate its land and people, and cash itself out to create a lame, crippled Feudalism of War Lords and serfs, and is staggering toward its own ugly destruction. May it be soon.

  • China also leads the world in empty cities, in high rise buildings collapsing and in automobiles that would fail any safety test. The Chinese are capable of many things but they are NOT the heaven on earth you leftist assclowns here in the west tout. As for many of the things wrong with America….they are wrong because communism infiltrated, subverted and suborned our media, academia and political class. First the USSR under Khrushchev etc. and for the past 3+ decades Beijing….who literally OWN the DNC and the demonrat party. If America had done the needful…by HANGING traitorous leftists by the thousands starting in the 50’s and continuing to this day we wouldn’t be in these straits. And guess what…. It’s not too late to start. That and “helicopter rides”.

  • Seeing that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been now found for a second time post millennium to be the sole funding source for exorbitant residential real estate prices in the US, and seeing that those machinations are undermining the American Dream for subsequent generations, and seeing that although the women of the United States, propagandized to no end to the values of “Arbeit Macht Frei” have found this to be a hollow fruitless pursuit, particularly once great numbers of them find themselves in their mid 40s never married, childless and wirh a house full of felines (after having followed the advice of the propaganda of the big business big government duopoly to the T), that perhaps a fitting revision is in store: that GSE mortgage providers shall only loan on the propensity of the head of household to pay the note.

    It is prima facia evidence of the fallacy of this bill of goods sold to the American people that the present administration is writing down the college debt of those who took the advice of all the propaganda efforts. Unfortunately the double college debts incurred by the masses are only half the problem. The real estate prices also reflect the earning potential of the masses of dual professional income earners these all too well meaning individuals have spawned.

    Was Lucy Arnez really oppressed? Or is there a joo problem? I mean really, Cui Bono?

    As to China their ain’t gonna be but one spigot in Asia and it’s not gonna be under that big red flag…. because, well, it’s a big RED FLAG. And the quality of the goods just isn’t there anyhow.

    The other Asians can remedy the shortcomings but they won’t be doing so under the big RED FLAG.

  • Fred describes it well. When I traveled there, several years ago, I was also awed with the pace of change. China seems so much more advanced than us.

    The best part of China is the country feels civilized without the degenerates, psychotics, homeless, underclasses, and criminals that makes America feel like an insane asylum. In China, all conversations were respectable and civilized. It’s hard to convey how far America has declined, until you’ve travel to China and experienced this civility. Sadly, America is no longer a civilization.

    • ‘In China, all conversations were respectable and civilized.’

      Translation – people are afraid to say what they think for fear of facing the Eight Elders.

  • Do we really think we are going to kick any one’s butt again? Tell me about it WOKE JCS with lousy reenlistment quotas, aging ships in fewer number with no leadership not to mention the vacuum in American Patriotism. We are fucking broke financially as a nation and broke as a nation with little motivation e.g. most of our school children failing to read and write at grade levels; moreover, out snotty university students screaming and demonstrating against the Jews — tell me that’s education — that seems to be their priority and University Presidents with no leadership or guts. Our education system sucks from K to 12 to college grad in too many schools. It F-ing STINKS!

    We saved Europe twice in the past hundred years as well as the world…. all because of American motivation and our American Patriotic youth. We were the home of the Brave and the Land of the Free! We bristled with youthful energy and beautiful children that loved America. Where is patriotism today in any of our schools or businesses on national TV or anywhere?

    All the Democrats want is to rule America forever, show the flag when required, dismiss inspiration, motivation and leadership as not required…. and put Trump in Jail while making us a Third World Nation. Trump might save us for another fleeting four years.

    We have grown into a sick society with little to no leadership in the past three years and everyone wanting more and more with out any sacrifice. How have we crashed so fast?

    I am s very senior citizen and look back on my America with pride in my youth and my career in the Navy. We are not a young nation any more. Youth is indeed wasted on the young but we need carloads of youth working for our future if we are to survive as before. It AIN’T THERE….. The CHINKS are winning because they are hungry — we are not.


    • You pretty much nailed it. I doubt we can vote our way out of the mess we are in, since as the song says “No matter who you vote for, the government always gets in”. This is something we should have learned from the ongoing nine year coup against DJT. I believe we will be stuck with the red/blue paradigm and the corporate/bureaucratic deep state until something truly catastrophic occurs. At that point it’s a toss-up whether we get our Liberty and common sense back, break apart into regions, or go full Commie dictatorship. It could be a bit of all three.

  • Huh? Who is “poking” whom?

    Red China is openly planning for an invasion of Formosa. It’s building islands to create outposts within the economic borders of Vietnam and The Philippines.

    The US has been distracted by the silly Ukraine War while Red China is gaining ground.

    • China invading its own country is a possibility as it is being done now with Washington, the DOJ etc. invading the US.

    • The PRC have said that Taiwan must return to the status of a PRC Province before the end of 2049. The Communist Party of China (CPC) say they would prefer this be peacefully, and Taiwan will have a special status, similar to Hong Kong, with more freedom than other provinces, but with the CPC as the ultimate authority.
      But if this has not happened before 2049 …

    • The Ukraine war is silly only if you think Putin is some sort clown. While he isn’t, is activities in Ukraine are uncalled for, and all he is accomplishing is the destruction of his own country.

  • These ‘America First’ apologists are a hoot. This your dick might be bigger than mine, but the mine comes in red white and blue argument might fly with the my team, your team crowd, but when your team is handing my team its ass, it’s hard to ignore the numbers. Cheering louder is not gonna change the outcome.

  • China owns thousands of acres all over America…Oddly enough not only farmland but around military installations.

    The southern border fiasco as allowed thousands of Chinese Nationals into our country, they are not here for the free stuff that the damorats give to unregistered voters. The invasion has been going on for some time now!

    God Bless The United States of America!!

    For “radicals” info, socialism and communism does not work…as has been attributed to several leaders; “The problem with Socialism is that eventually you run out of the other persons money!”

    • Well that leaves out national socialism as it didn’t use other peoples money. It created its own without debt as a receipt for goods and services. By using this method the German economy achieved nearly full employment by 1936 while the western powers were suffering unemployment and financial ruin due to excessive debt and speculation gone bad. Germans were enjoying new homes, cars and vacations when the western world had high unemployment and dodgy pay rates and hours. The people that were running big capitalism were also running big democracy and communism just like they are today….

  • China also leads the world in espionage, stealing secrets from both companies and countries. China leads the world in using economic power to suborn other countries (belt and road initiative), rather than threatening them with sanctions or military power. China doesn’t give a damn about how another country is governed, as long as those in charge do business with China. China sends thousands of agents into the US every year, some as students and some as illegals. The latest challenge is the Chinese BYD electric vehicle. Even with a 100% tariff it is not only cheaper than any American EV, at $20k it is cheaper than any American car… period.
    So far we can’t be sure how Chinese weapons or troops will perform, because they haven’t seen combat in decades. What we can be sure of is our 50+ year strategy of fighting hard enough to lose and purchasing problematic weapons like the F-35, Zumwalt destroyer, and LCS ships. The lack of success for our weapons in Ukraine (another disaster) and against the Iran backed Houthis, should be warning.
    China has its own problems- demographics, sovereign debt, ghost cities, internal corruption and other things, but they are kicking our ass globally.

  • Thank you, Fred.

    Supplement: Shanghaied: A new IEA report spotlights China’s stranglehold on supply chains for EVs, wind turbines, and solar panels.

  • If China ever gets a hand on their quality control problem and starts to produce top of the line products similar to the Japanese, then lookout!

    Meanwhile, I do everything I can to avoid buying products labeled ‘Made in China’, as I find them to be junk.

    • David,
      You DO know that China has a viable space program? They can build quality when needed. Do not confuse export products built to a price point with their ability to do otherwise.

  • Fred,

    You have one of the most ignorant reading bases I’ve ever encountered on the web, and that is saying A LOT!

  • I have to agree with David, as a foreigner reading the replies to your (well thought out) column i have to say that the ignorance and hubris of the respondents is mind numbing. Pearl Harbour being a case in point as it catapulted America into the second world war, and one of the respondents didn’t even know who attacked the harbour. I, quite frankly, despair

    • Steve,
      Perhaps the fool has a sense of humor….

    • Who bombed Pearl Harbor is an old comedic tradition in the USA. Do you also think the Brits have a Ministry of Silly Walks?

    • The Pearl Harbor comment was sarcasm and was recognized as such by several subsequent posts.

    • Why is China expanding seen as so evil and devious? Amerika has run the show and now it’s in decay like every empire since the fall of Rome. WW 2 knocked Britain from dominance while the US profited from not having its infrastructure bombed into oblivion. The natural successor is now Russia and or China. Competition and excellence are starting to trump (pun intended) the bread and circuses of the Excited States. The only difference politically is you get to pick your dictator. Your freedom is now mythological. The jig is up, the end is nigh

  • To be contrarian a bit

    Academics: Chinese are brutalized into being very good at taking tests. But when it’s time to come out swinging into the real world, they find themselves helpless. They atrofied their minds. Like an overtrained neural network that’s only good at ace’ing its training set.

    Intellectuals: it doesn’t matter what excellent intellectuals China has, they have to fit into Xi’s mental bubble. Bring up some truth Xi doesn’t like at the moment? Banishment. Death. That makes it so intelligence doesn’t matter.

    Science: bit of a quibble, but the Chinese are hobbled by the fact that past the first few levels of complexity in any subject, they have to start doing everything in English, because their stone-age language shows its stone-age-ness too much and it becomes just too cumbersome and unwieldy. And the Chinese suck at English (not even nearly as much as Japanese do, but still)

  • A modest proposal: The USA should collapse into its own footprint like the USSR did. Abandon the Empire, let go of the costly periphery, shed decades of malinvestments, focus on defensive subs and missiles, preserve as much of the Heritage population as possible, lock down the borders, spend a generation toughening up a despondant population, give Soros-ville Democrat ratholes the Chechyna treatment, put the woke Red Guard against the wall, celebrate American History, restore our monuments, etc. Emerge on the other side a real country with real borders and a commitment to cooperation with the rest of the planet instead of the permanent Yankee jihad that has brought America to near-ruin thus far.

  • Hey, folks. It’s not about who has a better country, who can make better stuff, who has the best trains, or who has the biggest dicks or the best women. It’s about China being a possible formidable enemy. It’s about being serious, thoughtful and realistic when dealing nation to nation, using facts, not bluff, bluster and presumptions.

  • We spend too much on the Pentagon and not enough on infrastructure. We have too many generals and not enough actual soldiers. Our weapons systems, such as the F-35, cost too much. And of course, we have the best politicians that money can buy.

    • The reason these weapon systems cost too much is the effort to avoid collateral damage.
      Precision munitions are very fine, but I would have no problem carpet-bombing a nation that would have no problem doing it to us.

  • China copied its way to greatness by historic unparalleled and massive theft of technology and know-how for at least 30 years. In 1987 they had a $180 BILLION economy. Once they entered the WTO with all the advantages of a “developing economy” they went on a full March to copy everything from American ingenuity all the time bypassing years of research and $billions of investment. And Wall Street supported them by pressuring American CEOs. WE DID THIS TO OURSELVES. It will go down as the worlds greatest miscalculation. America is in decline. China is on the move and on the rise. They could not have done any of this without American help.

  • America’s policy to acheive equity between the races is the worst of many suicidal initiatives. Cannot be specific here …. but men in upper management of defense contracting companies are forced to figure out “work arounds” to staff ‘cannot fail” projects with 125+ IQ people while shackled with FedGuv hiring and promotion policies. There are companies, unlike Boeing, trying to succeed in their missions in spite of government insanity. I am a former professional pilot (long ago) and in 2019 vowed to never again place myself at the mercy of fate and DEI ATC hires. If I can’t drive there I dob’t go.

  • […] The U.S. government has a deadly habit of underestimating its adversaries. It’s making the same mistake with China. From Fred Reed at fredoneverything.org: […]

  • Our military has trouble defeating goatherds armed with old AK-47’s. China would be more formidable to say the least.

    Our generals got their stars because they are very good at telling the boss what he wants to hear. During my years as an officer in the Marine Corps, I noticed that service academy graduates are quite good at kissing the boss’s ass. They think that this makes them a “team player.” It does not. Ass kissing does not win wars.

    An officer corps populated by obsequious sycophants does not bode well for fighting a smart, tough, resourceful enemy, such as the zchinese.

    • The problem with “defeating goatherds armed with old AK-47’s” is we practice restraint.
      If our opponents were this in Japan in 1945, well, you know how we won that conflict.

      • “The problem with “defeating goatherds armed with old AK-47’s” is we practice restraint.”

        Except, the Soviets also fell to the same goatherds.
        Soviets at the peak of their military power, mind you

        And if there is something you can’t blame Russians for is lack of military restraint

  • Five years ago, I would have whole heartedly agreed with Fred Reed. Last night, however, I saw a news segment on NHK on how China’s economy is falling apart. It seems that there is labor unrest all over China, especially in the constructions sector. The reason is that Chinese corporations have run out of money to pay their workers. The Chinese economy is in debt by about 10 trillion dollars. The sight of abandoned newly build ghost cities and unused super highways is quite chilling. Chinese migrants are flooding into America. Add to that, China’s population is in steep decline no thanks to the one-child rule that has been in effect for 3 (or was it 4?) decades. I don’t think China is going to be invading Taiwan anytime soon.

    • China is in economic trouble. The recent mass sales of US bonds was an effort to raise cash because of the financial troubles of teh Real Estate markets. A very large chunk of the Chinese economy was the real estate market, and that is crashing. The government is taking it over in an effort to keep it from bringing the country down. Xi’s minions may be able to paper things over for a little while, but all they can do is put a band aid on arterial bleeding.

    • Red China, even with it’s deficits. can still invade Taiwan and win. The problem being the USA will not sit idly by let that happen. So, Taiwan alone could not stand up to Red China, but Taiwan will not be alone.

  • […] https://fredoneverything.org (May 28 2024) I wonder how many Americans quite understand what the US is facing in its aggressive confrontation with China. Washington clearly prepares the public for another unnecessary war. Given America’s routine defeat in war and catastrophic miscalculations in fighting small powers, picking a fight with what, increasingly, is again becoming the Middle Kingdom seems less than bright. Yet within the Beltway, there is the usual smug complacency, the unshakable arrogance that appears to think China is just a big Norway or Guatemala that needs to be put in its place. […]

  • Sadly, so many commentators rely on wishful thinking or outdated information (and perhaps latent racism) rather than actual facts.

    One comment topic frequently commented on but poorly understood is the economy. There has been a prediction of China’s economic collapse for easily 3 decades if the headlines from The Economist is anything to go by.

    As for the oft quoted self-aggrandisement by the USA about lifting China up, that’s only part of the picture. After 1989, with sanctions imposed for the Tiananmen incident, the only ones who invested in China came from its neighbouring countries. Then the Europeans came after, and not wanting to miss out on the party, the USA came belatedly to the party and grandly ushered China into the WTO (so that the USA can then enjoy the wage arbitrage), and proclaimed itself the saviour. (just like WWII – seriously, isn’t there a narcissistic pattern here with the USA?)

    A key change many seem to ignore / overlook is that unlike the 2000s, China in the 2020s have shifted to an internal consumption model where exports only make up 20% of their overall economy. And out of that 20%, exports to USA makes up 18% – so if the USA decides to totally cut off imports from China, that would affect less than 4%. A pain perhaps but one that can be easily overcome by their growing exports to their backyard.

    Another big ballyhooed item was the Evergrande crash. Everyone in the West was expecting a catastrophic meltdown in the China markets or China to bail Evergrande (a la too big to fail Western banks). Instead, China is letting the chips fall where they may to discipline it and as a warning to others. Ironic, isn’t it, a so-called “command” or mixed economy being more aligned with market forces than the “capitalistic” West?

    On the issue of Taiwan, the UN had recently declared again! that Taiwan was part of China. Even the USA acknowledged the 3 Communiques that Taiwan was part of China. So how could China invade Taiwan (unless to stop a secession)? And isn’t the USA promoting secessionism by selling arms to Taiwan? Or is the USA just agreement-incapable?

    Anyway, to the China naysayers, for God’s sake and your own, visit or work in China for a spell and realise the world does come in many shapes and not all have to be the same.
    Unless you are a BIGLY:
    Bigoted, (obstinately prejudiced)
    Ignorant, (unknowing)
    Gullible, (to believe what confirms your prejudices)

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