Mar 16

Is the Politiburo smoking weed?

Written by Maitreya Bhakal on Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 at 4:14 pm
Filed under:General, media | Tags:, , ,
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Surprised? No sir, this is not some comment which a random user made at an online forum. This is the question which The Telegraph poses to its readers, in a recently published article entitled – ‘Is China’s Politburo spoiling for a showdown with America?’.

Now, we are all aware of the severe Cold-Waresque bias against China in large parts of the Western media, amounting to literally a childlike obsession, but this article really takes the cake.  The author, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, is in fact the international business editor of the newspaper!

But coming to think of it, in a way it also serves to be a bit of a laugh actually. Nothing beats a taste of good old British comedy. Who knows, we might be witnessing another Mr. Bean or David Brent in the making!

So he opens his act by saying,

“China has succumbed to hubris. It has mistaken the soft diplomacy of Barack Obama for weakness, mistaken the US credit crisis for decline, and mistaken its own mercantilist bubble for ascendancy. There are echoes of Anglo-German spats before the First World War, when Wilhelmine Berlin so badly misjudged the strategic balance of power and over-played its hand.”

“…mistaken its own mercantilist bubble for ascendancy”? Maybe that’s why Wen Jiabao publicly rejected becoming part of a ‘G-2″ with the US. And I’m not even going into the other accusations, including the comparison with pre-WWI Germany.

And then comes the WTF quote of the day:

“Is the Politiburo smoking weed?”

No Comment.

Then, the author goes on to say,

“I let others discuss the rights and wrongs of this…..”

And then promptly goes on to do exactly that, just as before. (The wrongs that is, not the rights)

“In Copenhagen, Wen Jiabao sent an underling to negotiate with Mr Obama in what was intended to be – and taken to be – a humiliation. The US President put his foot down, saying: “I don’t want to mess around with this anymore.” That sums up White House feelings towards China today.”

This just in: Wen Jiabao phoned the Telegraph and told them personally that sending an underling was “intented” to be a humiliation! I guess the author didn’t even stop to consider what the Chinese point of view might be. (BTW, The China Beat has an interesting take here)

“We have talked ourselves into believing that China is already a hyper-power”

Aha! Finally an admission of guilt. Yes folks, there’s a little bit of good in everyone, even The Telegraph!

And as if that wasn’t enough, he also ventures into economics, talking about China’s foreign exchange reserves:

“If the Politburo deploys its illusiory power, Washington can pull the plug on China’s export economy instantly by shutting markets.”

Again – No Comment.

It is understandable that some in the western media might be worried about the eventual end of western dominance, but that doesn’t mean that they a) throw journalistic standards out of the window and b) literally start crying like an obstinate bullying child, from whom someone saner is slowly taking the bullying position away.

Need I say anything more? I think the author deserves the full limelight. So, if you are game for some free entertainment, Mr. Pritchard of the Telegraph is at your service.

The Telegraph – Is China’s Politburo spoiling for a showdown with America?

There are currently 3 comments highlighted: 66316, 66358, 66394.

24 Responses to “Is the Politiburo smoking weed?”

  1. colin Says:

    Yep, I saw this article from the financial blog – nakedcapitalism. I generally find their skeptical/contrarian viewpoint of gov’t and finance informative and entertaining, but when it comes to China, they too are hostile. The author over there suggests there is a big PR campaign in the US going on against china, – perhaps the US is seriously ready to “take on” china. This recent article in the Telegraph and others in the NYTimes ( http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/15/business/global/15yuan.html?ref=asia )
    are proof cited that some PR campaign is coming from the administration.

    Not surprising that there are many parties ready for a fight with china, just like everyone in the US was piling on the woes of Toyota.

    Enjoying your posts, Maitreya.

  2. justkeeper Says:

    That the Daily Telegraph has an International Business editor in itself is already hilarious enough.

  3. ChineseInUK Says:

    I agree with you, Colin.

    Obama administration needs a diversion from domestic crisises, what better target than China. China needs to mind its own business, but be prepared to deal with any potential future developments.

  4. r v Says:

    First, they couldn’t scare people away from Chinese goods. (Well, people still want cheap stuff, I guess. And you get what you paid for.)

    Now, they want to put tariffs on Chinese goods.

    Seriously, US government has zero creativity and practicality.

  5. dewang Says:

    Guys, so I am really curious what you all think is the best way to counter all these ridiculousness in the general Western media?

  6. yo Says:

    ” It has mistaken the soft diplomacy of Barack Obama for weakness, mistaken the US credit crisis for decline, ”

    hmmm, I know who else is making this argument….the right-wing conservatives that call Obama a communist!!!!

  7. Charles Liu Says:

    Chinese Anti Defamation League?

    Israel can kill American human rights activist and remain our top military aid receipient, but China is the devil for arresting them on legitmate reasons like trespassing and endangering ancient monument.

  8. Meng Says:

    While the literary theatrics are perhaps a bit much, the meaning behind them–that the West’s view of China as a superpower, potentially one to be feared–is interesting. I think Western views on China (and, for that matter, Chinese views on the West) are more based on conjecture, lack of holistic understanding, and most importantly, fear, than pragmatic, open-minded, educated thought. For this reason many attribute powers, be they economic, military or otherwise, to China that it has yet to deserve.

  9. tanjin Says:

    There are many well-known factors that constantly creating frictions and tension on West-China relations, and in general, West-East relations. Many of these factors have deep historical roots, so a better understanding of current affairs has to be partially based on those historical background as well as modern situations.

    It is quite easy for people in the West to thread lightly on their past history, as well as those perceived and factual transgressions.

    Some think those things happened long time ago, although current affairs keep reminding them that the past does have a strong connection to the present.

    Some more educated mind think they should be appreciated, or at least not be criticized since the West indeed made great contributions to the world’s collective civilization.

    A common mentality in the West is that the East should continue to obey what the West has to say. You see that in Paul Krugman’s remarks and his rude comment on Chinese leader Wen, as well as in AEP’s piece. I am glad to see these “high priests” in the West finally come out, bare and beat their chests. Just look who is more civilized now. LoL.

  10. r v Says:

    simplest explanation is that paranoia is human nature, and being on top gives one paranoia about everyone else.

    Consider the US has been on top for a few decades, since around WWII.

    In its wake of continual expansion in its history, it has steadily built up the number of “enemies” on its list. Some of whom it has managed to destroy or push into oblivion, such as all the Native American tribes and the Hawaiian people it has encountered.

    But as it expands out to the greater world stage, its list simply gotten much and much longer than it has anticipated.

    Geopolitics and foreign intervention have a large cost.

    *We must not forget, in Chinese history, there were times when China was entangled by its own foreign policies. (though not nearly at the scale US is doing currently).

    The problem is not an easy one to solve.

    If China is in US’s shoes, how should China relate to the “up and coming” nations?

    Soon, China may need to face that decision.

    *Beyond this, I believe that the Chinese government’s assessment that the current world stage resembles the “Spring/Autumn Warring Nations period.”

    It took the Chinese people over 550 years to end the geopolitical struggles and unite under one nation.

    It will take much longer for the world to resolve all the geopolitical conflicts.

    With greater wisdom, US might realize (as China does), that nothing it does in the near term will alter other nations.

    The foundation of change, as was with Qin during the Warring nations period, lies simply with strength of its people, in economics and in numbers, not in Democracy or Freedom. (Qin was actually one of the most oppressive systems among all the Warring Nations).

  11. Charles Liu Says:

    rv, you have a point here. It is natural for us to feel paranoid. After all, America’s rise to power was btained on conflicts, starting with WWII. Guilt and fear are powerful emotions.

  12. Nimrod Says:

    China may be the first country of scale in the modern era to successfully modernize without the benefit of enslaving others, or generally doing unscrupulous things, but instead, almost entirely by its own hard work.

    Major European powers got started by colonizing others and general pillaging the world. US got started by selling arms, and it and the USSR both received a large amount of war spoils, including German science and patents. China puts all of them to shame. All of them.

    Now China plays by the rules that weren’t even set by it, and wins. So people complain about it playing “unfairly”. China is responsible to itself and the world, by limiting its own population growth and having its people make sacrifices in order to produce for the world, and gets richer. So people complain about “human rights”. China shows restraint in the world and respect for other’s sovereignty to give them space to develop. So people complain about it not being a global stakeholder. China conducts trade and development with the forsaken Africans using its own capital in a clearly mutually beneficial way. So people complain, ridiculously about Darfur.

    I say again, China puts all the complainers to shame. All of them. Look in the mirror.

    And there will be many poor countries to follow in China’s footsteps, and they will be no longer poor. If they all succeed, it will be the true success of the world, because the world belongs to them, not to the small minority that is the developed countries.

  13. Maitreya Bhakal Says:

    Thanks everyone for your comments

    Yes I had read the NYT article which you are talking about; and it stuck me too as being a bit fishy.


    “Guys, so I am really curious what you all think is the best way to counter all these ridiculousness in the general Western media?”

    That’s a very important question. Clearing the air and the huge media bias against China was one of my main inspirations to start blogging.

    But in the end, westerners are certainly going to believe what their media tells them because a) The western newspapers are more famous than any blogs which seek to clear the air, b) They are easily available, c) They simply don’t WANT to believe anything else and finally d) They’re damn stupid.

  14. r v Says:

    The fight against Western media is a fight against idiotic bully. Even if you manage to give the bully a pounding, he might forget anyways, or he will just go pick on someone else.

    Though one should stand up to a bully, out of principle, there is certainly futility about an eye for an eye.

    *Afterall, US media (at least some portions), had no moral problems with smearing John Kerry, one their own decorated veterans, during a political campaign.

    What possible reservation would they have about smearing China, a nation they hardly know?

    So the ridiculousness won’t go away.

    Let the Westerners have their ridiculous free press. If they want to smear, let’s all smear.

    If they don’t want the Truth, then let them have all the lies they want.

    Give them what they really want, and let them be drunk with it.

  15. Buru Says:


    are you serious? I feel you are giving a more stereotyped view of ‘Western media’ than Western media has of China!

    People outside the politburo may also be smoking weed 🙂
    Or more likely you are simply playing to the gallery..

  16. Maitreya Bhakal Says:

    @Buru (#15)

    “I feel you are giving a more stereotyped view of ‘Western media’ than Western media has of China!”

    When have I been ‘stereotypical’ of the Western Media in this case?
    I was simply answering DeWang’s question as to how to counter the ridiculous and baseless accusations. I think you ought to read others’ comments carefully before making any of your own.

    “People outside the politburo may also be smoking weed”

    So anyone who criticizes the western media and points out its faults is ‘smoking weed’?
    I think Mr. Pritchard has finally found a friend!

    “Or more likely you are simply playing to the gallery..”

    If I was ‘playing to the gallery’, then I would have blindly followed what the western media says about China, as many people do. On the contrary, I am going against the Telegraph’s opinion. In fact, the whole purpose of my post was to emphasize that there are people who ‘play to the gallery’ in the western media, and to point out their faults! I suggest you read the post again carefully.

  17. DeWang Says:

    @Maitreya, #13, @r v, #14

    Developing countries like China, India, and Brazil are getting much stronger economically, so they can withstand this Western media onslaught much better.

    Perhaps, in the coming decades it’ll be more citizens within these countries becoming increasingly confident that they can confront and argue values with the West on equal footing. Perhaps they will compare notes more often too.

    r v – you cracked me up.

    I suppose unless there are better ideas, we continue blogging.

  18. arsent Says:

    My, what fearmongers the British are these days. Nevertheless, paranoia is not a bad thing. But the Telegraph shouldn’t be taken seriously anyway.

  19. Nimrod Says:

    DeWang wrote:

    Perhaps, in the coming decades it’ll be more citizens within these countries becoming increasingly confident that they can confront and argue values with the West on equal footing. Perhaps they will compare notes more often too.

    These things ebb and flow. During the first decades of the Cold War, the third world was pretty confident, but ultimately they could not compete with the developed world’s cash incentives drawn from its deep pockets. At the end of the day, money talks. Other stuff follow, because money can buy them one way or another. Mao Zedong was right that you must have confidence to compete, but Deng Xiaoping was right even more that development is the hard truth. The next time around, maybe the ascendant countries are better positioned so that they can trade with each other and not be utterly dependent on capital and markets of the developed world and be beggars at the door (though they still are to a large extent, of course). One can hope. China is a $4 trillion economy. The USSR, when it fell, was about $2.5 trillion, which is similar to $4 trillion in today’s dollars. Long way ahead.

  20. dewang Says:


    “development is the hard truth” and “Long way ahead”

    Indeed. As bloggers, this is a message worthwhile repeating.

  21. tanjin Says:

    Breaking news : Liberal Democrats hate China more than conservative Republicans !

    Subtitle: Read the report below from Business Weeks on Steve Roach and Jim O’Neill public spat with Paul Krugman over the currency issue

    It turns out liberal Democrats hate China from their guts more than conservative Republicans. This is a conspiracy theory without any need for further proof.

    The recent publicity stunts by Obama and Clinton on the Google issue, and Krugman and Schumer duet on Chinese currency issue, are populist moves that left plenty of bad taste in everyone’s mouth and made things look pretty bad on these liberals’ faces. However, that is just the opening round if you think bad things are over now between US and China, unlike what Huntsman would like to predict.

    Liberal Democrats, frustrated by their inability to pull any wire on China, have decided to throw in their towels with great angst. What’s to come next? An all out war with China ! Watch out carefully, people !


    “Roach Spars With Krugman Over Call to Pressure China”

    Roach: “We should take out the baseball bat on Paul Krugman — I mean I think that the advice is completely wrong,”

    Roach: “Krugman is giving Washington very, very bad advice,”

    O’Neill: “Chinese currency actually isn’t particularly undervalued anymore.”

    O’Neill: “it’s unfortunate that we have so much political angst around this. The key thing is that post-crisis, China is importing a lot.”

    Roach: “Isn’t it the height of hypocrisy an American can articulate a particular position in its currency but the Chinese are not allowed to do that, Especially since they as a developing economy with an embryonic financial system need a currency anchor probably a lot more than more ’sophisticated economies’ like the United States.”

  22. jxie Says:

    @Nimrod, #19

    One can hope. China is a $4 trillion economy. The USSR, when it fell, was about $2.5 trillion, which is similar to $4 trillion in today’s dollars.

    China’s nominal GDP in 2009 was $4.9 trillion officially. The USSR peaked in 1990 at $2.66 trillion. The currency overvaluation/undervaluation of 2009 Yuan and 1990 Ruble, and how the respective GDP/GNP numbers are/were collected and computed, render the straight comparison not particularly useful. With very few exceptions, China’s productions of just about everything in 2009 were much larger than the productions of USSR in 1990. For example, the electricity production of USSR in 1990 was 1.79 trillion kWh, and the electricity production of China in 2009 was 3.71 trillion kWh — compared to 3.95 trillion kWh of the US in 2009.

    What is different in this go-around for the developing countries, in my opinion, is the rise of China. In a nutshell, if you make anything China can, or will be able to make soon, your margin will be compressed; if you make something China can’t make, your margin will be expanded. This will be the dominant themes in global macro investment for the next several decades until China reaches the top of the living standard. I can elaborate more of this, if anybody is interested.

    For example, for quite probably the first time in history, Brazil has overtaken Argentina in per capita GDP, despite Argentines are much better educated than Brazilians — simply because Brazil produces more what China needs: oil, iron ore, etc. In the developed world, Canada and Australia have recovered better and faster than others, again, because they produce more what China needs.

  23. tanjin Says:

    Chairman Mao actually said he favored Republicans more than Democrats. He indeed backed up his own words: he led the Korean war with President Truman, a democrat, and later shook hands with President Nixon, a republican.

  24. Charles Liu Says:

    Tanjin, democrats may bark but they don’t bite. Republicans are the ones plot evil against China. Did you know prior to 9/11 Donald Rumsfeld sent CIA to ask Chen Suibian to declare independence?

    O’Neill is correct that China runs an overall trade deficit.

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