Big News out of China, part III
In Big News out of China parts 1 and 2, I laid out the algorithm, essentially that Xi is attempting in recent years, to have his cake and eat it as too.
Namely that he wants a fast growing economy but one where the CCP and Xi personally, retain a high level of authoritarian control. Since this NEVER works, Xi recently announced (Big News 1) his intentions to liberalize import regulations, allowing more incoming trade, a strong Yuan, a convertible Yuan, and structural reform permitting foreign competition on the Chinese market.
Big News 2 was about the reality behind Xi’s statements, the Chinese governments latest efforts to block Chinese citizens from sending even photos to each other, from their phones. There is a second part to that crackdown, a growing restriction on Virtual Private Networks, or VPN’s, the way all real business is done in Chine.
My thesis is very simple, once you restrict access to information — and by the corresponding degree to which you do it — in an information age, your academic, and technological edge will dull or fail. China took the gloves off, let a free market economy explode and now they are attempting to stuff 1 billion genies back into 1 billion jars, and that will never happen. Or it will — at the point of a gun — and the economy will sloooww down, like being in quicksand where every thrash he makes, forces him to sink deeper into even slower growth.
How do I know all this? I don’t of course, but this Chinese researcher quoted today in an excellent piece by Sarah Zheng, sure does, here is Zheng:
The South China Morning Post — Its push in recent years to further limit people’s abilities to circumvent controls on the internet have forced academics such as Pastor-Pareja to depend on tools such as virtual private networks (VPNs), which redirect users to offshore servers to bypass the censors. His personal VPN subscription, paid for out of his own pocket, allows him to access Google, monitor his Twitter feed for the latest scientific literature, and connect with the wider scientific community via social media.
“Everybody here does the same,” he said. “First-class research at a truly competitive level can’t go on with researchers cut off from the outside world. It’s truly unthinkable.”
However, it may become more difficult for people in China to evade the censors amid the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s “clean-up” campaign of internet access services such as VPNs.
Beijing has championed the concept of “cyberspace sovereignty” – control of its own digital space – that has forced VPN providers into a long-standing dance with the authorities over their “legal grey zone” of operation.
Freedom House, a US-based democracy and human rights NGO, says Beijing has escalated efforts to “restrict individual VPN usage over the past few years”.
There is a civil war coming in China.
Maybe not this year or the next, but eventually the forces of freedom, which are also the forces of common sense, practicality and wealth, win out. Once researchers get college educated, doing cutting edge research, and get to used to seeking out AND communicating with others in their field — they cannot live without this. If Xi does not see — that it IS these very people driving his economy toward high growth levels — they will leave China, and the economy will suffer slower growth.
This is an algorithm, which existed in time before Xi ascended to power and will still be here when he — and the rest of us, are dust. He can have high Chinese growth rates and a wealthy economy BUT not if he doesn’t allow freedom to explode as well.