“We are Forerunners. Guardians of all that exists. The roots of the Galaxy have grown deep under our careful tending. Where there is life, the wisdom of our countless generations has saturated the soil. Our strength is a luminous sun, towards which all intelligence blossoms… And the impervious shelter, beneath which it has prospered.”

The fall of the Middle Kingdom

by | Nov 29, 2018 | Uncategorized | 6 comments

One of the very first Western expatriates to settle in China and acculturate into their rather unique society offers a very interesting perspective on the realities of modern China, and on why he thinks that the true Golden Age of China is more or less over at this point:

If you know a few things about China’s economy and culture, this is not surprising.

The first thing that you need to know about China is that you cannot trust ANYTHING about the statistics that come out of the country.

All governments lie. All statistical research bureaus lie. Every single person on Earth lies about something, at some level. Not for nothing did Mark Twain once write that there are three kinds of untruths – lies, damned lies, and statistics.

The Chinese government and culture take such untruths to truly epic levels.

The government would have you believe that the economy of China is going to overtake the West any day now. By some measures it is apparently already bigger in terms of raw GDP – and once you strip out the massive welfare transfers that the US government makes from one set of citizens to another every year, the Chinese economy probably does look a lot bigger than it really is.

The problem is that even the Chinese government’s own leadership admits – or rather, used to be able to admit – that its own statistics are garbage. And that is partly because of China’s authoritarian top-down model of governance, which gives officials in the cities and provinces lots of incentives to disguise the real numbers in order to make themselves look better.

I remember sitting in a conference in Singapore about 15 years ago where prominent MIT economist Dr. Lester Thurow and a panel of regional experts were talking about the various Asian economies. The issue of China’s economic output came up during the panel discussion, and Dr. Thurow pointed out that the Chinese have a serious tendency to over-report their own output. A Chinese economist in the panel piped up and said, basically, yes, that’s true, but officials in some of the provinces also have a tendency to under-report output, in order to avoid central government confiscation of wealth in the form of taxes and redistributions.

The basic point was clear: you cannot trust Chinese statistics. At all.

(That, by the way, was the same former MIT dean Lester Thurow who once said something along the lines of how the US economy’s engine had stalled, back when President BAMF got elected in 1980 on a platform of regulatory reforms, tax cuts, and growth. And the same Lester Thurow who was spectacularly wrong in claiming that Japan’s economy would surpass America’s. And the same Lester Thurow who once claimed that it was “a vulgar mistake to think that most people in Eastern Europe are miserable”. Let’s just say that his powers of prediction ain’t so hot.)

The problem is even worse when it comes to China’s birth rate. Now, we all know that China has – or had – a one-child policy. The name of that policy is a bit misleading; in recent times it was adjusted a bit to allow couples to have another child if the first is a girl. But the effect, supposedly, is that China’s overall fertility rate is the lowest in the entire world – 1.05 per woman, according to their own government. (See what I wrote above about Chinese government statistics – you cannot trust them.)

But the reality is that in the far provinces, which are difficult for Beijing to really administer efficiently, the birth rate is almost certainly higher than this – and sex-selective abortion and female infanticide has definitely screwed up China’s population ratio to the point where it is, in all probability, beyond repair. There are some parts of China where there are over 140 men per 100 women; basically, a huge sector of the Chinese male population will likely never get a chance to have sex, find girlfriends, get married, or have children.

Add to this the fact that the Chinese economy is built on debt to a degree that is truly crazy by even American standards, and you have a lot of serious problems threatening to bring down the oldest civilisation in the world.

China’s problems are numerous and well known. The government is corrupt and hugely inefficient. The population demographics are all out of whack. The workforce is rapidly aging. The economy is much more fragile than anyone realises – and Beijing’s responses to the God-Emperor’s tariff wars shows just how worried the Chinese leadership really is, though if you are watching the Western (((media))) you would not know this at all.

The second major problem that China faces is cultural.

Chinese society is changing at a rate never seen before in human history. They went from a repressive absolute monarchy in the early 1900s, to a military dictatorship after 1911 that rapidly Westernised at least the bigger cities, to Japanese occupation and exploitation in the 1930s, to full-blown barking-at-the-moon-lunacy Communism and collectivisation from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, to market-based reforms in the 1980s, to a post-Communist authoritarian society in the 1990s, to an extremely robust state-led closed capitalism today.

That many changes in just 100 years are enough to induce severe whiplash injuries in any society – never mind one as ancient as China’s.

Chinese culture is deeply resilient – but it does have its breaking points. And some of those fault lines are showing up even now.

The younger generation of Chinese people has never known what Communism was like. It has only ever known authoritarian one-party rule and only understands a heavy-handed government – but also knows material wealth and consumption on a level that their ancestors never had.

That is changing Chinese society very quickly. Chinese women, in particular, are becoming just as over-educated, independent, difficult, and prickly as their Western sisters are – in fact they are considerably worse in some ways. There is a reason why the Chinese are unhappy about the phenomenon of “leftover women” – sheng nu – in the big cities. I’ve written about this before; it’s not just a problem for China, but for any culture and country that has prioritised women’s education and empowerment over population growth and demographic stability.

Add to this the fact that China’s younger generation is materialistic, consumer-driven, increasingly obese, and not quite as interested in preserving their own culture as their forbears, and you know what will happen next. We are seeing the results already in the West. The outcome is always inevitable: a degenerate, dying culture that loses all interest in anything beyond superficial nonsense.

The central government in Beijing recognises this, and in typically top-down fashion has decided to impose a “social credit” system to enforce good behaviour and morality:

You cannot really blame the Chinese government too much for this, though. As PJW points out, they are merely taking what Silicon Valley and Big Tech already do in a far more centralised fashion, and pushing it to its logical conclusion.

China has a lot going for it. The culture is far, far older than the West’s. The Chinese regard democracy as a quaint Western absurdity, a nonsense notion that is a 100-year aberration in history and is basically as nothing compared to their glorious 5,000-year legacy. They regard Western supremacy and power as a similar 500-year anomaly, and are waiting until it is their time once more.

But they also have a huge number of problems that they are going to have a very difficult time overcoming – if they manage to do so at all. And their attempts to fix the problems that they themselves have inflicted, will be instructive for the rest of us.

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  1. Dire Badger

    The Mark of the beast.

    • Anonymous

      Dire Badge,

      The mark need not be a chip or ID card but rather an attitude that embraces evil.

  2. Anonymous


    1) China doesn't have a 5000 year old culture anymore. Mao nuked it twice: the Great leap forward and the Cultural revolution and what everyone has are the post apocolyptic shards that the chicoms pick and choose to maintain their mandate of heaven and the youth are so apathetic to the point of acedia.
    TL;DR the skin suit had completely rotted away
    2) John C Wright has pointed out that the chicom did something truly evil: they made the Chinese hate having families and this from a culture that delighted in large families and have the most sophiscated names for familal relations
    3) The economy: can I suggest the twitter feed of @Bladingsworld? He's a prof now based in Hong Kong but spend many years in China. He provides data that you as a mathematician with long experince in the financial industry will find quite useful
    4) The social credit system will ultimately fail in an epic fashion. The Chinese have very long experience and memories of rulers imposing insufferable puritanism stemming from moral panics or smug moralism. They'll find way to play along and then game it to irrelevance.
    I worry, that the chicom will engage in some reckless adventurism to distract the population from the dismal economic performance, the tarrif war they're losing and the fraying social compact.

    • Didact

      1) China doesn't have a 5000 year old culture anymore

      It's true that significant parts of that culture were severely damaged by Mao – may he burn in Hell for what he did.

      4) The social credit system will ultimately fail in an epic fashion

      It will, eventually, yes. But for now it is going to be an utter disaster for millions of people and will wreck their lives quite thoroughly.

      The problem is that the West has really no leg to stand on when it comes to such madness. Big Social is even worse in almost every way.

      the chicom will engage in some reckless adventurism to distract the population from the dismal economic performance, the tarrif war they're losing and the fraying social compact.

      I'd say that is virtually guaranteed. We already know that the Chinese are looking to subjugate numerous Dirt World nations through their One Belt One Road initiative. They are looking to settle at least 100 million colonists in Africa – which as far as I know is the largest and most ambitious planned colonisation program in all of human history. Foreign adventurism and imperialism is the next logical step – and the Chinese themselves have seen in their own long history that this never ends well.

      That won't stop them from making the same mistake again, though.

    • Anonymous


      I haven't heard about exporting 100 million to Africa. Yeah good luck with that.
      To be cold, the Chinese (like anyone else I suppose) are insufferable, but absolutely hard ass, rascists. I already know that the Africans and Chinese will get involved in so many fight that the chicoms will send in the army to bust heads. But unlike the other colonial powers they Chinese are communists so have absolutely nothing to offer but gulgas and starvation. So they'll be chased out.

    • Didact

      Oh yeah. It's happening even now.

      And that is not even the full extent of China's ambitions. They already regard pretty much everything from the eastern edge of the Urals to north of the Amur River – also known to you and me, and everyone else, as "Siberia" – as part of a "Greater Zhong Guo". They make no secret whatsoever about intending to take over ALL of that enormous territory. And they have the sheer numbers to do it, too.

      The Russians are terrified of this, even if they do not admit it. And they know that while their military has the edge in terms of technology, fighting skill, and experience, the ChiComs are not far behind.

      China has some serious structural problems right now that are only slowly being addressed. But every really big empire usually takes a long time to unravel, and the Chinese are no exception to that rule.

      But unlike the other colonial powers they Chinese are communists so have absolutely nothing to offer but gulgas and starvation. So they'll be chased out.

      I am considerably less sanguine. Africans are not known for their ability to resist and repel foreign invaders – the entire history of colonisation of their continent says that Africans are more interested in fighting among themselves than in throwing back outsiders. And the Chinese have no qualms whatsoever about using their military to kill people and break things. As you say, they are serious racists – far more so than any Western nation – and will certainly not have problems with enforcing their own form of state-led capitalism using bayonets and guns.


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