March 7, 2019

I DON’T: The 21st Century Belongs to China? Don’t Buy It.

As I write in Bully of Asia, China is becoming more totalitarian almost by the day. To give just one example, everyone’s social media is monitored all the time, and used as the basis for a “social credit score” that goes down if you criticize the regime, and goes up if you flatter it.

This score is then used by Beijing to determine whether you will be allowed to travel outside the country, obtain a low-interest rate loan, or even buy an in-country plane ticket. If your social credit score falls low enough, you will be sent to a re-education camp even if you have not committed a crime.

Runciman, our British cousin, argues that China’s lack of “individual dignity” is more than compensated for by a surfeit of “national dignity.” In this he is parroting the current party leadership which, in effect, proposes just such a trade-off to the people it oppresses.

Here is, in essence, what the Chinese Communist Party tells the masses: You may be under constant state surveillance, unable to speak freely, and prevented from forming political associations. But remember that to be Chinese is to be part of the greatest phenomenon in human history, and China’s growing economic and military greatness is your greatness.

The national narcissism that such xenophobic and nationalistic appeals are intended to stoke, however, are a poor substitute for the universally recognized human rights that the Chinese people are being systematically deprived of.

It’s also no way to drive innovation, without which nations and cultures go sterile and stagnate.

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