In order to understand China and how the world works, I am very lucky to have lived here during two very different time periods. It started 1990-1997. In the first book of The China Trilogy, 44 Days Backpacking in China, I called this period the Wild East Deng Xiaoping Buckaroo Days. It was intense, crazy and addictive at the same time. I commented that it was like a “Nat King Cole five-pack-day nicotine habit”. I knew it was bad for me, but I just couldn’t get enough of it.
Then, after five years in less and less socialist France and nine years in libertarian capitalist Bush-O-Bomb-America, I came back to China, where I have continued to live since 2010. Having these four different and very unique experiences, spanning 28 years has radically transformed my outlook on humanity, history, economics, geopolitics and the future – while making me much, much wiser.
Having been here so long, I can get inured to China’s civilizational transformation, evolution and warp speed progress. Every once in a while, I have to slap myself in the face and realize just how lucky I am to witness history being made in real time. Over the years, I have been in certain parts of a city or area, then gone back after several weeks or months, and a completely new development or infrastructure project, even an entire suburban neighborhood has sprouted up out of green land. Ho-hum. Another day in China. Creative, hi-tech and mega-engineering projects like the following can become blasé in Sinoland:
To these you can add visionary and daring architecture, stunning skylines, parks, bridges, airports, train/bus stations and ferry terminals, and engineering feats of marvel seen nowhere else on earth. A good example is Shenzhen’s new ferry terminal. It is designed to look like a giant blue and white manta ray jumping out of the water. You can see it from about 45-60s in the first video below, then later at night, during the 2-minute clip, which was fast filmed to show off the city’s harbor area, Shekou:
Western capitalism is simply unable to build a country and a society like this. But communist-socialist China can, does and will continue to so.
Euranglolanders have a painful time wrapping their ideologies and paradigms around the irrefutable, long-term success of China’s evolving communist system, since 1949. Yes, since 1949, with (OMG!) the Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution and all that, which is fully covered in the next two books in The China Trilogy. Without the Mao Era, I would be living in and writing about another Indonesia, Columbia or Libya. It’s that simple.
If you think I’m some kind of scintillating genius who figured this out in my mother’s womb, I humbly demur. Even after ten years in Africa and Middle East, 1980-1990 and continuing through the rest of my aforementioned itinerations across our Pale Blue Dot, it wasn’t until I came back here in 2010, then traveling 12,500 kilometers around this country in 2012 to write 44 Days Backpacking in China, that the racist propaganda of Western moral, intellectual, creative and technical superiority finally started to crumble in my consciousness.
I grew up in Oklahoma, USA, ground zero for God, guns, gays and the sanctity of unfettered individualism and jungle capitalism: cowboys, cattle, wheat, churches and oil wells, all gleefully stolen from exterminated Natives. The whole process of getting to my current informed and enlightened awareness was akin to climbing an arduous summit, with a howling occidental hurricane blowing against my face. This is why I am so patient with friends, family, colleagues and strangers, when talking about their convictions and beliefs about how humanity works. With all due respect, most of them are still at base camp, at the bottom of that propaganda mountain, which is no fault of their own. They all grew up behind the Great Western Firewall and are just as brainwashed as I was for about 55- of my 63-year life.
This short clip is a wonderful metaphor for everything I was taught about Western racial, cultural, moral and socioeconomic superiority, while growing up in the United States:
Which brings us to a small, but revealing vignette into China’s communist-socialist system of governance.
Fintech is one of the most exciting, cutting edge 21st century sectors to develop in the last decade. Blockchain and bitcoin are manifestations of fintech. Imperial Westerners, feeling inherently racially superior in every way to the non-White world, just assumed they would take on this mantle, as they have for the last 500 years. My oh my, Buford, how times have changed in a hurry. Commie Baba Beijing, China’s leadership, had a better idea. With its Leninist Five-Year Plans, Democratic Centralism and People’s Dictatorship (I know it jars the eyes, but I explain all this in Trilogy book #3, China Is Communit, Dammit!), China mapped out strategies, budgets and resources to become the world’s fintech leader. Presto! Just like that, Shenzhen, where I live and write is now the fintech capital of the known universe.
Then, last week I saw this article about Baba Beijing’s plans for Shenzhen Fintech v2.0. It’s not long, read it. It’s breathtaking. Shenzhen’s government is going to completely transform a neighborhood, Sunguan, from old economy consumer goods logistics to 21st century fintech. The last paragraph states:
It has been reported that six super-high skyscrapers, such as the 739-meter-tall H700 Shenzhen Tower and a new 600-meter-plus Kingkey Oriental Regent Hotel, will rise up in Sungang in the next five years.
Seven super-high skyscrapers in Shenzhen in the next five years. Let that sink in for a long, thoughtful minute. During your reflection, the imperial-capitalist West will have bombed, massacred, starved and sanctioned untold numbers of poor, defenseless people around the world. Can the contrast be any starker?
In June, 2017, an instructive meeting took place between California Governor Jerry Brown and Chinese President Xi Jinping. While talking about climate change, the topic of high speed trains (HST) came up. Governor Brown supposedly lamented that his state has not been able to build even one puny HST line, since his governor-father began pushing for it back in the 1950s.
Why? While China is zeroing in on 30,000km of HST track, more than the rest of the world combined, along with hundreds of architecturally inspiring train stations to serve them, California has 2,000 lawsuits fighting its proposal. Why? Greedy capitalists and their purchased government employees and representatives are fighting each other for the loot, like cannibals in a kill pit of corruption, while selfish citizens are putting their individual interests ahead of the greater good. The latter is called NIMBY, Not in My Backyard.
In the West, NIMBY is worn like a badge of honor to express Euranglolanders’ sense of freedom and independence. Meanwhile, with communism-socialism’s mantra of harmony, sharing, cooperation and stability for the greater good, the Chinese are laughing all the way to a much higher standard of living and better quality of life.
Western capitalism talks and Chinese communism-socialism walks – no it flies at 350 kilometers per hour in a bullet train.
But I digress. Back to fintech… I can hear the dialogue now,
Yeah, Jeff, but most of these Chinese fintech outfits are private sector, so they are capitalist, right?
Not when they work in a centrally planned country with no private real estate and the top 100 industrial sectors are fully or majority people owned, including banks and insurance companies. Why is Jack Ma so rich and his company, Alibaba so successful? Because Baba Beijing mapped it all out for him, provided a stable economic system, protected his markets and early on offered subsidies with which he could prosper. Jack Ma is a communist-socialist capitalist (weird, I know). He says things like, Today, making money is very simple. But making sustainable money while being responsible to society and improving the world is very difficult. The last Western capitalists I heard talk like that were the founders of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and those fake hippies sold out to transnational behemoth Unilever for a cool $326 million in 2000. So much for being responsible to society and improving the world.
Gosh, Jeff, how can Baba Beijing help its business sector like that?
After 1949’s communist liberation, China kicked out all the imperial, colonial Western capitalists, bankers and military. It also eliminated or reformed traitorous local elites, who, for a few bourgeois baubles, would have happily turned China into another strip mined, enslaved, occupied “American ally”, in the Orwellian “Rules-Based International Order” (sic ).
Really, Jeff? How did the Chinese pull that off?
The Chinese people can thank Mao Zedong for his visionary leadership over a communist system of governance and socioeconomics, from 1949-1978.
But Jeff, it was Deng Xiaoping’s reforms and opening up that brought prosperity to the Chinese people, not Mao.
That’s only the second half of the real story. It was Mao’s record breaking foundation building in infrastructure, agriculture, industry, technology, education and New China’s socioeconomic transformation that made possible Deng’s grand dreams of a wealthy communist China. Otherwise, they would have never even gotten one centimeter off the ground . That’s why I call it communism-socialism. Europe’s socialism, what’s left of it, is based on capitalism. Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is the official term used by Baba Beijing and its 1.4 billion citizens. It’s the evolution and adaptation of Deng-Jiang-Hu-Xi socialism built on a mantle-thick bedrock of Maoist communism.
Jeff, I don’t like what I am hearing. My head is spinning and I’ve got a woozy feeling in my belly. That’s not what I was taught and learned all my life. I got a great K-12 education and graduated from college. I’m really well informed. I religiously read the Economist, the New York Times, the Guardian and watch MSNBC, BBC and PBS. You are making me suffer debilitating cognitive dissonance. I think you are wrong. In fact, I think you are full red and yellow shit. PLEASE STOP WRITING RIGHT NOW – PLEASE – THIS INSTANT!
(Taking a thoughtful, patient breath) I understand how you feel and am full of empathy for where you are in the journey of life. I was high fiving with people just like you, until about seven years ago. Please take advantage of all my experiences. If you are willing to challenge yourself, think outside of the box and expand your horizons, may I suggest reading The China Trilogy? It will give you the courage and the optics to see history and current events differently, in contrast to all the 24/7 brainwashing propaganda behind the Great Western Firewall. It is also much cheaper than borrowing a student loan and getting a mainstream diploma. If you read The China Trilogy , I promise you will understand how your world works and where you are headed.
Let’s call it a day on a high note, shall we? Blues guitar great Freddie King did not realize it, but in the song below, he is a great allegory for the capitalist West, which is battling communist-socialist China on the world stage. I close the geo-cultural circle here. An Oklahoma boy in China posts an American blues song as a geopolitical allegory. It was produced by my fellow Oklahoman Leon Russell and sung by a child of America’s colonial slave trade. Got that? We’ve got Leon pounding fury on the 88’s, fellow Oklahoman Chuck Blackwell banging on the drums and Donald “Duck” Dunn riffing large on the bass guitar. What more could you ask for? Take it away, FREDDY!