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On Poking Dragon

The US faces a formidable challenge in its confrontation with China. While America focuses on military spending, China leads in civil engineering, high-speed rail, infrastructure, 5G technology, electric vehicles, and more.

I wonder how many Americans quite understand what the Us is facing in its aggressive confrontation with China. Washington clearly prepares the public for another unnecessary war.  Given America’s routine defeat in war and catastrophic miscalculations in fighting small powers, picking a fight with what, increasingly, is again becoming the Middle Kingdom seems less than bright. Yet within the Beltway there is the usual smug complacency, the unshakable arrogance that appears to think the China is just a big Norway or Guatemala that needs to be put in its place.

A quick glance at China:

China easily leads the world in civil engineering, building roads, bridges, ports, rail lines, long-distance high-voltage transmission lines, and digital infrastructure. People returning from China, including yours truly, describe it as being like coming back from a more-advanced planet.

Everyone talks about the high-speed trains, with good reason: 180 miles per hour, quiet, comfortable, huge windows, with very short stops at villages between major cities, giving rural populations the speed of air travel without the nuisance. by contrast, American rail looks like something out of 1955.

The importance of  civil engineering is more than symbolic. Infrastructure facilitates commerce. China is of course the manufacturing powerhouse of the world. By contrast, America simply ignores infrastructure, spending instead on the military and long since having largely abandoned manufacturing.

China leads the world in ship-building, with South Korea being another major player in this game. America has almost no ship-building except for military, and this has been criticized by the Government Accounting Office for primitivism  and slowness.   Ship-building obviously is important for commerce, and also for military purposes–China now having the world’s largest navy.

China leads the world in Five G, in patents, technology, manufacturing capacity, installed base. this is not always well understood. Five G allows the transmission of large amounts of data with short response times–high throughput, low latency, as we say. Huawei now has what it calls Five.five G, an improved version. Five G is important for controlling factories, smart cities, and so on. Beijing takes it seriously, China now having around 3.6 million installed base stations versus something like 100,000 pseudo-Five G base stations in the US.

China finds its brightest students by rigorous testing, and then sends them at government expense to its excellent universities. The US deliberately enstupidates its schools at all levels to make minorities look smarter than they are. How is this going to work?

China dominates the planet in electric vehicles. Its lead over the US is so great as to be insuperable in technology, batteries, price, and productive capacity. If you follow tech news, you see things like a Chinese ev battery that charges in ten minutes. As many have pointed out, BYD’s sub-ten thousand dollar car will find an almost unlimited market in the Global South. No other country is even close. Biden’s high tariffs on Chinese evs will sserve only to allow American companies to continue selling wildly over-priced behicles to Americans who will have no choice.

China, Russia, and perhaps Iran have developed hypersonic missiles, of which America doesn’t have any.  This is interesting. Americans have always assumed technological superiority over Russia and China. Judging by the poor performance of Western weaponry in the Ukraine, this seems questionable.

In other fields, America maintains a lead, or at least an important part lead, though usually not by competing but  by strong-arming, sanctions, and tariffs. The greatest of these is semiconductors. The situation is curious. The Chinese have the brains, engineers,and savvy to design and make high-end chips, but Washington has a stranglehold on the equipment needed to manufacture them. However, China has a recent history of horrifying Washington by doing things it wasn’t supposed to be able to do, such as make chips in seven and five nanometer nodes and stay neck-and-neck with the US in supercomputers. But it has not been able to make the advanced lithography tools needed at the forefront of the chip business. If it does, it will be Katie bar the door, but it hasn’t.

China leads the world in production of steel and aluminum.  America can’t compete, so it imposes tariffs.

It leads the world in solar panels, leads in technology, production capacity, and price. America can’t compete, so it imposes tariffs.

China remains behind America, but not by much, in aspects of its space program. However, it has an extensive and robust launch capacity, a successful space station in some ways more advanced than the International Space Station, and moves rapidly toward reusable launch vehicles. Years back now, it sent a successful fully automated moon-sample return mission to our satellite, and, later, a combination Mars orbiter, lander, and rover, all functioning perfectly on the first try. NASA and Space X maintain a lead, but it isn’t a growth stock

There are other fields in which America holds a lead. Jet engines, for example. My point is that Washington seems to suffer a recto cranial inversion, imagining a superiority it only barely has but probably, all things considered, doesn’t. China has four times the US population, the Han by agreement among psychometrists have a five or six point advantage in mean I.Q, and an intelligent government focused on increasing its commercial superiority.

It is all the fashion in America to decry authoritarianism, but this allows Beijing to take decisions and then carry them out, over decades if need be. It also allows a noticeable system approach. In America, individual states or corporations undertake projects like high-speed rail or Five G.  China tends to do things on a whole-country basis. The difference in results is clear.

Washington, which subsidizes its own industries, complains that Beijing does the same–but the Chinese system works.

{what China doesn’t have is a sprawling, over-extended, low-grade, incomprehensibly costly military draining funds desperately needed to bring America up to modern standards domestically. China is not an appendage of its military. It seems to have figured out that wars cost money and, if there is one thing the Chinese really really like, it’s money.

Sez I, a little more realism in the Yankee Capital might be a good idea, a bit less huff and puff, more spending on America and less on a blood-sucking arms industry. But what do I know?

By : Fred Reed – Information Clearing House.

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