GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

May 6, 2013

Fishtown Local: What's to fear with China?

Fishtown Local
Gordon Baird

---- — Everyone seems so concerned these days that China is on the rise, that China will somehow surpass us and even threaten our well being in the future.

I am not.

Sure, China has had quite a last 25 years and has built its once feudal economy into an economic juggernaut. The Chinese have put a bunch of their profits into our T-bills and bonds and own “a piece of the rock” for sure. However, what goes up must come down, especially if it was built on a questionable foundation in the first place.

China might be capitalist, but it is no democracy. Their system is rife with corruption and is “fixed” in favor of state owned controlling companies that have maneuvered themselves into monopoly status and robust growth. Add to that the party dictatorship that can and does control social change to improve the profitability of these companies. Insiders and party people control the stakes in the cities and, especially in the countryside.

Local government is as corrupt as it gets, disenfranchising their people for the sake of developers’ kickbacks, party favor and out-and-out bribes. The country government is dysfunctional, relying on fear still and iron party rule reinforced by military and police force.

The collapse of poorly built schools in earthquakes in 2008 killed 5,000 children due to shoddy construction driven by corruption. Protesting parents were tried and jailed in their grief. So were they again when hundreds of thousands of people were sickened by tainted milk in a scandal that was quickly swept out of sight.

Oh, they can pull off a showy Olympics, for which their command economy diverted huge resources to propel front and center to the world. But the backdrop of a forced economy and a ruined environment left no doubt to the rest of the world that this effort was stage managed window dressing.

The state sponsors stealing our patents and hacking our secrets, forcing companies to reveal trade secrets if they want to play in China’s fixed markets. Then their state-run companies compete openly with the same stolen product deigns and funnel the profits to the party and military leaders.

And now to pollution. The international headlines track stories like the 13,000 dead pigs found floating in a river that provides drinking water in the provinces. But the press in China won’t report the story, and the news is controlled (as is the Internet). The New York Times reports that statistics are now emerging showing that in 2010 alone, outdoor air pollution contributed to the early deaths of 1.2 million people, 40 percent of the world’s total. An as pollution worsens, solutions succumb to infighting.

No country that sustains itself on fear, theft and ignorance will be the master of America, no matter how many bonds it buys. We’ve seen it over and over in history. Freedom, ideas and talent is what makes a society flourish. A government that its people do not trust is not a government that can surpass a country with the rule of law and justice. China has neither of these.

Yes, the Chinese can switch off the press and the Internet, they can hack our company secrets and imitate our iPhones, but they are not a land of the free or a home of the brave.

And that’s why I do not fear China.

Gordon Baird is a local actor and musician, co-founder of Musician magazine, and producer of the community access TV show “Gloucester Chicken Shack.”