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Enter the Serpent – Notes on the Ascendency of China
The many recent books and commentary extolling China’s lightening fast economic climb are right about the nature of China’s spectacular rise and how the outside world is making it happen. A mere 25 years ago China was a backward, poverty-stricken totalitarian waste, and for many just the mention of its name would conjure up images of an iron-fisted police state hiding behind a bamboo curtain concealing an esoteric dominion of tyranny and human desperation. Now, thousands of leading American, Japanese, European, Korean, Taiwanese and Australian companies have and are racing to transfer plant, technology and modern manufacturing expertise to China, and in doing so they are quickly hallowing out the manufacturing bases of their home countries. They are being seduced and drawn into China by the appeal of extremely low labor rates, non-existent labor and environmental regulations, the desire to position themselves within the enormous future potential of China’s consumer markets as well as the oftentimes necessity of just being there in order to be included on the supply chain of one of the many global manufacturing and technology giants that have already made the move to China in a big way.
The Chinese will say about themselves and it’s true, that for every person in China there are actually two people; the outer personality reflecting tailored conformity, and the inner person that is not easily, if ever, exposed. China itself is like that too. Like anything else here, the ‘boom’ cities one sees are to a large extent illusory, with 70% unoccupancy rates in quickly constructed slip-shod buildings meant to impress with architectural flamboyance, but that will typically last for only about 20 years before falling apart. Glitzy government shopping malls and highly visible, neon-illuminated designer boutiques abound and dazzle newcomers, but as I’ve carefully noticed, other than tourists no one ever buys anything. More illusion-it’s mostly for show. China’s big façade of garish modernization serves the purposes of bloating citizens with nationalistic pride and providing them with visible assurance that things are moving forward, while impressing potential foreign investors and naïve journalists who rarely bother to dig beneath the surface. The streets of China’s cities are now clogged with traffic and the number of cars is growing fast, but most of those cars are not necessarily a reflection of the rising living standards their presence might seem to convey, and were not purchased privately. They were actually procured through government purchasing schemes financed by loans from a corrupt national banking system that is known to be insolvent, with new cars being channeled to those with connections. Note: Using deception based on creating illusion is adapted from the ancient, classic text on Chinese military strategy ” Art of War” by Sun Tsu, and is now being applied by China to great advantage in waging economic warfare.
A walk down any street in any of the ‘miracle’ cities of China and many of the people seen can be counted among the burgeoning hordes of the unemployed that have been laid off from thousands of shuttered, inefficient and non-competitive S.O.E.’s, with many more thousands yet to be closed. For the masses of ordinary people who do have jobs, it’s most probably in one of the huge new factory complexes housing labor-intensive industries financed with foreign capital. The massive ‘city within a city’ complexes that are oftentimes surrounded by high walls ringed with razor wire have a severe though functionally modern appearance when viewed from without, but from within are more reminiscent of 19th Century Europe industrial sweatshops. They serve as homes to untold millions of workers toiling through twelve-hour, six or even seven day a week shifts, and who have no rights, no protections, no guarantees, no safety review boards, no benefits in the event of layoff or injury, no dispute resolution panels, no bargaining power, no pensions for those retiring and no mechanism for venting complaints, because no one who needs a job ever dares. The death penalty can be and is doled out for practically any reason deemed deserving, it’s a matter of judicial discretion, and by official admission there are more executions carried out in China every year than in all other nations of the world combined (Amnesty International estimates the actual number of executions to be much higher than the official rate). The existence of huge, sprawling, unmapped and unacknowledged prison camps in China’s interior interning millions that are forced to work in harsh, slave-labor conditions has been well documented. Among their unfortunate numbers are many (a majority?) who simply held a disapproved religious conviction, or who spoke or criticized out of turn. Almost all government support for housing, food, medical care, education, unemployment compensation and other assistance associated with China’s previous, now mostly dismantled communist welfare system has been eliminated, and reports of starvation are now being heard from poor, rural areas. Note: In the past, executions were carried out by single gunshot administered to the back of the head, with a bill for the bullet then presented to the next of kin. Following a trend set in other countries, today things are more humane with a ‘modified’ form of lethal injection being used. It’s actually only semi-lethal to start with, and works by rendering the condemned merely unconscious enabling a waiting medical team to extract generously donated organs for use in transplants while in the ideal state of viability.
At one point I almost came to believe that any woman in China, married or single, would be willing to sell sex for money. Although it’s a suspicion I’ve since come to relinquish, perhaps due to people’s purely atheist* training and upbringing together with the overwhelming tidal flood of materialistic values and wealth envy that has engulfed the social consciousness, it does seem that there is a very flimsy connection linking sexual fidelity to the Chinese version of morality. Even among married men, 90% visit hookers regularly and it’s common among college girls to spend weekends with businessmen, or anyone with money, in order to finance their tuition or growing appetite for fashion, or both. Prostitution is everywhere in China, it’s in every hotel and barbershop, along every street, around every corner and it’s an important industry accounting for an economically significant percentage of GDP. In business, the practice of offering prostitutes, oftentimes underage, to clients, partners or potential customers is very common to being the norm even among small operations, and it’s used as a way of currying favor and clinching the deal, or of expressing appreciation, or just as often as a bribe-or as bait-the Chinese have learned well that for many naïve westerners the Eastern female holds an enticing, seductive allure. Although most women of childbearing age have had several abortions each, those who can’t stomach the procedure or afford an ultrasound test to determine their child’s sex will drop their new-born baby girls off at giant state orphanages, strongly suspected by many to be fronts that in actuality serve the dual functions of extermination centers and clearing houses for the unneeded and discarded. Owing to the one child policy and a strong cultural preference for baby boys, it’s estimated there could now be up to 100 million young men in China who will never be able to find wives and start families of their own. The hugely disproportionate levels of ineligible males do their part in fueling prostitution, but there are also high rates of homosexuality and even bestiality spawned by this unnatural imbalance. The widespread practice of bestiality is especially troubling since it is theorized by some epidemiologists to be the route of transmission taken by many newly emerging viruses to gain an initial foothold in the human species, of which HIV, Ebola, SARS, Avian flu and other particularly virulent flu strains are just some examples. Of course, like anything else that could reflect negatively on China’s ‘face’, this problem is mostly ignored or denied by officialdom and the news media. Note: *China is an atheist state that vigorously promotes and encourages atheism, with all members of the ruling CCP being avowed atheists.
China’s officially cited population of 1.35 billion is known by everyone within China, and strongly suspected by many without, to be vastly understated. Any children born in excess of the one child per married couple limit imposed on those living in cities, or two for those in the countryside, are never able to obtain national identity cards and so therefore simply do not officially exist and are never counted. In addition, bureaucrats at all levels of government responsible for monitoring and enforcing the rate of population growth often feel pressured to falsify and underreport population statistics in order to retain tenure, or to gain approval so as earn perks and promotions. For these reasons and several others the true population of China has been estimated by independent demographers using computer generated models based on statistical sampling methods to be closer to 1.6 billion or even more-a number in excess of the official rate that’s nearly equal to the entire population of the United States, the third most populous nation on earth! China’s ‘uncounted’ are often left with few options for survival and turn to criminal rings as their means of support. Many others drift from city to city in search of irregular, informal employment among China’s floating, transient worker pool estimated to number up to 150 million, but are otherwise reduced to a life of servitude tantamount to slavery as members of a permanent underclass with no other choices. Note: It’s feared that the overwhelming weight and pressure of China’s enormous population could distort rational decision making processes at the highest levels of leadership. For years Chinese diplomatic personnel have issued threats to their US counterparts stating that China would be more than willing to use nuclear weapons against the US should it attempt to intervene militarily with a mainland invasion of Taiwan. In a twisted assessment of the risk to benefit scenario of a nuclear exchange with the US, it might be reasoned that China would be left having taken possession of Taiwan, while also having greatly diminished the strength of its US adversary, with the added benefit of having simultaneously reduced its crushing population burden by 600 million!
The race toward modernization at any cost has resulted in a China that’s been blackened, fouled and poisoned. It’s the most polluted nation on earth and by far the world’s number one polluter (when all categories of pollution are combined), with 16 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities. Drinking water from virtually any lake, river or well in China may very well kill immediately, water from the tap brings a slower death, and on bad days the air is like toxic soup. A huge, continental sized poisonous haze several miles thick known as ‘Asia’s Brown Cloud’ perpetually drapes itself over China’s cities. The cloud’s consistency includes noxious atmospheric particulates that mix with the rain and are absorbed into the soil to enter the food chain, and it is permanently blocking a small but significant percentage of sunlight to all the nations of East and South-East Asia resulting in the reduction of arable farmland at an alarming rate, especially in China and India. Long-term health consequences from the effects of the brown cloud on humans will not be known until it’s too late, when it may come to be called the cloak of death. Since all sources of information and mass media are stringently controlled and all negativity that may reflect badly on government management is minimized, serious national problems such as pollution issues are only gently mentioned in passing, and always in the context of how the government is making great strides at solving them. Note: Moon shiners commonly counterfeit brand labels and sell for big savings to unethical small retailers, but it can be of poor quality and deadly, and is responsible for causing thousands of cases of partial to total blindness and severe liver and kidney damage in those who drink it every year. No Amazonian or African tribe has a better-attested tradition of cannibalism than China has. Even today human placenta is a delicacy and aborted human fetuses fetch astronomical prices (it’s said to work miracles for the skin). In a country with nearly two billion people to feed, an aversion toward squeamishness (rat fetuses are eaten raw at exclusive restaurants*), and no moral or religious qualms, fresh human corpses can easily and profitably represent over 100lbs. of weighted protein additive each, especially if they’re discreetly thrown in with the mix at small and very poorly regulated beef processing operations. For those who don’t believe-enjoy. (*Rat fetuses are freshly plucked and still alive when served-“Eat Three Squeals” is the name of the dish for those who see it on the menu and want to sample. Squeezing with chopsticks produces the first squeal, sauce dip evokes the second, chomp down for the third-enjoy again).
To be observed is how everyone has iron bars installed on their apartment windows, with double steel doors barricading the entrances that are each triple locked. Upon entering department stores all customers are usually required to leave purses, handbags, backpacks, attaché cases and sometimes bulky outer wear with attendants in an effort to reduce the horrendously high rate of shoplifting. In most Chinese cities, taxi drivers are isolated from passengers by being required to sit within built-in steel cages, since too many of them have been killed, and after dark it’s illegal for passengers to sit in the front seat. Surprisingly, the official, police reported homicide rate in China is now nearly twice that of the United States. All the more noteworthy is that this is in a country where gun ownership is strictly banned and possession can result in imposition of the death sentence! The appalling crimes of serial killers, mass murderers and sex criminals occur with increasingly shocking frequency now so that these aberrations are no longer a western phenomenon, and China may very well soon out-do the West in this regard. Child abduction is one of most common crimes and it’s much more serious here than anywhere else in the world. Every week in China thousands of children are kidnapped and sold, with some Chinese cities reporting well over one hundred cases per day (this is known and can be verified through information revealed by individual police precincts as a cautionary public service to residents, and not reported in the media). Some kidnapped children are sold into sexual slavery, some as slave workers to farmers or to underground sweatshops, and there’s gathering credibility to the rumor that some are sold for the harvesting of their internal organs. Producing babies for sale is a major cottage industry. As one entrepreneur explained, “It costs a lot to raise a pig until it’s six months old and I can only sell it for $5, but a human baby costs me very little since I can sell it at birth, and I’ll get $50”, (I’ve been offered children for sale on several occasions, once by a complete stranger while eating in a restaurant). While China’s cities are stressed, in the countryside deeper cracks can be glimpsed. In 2005 foreign observers witnessed and recorded over 75,000 major demonstrations by farmers protesting corruption, high taxes, set pricing on government crop purchases that are seen as confiscatory, and compliance with WTO mandated policies allowing foreign competition to enter China’s agricultural markets. Note: An hour’s walk in any of China’s cities will probably reveal an occurrence. Street fights start suddenly without any warning and they’re almost always between two or more women. The blood-curdling screams along with the slapping, kicking, biting, tearing, pulling of hair and gouging of eyes that spills from out of buildings or store fronts and on to the street would scare vicious, rabid dogs away. It was unnerving for me to first witness this-I got used to it.
For the Chinese today, nightly TV viewing is enjoyed watching ultra-nationalistic programming that elevates former and current leaders, and the Chinese Communist Party, to the level of God, and the best of Hollywood couldn’t improve on it for theatrical display. Popular music is oftentimes characterized by militaristic marching themes meant to arouse intense feelings of patriotism, or it can be religiously inspirational in singing of the deep love that the Chinese people feel for each other, and especially for the CCP. Only persons who can prove their ancestral Chinese lineage can be accepted as citizens of China. In Hong Kong, hundreds of thousands of people of Indian, non-Chinese Asian and middle-eastern descent who had resided there for generations were stripped of their citizenship after the handover to China from Britain in 1997. The Chinese pledge of allegiance that all students are required to recite daily, and all citizens weekly, is so nationalistically and racially partisan and intense as to be frightening! Note: Recently, museum curators in Beijing forcibly removed an exhibition surrounding the life and accomplishments of Albert Einstein from display after a mere 4 hours of opening. The intensive promotion of nationalism requires that people be made to feel that practically every invention or discovery of value in human history, every scientific achievement or medical advance of note, the most brilliant minds of history, every truly beautiful art form and all ultimate truth that exists, originated in China.
The glue that currently holds Chinese society together is comprised of government promises connected to the hope of a better tomorrow, resigned submission to authority that is culturally ingrained, an entrenched fear (with teeth) that is systematically projected by the government into people in many complex overt and subtle ways, and the aggressive promotion of a blind form of ultra-nationalism that could have been plagiarized from Peronist fascists, even Goebbels would approve. China is a messed up, morally and sociologically confused country that has completely lost its ancient soul, and whose uncountable, unknowable, God forsaken teeming masses have been abandoned to the avaricious exploitations of domestic and world-wide business and commercial interests, while its own pathologically insecure, prestige and power hungry aristocratic elite celebrates the process and cheers it along with vigor.
In pondering China-what it was, what it is, what it very well may shortly emerge to become and what that emergence will mean for the human race and the shaping of world civilization and our common destiny, the most troubling aspect is to realize that the western world is now to a large degree responsible for lifting China to its full potential as a world superpower, and at break-neck speed, even though that country’s government and government inspired culture does not uphold or share any of the West’s values, ideals or visions, openly scorns the West, and beneath the surface feels toward it a loathing resentment based on envy, as well as for past grievances.
Over the past century China and her people have suffered possibly as no other nation and people ever have, or could imagine to have. Today many hundreds of millions are suffering still, with the worst possibly yet to come. Pray for China! Entirely aside from its people however, deeply entrenched within China I have strongly sensed that there is a sinister dynamic lurking, and if and when that mysterious, monstrous, tortured albeit angry dragon hiding inside of its box is let out, assisted by the rest of us in achieving its ambitiously stated goal of world domination. Pray for the world! Note: Dragon imagery has long played a prominent role in Chinese culture up to the present, and it permeates China’s cultural landscape. Dragon depictions are seen on buildings, paintings and murals everywhere, and they’re used as decorations on clothing, calendars and many other objects. The dragon is actually associated with being the unofficial national symbol of China, supposed by some to embody the spirit of the Chinese people. The Chinese dragon’s origins can be traced to the ancient Sumerian Civilization (Babylon), from where mythologies and legends were carried into China and absorbed. Accepted by most historians as being the first civilization of recorded human history, Sumeria’s rise predates that of Egypt. It is known that the Sumerians were snake worshipers who exalted their deities through the artistic creation of fanciful carvings and statues depicting huge, bizarre and fearsome serpents with wings, sometimes possessing gnashing fangs and flailing, clawed appendages. As a matter of dark fascination, a disturbing, arcane connection has been made between this great Eastern symbol and a prophetic passage taken from the highly allegorical Bible book of Revelation (Apocalypse), a Christian text usually associated with Western Civilization: “So down the Great Dragon was hurled, the Original Serpent, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth. He was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him…Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger”. – Revelation 12: 9, 12
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