The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Air Date: 
May 29, 2013

Photo, above: Yang Jisheng is a Chinese journalist and author of Tombstone (Mùbēi), a comprehensive account of the Great Chinese Famine during the Great Leap Forward. Yang joined the Communist Party in 1964 and was graduated from Tsinghua University in 1966. He promptly joined Xinhua News Agency, where he worked until his retirement in 2001. His loyalty to the party was destroyed by the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and, although he continued working for the Xinhua News Agency, he, in fact, spent much of his time researching for TombstoneToday, he won the 2013 Hayek Prize, presented biannually by the Manhattan Institute. See: all of Hour 4, below.


Hour One

 Wednesday  29 May 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Fraser Howie, co-author of Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China's Extraordinary Rise, in re: Mao intentionally starved to death 386million people, the largest starvation of the Twentieth Century.

    Meanwhile, in 2013, Chinese people are buying gold madly: a store of value, real asset, for Chinese and Indians; in essence, capital flight for poor people. Any fall of price is just another chance to buy. Chinese central govt is buying gold. Suntech went into bankruptcy – in Europe a German firm tested thousands of panels: 85% failure rate! The 25-year life cycle has rot in the system.

    Last week, the index was sub-50; even the rosiest optimist see that it's not all as fab as they thought – 7.5% growth this year, says the IMF (how do you get that close? Odd.) Growth is probably a lot less than that in real terms – not collapse, but darkening. China's model initially was export-led, then investment-led –now, must become consumption-led.    IMF cuts China growth forecast. The International Monetary Fund lowered its growth forecast for China Wednesday, saying that the world's second largest economy must bring a rapid expansion in credit under control and combat income inequality. China's economy is now expected to grow by 7.75% in 2013, the IMF said, slower than the 8% forecast made earlier this year. The diminished outlook from the IMF coincides with a series of downgrades from private forecasters. UBS earlier this month lowered its full year forecast from to 7.7% from 8%. Bank of America and Standard Chartered have also cut their estimates.  The IMF raised concerns about a rapid expansion in credit in China, and questioned the quality of investment and ability of borrowers to repay loans.

Many analysts worry that credit is becoming inefficient, increasingly dominated by unregulated lenders, and reaching a scale where it could . . .  [more]

 Wednesday  29 May 2013 / Hour 1, Block B: Kate Woznow, International Director at Students for Free Tibet, in re: Chinese have tried every way to undermine Tibetan culture, similar to their effort to destroy Kashgar for Muslims.  Want to Sinicize all of Tibet, even put a parking lot in front of the Potala, one of Tibet's holiest places.  Build a 2,000-room hotel.  One of the issues at play is that Intercontinental is always looking to get a foot in ht Chinese market – PRC unelected leaders of Beijing demands they bld in Lhasa first.  We got in contact w Intercontinental, have been shuffled off to the "corporate responsibility" crew, no result. We ask everyone to join us in a boycott of Intercontinental Hotels.

 Tibetan activists launch boycott of InterContinental over hotel plans   Free Tibet-led campaign calls on Holiday Inn owner to withdraw from vast Lhasa project criticised as 'PR coup' for Beijing. Tibetan campaign groups are launching a boycott of the InterContinental Hotels Group – the owner of Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and others – because of plans to open a vast 2000-room resort in Lhasa.  The campaign, led by Free Tibet and backed by Students for a Free Tibet, wants IHG to withdraw from the project in the Tibetan capital, arguing the hotel is a "PR coup for the Chinese government" given concerns about human rights in the region and will exacerbate Tibetans' marginalisation.  Opposition to the InterContinental Resort Lhasa Paradise – which is due to open in 2014 and is currently under construction – comes amid growing concern about the impact of rapid development in the Tibetan Autonomous Region.  [more]

 Wednesday  29 May 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: Nitin Gokhale, anchor at New Delhi Television, in re: Chatasgar, in central India, population of tribals – Maoist rebels, insurgency paid for by China, Peru, Tamil Tigers, and Nepal.  Now have weapons.  "Liberated zones" army hasn’t been able to enter for five or six years. Chinese will fish in these troubled waters. Red corridor from China right down to Andar Pradesh. Maoist-style foreign policy.  Manmohan Singh bowed to Pres Li; not a great sign. Govt in Delhi wakes up with a knee-jerk reaction.  Chinese aggressive policy to undermine neighboring states; interferes with states to break them up.

India and China will study new ways to ease tensions on their ill-defined border after an army standoff in the Himalayas, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday on his first official foreign trip.  The number two in the Chinese leadership offered New Delhi a "handshake across the Himalayas" and said the world's most populous nations could become a new engine for the global economy if they could avoid friction on the militarized border.  "Both sides believe that we need to improve the various border-related mechanisms that we have put into place and make them more efficient. We need to appropriately manage and resolve our differences," Li said at a joint news conference with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The two men appeared smiling and relaxed. India's Foreign Ministry said they got on well. There were small breakthroughs on trade, but no major agreements were signed. China and India disagree about large areas of their 4,000 km (2,500 mile) border and fought a brief war 50 years ago. [more]

 Wednesday  29 May 2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  Hotel Mars, episode n.  Dr. David M. Livingston, The Space Show, and Charles Lurio, in re: Babylon 5, Star Trek: engineering and philosophy, the metaphor of exploring vs the metaphor of war-fighting. 

Hour Two

 Wednesday  29 May 2013 / Hour 2, Block A:   Yang Jisheng, winner of the 2013 Hayek Prize for Tombstone, The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962, and Amity Shlaes, director, Four Percent Project at the George W. Bush Institute & Bloomberg View, and Rose Tang*, translator, in re:  Reading Hayek in Beijing  A chronicler of Mao's depredations finds much to worry about in modern China. In the spring of 1959, Yang Jisheng, then an 18-year-old scholarship student at a boarding school in China's Hubei Province, got an unexpected visit from a childhood friend. "Your father is starving to death!" the friend told him. "Hurry back, and take some rice if you can." Granted leave from his school, Mr. Yang rushed to his family farm. "The elm tree in front of our house had been reduced to a barkless trunk," he recalled, "and even its roots had been dug up." Entering his home, he found his father "half-reclined on his bed, his eyes sunken and lifeless, his face gaunt, the skin creased and flaccid . . . I was shocked with the realization that the term skin and bones referred to something so horrible and cruel."  Mr. Yang's father would die within three days. Yet it would take years before Mr. Yang learned that what happened to his father was not an isolated incident. He was one of the 36 million Chinese who succumbed to famine between 1958 and 1962.  It would take years more for him to realize that the source of all the suffering was not nature: There were no major droughts or floods in China in the famine years. Rather, . . .

That suggests China will never become a mature power until it becomes a democratic one. As to whether that will happen anytime soon, Mr. Yang seems doubtful: The one opinion widely shared by rulers and ruled alike in China is that without the Communist Party's leadership, "China will be thrown into chaos."

In taking on a project of this scale, what was your goal, your dream? . . . Cultural Revolution, economic reforms  . . .  The West was told that China was a subset of Moscow during the Cold War, so we didn’t learn about it.   . . .  There's no mention of the Chinese Great Famine in Chinese text books.  . . .  This book is available on Amazon  . . .   China's great famine was a man-made calamity – not agricultural failure, not climate change, not weather; totally created by govt policy.  For a long time, I blamed myself for not digging up enough root vegetables for my father.  Rose Tang: only last year, I found out that five of my relatives starved to death; interviewed my uncle an army officer: his brother, mother, sister-in-law died of starvation, he was unable to help them, and today he still favors the Chinese Communist Party over the Kuomintang.  The PRC calls the Great Famine, "The three years of natural disaster." The notion of a Great Leap Forward was formulated  in Moscow, where they decided to bring China to the level of the United Kingdom within fifteen years. The origins of this fantastic massacre.

..  ..  ..

An estimated 36 million Chinese men, women, and children starved to death during China’s Great Leap Forward in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The famine is poorly understood, and in China is still euphemistically referred to as the “three years of natural disaster.” As a journalist with privileged access to official and unofficial sources, Yang Jisheng spent 20 years piecing together the events that led to mass starvation. Finding no natural causes, Yang lays the deaths at the feet of China’s totalitarian communist system and the refusal of officials at every level to value human life over ideology and self-interest.

     Tombstone pits collective memory against the historical amnesia imposed by those in power. Stunning in scale and arresting in its detailed account of the human cost of this tragedy, Tombstone is written both as a memorial to the lives lost—an enduring tombstone in memory of the dead—and in hopeful anticipation of the final demise of the totalitarian system.

     The Manhattan Institute’s Hayek Prize honors the book published within the past two years that best reflects Friedrich Hayek’s vision of economic and individual liberty. Hayek, the author of groundbreaking works such as The Road to Serfdom and The Constitution of Liberty, was the key figure in the twentieth-century revival of classical liberalism and a formative influence on the Manhattan Institute. The winner of the Hayek Prize is chosen by a selection committee of distinguished economists and journalists.

..  ..  .. 

*On the night of June 3, 1989, 20-year-old Rose Tang dressed in black from head to toe to avoid detection, grabbed a dagger and snuck out of the Beijing Second Foreign Languages Institute. Then she rode her bicycle to Tiananmen Square. “I was prepared to die for democracy,” she says in a Mint Press interview. As it turns out, she would suffer from survivor’s guilt instead. “The next morning, I was among the last getting out of the square. It was so chaotic. I stumbled on bodies. I didn’t know if they were dead,” she recalls. “But I did get beaten; soldiers were carrying big sticks and beating us up.” “I was crushed between the mob and a tank, so I climbed over the tank to get out. I had to duck under the barrel of a soldier’s machine gun,” she continues. When she jumped off the other side, she found herself face to face with a CNN crew looking for students to interview. “They focused the camera on me and I told them I was angry and a lot of people had died,” Tang said. [more]

..  ..  ..

 Wednesday  29 May 2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  Yang Jisheng, winner of the 2013 Hayek Prize for Tombstone, The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962, and Amity Shlaes, director, Four Percent Project at the George W. Bush Institute & Bloomberg View, and Rose Tang*, translator, in re:  Reading Hayek in Beijing  A chronicler of Mao's depredations finds much to worry about in modern China. In the spring of 1959, Yang Jisheng, then an 18-year-old scholarship student at a boarding school

 Wednesday  29 May 2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  Yang Jisheng, winner of the 2013 Hayek Prize for Tombstone, The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962, and Amity Shlaes, director, Four Percent Project at the George W. Bush Institute & Bloomberg View, and Rose Tang*, translator, in re:  Reading Hayek in Beijing  A chronicler of Mao's depredations finds much to worry about in modern China. In the spring of 1959, Yang Jisheng, then an 18-year-old scholarship student at a boarding schoolStarvation result maybe 30% of natural disasters but 70% of man-made mistakes. Their plan was to bld a beautiful utopia so they brought collectivism to China, took away personal freedoms and created a great catastrophe.  YJS: The very reason why I felt obliged to write this book: collective amnesia among young Chinese who don’t know China's past. "If a nation doesn’t know its past, it has no future."  I never really set aside time to focus on this book, I wrote it while being a journalist, so it took about a decade.  terrorism is a norm in totalitarian regimes, under a dictatorship; people were horrified. People were starving and desperate, so some stole food – and if found, were beaten to death In the Ukraine in 1933: parents hid their children so they wouldn’t be stolen and eaten. Did this happen in the Great Famine? Chinese parents always educated their children always to obey, never disobey . . .   In Henan province, on one county, the locals and peasants were willing to tell the stories.  JB:  Many committed suicide. Were tortured, yes? YJS: Many beaten to death – I have statistics – and many parents were so sad when their children starved to death, the parent s committed suicide; sometime did so in order for the children to  have food.  Cannibalism was mostly eating corpses, esp in the winter, dead bodies left in fields for a long time and not decomposed, so starving people would go around and cut pieces of flesh to eat.  Most who starved to death were peasants; in the cities, urban populations were guaranteed small portions of food. They also were hungry.  In cities, college students early on got a monthly ration of 15 kilos, then reduced to 14 kilos; no meat, no animal fat; many cases of edema.

 Wednesday  29 May 2013 / Hour 2, Block D: Yang Jisheng, winner of the 2013 Hayek Prize for Tombstone, The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962, and Amity Shlaes, director, Four Percent Project at the George W. Bush Institute & Bloomberg View, and Rose Tang*, translator, in re:  Reading Hayek in Beijing  A chronicler of Mao's depredations finds much to worry about in modern China. In the spring of 1959, Yang Jisheng, then an 18-year-old scholarship student at a boarding school.  [Amity Shlaes on Hayek, and awarding the prize to Yang Jisheng.] Mao decided to follow the advice of academics and wound up starving dozens of millions; Hayek's entire oeuvre supports an opposite position. The essence of Hayek's theories is respect fro personal freedom, and personal choice the govt of China disrespected this, designed a grand system had plans to take all Chinese people to paradise – instead took them to hell, Instead of egalitarianism, it was serfdom. Studying the Great Famine deepened my understanding of Hayek, and studying Hayek deepened my understanding of he famine.  It ended: in 1961, govt let every rural household contract a plot of land – saw a surplus and better yields ["They let people eat."] Chinese people know what to do.

Hour Three

 Wednesday  29 May 2013 / Hour 3, Block A: David Feith, WSJ, in re: China's persecution of dissidents' entire families--attempting to punish human-rights and democracy activists by putting their relatives under house arrest or in physical danger, denying schooling to their children, firing their siblings from jobs, etc. Says a lot about the fundamental weakness and lawlessness of the system as Xi Jinping seeks global recognition of Chinese power and prepares for a presidential summit with Obama next week. Not only Xi, but Hu ten years ago.  However, now we're seeing people become a little more realistic about Xi; descent into repression. When the blind lawyer managed to escape home and through a network of dissidents to get to Beijing,  then later got to New York, the govt promised to investigate abuses against his family – but the beatings and threats have increased, thugs throw dead chickens and ducks into their homes, and his nephew has been sentenced to 30months in prison - where he's being tortured – on trumped-up charges. Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liu Xiaobo, signatory to Charter 08 manifesto - in prison now, and Xi Jinping will be in California with another Nobelist, Pres Obama – Xi being the jailer of Liu Xiaobo.  Much shame among Chinese people, domestically and internationally.

 Wednesday  29 May 2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  Joseph Sternberg, WSJ Asia editorial board, in re: There's No Accounting for China's Accounting.   A deal between Beijing and Washington to share audit information still leaves U.S. investors exposed. If Chinese companies can’t follow American rules of transparency, should they be listed in the US?  the Frauds no longer should be called "alleged': Chinese firms can now rape and pillage worldwide as accounting rules are ignored or winked at. As investors start to take a closer look, they may withdraw entirely from Chinese firms, Chinese govt secrecy laws are entangled in govt-owned companies.  Meaning; If Chinese businesses followed standard intl accounting practices, they'd be delisted globally.  Meanwhile, it's legit, private Chinese firms that are victims of this madness. 

 Wednesday  29 May 2013 / Hour 3, Block C:  Jayson Lusk, in re:  The Food Police: A Well-Fed Manifesto About the Politics of Your Plate (1 of 2)

 Wednesday  29 May 2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Jayson Lusk, in re:  The Food Police: A Well-Fed Manifesto About the Politics of Your Plate  (2 of 2)

Hour Four

 Wednesday  29 May 2013 / Hour 4, Block A:  John Avlon, CNN, The Daily Beast,  and Newsweek International, in re: Michele Bachmann Is Done: Her Hostage Tape to Reality

The congresswoman who represented the worst of American politics will not seek reelection in 2014. John Avlon on Michele Bachmann’s calculated decision to bow out now.

 Wednesday  29 May 2013 / Hour 4, Block B:  Reza Kahlili, author, A Time to Betray, in re: KAHLILI: A green light for Iran’s new terrorist war  Regime intends to shift the battleground stateside.  Targets have been chosen within America, and the terrorist teams have now cut communications with the operational center in Iran, a sign they are moving ahead with the attacks, according to a high-level intelligence officer within the regime.

 Wednesday  29 May 2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Lucianna Lopez, Reuters, in re: 

How the Fed could ruin your summer holiday Former Treasury secretary and former Harvard President Larry Summers is the frontrunner to replace Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chief, according to a new report.   Summers tops a list of potential replacements that also includes former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Federal Reserve Vice-Chair Janet Yellen, the Financial Times reported.

 Wednesday  29 May 2013 / Hour 4, Block D: John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN & AEI, and Daily Beast, in re:   Barack Obama Declares Defeat in Global War on Terror  The president’s long speech made clear he has no strategy, writes the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Most importantly, we tried the criminal-law paradigm against terrorism’s metastasizing threat in the 1990s, and it failed horribly, costing America dearly on Sept. 11, 2001. It is failing today as Benghazi, the Boston Marathon bombing, and cold-blooded murders in London and Paris show. Nonetheless, resurrecting the law-enforcement approach is the flip side of Obama’s failure to comprehend the essence of the terrorist threat itself. Obama’s policy therefore both fails to recognize the dangers we face, and marshals the wrong (and utterly inadequate) resources to deal with it. You don’t need an oracle to predict what’s coming.

The Marquis de Talleyrand is credited with having said of France’s Bourbon kings that “they never learned anything and they never forgot anything.” Obama’s record on terrorism makes him a true Bourbon.