Update On Hong Kong

Politico posted an article today about the latest events in Hong Kong. The article is taken from the South China Morning Post. Please consider the source when reading the excerpts.

The article reports:

Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has formally withdrawn the much-despised extradition bill that sparked the nearly three-month long protest crisis now roiling the city, confirming the Post’s exclusive report earlier on Wednesday.

She will also set up an investigative platform to look into the fundamental causes of the social unrest and suggest solutions for the way forward, stopping short of turning it into a full-fledged commission of inquiry, as demanded by protesters.

The decision to withdraw the bill will mean that the government is finally acceding to at least one of the five demands of the protesters, who have taken to the streets over the past 13 weeks to voice not just their opposition to the legislation, but the overall governance of the city in demonstrations that have become increasingly violent.

Apart from the formal withdrawal of the legislation, the protesters have asked for the government to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate police conduct in tackling the protests, grant amnesty to those who have been arrested, stop characterizing the protests as riots, and restart the city’s stalled political reform process.

Whether they will view the investigative committee as adequate in meeting the call for a commission remains to be seen. On the bill withdrawal, a government source said that Lam will emphasize that the move was a technical procedure to streamline the legislative agenda, with the Legislative Council set to reopen in October after its summer break.

Paul Mirengoff posted an article at Power Line Blog today about Hong Kong. In the article he quotes a Claudia Rosette article at The Wall Street Journal:

[T]he millions of protesters. . .have been doing the world a heroic service. Like their predecessors at Tiananmen, they are exposing on a world stage the brutality of the Beijing regime. From the only place under China’s flag where there is any chance to speak out, they are shouting the truth, day and night, in the streets and from the windows—while they still can.

During more than 13 straight weeks of protest, Hong Kong’s people have demanded the rights and freedoms—including free elections—that China, in a treaty with Britain, guaranteed to Hong Kong for 50 years after the 1997 handover. At a press conference last week held by Hong Kong’s Civil Human Rights Front, which has organized some of the biggest peaceful protests, spokeswoman Bonnie Leung observed that if the authorities would simply keep those promises, “the whole movement will end immediately.”

Instead, President Xi Jinping and his puppet, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, have defaulted to threats, propaganda and force. Ms. Lam’s administration has deployed riot police, tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons. Officers have made more than 1,000 arrests.

China has been pressuring Hong Kong companies, including Cathay Pacific Airways, to fire employees who join the protests. Chanting “Stand with Hong Kong! Fight for freedom!” the protesters have refused to back down. Some told me they are ready to die for their cause. Many of their predecessors did in Tiananmen.

Hong Kong police have begun firing warning shots with live ammunition. This weekend, police were caught on video beating unarmed civilians bloody on the subway. China has been conspicuously drilling troops of its People’s Armed Police across the border, and last week it sent fresh army troops to its garrison in Hong Kong, labeling this a routine rotation to ensure “prosperity and stability.”

(Emphasis added)

The article at Power Line Blog concludes with an UPDATE:

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, has finally agreed to withdraw the extradition bill discussed above. She takes her order from Beijing, so it looks like China wants to avoid a Tiananmen Square style massacre and the worldwide condemnation it would bring.

Will this concession, absent the freedoms China promised Hong Kong in 1997, be sufficient to take the steam out of the protests? Perhaps.

Another possibility is that the protesters, if anything, will be emboldened by the concession and that China, having made it, will believe it can defend a crack down by claiming that the protesters couldn’t take “yes” for an answer.

 Stay tuned.

 

An Interesting Take On Tariffs

Real Clear Politics posted an article today titled, “Why Trump’s Tariffs Won’t Cost Consumers a Nickel.” I’m not sure I totally agree with that, but the ideas behind the statement were interesting.

The article states:

Critics also contend that President Trump’s tariffs will inevitably lead to higher prices for consumers.  We’ve heard this before. They said aluminum tariffs would spike the cost of a six-pack. But soda and beer prices have remained flat.

Now Walmart has joined the chorus. But we have no more reason to believe officials there than other boys who cried wolf. To understand why, let’s review how tariffs work, and how specifically the president’s tariffs work.

…Tariffs aren’t imposed on the final retail price the way a sales tax is. They are also not imposed on the wholesale price. They are not even imposed on what the importer pays at the dock when the goods enter the U.S.  The duties are imposed on an even lower price than that – and that’s a scandal in itself.

Let’s say Black & Decker wants to sell a line of toaster ovens with a $60 retail price in the U.S.  It goes to a Hong Kong middleman who deals with Chinese manufacturers. The Hong King middleman pays his cousin at a Chinese toaster oven factory $10 for toaster ovens. Black & Decker agrees to pay the Hong Kong middleman $20 for the toaster ovens, and picks them up off the boat in Long Beach, Calif.

Let’s say there’s a 10 percent tariff on toaster ovens from China. (There isn’t.)  The tariff would only be $1 because it’s calculated on what the Hong Kong middleman (says he) paid his cousin at the toaster factory – the first sale — not what Black & Decker pays to take delivery at the port – what’s known in the jargon of the trade world as the last sale. 

As a result of this accounting flim-flam, Hong Kong middlemen and the importers who love them are getting rich while taxpayers are getting hosed for untold billions of dollars the U.S. Treasury is not collecting.

The article concludes with information that shows the wisdom of what President Trump is doing:

And here’s the beauty part, how the tariffs are designed to hurt China: The Trump tariffs target items available from sources outside China.  Buy from a supplier outside China, avoid the tariff.

President Trump’s surgical strike tariffs are sending companies a clear message: Do business anywhere but China.  

And the message is getting through. Companies no longer see China as a safe space.  China needs a continued influx of foreign investment to feed its economic growth, and the president’s trade policy encourages companies to look elsewhere.

This is the reason it is good to have a businessman in the White House instead of a politician.

Remember When Hong Kong Was Free?

The agreement to turn Hong Kong over to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was signed in 1984. The agreement was actually carried out in 1997.

According to Wikipedia:

The background of the Sino-British Joint Declaration was the pending expiration of the lease of the New Territories on 1 July 1997. The lease was negotiated between the UK and the Guangxu Emperor of China, and was for a period of 99 years starting from 1 July 1898 under the Second Convention of Peking. At the time of the lease signing, Hong Kong Island had already been ceded to the UK in perpetuity under the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842 after the First Opium War, and the southern part of the Kowloon Peninsula as well as the Stonecutters Island had also been ceded to the UK in perpetuity under the Convention of Beijing in 1860 after the Second Opium War.

In the early 1980s the territory and its business community grew concerned about the future of Hong Kong. These concerns, regarding the status of property rights and contracts, were spurred by political uncertainty surrounding the scheduled reversion of the New Territories to the PRC. In March 1979, the Governor of Hong Kong, Murray MacLehose, visited Peking. During this visit, informal talks about the future of Hong Kong began. Upon his return, MacLehose attempted to allay investors’ worries about the scheduled reversion, but reiterated that the PRC asserted its intention to regain sovereignty over Hong Kong. The first formal negotiations began with chairman Deng Xiaoping of the PRC during the visit of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, to China in September 1982.

During the following discussions, where the Governor of Hong Kong took part in every round of formal talks as a member of the British delegation, it became clear that the continuation of British administration after 1997 would not be acceptable to China in any form. The Chinese Government has consistently taken the view that the whole of Hong Kong should be Chinese territory, due to what they perceived as the inequality of historical treaties. As a result, the two sides discussed possible measures besides continued British administration, and came up with the concept of Hong Kong as a Special Administration Region of the PRC. In April 1984, the two sides concluded the initial discussion of these matters, and arranged that Hong Kong would retain a high degree of autonomy under Chinese sovereignty with the preservation of the maintained lifestyle in Hong Kong. By 18 September 1984, both sides had approved the English and Chinese texts of the documents and the associated Exchange of Memoranda.

Part of the agreement stated:

“The [HKSAR] will retain the status of a free port and a separate customs territory. It can continue the free trade policy, including free movement of goods and capital.”

Fox News reported yesterday:

China blocked a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier from arriving at a port in Hong Kong as tensions ratcheted up over disputed islands in the South China Sea, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed Friday.

The USS John C. Stennis and escort ships had planned to visit the port next week, Stars & Stripes reports. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not explain why it denied the request.

“We have a long track record of successful port visits to Hong Kong, including with the current visit of the USS Blue Ridge, and we expect that will continue,” Cmdr. Bill Urban told Fox News. The USS Blue Ridge is a Navy command ship.

President Obama has approximately eight months left in office. China, Russia, Iran and North Korea know that. They will do everything they can to take advantage of a weak President during this time, particularly if they see the possibility that the next President might not be so patient with them. Until we have a strong President, we can expect to be pushed around by the bullies of the world.

The Dangers Of Being Uninformed

John Hinderaker at Power Line Blog has done a number of articles recently about Democrat mega-donor Tom Steyer. This is the link to one of those articles. Somehow the information in these articles has escaped the mainstream media, so if you don’t follow the alternative media, chances are this information is new to you.

Tom Steyer is an opponent of the Keystone Pipeline. He claims that his opposition is based on his principle of environmental concerns and that he is strongly opposed to any sort of fossil fuel. Okay. He is entitled to his opinion and principles. However, when you look a little closer, some questions crop up. Mr. Steyer is a major investor in Kinder Morgan, a company that is building a pipeline that will compete with the Keystone Pipeline. If you look even a little closer, you find out that Mr. Steyer made his fortune in coal.

Mr. Steyer has recently written a letter to the Middlebury College and Brown University Boards of Trustees stating that a coal free portfolio is a good investment strategy. That is very interesting considering that Mr. Steyer founded Farallon Capital Management L.L.C. (“Farallon”) in 1986.

The article at Power Line (linked above) reports:

In order to gain an appreciation of the extent of Farallon’s epic involvement in the coal sector under Mr. Steyer’s tenure one needs to spend time in Jakarta and Sydney, and in the regional financing centers in Hong Kong and Singapore, and speak to professionals (bankers, lawyers, mining consultants and principals) who were directly involved in these Farallon-sponsored coal transactions. With a modicum of effort one discovers that since 2003 Farallon has played the pivotal role in financing the tremendous restructuring and growth in thermal coal production in the region. All of this took place under Mr. Steyer’s tenure as founder and senior partner of Farallon.

YouTube posted a recent interview of John Hinderaker on the subject of Tom Steyer:

As usual, liberal principles don’t apply to liberals–they only apply to Republicans and conservatives.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Why Leadership Matters

Yesterday Hot Air posted an article about the loss of economic freedom in America.

The article reports:

For going on 20 years now, the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal have been putting together an annual Index of Economic Freedom by evaluating countries the world over based on ten criteria along the lines of property rights, government spending, freedom from corruption, trade freedom, and the like. They released the 2014 edition of their annaul Index today, and here’s the good news: Worldwide economic freedom has reached record levels, huzzah! The various governments of 114 countries took steps in 2013 that increased their citizens’ economic freedom, and 43 countries all over the world have now reached their highest ranking in the Index’s history. Awesome, right?

But, here’s the bad news: The United States is no longer among the relative elite of these economically free nations. Oof.

What happened? The article points out that a tax rate exceeding 43% cannot even keep pace with the government’s runaway spending. The article also cites the problem of over-regulation by the government which impacts economic and personal freedom.

The article concludes:

As I mentioned earlier today, the Obama administration is currently prepping for the president’s fifth State of the Union address by touting all the sweet executive actions they’ve freshly come up with to spur along the economy should Congress fail to act on their legislative proposals. Yet again, however, the Obama administration’s ideas all seem to center around ways to spend more taxpayer money, increase top-down federal intervention, and layer the regulations on even more thickly — i.e., take our economic freedom even further down the drain — and their only regret seems to be that this spitefully obstructionist ‘Republican’ Congress of ours hasn’t permitted them to do even more of the same.

Leadership matters.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Problems With Electing Rodney Dangerfield To The American Presidency

In case you are under the age of forty, Rodney Dangerfield was a comedian whose tag line was, “I don’t get no respect!” Unfortunately, we seem to have elected a President who has the same problem.

“One of the things I intend to do as president is to restore America’s standing in the world. We are less respected now than we were eight years ago even four years ago.” That statement was made by President Obama in his first 2008 presidential debate. The problem with this statement is a lack of understanding of the fact that it would be good to be feared as well as respected. Sometimes respect is rooted in fear.

Today’s Wall Street Journal (no link–subscribers only) included an editorial entitled, “Portrait in Respect.” The editorial related to the problems the Obama Administration has had in trying to bring Edward Snowden back to the United States. Hong Kong said they could not return Mr. Snowden because of a technical glitch in the extradition request. Several news sources reported that Hong Kong was under pressure from China not to return Mr. Snowden. Since then, Mr. Snowden has fled to Russia, where the Russians have said that they will not send him back to America. Meanwhile it is a safe bet that the FSB (the new KGB) is downloading information from the four computers Mr. Snowden is traveling with.

Somehow I don’t think America has achieved the respect that was promised in the 2008 Presidential debate.

Enhanced by Zemanta

An Unintended Consequence Of Raising Taxes

I think most of us would agree that the U. S. Tax Code has gotten a little bit out of hand. In 2005, the Tax Code was more than 9,097,000 words (according to a website called freedomworks the Bible contains 774,746 words). How did we get here?

The Tax Code is a tribute to the power of lobbying. Some of the intricacies have valid purposes–the mortgage interest deduction encourages home ownership, a stabilizing force in our society). Some of the intricacies have negative impacts on the values of our society–the marriage penalty for example. The Tax Code is a monstrosity that requires a professional to sort through for many Americans. Our current Tax Code written down weighs more than most toddlers!

Yesterday Big Government posted an article about an academic study showing that as tax rates were raised, tax evasion increases. They spent money to figure that out?

The article reports:

 Macroeconomic and microeconomic modeling studies based on data for several countries suggest that the major driving forces behind the size and growth of the shadow economy are an increasing burden of tax and social security payments… The bigger the difference between the total cost of labor in the official economy and the after-tax earnings from work, the greater the incentive for employers and employees to avoid this difference and participate in the shadow economy. …Several studies have found strong evidence that the tax regime influences the shadow economy.

The article also states:

Indeed, it’s worth noting that international studies find that the jurisdictions with the highest rates of tax compliance are the ones with reasonable tax systems, such as Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Singapore.

Please follow the link to read the entire article. This is an obvious truth, but changing the Tax Code in America would result in something of a loss of power to those in Congress. Somehow, I don’t think that will happen until we change Congress, and even then I am not sure we have the leadership to do what is right.

Enhanced by Zemanta