Taking A Necessary Action In Regard To China

The tension between America and China is growing. There are reports out of China that the Chinese Communists are preparing to move on Taiwan. Many people assumed that after Hong Kong was brought under control, Taiwan would be the next step. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has ordered the closing of the Chinese consulate in Houston.

Just the News posted an article about the closing of the consulate today.

The article reports:

The Trump administration said Wednesday that it has ordered China to close its consulate in Houston “to protect American intellectual property,” the most recent episode in a growing divide between the two governments over such concerns as trade, the coronavirus, human rights and security.

The article concludes:

Firefighters responded to reports of papers being burned on the consulate grounds Tuesday night but were barred entry, according to Houston news media reports.

The consulate was informed Tuesday of the decision, according to the Associated Press.

The Chinese foreign ministry reportedly called the move “an outrageous and unjustified move that will sabotage relations between the two countries.”

The ministry is also warning about countermeasures, the wire service also reports. The U.S. has an embassy in China and reportedly five consulates on the mainland.

Unfortunately, the relationship between America and China will probably get worse before it gets better. China has suffered economically because of the coronavirus and needs an enemy to unite its people as its economy suffers. The move on Hong Kong did not really draw a strong response from western countries, so they may be willing to gamble that this is the time to end Taiwan as a separate country. Stay tuned.

Another Reason To Remove The United Nations From Lower Manhattan

Frankly all the United Nations has done for years is make bad decisions, snarl traffic in lower Manhattan, and provide an excuse for diplomats to avoid paying their tickets for double parking. Well, they are getting worse.

Townhall posted an article today about another bad decision by the United Nations.

The article reports:

As Americans prepared to celebrate our nation’s founding and the God-given rights that are protected by the US Constitution, China’s illegal and outrageous crackdown in Hong Kong officially escalated last week. As expected, the rubber-stamp communist “legislature” in Beijing passed a “security” law that effectively cripples the ‘one country, two systems’ arrangement to which China is bound by treaty until at least 2047. Pro-freedom activists have been rounded up and arrested, with concerns swirling that at least some show trials will take place on the Chinese mainland. What the regime is doing is patently illegal under international law. It is an abuse of human rights and a brazen affront to human liberty. And yet, the hopelessly corrupt “Human Rights” Council at the United Nations voted to bestow its blessing on the Communist government’s anti-freedom power grab. They didn’t stay neutral, mind you. They explicitly endorsed the abuse:

…Among the HRC member nations giving China the thumbs-up are Cuba, Iran, North Korea, “Palestine,” Syria, Yemen, and Zimbabwe. Yes, each of those counties is represented on the UN’s human rights body. Why isn’t the United States colored gold on the map above, given the government’s harsh public condemnations of these abuses? Because, quite rightly, the Trump administration pulled the US out of this farcical commission two years ago. I’ll remind you that the UN’s committee on women’s rights added…Iran last year. It’s all so ludicrous. When the HRC isn’t busy doing Communist China’s bidding, it spends much of its time condemning Israel for sport. And this disgusting Beijing lackeyism on the Hong Kong matter doesn’t come in a vacuum; it arrives in the context of ongoing and egregious human rights violations elsewhere in China:

Please follow the link above to read the rest of the story.

Even if you accept the premise that the United Nations was founded with good intentions and not as a future vehicle for one-world government, they have obviously lost their way.

Just for the record, the preamble to the United Nations Charter includes the following:

WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED

    • to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
    • to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
    • to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
    • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Their ruling on Hong Kong is in violation of a treaty and of international law. It is time for the United Nations to go away.

The Senate Actually Passed A Bill

One America News is reporting today that the Senate has passed a bill sanctioning Chinese officials over the country’s actions against Hong Kong. The bipartisan Hong Kong Autonomy Act passed with unanimous consent Thursday.

This is good news. China needs to pay a price for what it has done to Hong Kong. Otherwise Taiwan is next. Taiwan is probably next anyway, but at least we can try to slow things down a little.

The article reports:

The bill would place sanctions on businesses, individuals and police that interfere with Hong Kong’s freedoms. This came after China announced a national security law that is expected pass on June 30, which is threatening Hong Kong’s autonomy.

A resolution introduced by Sen. Josh Hawley (r-Mo.) was also approved, formally condemning China’s’ actions.

“The Senate needs to act now, Mr. President, to send a clear signal now that we will stand up to this aggression,” he stated. “…to rally free peoples now in defense of the rights and liberties of Hong Kong.”

Hitting China in the pocketbook is probably the only was to deal with them successfully.

A Partial Solution–Not A Real One

On Friday, Reuters reported the following:

Britain is prepared to offer extended visa rights and a pathway to citizenship for almost 3 million Hong Kong residents in response to China’s push to impose national security legislation in the former British colony.

The national security legislation recently put in place in Hong Kong by China is going to have repercussions worldwide. As a free state, Hong Kong has been a global financial center. Its residents have enjoyed the fruits of that status. As simply another part of Communist China, Hong Kong will not have the same economy or status.

My first question is whether or not China will allow a mass exodus of Hong Kong residents. Is Hong Kong a valuable asset if the majority of the people leave? How many residents would be willing to give up the life they have known for the sake of freedom? According to worldometers.info, Hong Kong has a population of about 7.5 million. The median age of that population is about 44 years old.

The article reports:

Foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Thursday that if Beijing went ahead, Britain would extend the rights of 350,000 ‘British National Overseas’ passport holders.

On Friday the interior ministry said that this policy would apply to all BNOs currently in Hong Kong – a much larger group of around 2.9 million people according to British government figures.

“If China imposes this law, we will explore options to allow British Nationals Overseas to apply for leave to stay in the UK, including a path to citizenship,” Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement.

“We will continue to defend the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.”

The article concludes:

Beijing says the new legislation, likely to come into force before September, will tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the city.

Chinese authorities and Hong Kong’s government say the legislation poses no threat to the city’s autonomy and the interests of foreign investors will be preserved.

Somehow I doubt that any of the claims China is currently making are true.

As Freedom In Hong Kong Dies

Breitbart posted an article today reporting that China had blocked America’s request for a United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss China’s recent actions in Hong Kong.

The article reports:

China is one of five permanent members of the council, also including the United States, Russia, France, and the United Kingdom. According to the U.S. mission, China single-handedly prevented discussion of the increasingly worrisome situation in Hong Kong where, as of Wednesday Chinese Communist Party authorities will be able to punish people present in the nominally autonomous region for any behavior they identify as threatening the national security of China.

The “national security” law China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) passed on Thursday overrides the autonomy of the Hong Kong authorities to handle local criminal concerns. Its opponents note that it is a violation of “One Country, Two Systems,” the policy China vowed to keep to when Hong Kong accepted Chinese sovereignty over it in 1997.

The U.S. mission to the U.N. called the law a “matter of urgent global concern that implicates international peace and security.”

“As a result, the United States called today for a virtual meeting of the Security Council to discuss these acts and the PRC’s [China’s] proposed national security law that would threaten Hong Kong’s democratic institutions and civil liberties. Such actions confirm the PRC’s contempt and complete disregard for its international obligations,” the mission said. “Unsurprisingly, the PRC has refused to allow this virtual meeting to proceed in the Security Council.”

Below is part of the preamble to the United Nations Charter:
WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED
  • to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
  • to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
  • to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
  • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Obviously they are not living up to their charter. It is time to remove them from New York City and stop giving them money.

Meanwhile, The National Review reported yesterday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress that the city of Hong Kong is effectively no longer an “autonomous” entity.

The article reports:

“The State Department is required by the Hong Kong Policy Act to assess the autonomy of the territory from China,” Pompeo wrote in a statement. “I certified to Congress today that Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as U.S. laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997. No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China…it is now clear that China is modeling Hong Kong after itself.”

The article notes:

In light of the recent moves by China to increase its authority over the city, U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) and Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) sponsored legislation to sanction Chinese individuals and entities involved in threats to Hong Kong’s autonomy.

We need to make it financially disadvantageous for China to continue its violation of the treaty with Britain that promised Hong Kong would remain free. It is time to remove any  trade deals involving Hong Kong that are favorable toward China.

 

It Begins Again

Hot Air posted an article yesterday about what is currently happening in Hong Kong.

The article reports:

When we were discussing China’s new “national security” law for Hong Kong yesterday, it was noted that pro-democracy advocates were already railing against the betrayal of the promises China made when taking over control of the city from Great Britain. Protests were planned, but pro-Beijing lawmakers were warning that any sort of public demonstrations could be dealt with harshly. Well, that took all of one day to come to pass. Despite concerns about a new wave of coronavirus infections, demonstrators took to the streets and were quickly met by police forces firing tear gas canisters indiscriminately into the crowds at a large shopping center. And then the arrests began.

…Tam Tak-chi, one of the city’s most well-known democracy advocates, was arrested shortly after the protests began. He had previously predicted that he would be detained if China moved forward with its new legislation and it turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophesy. He was charged with holding “an unauthorized assembly.”

The article concludes:

In that sense, much of the “freedom” enjoyed by Hong Kong since 1997 has largely been illusory anyway. China regularly intervenes in local elections if the residents begin electing too many people with crazy ideas about freedom and democracy. The top leadership positions, currently exemplified by Carrie Lam, are always held by pro-Beijing politicians who take their marching orders from the CCP. People have regularly been arrested in Hong Kong for demonstrating, giving speeches or contacting foreign media outlets, things that people in free nations simply take for granted.

Up until now, a certain amount of demonstrating and chatter about democracy has been allowed, apparently just to humor the locals. But now it appears that China isn’t going to even bother providing a fig leaf to the 1997 agreement they entered into. They’re probably sure that they can get away with it because nobody is going to risk going to war with them or attempt any sort of direct military intervention right on China’s doorstep to free Hong Kong’s citizens. And while it’s sad to say, they’re probably right.

This was predictable. I don’t know if the outcome would have been any different had the British not signed the treaty with China. However, we need to learn from what we are watching–China is not a reliable partner in any treaty. On May 5th, I posted an article citing a provision in the recent trade agreement (signed before the coronavirus outbreak in America) that says if there is a natural occurring disaster, the two parties will renegotiate. This is another example of the fact that China, under communism, is not willing to play fair on the international stage. Best wishes to the people of Hong Kong. I am not optimistic about your future.

Another Broken Promise By China

Yesterday Hot Air posted an article about what is about to happen in Hong Kong. As you may remember, the agreement between China and Britain in 1997 stated that China would respect Hong Kong’s independence for the next 50 years. Well, fifty years sure went by fast.

The article reports:

You may recall that the months of protests in Hong Kong were prompted by an attempt to introduce a new law which might have made it possible for China to extradite people to the mainland for trial. That proposal was eventually withdrawn because of the protests. This time China is simply holding the vote in a place where protests won’t matter. And China is using the authoritarian’s favorite gimmick, claiming opposition to the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong isn’t home-grown but based on collusion with “external forces.”

In a clear effort to head off international concerns, China’s Foreign Ministry sent a letter on Thursday night to ambassadors posted to Beijing, urging them to support the legislation and laying out the government’s position.

“The opposition in Hong Kong have long colluded with external forces to carry out acts of secession, subversion, infiltration and destruction against the Chinese mainland,” the letter stated.

American Senators are aware of what is going on. The article notes:

Senators Rubio, Risch, and Gardner also released a joint statement:

“Reports that the CCP will introduce legislation implementing Article 23 of the Hong Kong Basic Law at this week’s National People’s Congress indicate Beijing will begin an unprecedented assault against Hong Kong’s autonomy. The Basic Law states clearly that the authority to advance Article 23 legislation rests with the executive and legislative branches of the Hong Kong government, and not with Beijing. The Chinese government is once again breaking its promises to the people of Hong Kong and the international community.

“This comes on the heels of a series of other serious blows to Hong Kong’s self-rule in recent weeks, including the advocacy of a law criminalizing disrespect of the national anthem of the People’s Republic of China and pressure on Hong Kong’s legislature that led to the sidelining of pro-democracy legislators.

“The United States will stand resolute in its support of the Hong Kong people. These developments are of grave concern to the United States, and could lead to a significant reassessment on U.S. policy towards Hong Kong.”

China is looking for a way to distract the global community from the Chinese responsibility for the coronavirus. If they can end freedom in Hong Kong at the same time, that’s a side benefit for them. This action should lead to a strong response from western countries. I am not sure it will–but it should. China needs to keep its promise.

 

 

What We Should Call The Coronavirus

Yesterday The Epoch Times posted an editorial giving their opinion on what to name the coronavirus. Their suggestion is a common-sense approach to placing responsibility where it belongs.

The editorial states:

The Epoch Times suggests a more accurate name is the “CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus,” and calls upon others to join us in adopting this name.

The name holds the CCP accountable for its wanton disregard of human life and consequent spawning of a pandemic that has put untold numbers in countries around the world at risk, while creating widespread fear and devastating the economies of nations trying to cope with this disease.

After all, CCP officials knew in early December that the virus had appeared in Wuhan, but they sat on the information for six weeks. They arrested those who tried to warn of the danger, accusing them of spreading “rumors,” and employed the regime’s rigorous censorship to prevent media coverage and to delete any mentions of it from social media.

What might have been contained was allowed silently to spread, showing up in all of China. Individuals who might have protected themselves became victims, in numbers far greater than the CCP has admitted. By late January, there were reports that all of the crematoria in Wuhan were operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week to deal with the crush of dead bodies.

The editorial notes the price of getting too cozy with dictatorships:

In any case, as questions about the origin of the virus have gone unanswered, the CCP has begun throwing out wild charges that the United States is responsible. This will be met around the world with perplexity, if not ridicule. President Donald Trump has pushed back by referring to the “Chinese virus.”

But the CCP likely intends these charges of U.S. responsibility for its domestic audience. The CCP has victimized the Chinese people in its first denial of the virus and now seeks to victimize them again by shifting responsibility for its actions to others.

And this points out why the name “CCP virus” is needed, to distinguish the victims from the victimizer. The people of Wuhan and of China are the victims of the CCP’s arrogance and incompetence, expressed in this viral pandemic.

The name CCP virus also sounds a warning: Those nations and individuals close to the CCP are the ones suffering the worst effects from this virus, as is seen in the raging infections in the CCP’s close ally Iran and in Italy, the only G-7 nation to sign onto the Belt and Road Initiative. Taiwan and Hong Kong, which are highly skeptical of the CCP, have had relatively few infections.

The editorial concludes:

Finally, the CCP virus reminds the people of the world that the source of the virus is itself evil. This is a communist virus, and with the name CCP virus, The Epoch Times reminds the world of the cure: ending the CCP.

Hong Kong Fights For Their Freedom

One America News is reporting today that the protests in Hong Kong have spread across Hong Kong’s New Territories and Kowloon peninsula.

The article reports:

Pro-democracy protesters vandalized a train station in the central new town of Sha Tin and a restaurant seen as being pro-Beijing, overturning banqueting tables and smashing glass panels, two weeks before district council elections.

Violence spilled out onto the streets of Tuen Mun outside the “V city” mall, with running battles between riot police and protesters.

Now TV showed pictures of a circular, red welt and bruise on the upper arm of one of its reporters who said she had been hit by a tear gas canister in Tsuen Wan, to the west of the New Territories, where police fired tear gas late into the evening to clear the streets.

The rail station was closed in Sha Tin, amid scuffles between police and protesters young and old, on a day of planned shopping mall protests throughout the territory. Shopping districts across the harbor on the main island were quiet.

Protesters daubed graffiti and damaged shops at Festival Walk in Kowloon Tong and “stormed” stores in Tsuen Wan, police said.

The violence spread to the Kowloon district of Mong Kok, one of the world’s most densely populated areas. Police used water cannon and volley after volley of tear gas to try to clear the main artery of Nathan Road, which was littered with loose bricks under the bright, neon lights.

Police also fired tear gas late at night in the New Territories district of Tai Po, north of Sha Tin.

Protesters are angry about what they see as police brutality and meddling by Beijing in the former British colony’s freedoms, guaranteed by the “one country, two systems” formula in place since the territory returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

China denies interfering and has blamed Western countries for stirring up trouble.

China has not lived up to the agreement signed with Britain to allow Hong Kong the freedoms it had previously enjoyed. The people of Hong Kong are fighting to regain those freedoms. We need to keep in mind that China signed an agreement guaranteeing those freedoms and has chosen to violate that agreement. This is something to remember as we negotiate trade deals with China–they are not a country that negotiates in good faith or a country that supports freedom.

Something Good Happened In The House Of Representatives

One America News is reporting today that yesterday the House of Representatives unanimously passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act to prevent a crackdown on the special status of the city-state.

The article reports:

The bill requires annual reviews by the State Department of whether the city is autonomous enough to justify its special trade status with the U.S. China moved to restrict Hong Kong’s judicial independence earlier this year, sparking mass protests in the city.

…The Senate is now expected to pass similar legislation that could get signed by President Trump later this month.

Evidently some members of Congress are beginning to follow the Trump policy of using economics and trade as a weapon instead of war. That is good news.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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