So, Really Want to Talk About Foreign Intervention?

Much ink and many photons have been spent discussing Russia’s attempts to influence (or at least disrupt) the American 2016 Presidential campaign.  Meanwhile…

Here’s an appalling story about how anger from the Chinese government led Marriott Corporation to fire an employee who had ‘liked’ a tweet which congratulated the company for listing Tibet as a country, along with Hong Kong and Taiwan….of course, the Chinese regime considers Tibet to be a part of China, not a separate country.

China forced Marriott to suspend all online booking for a week at its nearly 300 Chinese hotels. A Chinese leader also demanded the company publicly apologize and “seriously deal with the people responsible,” the Journal reported.

And boy, did Marriott ever apologize. Craig Smith, president of the hotel chain’s Asian division, told the China Daily that Marriott had committed two significant mistakes — presumably the survey listing Tibet and the liked tweet — that “appeared to undermine Marriott’s long-held respect for China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

He announced an “eight-point rectification plan” that included education for hotel employees across the globe and stricter supervision.

And the Marriott executive said this to China’s most-read English-language newspaper: “This is a huge mistake, probably one of the biggest in my career.”

(More here…according to this article, the Chinese suppression of Marriott bookings was in response to the initial listing of Tibet as a country rather than to the tweet approving of this listing)

The Chinese economy is, shall we say, a little more dynamic than that of Russia, so the government of China has much more ability to strong-arm American corporations (in general) than does the Putin regime.

Turning now from the hotel industry to the movie industry, Richard Gere says that Chinese pressure due to his stand on Tibetan independence has led to his being dropped from big Hollywood movies.  Also:

Gere’s activities have not just made Hollywood apparently reluctant to cast him in big films, he says they once resulted in him being banished from an independently financed, non-studio film which was not even intended for a Chinese release.

“There was something I was going to do with a Chinese director, and two weeks before we were going to shoot, he called saying, ‘Sorry, I can’t do it,’” Gere recalled. “We had a secret phone call on a protected line. If I had worked with this director, he, his family would never have been allowed to leave the country ever again, and he would never work.”

See also How China’s Censors Influence Hollywood.  Because the Chinese market is so large…(Fast and Furious 7 pulled in $388 million in China, more than it made in the US)…the influence of the Chinese regime on US film production and distribution has become immense.

In recent years, foreign filmmakers have also gone out of their way not to provoke the Communist Party. For instance, the 2012 remake of the Cold War action movie, Red Dawn, originally featured Chinese soldiers invading an American town. After filming was complete, though, the moviemakers went back and turned the attacking army into North Koreans, which seemed a safer target, at least until last year’s hack of Sony Pictures.


Ying Zhu, a professor of media culture at the College of Staten Island at the City University of New York, worries China’s growing market power is giving the Communist Party too much leverage over Hollywood.

“The Chinese censors can act as world film police on how China can be depicted, how China’s government can be depicted, in Hollywood films,” she says. “Therefore, films critical of the Chinese government will be absolutely taboo.”

In the late 1990s, when China’s box office was still small, Hollywood did make movies that angered the Communist Party, such as Seven Years In Tibet, about the life of the Dalai Lama, and Red Corner, a Richard Gere thriller that criticized China’s legal system. Given the importance of the China market now, Zhu says those movies wouldn’t get financing today.

Plus, Chinese companies have snapped up Hollywood studios, theaters and production companies.


One point about globalization of trade that is rarely noted is that it gives foreign governments–especially those in countries where business and government are closely coupled–greatly increased leverage over American political discussion, indeed, over America’s entire public dialogue with itself.

And this influence isn’t limited only to business organizations.  It is reported that the Chinese government has established extensive influence organizations targeting American universities and academic institutions, which are of course some of the most money-hungry organizations in existence.  See Foreign Policy on China’s Trojan Horse.

Returning for the moment to Russia…a report by the House Science Committee says that Russia has used social media to encourage American protests aimed at suppressing the research and development of fossil fuels and stymie efforts to expand the use of natural gas.  (More here, with examples of posts–See also this, from Canada.)  ‘Progressives’ have minimized the significance of the Russian effort, asserting that it has been trivial in scale.  But certainly, the economic and geopolitical interest of the Putin regime in harming US energy production seems direct and obvious…much more so than any possible  interest they might have had in a Trump election victory.

Also, a study by Iowa State University (discussed in first link of the paragraph above) said that English-language Russian media coverage of agricultural issues “fits the profile” of an effort to amplify controversy regarding genetically modified food.  Russia apparently has banned production and imports of genetically modified crops and is positioning itself as a supplier of crops that are “ecologically clean” as a contrast with countries such as the U.S. and Brazil, which allow modern gene-modification technology in plant production, particularly for corn and soybeans.


34 thoughts on “So, Really Want to Talk About Foreign Intervention?”

  1. All the more reason to avoid massively centralized services like FB, Twitter, etc. Get news and info from a wide array of sources.

    Such as Chicagoboyz… ;-)

  2. China is not a benign ally. It is a rival and might yet become an enemy.

    I’m not sure how much the young in China buy into this. They are not Germans in 1914.

    I see all these young Chinese joining the US Army to get US citizenship. That is a big investment of their time.

    I interviewed two Chinese applicants to the Army two weeks ago when I was working in LA.

    One had an MBA and was working on a degree in Accounting.

    The other had a BS in EE and was starting a Masters in Computer Science,

    Both had waited two years for background checks. They had to reapply as their previous physicals had expired after 24 months.

    They are enlisting as common soldiers so I doubt espionage is a consideration.

    I think they are voting with their feet. They are by no means the only ones I have seen doing this.

  3. The Russian social media sites indicted, LOL, were in almost every case playing both sides of any issue. They were there for followers they could milk for money and hook ups. Its not confined to any nationality and probably Americans rule this little niche. Its true confusion was created but, so what. Confusion is everywhere these days. ;)

    The Chinese know they are next. They know its just a matter of time, unless war actually breaks out. That’s what worries many of us. Is the US so morally bankrupt that it will wreck everything rather than move to second place. Both Russia and China face this very basic fact.

    China is into face. Polishing it is ancient, and they are just fine if you accept their various red lines, largely about face. Its another way of looking at the world and they, as the emerging power are very sensitive. I’m sure they see no reason to adopt the west’s way of looking at the world and you need to take theirs into account, if you want to do business.

  4. Pen…”The Russian social media sites indicted, LOL, were in almost every case playing both sides of any issue. They were there for followers they could milk for money and hook ups”

    I’ve seen several FB posts which retroactively were probably Russian trolls…IIRC, none of them were asking for money. And I’m not sure how trolls in Russia would manage a hookup with an American, unless they had a very large expense budget for foreign travel.

  5. No I’m moving to Russia, I’m not stupid. ;) I would not mind China, I follow several youtubers who live there and its certainly different.

    I would not move south.

    What applecart would that be? I’m drawing a blank. ;)

  6. I wonder if the “elite” of other nations around the world can be so easily and cheaply bought as those of America.

  7. Mike,
    The young Chinese you see are representative of the small number who have escaped the system and rejected a centrally planned future for themselves. What about the majority of the rest of their generation. I think Chinese tradition is a highly centralized system. The current Leninist government is mostly consistent with this cultural norm. Their information, education and economic control is formidable.

    The younger generation has seen positive economic changes and has been isolated and conditioned to accept the coercive internal means and the concept of external hostility. I’m not seeing the obvious signs of resistance.

    I think if their economy implodes based on trade issues and inefficiency in capital markets or if their society can not find a practical solution to their shortage of young women, then things might change. If the ruling party makes a large foreign miss step and gets a severe reversal, that might also ignite opposition. If they are able to expand the economic dependance of targeted developing nations, this process may be lengthened considerably. North Korea is not a very promising example of Chinese domination.

    This is not a system that will go quietly. Like all tyrannical systems, they can be counted on to externalize their issues to justify further internal controls. Dangerous in the long run and risky in the short run.


  8. There is something of a precedent for the Chinese intervention in American move-making. The Nazi government of Germany was extremely upset about the American 1937 film ‘The Road Back’, which was based on Remarque’s great but neglected novel, and demanded major changes, on pain of boycotting all of the studio’s films (and future films involving any member of the cast, down to the hairdressers and boom operators)

    The studio complied and changed the film. This was not the only case where German government demands resulted in changes to an American movie.

    I don’t think the Geman influence was a all-encompassing at that time as it seems to have become lately with China, though.

  9. China is up for this trade war. Another 50 B on US goods yesterday. I do not think you will win this war and your massive debt is a millstone you may not recover from.

    If the Chinese get a lot of countries to move to the Renminbi as they trade oil with China, and they are, your petro dollar loses its power, and its on the way to losing the currency of record, which will finish you as the major financial power.

    All Trump is doing is accelerating this process.

  10. Pengun, is there anything about the USA that you like or that you think we do right? Serious question.

  11. Pengun manages to find the storm clouds in every silver lining.

    The trade war wasn’t looking so bad until China retaliated on soybeans. That one hurts. It’s really China’s nuclear option. The bright side (for us) would be China deploying their big guns early in the game and only delivering a glancing blow. Stocks and the dollar are rallying today, so maybe there’s hope out there.

    One thing we can be sure of is that with lower taxes and decreased regulations there is now plenty of room for companies to maneuver and innovate around trade barriers.

    David, have you seen this yet – – additive manufacturing mass production. Still probably has a lot of bugs to work out, but I was just skimming through the patent. I think it’s moving things in the right direction.

  12. Is Pengun Canadian or Chinese?

    In either case, a great mistake was made in admitting both China and Russia into the GATT/WTO. If they cannot be expelled, we should withdraw. They are not liberal states and will not play by the rules. There is a new cold (hopefully) war coming and we need to decide which side we want to finance.

  13. They don’t have much time.

    That’s how Kaiser for life (or so he thought) Wilhelm felt in 1914.

  14. “China will be the first country to get old before it gets rich.”
    Well, no, most of the world is on track to get old before ever getting rich.

    We should have free trade with free countries. Not with tyrannies.

    The fact is that a democracy is going to win a trade war with an authoritarian regime. If we have a depression, the next election changes the government leadership. If China has a depression, their leaders will be swinging from lampposts. Let’s not pretend they don’t know that.

  15. “Pengun, is there anything about the USA that you like or that you think we do right? Serious question.”

    Of course there is. You are a great country and have done great things.

    You also have about 1000 military bases scattered about the world and interfere in every government on Earth. You killed maybe a million innocent people in your invasion of Iraq. That was as far as I can tell because Sadam threatened W’s dad.

    You have done terrible things all over the world and have your foot on the neck of many countries. You are seriously angry about Putin throwing sticks in your spokes and you do not accept any laws that get in your way. You are a monstrous force, and not for good.

    I could go on. Please get out of the way, you are not helping.

  16. “You have done terrible things all over the world and have your foot on the neck of many countries.”

    Did you feel the same way about the USSR?

  17. Well, no, most of the world is on track to get old before ever getting rich.

    Well, no, the US is already rich with a per capita GDP (PPP) of $59K vs. China’s paltry $17K. The US’s population pyramid is relatively straight sided while China’s has a giant midriff bulge with few young people to support hundreds of millions of future geezers. They’re in pretty terrible shape; it’s what invariably happens to communist idiocracies. Expect them to increase their economic and territorial aggressiveness.

  18. “Did you feel the same way about the USSR?”

    They are not saints and not very different from you. Humans, are kinda the same when push comes to shove.

    So, no not really but given the opportunity, they appear to be less focused than you are, on exploiting any weakness they might find.

    A poor excuse indeed. ;)

  19. “Well, no, the US is already rich…”
    Yes, America is rich and China is poor. That doesn’t contradict what I said at all. I said that you were wrong to say “China will be the first country to get old before it gets rich.” That’s happening to lots of countries. The collapse of fertility rates is the only thing history will remember about the late 20th century (other than the moon landing), and its impact on global demographics and economy is only going to increase in scale.

  20. The point is, Brian, that even though countries like Germany and Japan have rapidly deteriorating age demographics they are already rich with per capita GDPs of $50K and $43K, respectively. Both countries got rich capitalizing on their Post-War baby boom. But China didn’t. China squandered its productivity on the idiotic Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution. Russia too squandered its natural resources advantages with anti-competitive central planning dictates.

    Both ex-communist idiocracies are behaving like wounded animals. Remember the ’80s when Japan was going to take over the world? That’s what it sounds like today only with China instead of Japan. But China is poor and with their rapidly rising number of old people with many fewer young people to support them it’s likely to get ugly.

    The First World has a choice to commit demographic suicide. Germany and Italy seem to be making the choice to die. The US and Canada and Australia are (for the time being) deciding to keep living.

  21. The other country with a collapsing demographic is Iran.

    The birth rate has collapsed to a point below Europe. This may make Iran even more dangerous as the mullahs have about 25 years before the economy is zero.

  22. I remember 25 -30 years, that I was old enough to pay attention, of pronouncements about the Soviet Union and its superiority over the lazy, undisciplined West. Then it was gone and only an obscure former movie cowboy seemed to see it coming.

    The only thing certain about anyone making pronouncements about China is that they don’t know. This goes double for the Chinese government. Shoot the messenger is official government policy.

    The only thing as surprising as the collapse of the Soviet Union was the lack of mass graves. I doubt we can be so lucky twice.

    We saw their half Russian “carrier” and raised them 2 more. Each of our’s will launch, routinely, as many planes in an hour as the ski-jump will see in a busy day.

    The one sided trade between China and the U.S. means that the Chinese lack firepower. They can annoy or even devastate certain small segments of our economy at the cost of raising domestic prices at the same time that factories are shutting down and large numbers of young people are presented with the prospect of returning to the family pig farm. They could dump their treasuries, but only at a loss. Otherwise it would be as inconsequential as their disposal of the first trillion and a half.

  23. The only reason you need carrier groups is that your reach is worldwide. No European or Asian country needs them much as they only are concerned with their own areas. To Continental powers that do not have far flung areas to control, carriers are waste of money.

    As well carrier groups are the new main target. The ones in the European area will go down quickly if war breaks out. The anti ship capacity many powers have is easily sufficient. They would be overwhelmed. In the east the Chinese have made a point of anti carrier group defense and the several ways they have to destroy carrier groups should be sufficient as well.

    Times are changing fast.

  24. The young Chinese you see are representative of the small number who have escaped the system and rejected a centrally planned future for themselves.

    That could certainly be. My contacts are through the kids I interview who are joining the US military to get US citizenship, friends of my daughters and some medical students.

    My impressions for this limited experience is that Chinese girls are marrying non-Chinese men. That was pretty much a taboo only 50 years ago. Han Chinese married each other and considered non-Han to be barbarians.

    My Chinese medical student came from privileged parents; her mother was a professor at Beijing U. She had come to the US for medical school so she could care for her parents when they got old. She is married to a Caucasian.

    I think the educated Chinese kids sense something is wrong. They want out and are willing to pay for it with a 3 year enlistment in the US Army.

    A friend of mine who was Hong Kong Chinese told me back in the 90s that his family and friends all kept first class airline tickets so they could get out in a hurry.

    Canada is full of Chinese expatriates. So is Los Angeles. This means something.

    Lots of Chinese are not in a position to get out but I think a lot of them know what is going on with the “princes and processes” of the leadership and the PLA.

    PenGun wishes us ill but I don’t think he is as knowledgeable as the pretends.

  25. I wish no one ill. I am afraid we will walk into nuclear war without even seeing it coming. I see it coming but I’m paying attention.

    The intense hostility being generated towards Russia is indicative of an actual plane to try to perform regime change in Russia. That would very likely kill us all.

    China as well is demonized with little reason for similar purposes, although those plans are not nearly as well developed.

    If the US cannot gracefully accept other ways of looking at the world and demands superiority we are in very real danger.

  26. My impressions for this limited experience is that Chinese girls are marrying non-Chinese men. That was pretty much a taboo only 50 years ago. Han Chinese married each other and considered non-Han to be barbarians.

    Not necessarily that taboo, at least in Taiwan. One of my hometown classmates had a mother from Taiwan- mainland refugee from the 1949 Commie takeover. Her mother worked as a translator/teacher, and married her US military student.

    One thing in common with today- the desire to get out. Mainland was gone, and no reason to stay in Taiwan.

  27. Question to PenGun: “Did you feel the same way about the USSR?”

    PenGun: They are not saints and not very different from you. Humans, are kinda the same when push comes to shove.

    I grew up with too many Iron Curtain refugees- Estonia, Russia, Ukraine, China- to have that perspective. Not to mention knowing a lot of Hungarian refugees in Latin America.

  28. Gringo,
    Wait, the Marxist-Leninists are not just peaceful agrarian reformers? The KGB is not just an educational and information serv ice for Truth?

    Penny is going to be so disappointed.


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