That’s right about not being over dependent on an unfriendly nation, and we’ve certainly slipped from what America used to produce. Even if we had the skilled workers, right now this country doesn’t have the factories to meet the industrial challenge of World War 2.

But if you read about how humiliated and exploited China was by Japan and the West it’s understandable why this country wants to flex its military and economic muscles. Visiting there I loved seeing the thousands of years of history, and yet one can’t forget that while from 1800 to 1950 the West was industrializing, the average Chinese was also becoming poorer. A reaction to those abusive years is normal, though China is certainly pushing out hard, such as the “9 Dash Line” showing what it wants to control in the sea east of it, massive construction and trade projects around the world, and very overtly spreading its influence across the Indian Ocean. Their strategy is smart, planning decades ahead and unlike the U.S. sending in business rather than military people. And they certainly don’t rile local regimes by saying they should be democracies with civil rights.

But the situation is complicated because a lot of those Taiwanese chips are sent to mainland China for processing into devices like phones and computers. So it’s just not a matter of making chips here, but actually being able to do something with them. That means recreating a manufacturing base, with presumably decent wages (and hopefully energetic unions) as well as doing environmental controls right this time. And to make this work an educated workforce with decent transportation to reach the factories is also needed. Of course all this will cost a lot of money and what is produced will be more expensive than what we’re now buying. So those are real political concerns too.

Of course no one knows where they future is going to go, though we can steer things a bit. Having grown up with periodic war scares when China threatened to invade Taiwan I’d hate to go back to the bad old days. After reneging on the same promises to Hong Kong, nobody is buying Beijing’s offer to make Taiwan a self-governing part of the People’s Republic. One thing is clear though, like oil and other critical commodities, being over dependent for them from a shaky part of the world is not good for any country.

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“China broke away from Taiwan in 1949”. I learned that Chang Kai-Chek fled mainland China with the remnant of his army after being defeated in their civil war. That would be more correctly stated as “Taiwan broke away from China in 1949” would it not?

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From Wikipedia: The Republic of China, which had overthrown the Qing in 1911, took control of Taiwan on behalf of the Allies of World War II following the surrender of Japan in 1945. The resumption of the Chinese Civil War resulted in the ROC's loss of mainland China to forces of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and consequent retreat to Taiwan in 1949. Its effective jurisdiction has since been limited to Taiwan and smaller islands.

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My friends went to China when they first opened the country to tourism. The Chinese plane they took from modern Hong Kong was scary, the food was scary, and the Communist Party "handler" that never let them get off the beaten path was scary. They said it was like you opened a door and traveled 100 years back in time. Fifty years later they are trying to economically rule the world. It was awful for their people then, and now it's a new kind of awful for them, because the Communist Party is "handling" them with data and cameras.

It's difficult to separate what their government is doing from the folks working their ass off to make all the goods. Working in a factory is a miserable job for most people, and the more we automate them the better. To hell with those kinds of jobs. I question whether we could get people back to the factory floors in the numbers we might need.

They are going to have to pay people top dollar to work the clean rooms needed to manufacture those chips. If you hate wearing a mask, try wearing that gear! Regardless, we have to try to temper our relationship with China and return to making things here. Time to review the property and businesses we have let them buy; Canadians are up in arms about their holdings there. We should be too.

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Alis, I was there 10 years ago. As you said, things changed (and have now changed again in other ways). The Beijing airport was beautiful, the train to Xi'an made our American ones look sick, and the only "scary" food was when my group was taken for a "real American meal." That was KFC. As for a handler...there was none. In fact I wandered around two cities as much as I liked, the tour leader laughing and saying, "We're not North Korea." In Tiananmen Square the guide did say that everybody knew what happened here and just to stay off the topic, but that was about it.

There's no question that it is a dictatorship. Tiananmen had little fire extinguishers to put out any Tibetans who burned themselves alive in protest, there were cameras and metal detectors all over the place and it was clear that minorities were figuratively in "the back of the bus." But at the time (not now with COVID) for visitors state power was kept in the background. It was obvious some problems were building up--downtown Beijing looked like New York City on steroids but a lot of those huge buildings were empty, built on speculation, and the air pollution was bad. But I've been to well over 100 countries, many of them dictatorships or rough Third World nations, and within the parameters of what I saw in the PRC it seemed far better than those places. But nothing lasts forever and how close the West should be to this awakened giant, as well as what comes next, are excellent questions that you and Thom are right to ask.

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Thanks doc Weil for the interesting assessment. I always value the first-hand accounts I hear and read.

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A pleasure. I like to travel and am a professional geographer so try to see as much as possible, and read a lot of history. Every place is different but sometimes their stories are similar. But people are people throughout time and space.

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China did not "break away from Taiwan". Formosa was occupied by the Japanese and at the conclusion of WW II there were two factions in China. There were the forces led by the future repressive dictator, Mao Zedong, and the forces led by the equally despotic General Chaing Kai-shek. The communist army prevailed and the former elites of China fled to Formosa and took control of the island. The native people of Formosa were pushed aside much as the United States did in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, as well as in North America and elsewhere.

The government of China wants total control and this extends to the island of Taiwan. No different than the U.S. doing as much as possible to control the islands of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. If a high ranking official from China landed in Puerto Rico it would make waves.

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Thom does excellent research and this is a superbly informative article - BUT -(there's always a "but" when we readers comment), it doesn't tell the whole story.

Let me add three more facts.

#1, China as least as dependent on the USA as vice versa. Never mind dollars and percentages, most Chinese are psychologically favorable towards the USA and will pressure their government to get along. It's not like the USA where the response to everything is a call for violence.

#2, Leonard Shlain pointed out that societies fail when they adopt an alphabet. China's written language is pictorial, so reading helps balance the brain. Hope they don't switch to English. I called a friend in finance to discuss this, and she brought in a Chinese language expert, but we live in three quite different time zones and haven't talked yet. Should be interesting.

#3, I lived and/or worked in what you might call "Chinese dominant" countries for decades. I can tell you first hand that my experience with Chinese people is their focus is family and money, usually in that order but they have a few TrumPutins. When something upsets the population, 30-50% of Americans mutter about violence, but in Chinese dominant countries, everyone mutters about the effect on business. I've always thought about the (largely true) statement that Jews brought banking and finance and business ethics to the planet. Yeah, but one Chinese family I knew in Brunei had been living there and running businesses there for over 600 years.

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To me, the ideal situation is if every country on the planet MUST maintain peaceful cooperation with every other country on the planet.

It's a GOOD thing to be dependent on China, as it will stop the most violent, selfish, and unreasonable nation on earth from invading China.

Because of Joe Biden, the USA is at serious risk of the endless, pointless wars ending.

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