The 235 days that rat­tled China and shook the world

Orlando Sentinel - - OPINION -

COMMENTARY

With this year’s rev­e­la­tions about the mil­lion, or per­haps mil­lions, swept into the gu­lag ar­chi­pel­ago in north­west­ern China, it is pos­si­ble to hope that in 2020 we will hear less from Amer­i­can busi­ness­men who are as ob­tuse as they are cock­sure. Just 51 days be­fore The New York Times pub­lished more than 400 pages of doc­u­ments on China’s con­cen­tra­tion camps, pres­i­den­tial aspi­rant Michael Bloomberg said the CCP’s lead­ers “lis­ten to the pub­lic,” and “Xi Jin­ping is not a dic­ta­tor.”

Not con­tent to just “lis­ten to” the pub­lic, the CCP, us­ing ever-more-so­phis­ti­cated tech­nol­ogy, surveils almost ev­ery­thing done by almost ev­ery­one. Per­haps 2019 fore­shad­owed the day when to­day’s Bloombergs will be re­mem­bered as Charles Lind­bergh and oth­ers are re­mem­bered be­cause they thought dic­ta­tors in the 1930s were “the wave of the fu­ture.”

Would that Amer­ica’s se­rial grov­el­ers had the gump­tion of the cre­ators of “South Park.” When China, a sup­pos­edly great power that was ac­tu­ally dis­com­bob­u­lated by this an­i­mated TV se­ries, banned it, the cre­ators said: “We wel­come the Chi­nese cen­sors into our homes and into our hearts . ... Xi doesn’t look just like Win­nie the Pooh at all . ... Long live the Great Com­mu­nist Party of China! May this au­tumn’s sorghum har­vest be boun­ti­ful! We good now China?”

“We have to stand with Hong Kong, but I’m also standing with Pres­i­dent Xi,” said Amer­ica’s pres­i­dent, who also said of Xi: “He’s a friend of mine.”

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un does not have to set­tle for mere friend­ship — in 2018 Trump said “we fell in love” — but in 2019 the ro­mance seemed un­re­cip­ro­cated. Kim ended a 522-day self-im­posed mora­to­rium on bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests, but Trump min­i­mized their im­por­tance be­cause the mis­siles could not reach the con­ti­nen­tal United States — just South Korea, Ja­pan and the 80,000 U.S. forces in both places. How­ever, North Korea has given Trump un­til right now — the end of this cal­en­dar year — to make ad­di­tional U.S. con­ces­sions, be­yond the scal­ing back of joint U.S.-South Korean mil­i­tary ex­er­cises, to avoid “shock­ing pun­ish­ment.” Fresh con­ces­sions are North Korea’s price for re­sump­tion of ne­go­ti­a­tions that will lead, if the fu­ture is like the last 25 years, to other con­ces­sions.

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