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November 12, 2023



Over the years, it should have become apparent that I am “no friend of China.”  I would clarify that description is relevant only to the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and not Chinese people.  It reminds me of my father-in-law, Bill Coldiron, who served as U.S. Under Secretary of Indian affairs and was nicknamed by various American Indian tribes as being “no friend of the Indians.” Interestingly, this wonderful man’s surname could have had Indian heritage roots many years back.  Maybe he understood them better than most which I believe qualifies me to offer a platform to comment on the hypocrisy of the PRC following many years of dealings there.  By the way, I have burned my PRC welcome and would carry a different passport if I ever needed to return.  In fact, that reminds me to travel with my alternative nationality passport if I ever fly over the country.  As an honorary consul of Mongolia, I used to issue myself a visa to Mongolia in my alternative passport when passing through China.


Recently Nikkei Asia published an article entitled Biden-Xi Summit Possible if Four Conditions are Met: Chinese Envoy. The four Chinese conditions being stipulated were respect on Taiwan issues, democracy, politics and development rights.  Speaking and answering questions at the annual gathering of the Institute for China-America Studies in Washington, Xu Xueyuan, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Chinese Embassy in the U.S., said that each past planned meeting between Xi and Biden had been strategic and required more than the scheduled time as each side sought to clarify misconceptions.  Xu speculated that Pandas might smooth the way for future dialogues and help more than diplomats.  The opportunity for the two leaders to meet is the APEC meeting in San Francisco from November 11 to 17, 2023.


If you recall, the American Indians clarified their government relations as “white man speaks with forked tongues.”  I would be inclined to say that characterization might fit the Chinese side a bit better.  As shown below, in the past President Biden has placed a warm hand on the back of Xi Jinping though Xi may have gotten bigger than his britches and not welcome any measure of warmth which I would be very reluctant to offer.

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The Financial Times published a more sinister article that Five Eye Spy Chiefs Warn Silicon Valley Over Chinese Threat to high-tech sectors.  The Five Eyes spy chiefs are in effect the security services in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  Having grown up in a world focused on Russian espionage, it seems strange to see the historical “ham-fisted” approach of China to most things categorized as a threat. Nonetheless, recently FBI director Christopher Wray hosted counterparts from the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network in Silicon Valley to raise awareness about risks posed by China in high-tech sectors from quantum computing and artificial intelligence to synthetic biology. 


Wray is shown below making a very clear statement that “This is the very first time the heads of our five agencies have appeared together publicly on any topic—an unprecedented threat.” The Chinese response was as expected that “The Five Eyes Alliance is the world’s largest intelligence organization, accustomed to producing and spreading false information about China.” China may have already reached a pole position in artificial intelligence such that the Five Eyes have not had their eyes wide open. 

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Now comes the shock headline from Reuters: Taliban to Join Belt and Road Scheme.  The despicable Taliban administration of Afghanistan is sending a technical team to China for talks relative to joining China’s Belt and Road program.  Apparently, even the Taliban seeks to access the commonly accepted third world handout of “money for nothing” to develop infrastructure and provide China further control. Beijing has sought to develop ties with the Taliban-run government since the U.S. fled in 2021, even though no other foreign government has recognized the administration.  Accordingly, the acting Taliban Commerce Minister Haji Nooruddin Azizi, shown below, requested that China allow Afghanistan to join the gravy train that affords China control when the weak borrowers cannot afford to repay the indebtedness incurred.  

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Arab News illustrated the initial celebratory enthusiasm, shown below, in Pakistan when it entered China’s Belt and Road program some thirteen years ago.  Sadly, the first day on the program is the most enjoyable though there is a never-ending chapter in the future when the indebtedness cannot be repaid.  On the other hand, the Taliban economy has a strong driver in their control of the worldwide heroin market.  Further, their military success makes them feel somewhat “bullet proof” compared to the weaker military governments of Pakistan, Laos, and Cambodia.  Nonetheless, the Chinese should be wary of the export economy of the Taliban as the British caused some difficulties with China many years ago over the opium trade—opium to China in return for tea to Britain. 

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 Arab News also reported that on October 23 the cricket team of Afghanistan defeated Pakistan after seven defeats.  Strangely, the colonial relic of cricket still rings bells of excitement and national pride in the former British colonies. I have always compared cricket to the sport of watching paint dry.  On the other hand, cricket is a distant relative of our national sport of baseball though we have simplified the action and rules.  Moreover, most folks in Texas are excited that the Texas Rangers won the World Series where more beer was consumed at the world series than tea at a cricket match.

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I doubt anyone has significant hope for an improvement of U.S./China relationships following the Apec Meeting. We will just have to wait and see which side of the table has the “forked tongue” folks. It may well be there is plenty of hot air and empty promises on both sides which is typically the case in any diplomatic gathering.

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