Man your own jackhammer.

by Justin

Ladies and gentlemen: China is out of effing control.

At first I suspected that it always has been, but that might not be accurate. The original ruling dynasties seemed to keep things in a kind of order – maybe because the country is so large and populous that a unified whirlwind could never be summoned. The Mongol agenda was one of service and submission. My grade-school understanding of that period is that China was poor and ineffective, united more by the greed of a conquering power than anything else. A Chinese ascension prior to Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward must have been impossible. Even during Chairman Mao’s cultural revolution gyre could only widen so much because the civilian population was dying so rapidly and there was simply no wealth for anyone to accumulate. The Japan of World War II also kept its neighbor in check with human rights wonders like Nanking and its own raging imperial ambitions. But for all China’s promise and the spectacular poverty that gave communism a chance (because for most people something was better than nothing), the real leap forward didn’t begin until Deng Xiaoping. Which is to say their current Barry-Allen-running-out-of-the-film rate of growth couldn’t be achieved without capitalism.

Grade-school understanding, mind you. Because I’m going to make some observations and draw some conclusions on the past without researching it very much. It’s the mark of every great journalist, right? Pull a few items from memory, misquote and misidentify, and then draw sweeping conclusions. I really don’t mean to pull a Fox News on China’s history, however, and would welcome corrections. That’s a genuine invitation for someone to take me to school on the Chinese behemoth’s evolution. But that’s not the agenda of this new WordPress jam, so let’s move on from my slippery grasp of history.

Every day there’s a story published about some ridiculousness happening in China or as a consequence of its policies. Every day there’s something. Sure, the same is probably true of the United States and other very wealthy, very powerful countries. But that’s more or less par for the course. America’s been exploding for a century, you know? Decisions made in Washington, D.C. often spiral outward and affect the entire planet – how could the world’s largest economy, most powerful military, and most awesome trend-setter do anything but? China’s entry into that scale is relatively recent. And perhaps more directly inspiring to me, global fascination and concern over China’s antics is relatively recent.

Just a few days ago, in what was likely an attempted shortcut, a Chinese freighter carrying 950 tons crashed into the Great Barrier Reef. Full speed. The vessel left Australia for China, the largest supplier of coal for the largest consumer, and shortly thereafter found itself lodged on top of perhaps the most diverse ecosystem in the world. Surrounded, swimmingly, by an oil slick two miles long and roughly 100 meters wide. Last I read rescuers were still devising a plan to remove the gigantic freighter without having split in half and permanently damage the Reef.

The following day I read a story about a Toronto-based investigation group, in collaboration with the United States government, unraveling a large-scale hacking operation. Many of the Indian government’s emails were accessed and copies, with sensitive documents (some regarding their nuclear agenda) downloaded. This group in Toronto actually stole those same files from the hackers and then alerted India, but not before tracing the origin of the attacks to China. It gets a little muddy there, though. When hacking is that sophisticated it becomes difficult to definitively determine much, especially the source. But an article I read in the times pointed the finger toward China, and a source said that the caliber of expertise involved likely had government backing. Accusations! And being on a plane prevents me from doing any fact-checking or hunting for updates.

Those two events, drops in the bucket given the past year’s insanity, inspired me to begin this blog. Watching a car wreck is the wrong metaphor, but there’s something of that in observing China. But the car’s full of a billion people and it’s not crashing so much as careening onward with endless collateral damage. The game goes like this: once a day I find a story written by real reporters, whether its breaking news or analysis, and I’ll write a little diddy about it and aim people to the source.

I want to point out that I’m not at all anti-China. I’m a little afraid of its capabilities and what its current disregard for human rights says for how it will grow. But I’m no HP Lovecraft, troubled by nightmares of the yellow people in their sleek skyscrapers, and there’ll be no blanket condemnations or fear-mongering. In all honesty, someone building the same blog from tales of American antics could paint as dark a picture as they’d like. It just so happens that I’m interested in China these days, as is much of the world. And that Great Barrier Reef thing really blows my mind. It seems like such a wonderful example of the People’s Republic and its reckless economic agenda. All that said, there’s certainly some inherent sass in the blog’s title. But also quite a bit of awe.

So here’s to China, and to holding nothing back.