THE COLUMN: Big Trouble in Little China

Michael Walsh28 Nov, 2022 5 Min Read
History's most dangerous losers.

In a commencement address at Notre Dame in 1977, President Jimmy Carter observed that "democracy's great recent successesin India, Portugal, Spain, Greeceshow that our confidence in this system is not misplaced. Being confident of our own future, we are now free of that inordinate fear of communism which once led us to embrace any dictator who joined us in that fear." Carter was widely criticized on the right for implying that communism was not the existential danger conservatives thought it was, but it was clear from the rest of the sentence that he was instead criticizing America's enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend strategy that had led us into bed with some distinctly unsavory characters, among them the Shah of Iran. Carter went on:

For too many years, we've been willing to adopt the flawed and erroneous principles and tactics of our adversaries, sometimes abandoning our own values for theirs. We've fought fire with fire, never thinking that fire is better quenched with water. This approach failed, with Vietnam the best example of its intellectual and moral poverty. But through failure we have now found our way back to our own principles and values, and we have regained our lost confidence.

That "lost confidence" quickly vanished when less than a year later the Ayatollah Khomeini appeared on the scene and by January of 1979 had driven the Shah from power, leading to the establishment of the "Islamic Republic" and ultimately to the hostage crisis that destroyed the Carter presidency and to Ronald Reagan's smashing victories in 1980 and 1984 and thus the fall of the Soviet Union. Moral: do not project your own domestic virtues and expectations onto men from other countries and other cultures, a critical variation on the time-honored principle of never underestimating your enemy by overestimating his fundamental sympathies with you regarding such malleable concepts as "human rights."

Which brings us to China: the Mysterious East, beloved by Hollywood and once an exotic fixture of the American imagination, brimming with sinister orientals, foreign adventurers, Sikhs and sheiks, and Mother Goddam herself in a 1926 play and 1941 movie directed by Josef von Sternberg. It's Not Like Us, never has been, never will be:

The Peoples Republic of China is a slave state boasting a record of military ineptitude unrivaled by any other large nation on earth, and is entirely of a piece of nearly all Chinese governments that have come before it. It has no affinity with the West, nor does it desire one. Almost congenitally incapable of creativity, innovation and exploration, it has instead adopted financial colonization as a central instrument of its foreign policy, using its own people as pawns in an international chess game only one side is playing. Today, having scorned them as an undifferentiated mass of coolies led by a handful of mandarins, we fear them, but for all the wrong reasons.

As I've often observed, based on the historical record, the only people the Chinese can defeat in combat are themselves, as the stupefyingly high body counts of the Taiping Rebellion and Mao's civil war attest. The British easily conquered China during the Opium Wars, and in the runup to Pearl Harbor, tiny but ferocious Japan whipped them twice, in 1931 and again in 1937—not to mention Japan's victory in the First Sino-Japanese War at the end of the 19th century. In 1979, the Vietnamese gave the Peoples Liberation Army all it could handle, repelling its invasion during the Sino-Vietnam War.

Indeed, China's futility in combat with outsiders dates back as far as the Battle of Talas in 751 A.D., when the Abbasid Muslims and some Tibetan allies crushed the armies of the Tang Dynasty, halting Chinese westward expansion into central Asia. Nor could the Chinese stop the Mongol Conquest of the 13th century, nor the incursions by the Turkic Muslim Timur (Tamerlane) of the 14th. At the head of the Ever-Victorious Army in 1863, General George Gordon (who later died defending Khartoum against the Mahdi in 1885), led his peasant army defending Shanghai armed with little more than a swagger stick; they won. On the field of battle, big China is very much Little China.

One of China's principal cities, Shanghai, was for a long time under foreign occupation, a wide-open international city with British, French, and American residential and administrative zones; during World War II, Shanghai also had a Jewish ghetto, established for European Jewish refugees fleeing both Hitler and Stalin by the Japanese in a Chinese part of the city at the behest of their National Socialist German allies. (Among the famous "Shanghai Jews" born there are Harvard professor Laurence Tribe, Hollywood producer Mike Medavoy, and concert pianist Misha Dichter.)

Which is to say, America's inordinate fear of the Chinese does not arise from any evidence they can actually fight, in the way the Japanese, Germans, and Russians could. Even today, with their massive army and plastic navy rattling the sabers of stolen (and, as they might well find out, booby-trapped) martial technology confronting a woke American military establishment more concerned with "critical race theory" and the affirmative promotion of risible transsexuals to high rank, China does not pose an existential military threat. Instead, it comes from their hand-me-down Marxism-Leninism—even their failed system of government has been hijacked from the West—has risen in direct proportion to our cozying up to them economically. And why not? If they treat their own people like slaves, why shouldn't Apple and other rapacious and immoral international corporations employ them to make the iPhones that will hang us?

In other words, China has not become a major player on the international stage by military means, but by traditional culture methods of often-unscrupulous economy savvy, effective use of bribery, and a massive diaspora that has seen Chinese communities established all over the world, including Malaysia, Singapore, India, Indonesia (where they made themselves so unwelcome that there widespread anti-Chiinese riots in 1998) and, latterly, in Africa and South America. Fear of Chinese soft power was so strongly entrenched in the United States after thousands of Chinese arrived to work on the railroads that Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, which began a general tightening of immigration that lasted until the Hart-Celler Act of 1965.

Ever since the hapless Carter dumped the losing side in the most recent Chinese civil war and recognized the "Peoples Republic," China has employed its only weapon—people—as a weapon against the West and in particular against the United States. It floods the country with spies called "students," it bribes politicians and academics and then hides behind the usual cries of "racism." It obviously has suborned and corrupted the current president of the United States and members of his contemptible family even as Biden tells Americans "they're not bad folks, folks,"

Perhaps, like Carter, Biden is temporarily right for the wrong reasons regarding the Chinese threat. At the moment, China is rapidly descending into chaos—in a fine bit of dramatic irony if not actual karma, entirely owing to its own maleficent role in the creation and weaponization of Covid-19, which has resulted in totalitarian lockdowns, civic violence, and now calls for the head of dictator-for-life Xi Jinping. Whether Xi, like Julius Caesar before him, has taken a step too far and will soon be decisively deposed, remains a matter of conjecture in a land once routinely referred to as "inscrutable." But if history tells us anything, it's that China's appetite for internal bloodletting is far greater than its desire for world conquest; all we really need to do is sit back and let nature take its course.

In the end, it's still a place of obscure motives, intense tribal relationships, alien customs, and ways that are not our ways. A place that relies on the sloth and greed of others to hook them on cheap plastic electronics and third-rate steel and concrete as they willingly hollow out their own industries and junk their national pride to make a buck. It's Chinatown. 

Michael Walsh is a journalist, author, and screenwriter. He was for 16 years the music critic and a foreign correspondent for Time Magazine. His works include the novels As Time Goes By, And All the Saints, and the bestselling “Devlin” series of NSA thrillers; as well as the nonfiction bestseller, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace and its sequel, The Fiery Angel. Last Stands, a study of military history from the Greeks to the present, was published by St. Martin's Press in December 2019. He is also the editor of Against the Great Reset: 18 Theses Contra the New World Order, published on Oct. 18, 2022. Follow him on Twitter: @theAmanuensis


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14 comments on “THE COLUMN: Big Trouble in Little China”

  1. ", Shanghai also had a Jewish ghetto, established for European Jewish refugees fleeing both Hitler and Stalin by the Japanese in a Chinese part of the city at the behest of their National Socialist German allies."
    I believe this is in error. I've read quite a bit about the "Shanghai Jews" and I've never seen any reference that the relocation to Shanghai of the Jews who were issued visas by Sempo Sugihara in Lithuania and ended up in Japan was done at the behest of the Germans. As a matter of fact, when the Germans got wind of the Jews in Japan, they complained to the Japanese which resulted in representatives from the refugees and the small Jewish community in Japan being called in to a meeting/interogation with imperial admirals. The meeting is documented in the book The Fugu Plan by Marvin Tokayer.
    All the sources that I have seen say that the Japanese relocated the Jewish refugees to China because they stereotyped Jews as wealthy and powerful (in part because Jacob Schiff helped finance their 1905 war with Russia) and thought they'd help stimulate the economy in Manchuria.
    By the way, in one of the quirks of history, the only yeshiva, Jewish seminary, in eastern Europe to survive the war intact, all of its students and faculty, was the Mir Yeshiva, which held it's classes in Shanghai's Beth Aaron synagogue, built in the 1920s by Sephardi businessman Silas Hardoon.

    1. I think you misinterpret me. The Jews were not sent to Shanghai by the Germans; they were fleeing both Communist and the National Socialists and made for Shanghai because it was an "open city" where stateless refugees didn't need a passport or identity papers. The Japanese bore no particular animus against the Jews, but eventually succumbed to the pressure of their German allies to force the Jews into cramped living quarters in the Chinese sector, and eventually walled them in. The Germans at one point suggested putting all the Jews on a ship and then sinking it , but the Japanese refused.

  2. We wanted no part of belonging to the League of Nations after WW I and we should pull out of the United Nations and move the whole lot to Moscow without America to push around

  3. An interesting take on China's motives. Of course when the corona virus hit (wasn't it more fun when named after a beer), China permitted international air travel but restricted travel within its own borders.
    Still, China has too many men and too many old people.

  4. Glad to see you addressed IrishOtter's nonsense. Not only did the ChiComs have no air power, very few of them had guns (as you point out). They were handed a couple of grenades in the hopes that they could get in range to toss them. Hell, the 1st MarDiv's headquarters element, which included cooks and their band members repulsed massive nighttime assaults at Hagaru-Ri. At one point, the ChiComs broke through the line, but since they had no training or experience on how to exploit it, the Marines quickly purged them and reformed the line. They lost an entire regiment to artillery fire alone at one point. Getting twelve divisions smashed by one retreating Marine division was hardly a stunning victory.

  5. Your assessment of China's record of military failure is mostly correct. However the PVA's stunning performance against U.S. forces in Korea in the autumn of 1950 bears mentioning that regard. In the Changjin (Chosin) Reservoir battles (including the pursuit and exploitation phase that followed) the PVA inflicted what was arguably the worst battlefield defeat the U.S. military has ever suffered, forcing an American army (with attached allied units) to conduct a desperate retreat from the region that ended in a Dunkirk-like evacuation from the port of Hungnam on the east coast. In that episode the 1st U.S. Marine Division barely escaped annihilation by encircling Chinese forces. At about the same time, distance to the west, the PVA mauled the 1st U.S. Cavalry Division, sending it reeling in retreat and giving rise to the song infamously known as
    "The Bugout Ballad":

    Hear the patter of running feet
    It's the old First Cav in full retreat
    They're moving on; they'll soon be gone
    They're haulin' ass, not savin' gas
    They'll soon be gone.

    Over on that hill there's a Russian tank
    A million Chinks are on my flank
    I'm movin' on, I'll soon be gone
    With my M-1 broke, it ain't no joke
    I'll soon be gone.

    It is well to note that the PVA achieved these results without any air support whatsoever and no heavy artillery.

    1. Wrong in every respect. A surprise attack in overwhelming numbers in the dead of night effected by crossing an international border and then taking a complete beating by vastly outnumbered Marines of the First Marine Division is nothing to brag about. (The Army's performance on the eastern side of the Reservoir was admittedly poor.) Strategically the Chinese were given the command the annihilate the Marine Corps and certainly had the numbers to do so if they were any good at all. Instead, they were repulsed with heavy casualties and their frozen corpses were stacked like cordwood as human sandbags during the night attacks. There were no day attacks because they had no air power. Their uniforms were pitifully thin, their small arms were poor and they had so few of them that (as at Stalingrad) when the man in front of you got shot you picked up his gun and kept running forward lest the commissars shoot you in the back.
      The Marines were never encircled; instead they fought a fighting retreat -- the most difficult thing to do on the battlefield. Finally, their casualties were at least three times higher than those of the U.S. and allied forces.

      If you don't believe me, ask my father, now 96, who was awarded the Bronze Star with a combat V at the Reservoir. His story is told in his own words in my recent book, LAST STANDS:

  6. My point exactly. Yes we put both Diem and the Shah were people we installed as opposed to the Soviet's choice. Everyone hates Nixon but he wrote a book in 1979 titled "The Real War" that is the finest primer on Foreign Affairs and why they matter. Both of these people were undermined by Democratic Presidents due to their policy and cost the US in the long run highly. I too hold Mr. Walsh in high esteem, but here we will have to agree to disagree and I think we're correct here. Did the Shah come close to to the horrid slaughter that the Ayatollah did or kill as many Americans? No and he was an ally of Israel too. Diem was a strong leader that was making good progress but was undermined by the Western Press. Hi removal and assassination caused 2 years of chaos with no real Leadership. Ike and Dick installed both and JFK removed Diem and Carter removed the Shah, what then occurred was not prosperity.

  7. Years ago I speculated that the Chinese had Tibetan tree ring data that showed that a warmer world was good for the Middle Kingdom.
    I have no idea if that speculation is true or not, because of a fundamental distrust of tree ring width as a proxy for temperature, unless all other width effecting conditions are kept the same, impossible in nature.

  8. It is especially ridiculous in that Covid-19 was probably deployed to reduce the population of Chinese elderly in the PRC.
    Right now, estimates have PRC with one retiree per two taxpayers. This is projected to rise to 1 to 1 by 2050.
    Given the falling amount of international manufacturing taking place in the Middle Kingdom there is no way the country can afford that.
    It also explains why they haven't released foreign vaccines in the country.
    They don't want their elderly to survive.
    The West was merely collateral damage.

  9. My My. I have great respect for Mr. Walsh. He wrote The Great Reset and the Devil's Pleasure Palace. I urge everyone to buy and read them.
    I will be interested to see how Walsh's take on China works out; I hope he is correct. Perhaps it is why, during the helpless and misguided Biden administration, China has not attempted an invasion of Taiwan.
    In America our military focuses on climate change and white supremacy. I'm sure China's military is instead preparing for war.
    I wish Mr. Walsh had taken the time to discuss China's control of the South China Sea and its navy and jet fighters. I seem to remember Chinese troops fought very hard during the Korean War; and now they have our money to fund their military build-up.

  10. The Shah was better than the Ayatollah. South Vietnam was preferable to North Vietnam. Just sayin'.

  11. The incredible courage of these Chinese dissidents must be celebrated for all time. The West's Fascist Eugenicist Globalist cabal takes the Chinese government's policies as a model. Resist at all costs. Your life truly does depend on it. I'm concerned that the collective West in general and Americans in particular have not really yet grasped the existential crisis we are facing. Or maybe we have, and we just don't care enough to resist it...

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