A new sandpit for long side discussions, conspiracy theories, idees fixes and so on. I’ll open this by saying I agree with the view that even an optimal response to the pandemic by China would have given the world only a few days more notice, and that most Western governments would have wasted that time anyway.

90 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. What an utterly vile hatchet job on Dr Li.

    Dr Li did not irresponsibly spread rumours; he passed on vital information to medical colleagues at a time when the Chinese authorities were ruthlessly suppressing information about a novel coronavirus. I say ruthlessly as at least 7 other doctors were detained and questioned by the Wuhan Public Security Bureau. The public was being deliberately kept in the dark and so was nearly all of the medical profession. (Faustus’ so-called broad alert merely mentioned pneumonia and expressly and strictly forbid alerting the public).

    The article makes it clear that Dr Li was hospitalised with coronavirus-like symptoms on 12 January 2020, well before China acknowledged human to human transmission, on 20 January. It is impossible to believe that Dr Li wasn’t just one of many medical practitioners who were symptomatic well before 20 January given the highly contagious nature of the virus, lack of PPE and known cases in hospitals by mid December.

    Given China’s egregious history of lying, for instance re SARS, kicking out foreign journalists (from the NYT etc.) , suppression of its own population, the lack of an independent media and bizarre overreaction to calls for a inquiry into what happened, Lord Haw Haw like parroting of the official Chinese Communist Party line is repulsive.

  2. It’s not a hatchet job, I simply repeated what the CNN article reported: he told his mates in a wechat group that there was a novel pneumonia going around and not to visit the market. He wasn’t “ruthlessly suppressed”, he was made to sign a form and then released. He spent by his own account a few hours in the police station and only then because his mates shared his wechat information without hiding his name. Also it isn’t “faustus’ broad alert”, it’s described in the cnn report. Don’t pretend I’m making things up.

    Yes, Dr. Li was hospitalized with symptoms on 12 January 2020 and the Chinese government acknowledge human-to-human transmission on the 20th. Do you know how human-to-human transmission is confirmed? is it simply on a whim? Oh that guy looks like he’s got it from that guy so bob’s your uncle? No, there is a process. Without knowing anything about what that process is you assume a cover up.

    Furthermore, your timeline is wrong. WHO first identified possible human-to-human transmission on 14th January when there were just 41 cases, and other Asian countries already had heightened prevention activities at their borders (as China did at its railway stations and border crossings) before then.

    So tell me again what would a good response look like? How much time would it save? What are the conditions for shutting down a city of 12 million people and closing the world’s second largest economy for two months? What was the benefit to the Chinese government of hiding the truth when they were simultaneously trying to force an entire country to stay home?

    If the virus had broken out in a better-functioning Chinese city – Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou, for example – that might have bought the world an extra 2 weeks. But the reality is that the WHO is not going to recommend a global shutdown over 40 cases of a virus that are all connected to a single market, and if they had done so you and everyone else on here would be blaming the Chinese govt for over-reacting and causing a global economic crash. There is a minimum period of time from first case to shutdown, and it would be a good idea to specify what you think that period of time should be before you suggest the Chinese government failed to meet it.

  3. Hmmm, can I re-post this on the right thread?


    A COVID-19 Timeline.

    Dec. 30, 2019

    Dr. Li Li saw a patient’s report which showed a positive result with a high confidence level for SARS coronavirus tests. “The report had originated from Ai Fen, director of the emergency department at Wuhan Central hospital, who became alarmed after receiving laboratory results of a patient whom she had examined who exhibited symptoms akin to influenza resistant to conventional treatment methods. The report contained the phrase “SARS coronavirus”. Ai had circled the word “SARS”, and sent it to a doctor at another hospital in Wuhan. From there it spread throughout medical circles in the city, where it reached Li.[15] At 17:43, he wrote in a private WeChat group of his medical school classmates: “7 confirmed cases of SARS were reported [to hospital] from Huanan Seafood Market.” He also posted the patient’s examination report and CT scan image. At 18:42, he added “the latest news is, it has been confirmed that they are coronavirus infections, but the exact virus strain is being subtyped”. Li asked the WeChat group members to inform their families and friends to take protective measures. He was upset when the discussion gained a wider audience than he expected.” – Wikipedia. (W.)

    Note: The coronavirus type had not yet been identified

    Dec. 31, 2019

    Chinese officials in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province confirmed dozens of cases of pneumonia from an unknown cause.

    On or between Dec. 31, 2019 to Jan. 3, January 2020.

    “After screenshots of his WeChat messages were shared on Chinese Internet and gained more attention, the supervision department of his hospital summoned him for a talk, where he was blamed for leaking the information.” – Wikipedia.

    Jan. 3, 2020

    “… police from the Wuhan Public Security Bureau investigated the case and interrogated Li, giving him a warning notice and censuring him for “making false comments on the Internet”. He was made to sign a letter of admonition promising not to do it again. The police warned him that if he failed to learn from the admonition and continued to violate the law he would be prosecuted.” – Wikipedia

    After the admonition, Li returned to work in the hospital.

    Note: Eventually the pathogen was named taxonomically as SARS Cov2. It is a SARS variant. Fen and Li were correct. It was a SARS virus.

    Jan. 7, 2020

    The outbreak was identified as a new coronavirus.

    Jan. 8, 2020

    Li contracted the virus on 8 January.

    Jan. 11, 2020

    China reported its first known death from an illness caused by the coronavirus. The patient was a 61-year-old man in Wuhan.

    Jan. 20, 2020

    A World Health Organization situation report detailed the first confirmed cases outside China in Thailand, Japan and South Korea.

    Jan. 21, 2020

    The United States announced its first confirmed coronavirus case — a man in his 30s in Washington state.

    Jan. 23, 2020

    China placed Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, under quarantine orders. All flights and trains departing from the city were canceled, and buses, subways and ferries within the city were suspended.

    Jan. 30

    WHO declared the outbreak a global public health emergency as more than 9,000 cases were reported worldwide, including in 18 countries beyond China.

    Note: WHO did not declare a pandemic until Mar. 11, 2020. The reasons why bear investigation. The WHO might have been caught between big pharma pressure and EU / USA pressure after the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and wanted to avoid a repeat of that pressure or it might have been pressured by China this time. The latter seems less likely.

    Jan. 31, 2020

    Li published his experience in the police station with the letter of admonition on social media. His post went viral and users questioned why the doctors who gave earlier warnings were silenced by the authorities.


    The virus was provisionally identified as a SARS form on Dec. 31, 2019. Given China’s previous experiences of SARS1 in 2002-2004 (at least two outbreaks) and knowledge of MERS it should have been escalated rapidly in the hierarchy and probably within 24 hours. On Jan. 7, 2020 the outbreak was identified (confirmed) as a novel coronavirus. On Jan. 11, 2020 China reported its first known death from an illness caused by the coronavirus. The patient was a 61-year-old man in Wuhan. Yet it took until Jan. 23, 2020 to lock-down Wuhan.

    Yes, the Chinese government should have closed Wuhan earlier than 23rd January, when there were 571 cases and 17 deaths! From a SARS variant no less! Do I think it is possible to know how transmissible or dangerous a disease is based on a case series of 571 cases and 17 deaths? Yes, when it is a SARs variant, the presumption has to be for a worst case scenario.

    Chinese authorities failed themselves, their people and the world. The world then failed too. It’s a cascading failure with plenty of blame to go around. China is also to blame for failing to deal with its wildlife wet markets which are zoonotic disease breeding and transmission sites. China bears considerable blame and its party dictatorship / cult of personality dictatorship played a role in this failure by oppressing whistle-blowers and suppressing the alarm by about a week: vital time lost. But maybe (I don’t know) you are in favor of dictatorship? China’s Xi Jinping led dictatorship played a role in the totality of this global disaster to date just as Trump’s populist crypto-fascism and science denial played a role. One is as bad as the other. I completely condemn both.

  4. An optimal response by China would have stopped the virus as China stopped SARS1 twice. It would have been harder admittedly as this SARS Cov2 is more contagious. An optimal response still would have had a very reasonable chance of stopping it. China, or their government, should also have stopped the disease-ridden and gruesome wild-life wet markets well before this new zoonotic disease event. The Chinese authorities are seriously culpable on those grounds, Of course, as I have said many times, the West has made serious mistakes as well.

    I notice a lot of people want to make excuses for China’s dictatorship and do so regularly. If Xi Jinping and his party ran a tinpot country they would be condemned as human rights violating dictators. Because it’s a superpower and lot of people make money out of trading with China they all walk on eggshells around them and give them respect. It’s completely hypocritical. Morally, the Chinese regime deserves zero respect. It is a mistake to appease China. Appeasement of powerful dictators never works. It only emboldens them. We’ve made this mistake before.

  5. Ikonoklast, on 31st December the Chinese national government notified the WHO that it had found a new coronavirus. That means it had already been escalated by 31st December, and your 24 hour deadline is moot. By 31st December the national government and the global health authorities had been notified. Unless you think it should have been escalated to god himself?

    By 23rd January when there were 571 cases and 17 deaths the only research published in English put the R0 of the virus at about 2.2 and suggested there were 4000 undetected cases, for a mortality rate that was 10% of the observed mortality rate (I covered this here). Are you suggesting we should shut down the global economy every time we identify a virus that is marginally more dangerous than influenza? The reality is that it is really hard to estimate the true epidemic potential of a new disease when it is in its initial stages – you need more data to get a grip on the true R0 (turns out it’s closer to 5, but most governments are still going on the early under-estimates because racism). It’s true that “it’s SARS!” is one critierion you could use to shut down the global economy, but it’s not really very scientific is it, and if that’s your criterion then the proper assessment of the Chinese response should be that it was wrong, not that it was deliberately covered up. But that’s not what you want to say is it?

    As for morally the Chinese regime deserves zero respect: they have presided over the largest poverty elimination program in the history of the human race, and you would be mighty surprised to learn that within China they get a lot of respect for that. If you think eliminating poverty is morally irrelevant, maybe you need to reassess your political framework a little.

    You can’t blame China for the fact that the UK government was allowing major sporting events in mid-March, or that the mayor of London was telling people on 6th March not to change their behavior, or that Boris Johnson was proudly insisting he would continue to shake hands, or that no western country started on temporary hospitals until it was too late (despite the urging of their Chinese counterparts) or that some xenophobic idiots thought banning direct flights from China was enough, or that the Governor of New York was laughing the whole thing off in mid-March, or that every single right-wing government was dismissing it as “just flu” while 1.3 billion people were in a desperate lockdown to buy you all time. That kind of stupidity isn’t China’s fault – it’s your own stupid fault for laughing and sneering at dying Asians instead of listening to them as they were yelling at you from the rooftops to get ready. And now you have the temerity to say they covered up the thing they were desperately trying to get you to notice!

  6. faustusnotes,

    “On 31 December 2019, the WHO China Country Office was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology (unknown cause) detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. As of 3 January 2020, a total of 44 patients with pneumonia of unknown etiology have been reported to WHO by the national authorities in China. Of the 44 cases reported, 11 are severely ill, while the remaining 33 patients are in stable condition. According to media reports, the concerned market in Wuhan was closed on 1 January 2020 for environmental sanitation and disinfection.

    The causal agent has not yet been identified or confirmed. On 1 January 2020, WHO requested further information from national authorities to assess the risk.”


    1. “cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology”

    Let us compare this to ““The report had originated from Ai Fen, director of the emergency department at Wuhan Central hospital, who became alarmed after receiving laboratory results of a patient whom she had examined who exhibited symptoms akin to influenza resistant to conventional treatment methods. The report contained the phrase “SARS coronavirus”. Ai had circled the word “SARS”, and sent it to a doctor at another hospital in Wuhan. From there it spread throughout medical circles in the city, where it reached Li.”

    This report suggested a “SARS coronavirus” with the word “SARS” circled. I presume Ai Fen had made this assessment from symptology. Given that of “44 cases reported, 11 are severely ill” and that SARS was suspected then the logical course at that point was to suspect known SARS, a more lethal but less contagious disease than SARS CoV2.

    After the delayed SARS(1) lock-down in Beijing in 2003, “The communist government has been widely criticized for failing to respond earlier to pleas for action and officials have replaced both Beijing’s mayor and the health minister amid the outrage.” – Sue Chan CBS, 2003.

    China had the experience of SARS(1) and recognized itself that that that lock-down was dilatory, following internal criticism, and “replaced both Beijing’s mayor and the health minister”. Despite this experience, Chinese authorities ignored or downplayed the symptology suggesting SARS in Wuhan and reported merely “pneumonia of unknown etiology” OR the WHO interpreted it as such and wrote it up as such in its report. China’s actions were dilatory given their previous experiences with SARS(1). The WHO is also reluctant to call “epidemic” or “pandemic” following pressures from the EU and USA after and about the N1H1 flu outbreak. There is plenty of culpability to go around, as I keep saying.

    The presumptions of the EU, USA. WHO and possibly China are that “fat tailed” economic risk does not exist for obviously dangerous infectious and lethal pathogens. I might also add that you too clearly hold this presumption, namely that fat-tailed risk does not exist. Fat tailed risk can be short-handed by saying it is one with low risk but with devastating consequences when it occurs. A fat tailed risk only has to happen once to wipe out many years or even decades of economic gains in one stroke and to do it globally in a connected world (as we are now seeing).

    In the light of the reality of fat tailed risk (already known to mathematicians, some economists, risk theoreticians and complex systems experts) then YES it is necessary and justified to shut down a city or province at the earliest juncture at the first hint of SARS or a SARS variant, until the outbreak is quashed and more is known about the pathogen. The cost of shutting down a city or province then saves a possible fat tailed risk cost to the entire country of globe.

    China’s response certainly hovers in the grey zone of being technically wrong or a cover-up. Given the opacity of the Chinese dictatorship system with no free press we simply cannot tell can we? Western governments cover-up too but with electoral accountability and a free press we have some chance of the facts coming to light. With the Chinese system we have almost no chance of the facts coming to light. China is refusing an open, cooperative, international investigation even though as a signatory to the WHO convention or protocols it has signed up for exactly that procedure. What is the reason for China’s intransigence or non-cooperation in this matter? It speaks to either paranoia at Western intentions (an understandable though not helpful reaction in this case) and/or to a lack of understanding that openness could work in its favor (common among paranoid dictatorships) or to a possibility that China does in fact have something to hide.

    2. The Issue of Wildlife Wet Markets

    You have not replied to this issue. Wildlife wet markets present a clear and continuous danger to global human health by incubating and promoting the rise of zoonotic diseases. This is particularly the case when bats and simians are among the species butchered alive in unsanitary conditions and when cages of live animals are stacked one on top of the other to shed feces and urine on one below. China is the worst but not only offender in relation to wildlife wet markets. Again, China has been intransigent in relation to shutting down these markets. The “iron rice bowl” could also be the “iron protein bowl”. There would be no need nutritional or financial for any Chinese to supply or source protein from wild life. The animal cruelty and wild-life destruction issues also are unconscionable and repugnant to any ethically minded person other than an obviously desperate and starving person of which there are probably none in China except perhaps whom the regime wishes to starve.

    3. The Issue of Dictatorship

    You have stated yourself to be in favor of a dictatorship if it feeds the people, has an iron grip on power (government and military) and has some fig-leaf base of populist support. You have nailed your colors to the mast on this issue. Thus, the rights of Tibetans, Uyghurs, Falan Gong practitioners, artists and dissenters (for examples) mean nothing to you in comparison, or at least apparently so. I will deliberately break Godwin’s law here as it is actually an appropriate comparison. History shows that those who appease or give succor and support to dictatorships (or send masses of iron ore and fuel as the rest of the world foolishly does) will come to regret that support.

  7. So ikonoklast, you now recognize (after much bluster) that the Chinese government did escalate to the WHO in a timely manner, and your complaint now is that they didn’t declare on 31st December that it was SARS. I don’t think you know what they told the WHO, but in any case Dr. Fen was referring to the symptoms of the virus – no one knew what it actually was. It could have been a new variant of bird flu – h5n1 was 10 times as dangerous as COVID19 but has not achieved human to human transmission – or a new swine flu. To call it SARS would have been premature and potentially misleading. Its form was isolated 7 days later, and promptly communicated to the WHO and the global health community. It may seem like responsible speculation to you to call every idiopathic pneumonia SARS but that is not how the world works. Also stop referring to “fat tail risks”, taleb is a clown and it doesn’t make you sound smart to repeat his idiotic ideas.

    Regarding “wet” markets. Do you recall in the early 1980s when HIV first was identified in California and there were calls for gay men to stop their “unconscionable and repugnant” lifestyle, which was the only known transmission risk and at that time also believed to be the incubator of the disease. I’m guessing you objected to those calls and instead wanted to find a way to enable gay men to continue their lifestyle at lower risk – right? What about bird flu, which is spread through abbatoirs and poultry farms? Should westerners give up their cruel and vicious slaughter of chickens to prevent zoonotic viruses? Recall birds are the main source of cross-species viral transmission. Should Americans give up pig farming in case of swine flu? Do you demand Arabs stop using camels? Should westerners give up the disgusting habit of living with dogs to prevent rabies? You say no to every single one of these calls, so why do you want Chinese specifically to stop a high-risk behavior you don’t like? What is it in your approach to the world that makes you condone anal sex, poultry farms, pig-farming and camel-herding, but then demand Chinese stop eating bats? I suggest you take a long, hard look at the reasons for this extremely prejudiced demand. Sure if you’re a vegan and free from hypocrisy then go to town but I rather doubt you are, ikonoklast. Do you eat meat? Because the western meat industry is cruel in ways that put a wet market to shame, you know this, but for some reason it’s only those despicable Chinese who you want to change their behavior. Oh, and btw, “wet market” is a nonsense racist term. Every major market in Australia is a “wet market” but you don’t call them that because you’re being racist. Stop it.

    On dictatorship, please wake me up if I’m on the wrong website, but national self-determination is a fundamental aspect of leftist politics, along with decolonization and anti-war. You may not like it, but it’s not your business how China chooses to conduct its internal affairs and how the Chinese people choose to be governed. You may think that Chinese people hate their government and want out from under its yoke but in that belief you would be sadly, tragically mistaken. China is a successful left wing nation that has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty and is working hard to build an anti-colonial politics in Asia. You may not like how it is doing what it does, but it’s not your business. If you don’t get that, try re-reading your Chomsky.

    Hugo, we’re not at war with China, so the Lord Haw Haw comparisons are ridiculous and nasty. In the meantime I suggest you check where your clothes were made – was it in Bangladesh? You do know about recent building collapses there don’t you? Or the fire in Korea this week that killed 40 construction workers? (The third one in 3 years!) Why single out China?

  8. A ridiculous diatribe, faustusnotes. I see you didn’t understand any of my points. I also see that dictatorship is okay by you so long as it is a left wing dictatorship which suits your tribal loyalties. I see you are also all right with the destruction of wildlife, indicating that you care nothing about the 6th mass extinction in general and the extinctions of mammals in particular. I see further, you are not aware of Chomsky’s criticisms of Stalinism in particular and totalitarianism in general. Noam Chomsky describes himself as a libertarian socialist and a sympathizer of anarcho-syndicalism. In his case “libertarian” does not mean “libertarian neoliberalism”. Chomsky is a strong opponent of totalitarian states including the USA when it effectively acts like one abroad. You clearly understand nothing about his position. Chomsky is consistent, something which you are not.

    I am not advocating direct interference in China’s internal affairs. Realpolitik, geostrategics and military strategy all indicate that this is quite impossible in practical terms. I do not believe that a hot war or cyber war of any kind against China would be advisable or just (according to just war theory). I do however advocate that the West and and its democratic allies (including Japan, India and Sth. Korea if they would join the West in this) should withdraw permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) from China. China is not “left” in a democratic socialist sense which should be what matters to democratic socialists and conservatives alike. China is a totalitarian state and you have declared for the CCP and totalitarianism.

    Withdrawing permanent normal trade relations does not necessarily mean a comprehensive trade embargo although it could mean this if China remains completely intransigent. Targeted embargoes could convince China we are serious about addressing climate change, the 6th mass extinction and so on. China now has the biggest economy in the world (by some margin) in PPP dollars, and is a superpower economically and militarily. China has no further right to favored status of any kind to emit more greenhouse gas emissions or to eat (what should be) protected wildlife. I don’t think you understand zoonotic disease risks at all. Maybe you should read up on it.

    But I guess, just as you don’t understand any points about the pandemic, you won’t understand any points about limits to growth either. If China and the USA both continue to insist on their own right to grow indefinitely (due to their superpower-rivalry obsessions) then they doom us all. A trade decline will cut greenhouse emissions and perhaps save the biosphere. A trade and consumption decline is the best outcome for a sustainable future unless people get bellicose. If we continue on the overshoot path then the inevitable collapse guarantees much greater bellicosity. The overshoot path is even more dangerous. I doubt I will waste any more time on arguing with faustusnotes.

  9. Ikonoklast, are you a vegan? If not, I have zero interest in being told by you that I am “okay with the destruction of wildlife”. If your real concern is animal rights in China, then please don’t conflate it with this pandemic, because as you would know then, pandemics are as likely to arise from poultry farming, pig farming and camel herding, and have nothing specific to do with China’s wet markets.

    We cannot convince China that we are “serious about addressing climate change, the 6th mass extinction and so on” because we are not. Nothing we have done in the past 30 years has given any indication that we are serious about any of these things. Why are you, safely ensconced in the world’s largest exporter of carbon emissions, interested in lecturing China about this? China is much more serious about reducing carbon emissions than we are. And again, why are you conflating these things with a global pandemic? They are related, but there is nothing in that relationship that is special to China, as we see from bird flu, swine flu, and MERS, none of which originated in China.

    Things we have established so far despite your bluster:
    1. China notified the WHO at the right time, and your only complaint is that they didn’t say it was SARS before they had sequenced the virus
    2. You have a special interest in China not killing animals, but no concern about this happening in any other country
    3. You think Chinese people should change their high risk behavior but have no similar concerns about gay men, western poultry and pig farmers, people who keep dogs as pets, or middle eastern camel herders
    4. You want to turn the pandemic into a general dumping ground for all your other political complaints about China
    5. You have no interest in national self-determination as a basis for political engagement, which means you’ve basically thrown out 100 years of left wing thought, from Lenin to Klein.

    Do you have any disagreements with points 1 to 5? I keep them tightly worded like this because you are prone to ranting.
    Also, for confirmation – are you a vegan?

  10. faustusnotes,

    I am not a vegan. I eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, pulses and grains but I also eat moderate levels of beef, sheep (mutton, lamb) and chicken. I eat small amounts of bacon and ham but other pork rarely. I have eaten kangaroo very occasionally from the supermarket and crocodile mince sausages once. I also eat some fish, eggs, milk and cheese. I do not eat endangered wildlife, nor do I eat bats, simians, snakes or pangolin which are quite dangerous to eat from a zoonotic disease perspective.

    Biologically, by evolution, I am an omnivore and I eat an omnivorous diet. I think that is ethically acceptable. I have many concerns about capitalist food production both in terms of cruel production techniques and in terms of incubating known epidemic causing pathogens. I am an anti-capitalist as well as anti-totalitarian. Those two things are fully implied when one is a democratic socialist.

    I am in complete agreement with this article.

    (1) China should have voiced and written the strong suspicion from symptology that it was SARS or a SARS variant. The WHO should have accepted or even inferred that as a real possibility. Both should have proceeded on worst case assumption risk analysis following “fat tail risk” and “option value cost-benefit analysis” theory. Look up those concepts. You don’t seem to be aware of them nor what they mean in this context. The West is also to blame for the capitalist neoliberal pressure put on the WHO (during the H1N1 pandemic) to place unenlightened neoliberal capitalist business as usual ahead of option value cost-benefit analysis. The West (except Australia / N.Z.) is equally to blame for its dilatory, lax, economically illiterate and science-denying approach to the need for pandemic shut-down.

    I am even-handed in my criticisms. The capitalists of the USA et. al. receive as much trenchant criticism in my comments as do totalitarian regimes like China. You don’t seem to recognize that. You seem to be promoting totalitarian China as perfect and beyond all reproach in all matters. That more than smacks of partisan propaganda. Why are you a shill for Totalitarian China? Perhaps you should come clean.

    2. I do have a concern about the killing of endangered wildlife happening in all countries. It is only you unfounded assumption that claims I don’t.

    3. “You think Chinese people should change their high risk behavior but have no similar concerns about gay men, western poultry and pig farmers, people who keep dogs as pets, or middle eastern camel herders.” This is another unfounded assumption. I think all people should avoid high risk sexual behavior without protections for their own health and for the health of others. I am concerned about meat which is not free range and about the capitalist feedlot, chicken battery etc. system. I source all my meat and eggs free range and locally including beef from a local beef grazer. Predictably, these meats are cheaper and of better quality than supermarket product.

    4. “You want to turn the pandemic into a general dumping ground for all your other political complaints about China.” Conversely, I mention pandemic issues for the sake of getting us more protections from pandemics. Where part of the blame sheets to Totalitarian State Capitalist China I sheet it there and where part of the blame sheets to the inadequately democratic Corporate / Oligarchic West, I sheet the blame there.

    5. “You have no interest in national self-determination as a basis for political engagement, which means you’ve basically thrown out 100 years of left wing thought, from Lenin to Klein.” Another unfounded assumption in one sense but not in another. I have not thrown out 100 years of left wing thought. I am a democratic socialist as I keep saying (and with Marxian autonomist leanings). I am Marxian (not Marxist), Veblenian and Bichler/Nitzan-ian in my political economy thought. I find little to nothing to disagree with on the Montly Review site, at least from the Editor and main authors. I have thrown out Lenin and Mao for sure. So just like Noam Chomsky, I am certainly no Leninist or Maoist. I don’t know who Klein is. Should I?

    I do believe in national self-determination though that does beg the question of what is a natural and rightful nation. For example, I see Taiwan as a natural and rightful nation yet China does not. Nor does China see Tibet as a natural and rightful nation which I do. One wonders why Totalitarian China (the current incarnation of China) does not see these are natural and rightful nations.

    National self-determination does confer a right against domestic interference but it does not confer a unilateral right to interfere with the rights and/or reasonable expectations of other nations, as in the Taiwan, Tibet and South China Sea sovereignty disputes. The plain fact of the matter is Totalitarian China is rapidly becoming a new overbearing bully and rogue nation of the world to match the USA at their worst; USA who also overreached morally and strategically in their attempts to achieve global hegemony. Now China is seeking global hegemony. Not on my watch mate, even if all I can do is blog against it. China needs to cease being a vicious totalitarian bully. The fact that the USA also is, is no excuse. China can find a place in the world without seeking global hegemony. It already has a large place with a very large land mass, the highest populaiton and the biggest economy in PPP measures and real production measures. Why is it still greedy? Why does it want more.


    But I waste my time. You will continue being a blind one-person cheer squad for Totalitarian China, the nation which can do no wrong in your eyes. You’ve answered none of my substantive points yet I have answered all of yours even though strictly speaking few of your points were substantive.

  11. Ikonoklast

    Thank you for confirming your hypocrisy regarding animal rights and the 6th extinction. I’ll bear it in mind.

    (1) Do you know that China did not report this symptomology to the WHO? Do you think the WHO was not aware of the symptoms? Do you have any factual basis for your assertions about what China should have done but didn’t? Given that the virus was confirmed as a coronavirus 7-10 days after the WHO was informed, how much benefit do you think would have arisen from prioritizing this idea at WHO? Do you think that the WHO would have proceeded 100% on the assumption it was another SARS from 1st January onward, without a sequence? GIven it arose in a market, would proceeding on that assumption when it turned out to be a non-transmissible bird flu have been a good idea? What if it had turned out to be a highly transmissible bird flu, from a large breeding farm that had sent birds all across the country, and a huge outbreak was about to engulf every province of China, but the WHO and the Chinese government had proceeded on the assumption that it was a SARS outbreak originating in Wuhan. Would that have been a good decision? Where would your “fat tail risk” be then?

    I think you don’t know what judgments the WHO was making or what information China was giving them. Feel free to dispute this, or to confirm that you don’t know. It’s important to know what assumptions you’re making.

    Please stop talking about “fat tail risks”, it’s a clown idea from a clown.

    I am not “a shill” for China. I have been working with Chinese colleagues (in mainland China) on the virus response for the past 2 months, and I can tell you now that they are absolutely furious about the way the West ignored their warnings. They worked so hard, and made so many sacrifices, to ensure you had a chance to act, and you squandered it all. And now, having ignored all their warnings, you’re bleating that they covered it up. They did not cover it up; I know they did not cover it up because I was working with their data two months ago. What they did do was repeatedly, strongly try to warn the west.

    Why is it, for example, that the first model Boris Johnson used for policy-making, from Imperial College, used ventilation rates based on standard pneumonia when the Chinese had already published strong evidence of much higher demand for artificial ventilation? (I was working with data from published Chinese papers in mid-February). Why is it that they only updated that model with the correct data after observing it in Italy? Do Chinese lives and Chinese research not matter? What was the consequence of that mistake? Why was Sadiq Khan telling Londoners on 6th March to go about their business, 6 weeks after the Chinese government shut Wuhan and instituted a nationwide lockdown, and told the world to prepare for this disease in no uncertain terms? Why was Khan ignoring this?

    It’s astounding to me that you can stand here now talking about how the Chinese government covered this up when from my perspective here in Japan they were constantly, publicly warning the whole world of the risks. This is why Japan started forcing live events to go audience-free in mid-February, and almost all professional conferences and meetings in Japan were canceled or modified from mid-February on, while people in the west were dismissing the whole thing as a flu. How come the Japanese government knew what was going on but western governments didn’t? Is there some secret channel? No, Asian governments acted because Asian governments listened, and Asian governments don’t dismiss things that cost Asian lives.

    (3) You “source your meat free range.” well, I’m sure the free range cow is happy you killed it. You understand that bats are free range, right? I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this before – you should have since you talk about environmental justice – but rich white western countries telling Asians what they should or shouldn’t eat on the basis of cruelty, repugnance or hygiene has a long and colonialist history and no one over here is listening. Your poultry, whether free range or not, is just as big a risk of zoonotic disease as a Chinese person’s bat. Get your own house in order.

    Points 4 and 5 answer themselves, really.

    I can tell you have no idea what the Chinese people and government did to stop this virus spreading, and you want to turn a couple of mistakes in the first weeks of the outbreak into an overarching narrative of totalitarian overreach endangering the world. But to do so you need to ignore all facts, all logic, and a large body of existing anti-colonialist leftist thought that has warned you repeatedly and seriously not to make the kind of mistakes you’re making. I can only shake my head in despair to see leftists lapping up these lies and distractions, and refusing to give credit to the Chinese people for what they did. Truly, in the last 3 years I have been disappointed over and over by the western left’s response to events in China, and its willingness to repeat every racist lie that the far right tells. I hope you will take this opportunity to learn a little more about the truth of what is happening here. I doubt it, but I hope.

  12. faustusnotes,

    It is not hypocritical to eat some meat if one is an obligate or near-obligate omnivore (depending on food supply types and cultural practice). Our teeth are clearly evolved to an omnivorous diet. It is not hypocritical to eat farmed animals and then not eat endangered animals or animals with a high danger of bringing novel zoonotic diseases into the human population. I don’t think you have the slightest understanding of the novel zoonotic disease issue; what it is and how seriously dangerous it is an over-populated, over-connected world. This definitely calls into question your medical knowledge. Maybe you are a lab assistant with not even a med lab technician degree?

    I have answered your direct, insulting and accusatory questions quite honestly. Do me the courtesy of doing the same.

    Q1. Are you a vegan?

    Q2. Do you assert that I am a hypocrite for not being a vegan but that Chinese and other peoples have an absolute right to eat bats (some endangered, some not) when it is now scientifically well-known known that bats carry high virus loads including many wild cornoaviruses and all this despite the known zoonotic disease risks? As I say, it calls into the foreground your obvious and serious lack of understanding of the novel zoonotic disease issue

    Q3. What scientific and/or medical qualifications do you have?

    Q4 Do you or do you not consider the Chinese government to be totalitarian?

    Q5 Do you consider that the Tibetans, Uyghurs and Taiwanese have no right to self-determination?

    Q6. What is your left stance? Are you a Leninist, a Maoist or a …….? Ostensibly, it seems to be mainly a stance that the CCP and the Chinese people can do no wrong. I’ve made trenchant criticisms of the capitalist and imperialist West on this blog many times, including in posts I know you have read or a a least perused.

  13. Ikon:

    I assume Faustus is either a far right Stalinist or, failing that, simply incapable of coherent thought. Either way, I thank him for the amusement!

  14. Hugo,

    We won’t get any real answers unless faustusnotes is as candid as I have been on this issue.

  15. Excellent posts, faustusnotes.. Thanks for posting the other, a well informed rational non-sinophobic side. Quite informative, and balanced.

  16. Svante and faustusnotes are clearly supporters of one party dictatorship.

    “The legal power of the Communist Party is guaranteed by the PRC Constitution and its position as the supreme political authority in the PRC is realized through its comprehensive control of the state, military, and media.” – Wikipedia.

    Noam Chomsky clearly sees what the Chinese is under Xi Jinping.

    “Noam Chomsky joins academics boycotting China Marxism conferences

    Academics respond to detention of students who supported workers trying to unionise

    Prof Chomsky: “To continue to participate in . . . officially sponsored Marxism-related events means we would stay complicit in the Chinese government’s game” © AFP Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Share on Whatsapp (opens new window) Save Save to myFT Yuan Yang in Beijing NOVEMBER 27, 2018 87 Noam Chomsky has joined more than 30 scholars from around the world calling for a boycott of Marxism conferences in China as part of the international backlash against Beijing’s crackdown on students organising pro-workers groups.

    The academics are mostly from leading US and UK universities and apart from Prof Chomsky, a linguistics scholar at the University of Arizona, include John Roemer, professor of political science and economics at Yale University.

    In a statement seen by the Financial Times, Prof Chomsky wrote: “To continue to participate in . . . officially sponsored Marxism-related events means we would stay complicit in the Chinese government’s game. Leftist scholars around the world should join the boycott of such conferences and events.””

    “Noam Chomsky among signatories of worldwide petition launched by Stop Repression in Hong Kong campaign” – StopHKRepression.

  17. Also note how Xi Xinping’s fascist regime has exploited the coronavirus tragedy to annex and militarise more of the South China Sea.

    Over the weekend, the Chinese government announced that it had formally established two new districts in the South China Sea that include dozens of contested islets and reefs. Many are submerged bits of atoll that do not confer territorial rights, according to international law.

    “It seems that even as China was fighting a disease outbreak, it was also thinking in terms of its long-term strategic goals,” said Alexander Vuving, a professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu. “The Chinese want to create a new normal in the South China Sea, where they are in charge, and to do that they’ve become more and more aggressive.”

    The Chinese government has made vast claims to the South China Sea that conflict with demarcations made by five other governments. An international tribunal has dismissed most of China’s claims to the waterway, but Beijing does not recognize the ruling and has instead built naval bases on reefs it now controls.

    I fear the Chinese Communist Party fascist dictatorship will be the 21st centuries Third Reich. We already know who will play the role of Lord Haw Haw in the upcoming battle. But where is our Churchill and Roosevelt? Boris and Donald?? Oh gawd, we’re truly screwed!

  18. Ikonoklast, the hypocrisy is not that you eat meat – interesting you think that is what I’m getting at. The hypocrisy is that you eat birds and mammals, some of which (chickens and pigs) are a known major zoonotic risk, but you demand that Chinese and Africans not eat certain mammals that are a known zoonotic risk. That’s hypocrisy. Do you understand this? You seem to have some understanding of what environmental justice is, but you don’t seem to see yourself trampling all over those concepts. I wonder why?

    You seem to be suggesting in your comment that you don’t believe poultry farms, pig farming or camel herding are a zoonotic disease risk. Is this correct? Is this what you believe? If so, you’re not really in a position to comment on my knowledge of this issue. If not – if you do accept your own diet carries significant zoonotic risk – then you are a hypocrite.

    I’ll also note how far the goalposts of this debate have moved. You started by claiming the Chinese govt had covered up the virus. I pointed out how wrong this was with copious evidence so you accepted that yes, they told the WHO as soon as they could, but then criticized them for not pushing more strongly that it is SARS. I pointed out that you don’t know what they pushed, and that pushing a SARS story would have been disastrous if it had turned out to be bird flu; you then decided that the real issue is “wet markets” (a racist term). When challenged on the hypocrisy of this position coming from someone who eats meat, you pretended not to understand where the hypocrisy is, or perhaps you don’t understand which animals actually carry zoonotic risk; in any case you then switched to challenging my diet (I am making no demands on anyone else’s diet so that’s irrelevant) and my qualifications; now your mate who wants a war with China has jumped in with some Mike Pompeo-level chest beating.

    You have shown your position on China’s role in this pandemic is comprehensively wrong. I am glad to have drawn these revelations out of you. I hope others reading this will reconsider how they assess media reporting on the Chinese “cover up” in light of your obvious inability to either defend it or construct a coherent story. I won’t bother arguing further with your position on why non-white people should only eat the food you tell them to – I’ve seen that story so many times before, and it’s not worth engaging with, especially when the person pushing it is not even a vegan.

    Hugo, if you think a communist government is fascist then really there’s nothing I can do for you. You’re not left wing, you don’t understand left wing politics, in fact you don’t understand politics at all; you’re just blathering. It’s not worth even trying to engage with someone who doesn’t know what fascism is.

  19. Faustus:

    The Chinese government is State Capitalist as Ikonoclast has tried explaining to you, obviously without success. It is no more communist than the Third Reich or the USA. The numbers speak for themselves:

    The National People’s Congress (NPC), which serves as the country’s legislature and will be responsible for voting on scrapping presidential term limits in about two weeks, contains 45 billionaires.

    And there are a whopping 59 billionaires in the party’s top advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. The CPPCC includes entrepreneurs, academics, and even celebrities, who advise the government and legislative arms.

    While this only accounts for 2% of the roughly 5,000-odd members, their total net worth amounts to $US624 billion. That’s more than double Ireland’s GDP, and more than three times that of New Zealand’s.

    The billionaires includes the founder of one of China’s biggest online retailers, the CEO of smartphone maker Xiaomi, and the CEO of search giant Baidu. Also included in the National People’s Congress is the country’s richest man, Pony’ Ma, the CEO of Tencent, who is worth $US47 billion.

    With some workers lucky to earn a few hundred dollars a month, the net worth of these leaders illustrates China’s vast income inequality.

    A third of the country’s wealth is owned by 1% of households, and 25% of the poorest households own just 1% of China’s wealth, according to a study from Peking University.

  20. I think that Chinese workers should actually be delighted if the “west” stops trade with China. That means that what ever it is that the Chinese workers have been manufacturing are going to have to be sold to other low cost labor countries, or back to themselves.
    That means that Chinese workers are boing to be able to buy all these products that they want at low costs. Eventally they will not even want any more. Inventories will build up and then the Chinese leadership is going to have to employ these workers to make things that these workers and other low cost workers in the third world want. It would seem to a win win solution for almost everyone.
    EXCEPT the question of raw materials then comes in to play. If the Chinese are not making things for us in the west that we are duped in to wanting to buy then we will have to make these things are self.
    That means that the raw materials for these things have to be directed to factories in the west. That means a one world sytem directing the flow of raw materials will no longer be operating.
    That may initially give an advantage to the US due to its currency as the world reserve currency. But an understanding of MMT would lead on to believe that there is little inherent reason for the US to remain the world reserve currency. If the currency compition is not decisive that could lead to increased military compition.
    For the record I do think that US currency has what I call a Real Estate advantage. I see the US currency as not being backed by Gold, or even oil but by Real Estate.
    But how unreasonable would it be for the Chinese to have to live off of the resources that they can aquire from their SCO partners including Iran and Iraq, and the South China Sea? By my calculation it would be completely unreasonabl not to recognize the claims of the Chinese with 18% of the world’s population to their slice of the world’s resource pie just off thier borders in the South China Sea.
    If we really want to demonstrate that we understand what the word reasonable means we would support a demand that the USA ceed Alaska, except for the panhandle, to the Chinese with the stipulation that the Chinese do not build any military bases in Alaska and all firearms carried by any Chinese citizens in Alaska be limited to two rounds. In addition any American Citizens living in Alaska would have to be granted Chinese Citizenship if they wanted it.
    Oh the poor AESEAN Countries with one half the population of China will loose out on the resources of the South China Sea. What a horrible injustice! Their claim is so much more reasonable than the Chinese. They are so much more worthy of the support of Americans and Australians. What could have possed me to support the State Capitalist Chinese in their grab of resources over the much weaker Vietnamese and Filipinos?
    Well I will now reveal what possessed me to do that. It was the knowledge that Australia lies much closer to Vietnam and Thailand than China.
    I think that is a perfectly acceptable explination.

  21. I’m posting this here as JQ rarely writes on information technology, unlike his sustained interest in climate and energy, the main subject of my contributions to the Message Board.

    Arm Holdings has just celebrated 35 years since their first RISC micro processor, designed for Acorn’s budget educational desktop computer, was switched on. Licensees have shipped over 160 billion of the descendants of this chip, 20 for each human inhabitant of the planet. You probably have at least ten in your house: phones, TV, router, modern washing machine, smart meter, inverter… Shipments are running at 6 billion per quarter.

    There two good reasons to cheer on Arm. One is that their IP model is cheap, efficient and relatively democratic. They license designs to all comers anywhere at a low fee per chip, along with lots of technical support, making themselves indispensable innovators in a competitive ecosystem while deterring new entrants to their niche. They are close to a benevolent monopoly.

    The second is that their latest push is to add machine learning capabilities to the tiny processors, pushing AI away from the centralised cloud into a host of devices at the edge. A walking stick for the blind with sensors is one nice example. This development creates some hope that we may replace Alexa and Siri, slaves of giant corporations on temporary loan to us, with robot Jeeveses who are devoted to our interests alone.

  22. faustusnotes,

    You have not done me the courtesy of answering my direct questions as I did you the courtesy of answering your direct questions. You also have not answered any of the issues relating to China’s oppression and denial of self-determination to Tibet, Taiwan, the Uyghurs or Hong Kong. You have not answered Chomsky’s criticisms of China’s oppression. Chomsky has credibility as a leftist and he is as strongly critical of Stalinist and Chinese repressions as he is of the USA’s oppressions and aggressions.

    I did not move goal posts, I acknowledged further facts as they came to light to me. These facts placed China’s response in a somewhat better light on the COVID-19 emergence and action issue but still did not and does not entirely exonerate them of some responsibility on this novel zoonotic disease front. Your argument seems to be that the Chinese way of life is non-negotiable even when parts of it place the globe at risk. This is the same arrogant, non-negotiable argument we see from apologists for other superpowers. I acknowledged the West handled the pandemic very badly. Again, this is an example of my even-handed intellectual honesty.

    I live in Australia and might add that personally I was prepared for this emergency, starting my preparations by late January. I was well aware of what was developing in China. So your accusations of unpreparedness couched as “you” are inaccurate if intended to apply to me personally. If intended to apply to the West (as in “you the West”) they are technically accurate but also in terms of forensic psychology revealing of a typecasting split in your own thinking which is of some note in a person so very keen to throw out accusations of racism against others. The proposition that China and the Chinese people are beyond all criticism and that any and all criticism of the Chinese nation and its actions is racism is absurd.

    You still do not understand the novel zoonotic disease issue. Flu(s) crossed from wild animals in the order of hundreds of years ago (at least). They are now not novel. I did mention the serious dangers of capitalist modes of production of animal foods for now established human diseases like flu. I even linked a paper in the (Marxist) Monthly Review. Again, you simply fail to understand and/or deliberately misrepresent my position. Speaking logically, when A has bad points yet probably is obligate and B is far worse and clearly not obligate, the fact that we do A does not mean that B is acceptable too. The correct logic is that we should modify A and eschew B. But I suspect your ideology swamps your logical reasoning.

    You are a dishonest debater and evasive about your true affiliations. You are too ready to throw out the accusation of racism at fair criticism of China’s actions from invasions and occupations (Tibet) to the practices of butchering and eating of wildlife types (bats and simians in particular) which carry dangerous diseases with a proven track record of jumping to humans in the very recent past.

    I am finished with your partisan, unscientific and illogical nonsense.

  23. James Wimberley,

    You are such a techno-optimist! 🙂 That’s an observation, not a criticism. I am a bleak existential pessimist.

    In defense of J.Q., he does take a keen interest in renewable energy technology and correctly predicted the cost per unit energy triumph of solar PV. I was a believer in solar convection tower technology in the early 2000s. I really thought it would triumph. It has the advantage of producing power 24/7 which is a little known fact. It works on the temperature differential between the surface and the top of the tower, which differential actually increases at night. It would produce more power at night.

    However, a solar convection tower still needs a “glasshouse” apron around it. The cost of this would probably equal that of a similar area of solar PV. Then there is the large engineering project of tower of up to 500 m or even 1,000 m high. We could certainly build it. The world’s tallest building is the 828 metre tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai. However, the costs would be considerable. Then there are the wind turbines set around inside the base at the inlets; a different fan turbine design but comparable with open wind turbines in the core electrical technology of the generators.

    The real problem I guess is the cost of apron plus tower. It seems they did not turn out to be cost effective. The great thing about solar PV of course is no mechanical moving parts. It’s all electrical. Low maintenance. Solar towers would always be operational. They would take out and change over or refurbish one turbine at a time on a schedule.

    Interesting Freudian sidelight. The phallus-like solution failed. The spread, passive solution succeeded. The female principle triumphs again! 😉

  24. Self Determination, what a screwy concept. The Catalonians have the worst case for Independence in the history of mammals. Then come the Tibetians, followed closely by the Ukrainians, and the Croatians.
    Formosa is another matter. The Chinese claim over Formosa is not as strong as the German claim over Elsass. If someone really wants to be reasonable they would conclude that Formosa is actually the most eastern provence of Mozambique.
    So to reasonably solve the language barrier that has evolved due to the long period of seperation that the Formosans have endured from their African cousins in Mozambique I think that it would be reasonable to allow the people of Mozambique offer t sell the Island of Formosa to the highest bidder.
    Four nations should be allowed to bid for the right to purchase Formosa from their righful owners, the people of Mozambique. The four nations that should be allowed to make bids are the Phillipines, Taiwan*, Japan and China.
    The people of Mozambique might complain that I have infringed upon their self determination. Tough cookies. As I said it is a screwy concept. Self determination is of course a rather important concept. But, it is not absolute. There are exceptions. I am the most qualified to say what the exceptions are.
    *Taiwan is at the moment an illegitimate defacto nation. (Yes it is true that because self determination is screwy every nation is an illigitimate defacto nation. I just thought that I should point that out in the case of Taiwan to avoid confucian.)

  25. A trchno-optimist? On the energy transition, I plead guilty. Renewable technogies are cheaper than fossil for electricity and at par for buses and cars, and the gap is certain – not probable, certain – to widen. Coal is sinking fast and the death crisis (it will be long) of oil and gas has begun,
    first in the bubble that is US fracking.

    I don’t see how you can read a similar general optimism over information technology into my brief comment about one company. On AI, we have a chance to save our autonomy, no more. But if you take self-driving cars as a model, the AI driving algorithm may run in a fully decentralised way in your car, but it’s generated in the cloud by a handful of giant corporations. We will have to fight to keep control of our house AI Jeeves. The wired world has given us the Internet and this blog, but also social media weaponised for targeted agitprop, and the hollowing out of true journalism. We don’t have the revolution under control.

    A sad footnote: the reputable blog I used to contribute to, Mark Kleiman’s RBC (, has just closed down. After Mark’s untimely death there weren’t enough contributions or readers. My last post is a riff on the odd history of the European 12-star flag.

  26. I got really pissed off tonight watching this movie called Molly’s Game. Watching such disfunctional behavior really put me n the mood for some Havanna Rum. Then my comments about the stupidity of self determination got me to thinking about Yugoslavia.
    Real Leftist are internationalists. They fight and fought for a one world government. NO as in ZERO fucking self determination. Well I am not a Real Leftist. But I recognize they have a point. Once you allow for self determinaiton there is no end to it. You end up with atomization. The only type of political system that can be constructed with human atoms is libertarianism.
    Self determinatiion you say, Yes that leads to Ireland breaking away from the other British Islands. Then it leads to Ulster breaking from Ireland, then if it were applied without hypocrisy it leads to some city in Ulster breaking away from Ulster, then some neighborhood in that city breaking away from the city and then the baker, butcher and candelstick maker breaking away from the neighborhood to lower their marginal tax rate.
    But really the idea of a one world government is just as completely stupid as liberrtarianism.
    Anyways that brings me back to Yugoslavia. There is a happy median between self determination and a one world government. And the Croatians, Serbs, Slovenes, Bosnians, Albanians, Macadonians, and Montenegrens, screwed it up.
    They should all be turned inside out and be forced to return to the starting line and start all over again without collecting 200 dollars let alone pounds.
    Not only them but the nut cases who tore apart the Hapsburg Empire should be torn apart as well.
    No of course I do not mean that the people who lived under the Hapsburg Empire should have remained a monarchy or even a constitutional monarchy. I mean that they should have created a United States of Soutern Europe in 1920. Jesus Christ human beings can not even do something simple right.
    Even the really smart ones usually think it is a good idea to give the stupid and the irresponsible people as much say in how to run a country as those who are responsible. Of course I understand why they do not want to give up on this concept of giving everyone an equal say. It is because they are afraid that if they come out and flat out say you are a chlld and I am a Nanny, politcally speaking that they will look bad, that they will look like hypocrites, and that they will lose credibiiity. They have to get over it.
    A nanny does not care what those he/she is responsible for think of his/her stewardship. If you and your compatriots alienate those that you are responsible for enough they will do one of two things. They will either run away to another country or they will try to kill you. But if you and your compatriots are a responsible Nannies you will not alienate those that you are responsible for to that extent. A nanny is at least 5 times smarter than those that they are responsible for.
    If you drive your charges to the point that they are trying to kill you or trying to run away you have to take a good look at yourself to make sure that you are not the problem. Once you do that it is possible that you will determine that the problem really is not you and your compatriots. But you would have been prepared for that eventuality anyways.
    The implication of that is that the world is not big enough for Platonic-Confucians motivated to achieve an end to human exploitation, and counter revolutionaries who wish to achieve the freedom to exploit other people to achieve their own desires. This lack of space justifies the use of violence to prevent the rule of counter revolutionaries. It does not justify deliberate torture. Example, mass judicial executions of counter revolutionaries are allowed by real nannies. Pulling out peoples finger nails, or shoving a hose up their ass and and turning on the water until they throw uo their own shit* to force them to reveal the names of their co-conspirators is not allowed. (Some people may feel that this example is to graphic. Well it was used by Harry Mulisch in one of the most important European novels about the second world war.) I can elaborate on this distinction between murder and torture if it is neccessary.
    The reasonable result is that through proper education and training those in society who want to have a say in the macro decisions of the country can be given a place in that discussion once they have demonstrated their fitness for such a responsiblity.

  27. I waver between politico-pessimism and techno-optimism. I don’t doubt the technology can do the job – but won’t, because of the failures of politics, not failures of technology. On the optimistic side of the scales, the successes of RE continue to impact the politics, undermining the alarmist economic fears that have been Doubt, Deny, Delay politicking’s most potent meme; claiming commitment to zero emissions as certain to cause economic ruination does not work nearly so well with the wider public anymore. Still popular amongst captains of commerce and industry though – even if emissions reductions are not going to be ruinous to Business in aggregate it will be, must be, to some sectors and specific businesses and those are using all the influence they can muster.

    Business associations and lobby groups may make appropriate noises about supporting climate action but pare away the distracting rhetoric and the bottom line is they will oppose any climate policies that raise costs for businesses, ie if fixing it isn’t cheaper (up front, specifically excluding those fortunately for them, hard to quantify externalised costs) than not fixing it, the planet can just cook. I have come to suspect that for groups like the BCA even the “must not hurt Australian businesses” line does not refer to businesses in aggregate – if it hurts fossil fuel based industries, as effective climate relevant energy policy must – that counts as reason to oppose.

    Technology? Solar is unstoppable as it is right now yet still has enormous potential to get a lot cheaper. Wind is effective right now and will get better. AEMO is now saying 75% solar and wind – with reliability – is supporable by 2025, mostly through market rule changes, not technology. Network instability issues that were holding back solar farms appear to be solved.

    Then there is storage – and never has there been more R&D going into improving batteries; electronic tech and cordless tool makers want better. EV makers want better. And solar and wind is being built at scales that exceed building of all other kinds of new electricity generation together; the commercial opportunities for better batteries – several kinds of better, not just one – have never been greater. Also I think scientific understanding of materials and their properties for that end has never been better too; the best of all possible batteries could come from computer modelling predicting the properties of materials and avoiding all that tedious trial and error.

  28. Ikonoklast, it’s good to see you admit you were wrong about the cover-up. This is because you believed incomplete and poor information given to you by a chronically racist and biased media. We’ll come back to that.

    You say you aren’t a hypocrite demanding Chinese stop eating bats because poultry is no longer a zoonotic risk. You say that influenza has been around for hundred of years. There are two problems with this position. 1) it’s scientifically wrong. H5N1, MERS and swine flu are recent species-jumpers, and it is not the case that poultry is no longer a risk. Don’t tell other people they don’t understand zoonosis if you don’t understand this. 2) the idea that you can demand other people stop doing something environmentally damaging that you have been doing for years because you didn’t know better and now they do is at the heart of the climate justice movement, and was the reason China led a bloc of developing countries to demand concessions in the Kyoto protocol. This is a fundamental left-wing position – we can’t demand other countries not do what we did, without making concessions of some kind ourselves. I would expect you to understand that.

    Now we get to your broader attack on Chinese geo-politics. You’ve raised the Uyghur situation, Taiwan and repeatedly Tibet, and I think you mentioned Chomsky’s sadly misguided support of the Hong Kong fascists, so let’s deal with each in turn.

    Until Trump took the presidency China’s behavior in Xinjiang was lauded by western media as an example of good hearts-and-minds alternatives to a military response to islamic terrorism. There were fluffy tales about female Imams and reforming Islam in a culturally-appropriate way. Of course that was when American policy was the pivot to Asia; now that American policy is trade war we have a sudden slew of media about how there is a genocide happening in Xinjiang. Many of these stories are straight-up wrong (e.g. mosque demolitions “verified” by satellite turn out never to happen). The famous Australian documentary on the issue depended heavily on testimony from known terrorists. What the Chinese government is doing in Xinjiang is bad but it is not genocide or concentration camps, and they have been very open about what they are doing (and were supported by the west until Trump). You can bet that the people in the reeducation camps in Xinjiang are being treated better than refugees in camps in Australia, or any prisoners in America. Incidentally, what action have you taken against Australia’s abhorrent refugee camps? On a per capita basis, which country do you think imprisons more people indefinitely, and which country do you think has worse conditions for its internees? Why is it that the left in Australia was not talking about Uyghur until Trump became president and the same media who brought us the Iraq war started telling stories about this? See my point above about the stories you’re willing to believe – I told you we’d come back to this.

    Taiwan has long been part of China, until the hundred years of humiliation and then the Japanese colonization of the island. It was taken over after Japanese defeat by a clique of nationalists fleeing the government of China, who murdered indigenous people and set up a 30 year reign of terror on the island. Here’s a tip for you: if ever you want to revisit the glory days of Australian anti-Aboriginal racism, get a nationalist Taiwanese dude to tell you what he thinks of Taiwan’s indigenous population. I’ve experienced it and it isn’t pretty. Did you know that Taiwanese speak the same language (Minnango in Japanese) as the people of Fujian? It has a long history as part of China and it is only a “country” because it was overrun by nationalists who became a client state of the USA in service of US imperialist goals. Returning Taiwan to China is a necessary part of the decolonization of Asia, and all leftists should support this goal.

    Tibet was a religious dictatorship before China invaded, and the Dalai Lama is a right wing nutjob. If you support freedom for Tibet you support the establishment of a feudal theocratic dictatorship under the rule of a man who is patently unfit for public office, or one of his mystically-determined descendants. It would be a good idea to examine what life was like for ordinary Tibetans before you call for this. Also, to recognize that Tibetan and Chinese history have been entangled for a thousand years – China was sometimes ruled by Tibetans (or parts of China were) and vice versa. You should also be aware that there are Tibetans who benefit from Chinese rule, and no those Tibetans are not all rich party members. (And yes in the early era of the conquest Chinese people treated Tibetans terribly, but things have changed enormously in the last 20-30 years)

    Finally Hong Kong. The antiElab movement are a cover for a wave of racist violence against mainlanders, which includes attacking young Chinese women with iron bars, killing an old Chinese street cleaner with stones, and setting a Chinese labourer on fire (and sending the video to his wife). They call mainlanders cockroaches and advocate for their violent expulsion. The extradition law they oppose was introduced in order to extradite a murderer to Taiwan (he killed his pregnant girlfriend). It does not enable people to be simply shipped off to China and punished, because it only applies to crimes that are illegal in Hong Kong and punishable by more than 7 years in jail. Hong Kong is a gangster hideout in Asia, and this law would have made it no longer possible for people to treat HK as their bolthole, but it would also have made the rich families that control HK vulnerable to prosecution for tax evasion. How convenient that these well-funded violent street mobs suddenly started protesting a law that was bad for the rich families that own HK! Furthermore, there is no viable path to an independent left-wing Hong Kong state – it is completely dependent on China for resources and has no industry. It would become a tax- and crime-haven in Asia, that would hold back the progress Asia is making towards freedom from human trafficking, tax evasion and organized crime. What’s more, HK was only ever leased from China after the opium wars, and its return to China was just and proper and completely legal. HK was never a democracy before its return to China, and the demand for democracy was a UK poison pill that the Chinese govt accepted. There is no reason China should maintain one country two systems, no other country would ever accept such madness, and it is remarkable that China even bothers to maintain this system. From a left wing perspective the return of HK to China is a necessary part of the decolonization of Asia, and the antiElab movement is a right wing, fascist uprising against the decolonization of Asia that all leftists should oppose.

    I think you did not know about the racist language or racist crimes committed by the antiElab movement, because you believe everything a racist and subservient media tells you. Instead of reading stupid Marxist journals you should broaden your reading to include left wing people who support China, Chinese state media, and the small media organizations from the diaspora that report honestly on China. Better still, make actual (non-patronizing) friendships with mainland Chinese and try to listen to their perspective. I work with Chinese people based in Japan and in mainland China and I can tell you that the perspective you get from them is remarkably refreshing. You are being lied to, as part of a long, careful build up to a major confrontation between the USA and China that, whether it ends in war or not, will be a disaster for Australia.

    China is a left wing government, it is not fascist, and it is one of the few surviving examples of successful communism (along with Vietnam and Cuba). As leftists we should be giving it the benefit of the doubt, looking for a wide range of sources of information on it, and judging it according to an objective and realistic standard. Our perspective on all international issues should be informed by a) principles of environmental justice (not patronizing white saviour grand standing such as yours), b) national self-determination as a framework for decolonization and development and c) the recognition that the real enemy of working people and freedom globally is, was and always will be the USA. Lots of leftists in Asia get this. If leftists in Australia genuinely want to be part of Asia, rather than just US puppets, they need to get it to.

  29. fautusnotes,

    See my last post. You still answer no questions (though I did) and make more false assertions and misconstructions.

  30. Here is something you all above may effect… notndebate.

    If China decided to patent suicide algorithms, faust & Ikon, you’d write 2 boiks worth of words about it. Facebook and google have done this while you are debating. Any actions? Light not heat?

    Read this “Recently, Facebook patented the system”. Data is the new authoity, facist, capitalist, communist, far eight left green black & white swan controller.

    Do you faust, Ikon, Svante, Hugo – use Fbook?

    “Tech Giants Are Using This Crisis to Colonize the Welfare System

    All these projects represent a massive increase in corporations’ ability to intervene in the management of social life: the medium only improves their ability to extract and process data. Consider Facebook’s “suicide prevention tool,” that employs machine learning to interpret various behavioral signs to identify postssuggesting that “someone might be at risk” of killing oneself: this project simply could not exist without Facebook’s preexisting power to access and analyze all users’ actions on its platform, however personal. Recently, Facebook patented the system.”

    Now play nice and provide solutions to this please.

    #1. All data owned to be owned and controlled by its human. Do I need an apostrophe for its?

  31. Ikonoklast, the only two questions of yours I haven’t answered concern my diet and qualifications. I haven’t answered these because a) I’m not demanding anyone else change their diet so my hypocrisy doesn’t arise and b) I’m not making any claims to expertise, so my qualifications are irrelevant. When I tell you “trust me, I’m a lab assistant” you can demand qualifications.

    I think the Taiwanese have a right to self-determination within their proper national boundaries, i.e. as a province of China. The people of HK get no more right to self-determination than do the people of Sydney, and are being given an inordinate amount of extra self-determination by the Chinese govt considering their status as a second-tier Chinese city. The people of Tibet have never had a right of self-determination, since they were ruled by a theocratic dictatorship that denied even the right to a basic education. As I understand it that dictatorship didn’t even register Tibet with the League of Nations or UN. Their right of self-determination is irrelevant. Once the borders of China have been restored, these countries will all gain the full rights of self-determination they obtain from being part of a legitimate state, just as Tasmania does by virtue of its membership of the Australian commonwealth.

    I can’t see any other question marks in your comments, so please forgive me for not answering questions that haven’t been asked. Now, as you were – do you still think poultry pose no zoonotic risk to humans?

  32. Thanks James Wimberley:4:46 AM.
    Wow. “A walking stick for the blind with sensors is one nice example.” And 6bn chips a qtr!

    Here is another example, although as above, until each human owns their own data, problems may emerge benefiting owners of tech or nefarious actors – state or other.

    “Wireless smart contact lens for diabetic diagnosis and therapy “The smart contact lens device, built on a biocompatible polymer, contains ultrathin, flexible electrical circuits and a microcontroller chip for real-time electrochemical biosensing, on-demand controlled drug delivery, wireless power management, and data communication. ”

  33. faustusnotes,

    I won’t waste my time. Ideology blinds you, Your creed is a blind one. “China right or wrong!” “Leninism / Maoism / Xi-ism right or wrong!”

    You don’t understand that a reference to the original historical jump of the first flu virus from the wild to man is not the same as your reference to new recombinant flu variants under modern conditions. You don’t understand that a reference to flu does not include MERS which is a coronovirus not a flu virus.

    Asia is the epicenter of the evolution of modern flu types. “Epicenter” here does not mean “only originating place” just “most significant originating place”. I mention that because of your great capacity to misconstrue key words.

    “Pandemic influenza in humans is a zoonotic disease caused by the transfer of influenza A viruses or virus gene segments from animal reservoirs. Influenza A viruses have been isolated from avian and mammalian hosts, although the primary reservoirs are the aquatic bird populations of the world. In the aquatic birds, influenza is asymptomatic, and the viruses are in evolutionary stasis. The aquatic bird viruses do not replicate well in humans, and these viruses need to reassort or adapt in an intermediate host before they emerge in human populations. Pigs can serve as a host for avian and human viruses and are logical candidates for the role of intermediate host. The transmission of avian H5N1 and H9N2 viruses directly to humans during the late 1990s showed that land-based poultry also can serve between aquatic birds and humans as intermediate hosts of influenza viruses. That these transmission events took place in Hong Kong and China adds further support to the hypothesis that Asia is an epicentre for influenza and stresses the importance of surveillance of pigs and live-bird markets in this area.” – R J Webby and R G Webster.

    China as well as the West needs to look at its food production systems. I keep saying there is plenty of culpability and responsibility to go around. You keep saying the West is responsible for nigh on everything and China is virtually beyond criticism. That is a absurd.

  34. Ikonoklast, are you claiming that H5N1, swine flu and MERS are not new? Are you saying that there is no risk to human health from the consumption of poultry, and thus your demands for Chinese to stop eating bats are not hypocritical? I want to know, because if you seriously believe that pigs and chickens pose no serious zoonotic risk and western consumptions are not a planetary health issue, there’s really nothing left to say – you’re egregiously wrong and I can’t do anything about that. If you accept that poultry and pig farming in the west (including oz) is an ongoing zoonotic threat, then we can begin to discuss the hypocrisy of demanding Chinese stop eating bats.

    This isn’t about “China is beyond criticism”. It’s about sincerity, hypocrisy and solidarity.

  35. faustusnotes,

    LOL. You misunderstood again. This is priceless. This ends here or it will become a Pete and Dud tape.

  36. Faustusnotes and Ikonoklast: While the sandpit is for long side debates, it isn’t exempt from the rules about civil discussion, including no personal attacks on other commenters. I’ve deleted the last comments each of you made. If you want to make any more, be polite.

  37. Faustusnotes, Ikonoclast

    1. Your exchange suggests to me that the inquiry into the source of the Sars Cov2 virus and associated questions, as proposed by the Australian government, would be helpful. Yesterday’s smh contained an article according to which the EU Commission has expressed support for the Australian proposal. I do know from direct observation of German public TV programs, which one can access in Australia, China’s economic threats to Australia’s proposal is reported. In the UK a group of people called for financial compensation from China (something I believe isn’t going to help even if it could be enforced.)

    2. Why did China object to Australia closing its borders with respect to China before the WHO had announced a pandemic?

    3. Obviously China could not make an announcement earlier on to close down the economies all over the world. I also accept that there was uncertainty in November or early to mid- December 2019 in China. However, my question is, why did China not close her borders for a period of time she considers necessary to gain clarity on the clinical observations as described in Ikonoclast’s post? (I understand China’s medical research facilities are well developed and respected. Hence I assume the rest of the world would have understood such a measure as a short term precautionary measure and, as such, would have been highly respected.)

  38. KT2: thanks for the link to the pixilated “wealth to scale” page. Jaw dropping.

  39. Ernestine,

    I agree.

    1. Calls for financial compensation from China are not justified, would not be granted in any international court even if one had jurisdiction and would not be enforceable. China, like any superpower, can simply say “no” to such processes and proposals.

    2. That is a very good question. Did China (meaning the CCP) NOT want us to protect ourselves? What other reason could they have? They knew then how dangerous the pathogen was and they were protecting themselves, vigorously. China has NOT been a good state actor in this entire drama and has only itself to blame if it has now lost trust and advocates around the globe. This is not to say that other nations are always good actors. I add that caveat as people seem prone to infer that when one says that A is not a good actor then one is saying B is a good actor. Logically, that inference does not necessarily follow, of course.

    3. Again good questions and good observations. China has squandered considerable good will around the world, at least what it had not already lost by oppressing Tibetans, Uyghurs and other minorities as well as moving more and more to the totalitarian end of the governance spectrum. Also requiring a mention is the issue of China playing a role in denying Taiwan a seat at the WHO table. Taiwan is for all practical purposes a sovereign nation and the Taiwanese people clearly voted for this sovereignty in free and fair democratic elections.

  40. “I do know from direct observation of German public TV programs, which one can access in Australia, China’s economic threats to Australia’s proposal is reported.”

    That they report concerning any lackey agents of repeated US actions directed against significant SCO trade partners of Germany that potentially or actually affect significant German economic interests is no surprise. Switzerland, Allseas Group SA, and Nord Stream 2 another recent example.

  41. John Quiggin, noted, I will try harder, but I would also like to point out to you that your blog is being used to propagate baseless conspiracy theories – e.g. that COVID is a Chinese bio-weapon, and that China oppresses minorities – which is why I am commenting so extensively here. It is really exhausting to see this kind of lie allowed to spread so freely around the internet.

    Ernestine Gross, in answer to your points …
    1) we have never had an inquiry into the origin of HIV, swine flu, H5N1, MERS, Ebola, or any other emerging infectious diseases. Can you see that perhaps a demand to have an inquiry into this specific disease is simply sinophobia? Why does China get singled out for this treatment? Also do you think it’s a really good idea to do this, given that viruses are often identified in countries they didn’t originate in? (See e.g. HIV). What happens if it turns out to have been an accident at a US bio lab in Maryland in November 2019, as Nathan Rich was suggesting on Tik Tok? What do you do then? Will you be demanding reparations from the USA for China? And is this the framework under which future global health actions will operate? Do you think any country will be encouraged to be open and honest about outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases if they’re gonna get sued? If DRC sees China sued for COVID-19, what do you think DRC will do next time there’s an Ebola outbreak?

    2) Other countries (e.g. Japan) did not close their borders. The WHO does not recommend closing borders in response to outbreaks, and indeed opposed closing borders during the West African Ebola outbreak. China did not object when Japan closed its borders to travelers specifically from Wuhan. China was rightfully angry that nations were not following WHO advice in a way that negatively affected China. This will become a particular sore point if in future nations allow continued entry to people from America, even though they closed their borders quickly to China. China is sensitive about the unfair way it is treated on the world stage, and the entire epidemic response is an example of this.

    3) China closed Wuhan – the primary source of the infection – to both international and national travel on 23rd January, when there were still only a small number of cases and deaths. Initially China also opposed repatriating foreigners to their home countries – that repatriation process likely contributed to the start of the US outbreak and is, frankly, an incredibly stupid public health policy. The entire point of closing a plague city is broken if certain rich groups get to just leave, especially if (as is the case in the USA) the repatriation process is amateurish. Any complaints about China failing to close its borders to international travel make no sense if they come from countries like the UK and USA that demanded the right to breach those closures for their own citizens.

    Once again these questions, when balanced against other nations’ abject failure to take the virus seriously, show clearly that the questions are based in racism and great power politics, and have nothing to do with public health or a genuine desire to solve this pandemic problem.

  42. foustusnotes, thank you for your post addressed to me, although you did not address my questions. My questions arose from my own observations. Perhaps they will be answered if and when an inquiry takes place. If not, then they will remain unanswered and in due course I might forget them.

  43. It should be obvious why China has every right to be completely oppossed to any investigation in to how the Covid-19 desease spread through out the world. Because this investigation will be completely lacking in the broader historical context.
    It is a rerun of the historical analysis of world war two. The official narrative of World War 2 completely ignores how in the prelude to that war in Europe the western countries placed an arms embargo on “both” sides of the Spanish Civil War, ostensibly to promote peace, while Germany and Italy gave direct support to Franco’s forces.
    This official narrative also completely ignores the failure of the western powers to protect Norway and Sweden which they could have done with the ease of an Owl catching a rabbit. FUCKING PATHETIC!
    The world largest Navy with the support of the huge French Navy could not prevent a Navy with fewer major ships than I play with in the bath tub from mounting an ambipious assault on an overseas country.
    Then seeeing what a huge blunder the Germans had made failed to take advantage of that blunder by placing allied forces in Sweden with or WITHOUT the support of the Swedish government. Even if the Swedish government had refused permission to allow allied forces to come ashore to help protect them from the Germans the occupation of Sweden would have been easier than the occupation of Ireland in 1920!!
    Furthermore an investigation that focuses on Chinese mistakes will unfairly make, collectively speaking, the Chinese look bad in the eyes of the world when the actions that were taken on their terriotory were really done by highly intellegent heroic rogue freedom fighters that the world is by and large to stupid to understand are fighting on their behalf, without the knowledge of the Chinese leadership, who are tied at the hip to the one world leadership.
    The readers of this site should not forget a basic principle of psycology. I forget at the moment what the name of this principle is but here is an example. I love it when Catholics or ex Catholics write a critical diatribe of the Catholic Church. But if a Baptist, or even a Latter Day Saint, were to say the same thing it would annoy the hell out of me.
    The implication of that is that the proposed investigations of what happened in China will do nothing to promote world peace. More importantly they will not provide any information on how to aviod such mistakes in the future BECUASE THE TRUE STORY OF WHAT HAPPENED AT THAT TIME CAN NOT AND WILL NOT EVER BE TOLD.

  44. Svante, your interpretation seems to suggest that Australia was portrayed as a lackey of the USA. If so, then I can tell you I have no memory of anything said that would support such an interpretation even tangentially. On the contrary, in one program China was portrayed as a bully. (But this program does not hold back with portraying any politician in Germany or the USA or Hungary or Turkey, to name a few, in a manner they see fit.)

    There are reports that Chinese officials attempted to influence German government officials (public servants) and there were strongly worded objections to such behaviour, both on the official level and in the public. Furthermore, the Federal Government is reported to have stated that the public servants adhered to their duty of loyalty to their country and the public was assured that the Chinese attempt to influence was deflected.

  45. Ikonoclast

    You write: “Also requiring a mention is the issue of China playing a role in denying Taiwan a seat at the WHO table. Taiwan is for all practical purposes a sovereign nation and the Taiwanese people clearly voted for this sovereignty in free and fair democratic elections.”

    Oddly, this doesn’t seem to raise any questions in the heads of those who talk about sinophobia.

  46. Yeah, it’s funny how the individuals who mewl about sinophobia want to throw the Tibetans, Uyghurs, Taiwanese and Hong Kongers into the jaws of Chinese fascist dictator-for-life, Xi Jinping.

    The Uyghurs seem to be copping the worst of it at the moment. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese Uyghurs have been reduced to the status of slaves and there are plenty of reports of Xi Jinping’s thugs harassing and intimidating OS Uyghurs, including those who live in Australia. Uyghurs are being detained and put in Chinese concentration camps even though they are not guilty of any crime.

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