Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and the contrasts of leadership in the 21st century 25: some thoughts concerning how Xi and Trump approach and seek to create lasting legacies to themselves 14

Posted in macroeconomics, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on January 8, 2020

This is my 26th installment in a progression of comparative postings about Donald Trump’s and Xi Jinping’s approaches to leadership, as they have both turned to authoritarianism and its tools in their efforts to succeed there. And the most recent 14 of those postings have focused on legacy building as both Trump and Xi seek to build for that. I continue developing that narrative here, with a goal of more explicitly discussing Trump’s and Xi’s approaches to control, and both as they variously seek to lead and shape their nations, and as they seek to build personal legacies out of that, and fame for themselves in doing so.

I initially intended on continuing a discussion of Xi Jinping and his strategic planning, and with a focus on his legacy building efforts in Part 24 of this series. Then Donald Trump was impeached by the United States House of Representatives and the ideological lines that divide that nation politically, became more starkly drawn than they have ever been and both in the narrower context of the Trump administration itself, and as self-proclaimed conservatives and ultra-conservatives, and liberals and progressives have fought for the soul of the nation.

I decided to postpone my next Xi posting to now but find myself continuing a Trump-centric narrative again here too as we all face the heightened risk that has been imposed upon all of us by what arguably can be seen as an act of madness on Donald Trump’s part: the assassination of Iran’s senior-most military officer.

Some might question my choice of that word there: assassination. But let’s put my use of it in perspective. If the supreme leader of Iran had ordered the death of the most senior officer in the United States military: the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and that directive was carried out with a targeted and effective bombing, president Trump and his followers, and his political opponents in the United States and their followers too would virtually all call that an assassination. So I use an intentionally loaded word here for a reason; it is the exact same word that would be all but universally used in the United States if the direction of this action were reversed. And I will add that the United States Congress would in all likelihood be facing a vote on a declaration of war coming out of that too, and as an all but immediate response and call for action. So we should not be too surprised to hear the Iranians calling out for vengeance. We should not be all that surprised if they call the killing of their Major General Qasem Suleimani an act of war.

Why was this done? According to president Trump and his spokespersons, he ordered this killing to prevent imminent attack by Suleimani led forces, on Americans and upon critically important American interests. But the details of that proclaimed imminent threat have not been forthcoming. And the confusion over the why of this action, coming out of America’s intelligence community as well as from other sources, raise questions as to whether that claimed threat was real or not.

I decided to write this posting when I first heard of this event itself, but held off on doing so until now because I was hoping to hear of some clarification on the why of it first. Anything like that is still to come and for essentially everyone. And that leaves at least one other possibility as to why president Trump would so act, that silence in all of this allows to fester and grow.

That is the possibility that when Trump was briefed on the options available to him for dealing with the ongoing Iran versus United States conflict, as it has continued as what amounts to business as usual, he chose the most extreme option that he heard, and regardless of the risk that it created and regardless of a lack of specific reason for carrying it out – as a distraction that he could present to the world, from his impeachment and his impending trial.

According to that possible narrative, Trump thought that if he did this and the leadership of Iran backed down, with only minor and low level reactions carried out far from American soil, he would look strong and decisive. That could only strengthen his support in the face of the constitutional crisis that he is embroiled in. And if the Iranians responded in a more decisive way, and with a level of impact that could not be brushed aside, then they would have attacked the United States. And traditionally, Americans really have rallied around the flag when their country has been attacked in any way. And polling numbers in support of a sitting president have always gone up then too. In this case that popularity bump would happen going into his Senate trial.

I am not in fact claiming that path to the why of this, is what Donald Trump actually followed here. I point it out because this attack should have been seen up-front and by all concerned, as deeply polarizing and damaging of any efforts to retain a civic discourse in this country, where that is an essential prerequisite for a democracy to function and to endure. People who disagree still need to be able to talk together and to work together, towards achieving shared goals in response to shared needs. This type of military action can only be seen as mitigating against that and certainly when even the basic why of it is shrouded in mystery, confusion and acrimony.

But this did happen. The real question now is one of what comes next, and the possibilities there and the more likely of them in particular are not all that reassuring:

• The first of them are already happening with the Iranian government openly and loudly stating that it will no longer abide by any of the terms of the agreement that they entered into during the Obama administration, to limit their nuclear technology development programs so as to preclude their building an atomic bomb. Donald Trump unilaterally ended that agreement from the United States side, because it was an accomplishment reached by his Democratic Party predecessor in office. The Iranians still abided by some and even much of what had been agreed to, in spite of that abrogation of responsibility on the part of this American president. But that is now over. And without citing references or sources, I feel fairly confident in suggesting that Iran will be able in build an atomic bomb within about three weeks of when they have completed enriching at least one full critical mass of uranium-235, up to weapons grade purity. They all but certainly, have everything else ready, or at the very least very close to finalized fabrication. This killing probably gave Iran the bomb. And with that, the balance of power in the Middle East, and any opportunity to meaningfully shape or even just influence that and certainly from the United States, will end.
• And yes, Iranian forces have now attacked American forces in Iraq, and at a time when the Iraqi government is now demanding that all American forces leave their country.
• This assassination was a tremendous holiday gift for the ISIS forces that America has been combating in Iraq and elsewhere, and certainly from how the Iraqi government has stated that it wants all American military presence out of their country (and away from ISIS and other terrorist organization strongholds there.) And as the gift that keeps on giving, ISIS also gains here from the killing of an Iranian general who was leading an anti-ISIS front from his nation too. (Do you remember when a true and avowed enemy of one of our most dire enemies could be at least marginally acceptable even if not our friend?)

All of that has already begun, and for the prospects of an Iranian atomic bomb, actively set in motion to happen. And more of that will likely continue – there, well away from American soil. But I write this brief note while waiting to see if one other possibility comes to pass too: a cyber-attack against American interests. And there are grounds for that, going back at least as far as a 2010 American and Israeli launched attack on Iran using a then cutting edge technology cyber-weapon: Stuxnet.

It does not matter if this killing is seen in the United States as an assassination or not. It does not matter if it is seen there as an act of war. And it does not matter if any considered cyber-attack that might be carried out by or at the behest of the Iranian government against the United States or its interests, would be considered there to be a retaliatory response to actions taken against Iran or as an initial and largely unprovoked attack. These possible understandings as presumed from an American perspective do not matter, at least as far as they would shape Iranian action. That will depend on what words they use and why, and on how pressured they see themselves to act, if they are to retain their sovereign independence and not present themselves to the world as weak and vulnerable and as an easy target. What happens next will depend on whether they genuinely see all of this in terms of “assassination” and “war.” And I sincerely hope that my more dire concerns here do not come to pass … in spite of the emerging realities that have brought me to hold them.

This now more dangerous world that we live in, is a part of the Trump legacy too, and regardless of what does or does not happen in the US Senate when they hold whatever form of trial they will enter into, regarding those Trump impeachment charges. This is part of his legacy, and it is an important part of it and certainly if Iran does build and test detonate an atomic bomb of their own.

My hope is that the level of crazy coming out of the White House will tone down enough now, so that I can in fact return to my intended narrative flow in this series. But however that does, or might turn out, I find myself finishing this note with one final thought. I very clearly remembering one of president Trump’s (apologist?) spokespersons declaring in front of open microphones and cameras that “president Trump thrives on chaos.” Personally, I am not sure how his putting himself into a position where he would be impeached and face possible forced removal from office could be seen as thriving. But let’s put that in the same box as his “mentally stable genius” claims and move on, counting all of that as political campaign talk. Unfortunately, his actual realized legacy is probably going to end up in that same box too. What else might end there as well?

I will continue writing to this series. Meanwhile, you can find my Trump-related postings at Social Networking and Business 2 and its Page 3 continuation. And you can find my China writings as appear in this blog at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation, at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time, and at Social Networking and Business 2 and its Page 3 continuation.

Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and the contrasts of leadership in the 21st century 24: some thoughts concerning how Xi and Trump approach and seek to create lasting legacies to themselves 13

Posted in macroeconomics, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on January 3, 2020

This is my 25th installment in a progression of comparative postings about Donald Trump’s and Xi Jinping’s approaches to leadership, as they have both turned to authoritarianism and its tools in their efforts to succeed there. And the most recent 13 of those postings have focused on legacy building as both Trump and Xi seek to build for that. I continue developing that narrative here, with a goal of more explicitly discussing Trump’s and Xi’s approaches to control, and both as they variously seek to lead and shape their nations, and as they seek to build personal legacies out of that, and fame for themselves in doing so.

I initially intended to write this series installment as a continuation of an unfolding narrative that I have been offering regarding Xi Jinping, focusing on his vision and on its consequences as he seeks to realize it. And as a key part of that, I would continue an already begun historical narrative that I have pursued as I have sought to put Xi into a more meaningful, understandable perspective. Emerging news and events have forced a change and a refocusing here, with a continuation of my parallel discussion of president Trump and his story in this series installment instead.

Donald Trump, to put matters bluntly, is in meltdown. His ongoing flood of tweets, as he shares them with his supporters and with the world at large, have become more and more shrill and pressured as he lashes out in all directions through his ongoing flow of online rage and resentment, engagement messages.

He has been impeached by the United States House of Representatives, fundamentally challenging his self-image – and even when he sees that as coming from his enemies. His unconsidered bluff and bombast regarding North Korea, the Middle East and essentially everywhere and everything else, and certainly as far as his foreign policy is concerned, are all coming back to haunt, and if not him, then his Republican Party and those who have tied their fortunes to his.

Members of his political party, as backed by ideologically aligned “news” sources such as Fox News and Breitbart may be able to control the message as far as his domestic policy and practices failures are concerned, and certainly for his followers. But foreign leaders and foreign holders of power and influence in general are a lot harder to control for that and particularly when they actively seek to showcase how little regard or respect they hold for this United States president.

Donald Trump, to put matters bluntly, is in meltdown. And that is true even as he, himself is still incapable of seeing his house of cards collapse around him and even as it is doing precisely that. Senator McConnell, the ranking Republican member of that congressional body, has way too publically declared himself to be a tool of the Trump administration and of Donald Trump personally. And he has done this and he continues to do so, from how he has stated that it is the defendant in any Senate trial that is to come here: Donald Trump himself, and his legal team who will decide how that trial can proceed in response to that bill of impeachment. With that, both McConnell and his fellow Republicans in the Senate, and president Trump himself, have made a farce and a failed charade of their oaths of office, and of their avowals that they would in any way serve, protect or defend the constitution of their country, as they all pledged to do.

And yes, with all of this, Donald Trump’s core followers still see him as something of a second coming of Jesus Christ himself: his politically ultra-right wing evangelical Christian followers most definitely included there. They, in fact are the ones making those “chosen one” proclamations.

Donald Trump, to put matters bluntly, is in meltdown. But then again, he has been for as long as he has held elected office. And given his track record of business failures and bankruptcies from before then, he has never actually been all that stable or secure in his position, and from his beginnings as a once young adult when his father continued having to bail him out financially, if in no other ways.

I was initially planning on holding off on a next Trump-related posting here until after Nancy Pelosi: the speaker of the House, officially and formally turns the articles of impeachment that were voted on in that legislative body, over to the Senate, and until after the Senate Republicans who would receive it, have shown if they still see their president as being above the law: the US constitution included. And if they in fact continue with the farce that McConnell has so publically declared, and make their trial an automatic acquittal with no real consideration of any evidence or findings, they will for all intent and purpose have elevated Donald Trump to an autocratic dictatorial rank. And they will have fundamentally challenged and betrayed their nation and all that it stands for in the process, starting with their oaths of office.

Consider it a matter of irony if you will, but an attempt to hold Trump accountable and according to the laws of the United States and according to its constitution, might provide to be the opening wedge that he needs if he is to actually achieve what is probably his most fondly held, of all of his authoritarian dreams and goals: that finally, our system of laws and of governance in the United States might become so suborned and subjugated to his will that he: Donald J. Trump can finally, fully be Trump and without any counterbalancing reasoning or any intervening voice of authority to limit him there: any presumed constitutionally mandated limitations to his power in office included.

So I find myself writing this next step to this overall series-long narrative concerning authoritarianism a la Trump and Xi, with a primary focus on Donald Trump and his narrative. And with that acknowledged, I turn to more directly consider the word that I said I would more fully explore here, as a primary focus of discussion in this posting: control.

I have been citing the word control in the course of writing installments to this series but have yet to actually discuss what that means, and certainly as these two would-be absolute rulers seek to create it for themselves. I turn here to at least begin to more directly address that core defining issue as it underlies authoritarianism, as it is envisioned and attempted in the hands of a would-be ruler: a striving for absolute control and what can become an overwhelming sense of need to achieve and maintain it, in order to prevent chaos as they would see it.

Donald Trump seeks this through an insistence of complete, unquestioning, unswerving loyalty to himself as an individual, as an absolute requirement of admission into his inner circle. And where this means others trusting him, he requires absolute trust in himself and in his judgment and understanding too. A loyal follower can never question or doubt anything that he says or does, and no matter how unconsidered or off-the-cuff his words or actions.

I have to add when stating that repeatedly validated fact, that trust and trustworthiness as noted here, do not flow in both directions in such a system of relationships. Trump and others like him for this trait, insist that others support them with complete and unreserved loyalty and with complete trustworthiness in doing so. But a Donald Trump does not feel any need to reciprocate on any of that; Trump in particular, as an exemplar of this approach to leadership, feels no compunction about turning on and betraying those who support him, and as soon as they cease to hold immediate here-and-now value to him personally. I cite by way of example, the first elected member of the Republican Party with anything like national name recognition, who actively endorsed him leading up to his nomination as that political party’s presidential candidate for the 2016 US national elections: New Jersey governor Chris Christie. He publically, wholeheartedly endorsed Trump as a presidential contender starting as early as February 26, 2016 with his first fully public statements to that effect. And he stood by his candidate and loyally so – even as a now emerging presidential contender Donald Trump began to publically mock and humiliate him, his once only nationally known Republican public figure supporter. When Trump had achieved political backing and support that he saw as more valuable to himself than anything that Christie could offer, he discarded his once “good and close friend” and supporter as if he was so much trash.

Chris Christie, to be fair, was looking for something for himself there too. He supported Trump as a possible path forward when his own political career in New Jersey was disintegrating around him. (See for example this piece on one of his perhaps more widely known scandals from when he decided to take political vengeance against the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey for what he saw as disloyalty towards him: Chris Christie Knew About Bridge Lane Closings as They Happened, Prosecutors Say.)

Christie thought that if he backed Trump and showed real loyalty to him, he would be rewarded with a cabinet position in a Trump administration, or an ambassadorship if The Donald were elected. And he thought that his increased visibility as a true and committed voice in the Republican Party’s ascending ultra-right wing, would serve him in good stead even if Trump were to lose the 2016 election. None of that was possible, when his path forward depended on Donald Trump reciprocating in appreciative response to his support and his commitment.

Donald Trump has made a career out of that type of expedience-based fickleness and as a recurring behavior pattern, and from well before he first sought public office and on until now, and with no end in sight to that. What would have happened to Chris Christie if he had in fact been rewarded for his loyalty with a cabinet position in the Trump presidential administration? Look at the number of senior level appointees to his administration who he has used as he has found value in them, just to discard and dismiss them as soon as they have stopped offering him personal value, as he sees his due.

Trump was elected, and his administration has been dysfunctional from the day he won that election and from even before he was actually sworn into office. And nothing of his basic behavior pattern has changed through all of that, except for a shift in scale as he has become more grandiose than ever now, as the “leader of the free world.” And this represents his vision of control and it constitutes the core of his legacy building endeavors.

I am going to continue this narrative in a next series installment where I will turn to consider Xi and his story, as initially planned for in this posting. And in the process I will discuss the issues and challenges of truth and of propaganda, and from both a Xi and a Trump perspective. And from a Xi and China perspective, I will at least start a discussion of his efforts to achieve what he would see as a perfect surveillance state as the defining mechanism for his achieving his overall goals.

Meanwhile, you can find my Trump-related postings at Social Networking and Business 2 and its Page 3 continuation. And you can find my China writings as appear in this blog at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation, at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time, and at Social Networking and Business 2 and its Page 3 continuation.

Innovation, disruptive innovation and market volatility 50: innovative business development and the tools that drive it 20

Posted in business and convergent technologies, macroeconomics by Timothy Platt on December 29, 2019

This is my 50th posting to a series on the economics of innovation, and on how change and innovation can be defined and analyzed in economic and related risk management terms (see Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation, postings 173 and loosely following for its Parts 1-49.)

I have been discussing technology transfer and from both an innovation creator and an innovation acquiring business perspective, since Part 43. And as a part of that, I began discussing three topics points that all relate to the overall impact that these transfers (or lack thereof) can create:

• When adding in the complexities of scale, and for both the innovation selling or licensing business: the innovation provider, and for the innovation acquiring business.
• And the issues of direct and indirect competition, and how carefully planned and executed technology transfer transactions there, can in fact create or enhance business-to-business collaboration opportunities too (as well as creating or enhancing business versus business competitive positions),
• Where that may or may not create monopoly law risks in the process.

(Note: So far I have primarily been addressing the first of those topics points. And as part of that line of discussion I parsed product innovations as a more general category, as falling into any of three basic forms in Part 49, that I identified there as being: linchpin, collateral and endpoint in nature. I will continue making use of that set of definitions and distinctions as I proceed in discussing those here-repeated points, starting with a further discussion of the first of them.)

And with that offered, I begin this posting by repeating two bullet points from the end of Part 48, so I can expand upon them here, and both for completing my first topics point discussion and as preparation for addressing the second of those three main points as well:

• Larger, more diverse businesses can and do acquire innovation, and controlling rights to it in order to competitively fill gaps in what they can and do offer, and how. Technology transfer acquisitions as such, impact on aspects of their organization and of their market-facing production and sales puzzle and in ways that if effectively managed, can create significant new sources of value for them.
• For smaller businesses, these acquisitions impact on their organization as a whole and on their market-facing productive puzzle as a whole too.

Let’s consider the first of those points and its competitive positioning approach. Yes, a business can actively seek out and acquire access to outside created innovations in order to directly advance what they themselves can build and bring to market. They can seek out and acquire new innovations in order to integrate them into their systems and into their marketable products too. That is the more commonly followed pattern here. But a business can also actively seek to buy out exclusive rights, if not complete ownership of alternative approach innovations, that if pursued and exploited by their competition might mean their losing a significantly innovative edge for what they already offer now, too.

To clarify that, consider Business A: a manufacturer that came up with a disruptively novel and highly valuable innovation that has made its now-flagship product line possible. And at first, they are the only business in their sector or industry that is capable of developing or offering any products of that type, given their registered patents on that innovation. But this is so valuable an innovation and so significantly impactful to their competition, that every other business they compete with, that loses business because they cannot directly match those products, is trying to develop a work-around alternative innovation that would effectively accomplish the same thing for them that A’s innovation does but without impinging on their patent protections for it. Business B is A’s primary competitor there, most overtly capable of taking advantage of any alternative innovation that would not violate those patents, but that could lead to products that end user consumers would see as equivalent. But given the nature of disruptive innovation – and its shift to simple evolutionary change with time, A has to worry just as much about Businesses C, D, E and more too. And then an outsider comes up with an innovative development, and perhaps with very different initial intended uses in mind from when they were initially devising it. But its real value is going to be more in what A and its competition do, than it is for what that innovation creating business does. That innovation as realized, does not in fact actually connect into the basic, core business model of that innovating business at all, arriving as a disruptively unexpected possibility. So they decide to sell it to a highest bidder and both to recoup their expenses for developing it in the first place and to make a profit from it at the same time.

B, C, D and more would all like to buy this innovation and probably outright, and with long-term exclusive use licensing a distant but still viable option for them too. This would make them direct competitors for A where it has held what amounts to a monopoly of opportunity from its consumer preferred, exclusively offered product line. And A would like to buy out this innovation too, and secure patent rights to it to protect their technological lead there and even if that means their burying it. (Nota bene: I cannot claim that I approve of this business strategy but it does occur so I report it as such.)

I make note of and at least briefly explain this type of scenario to illustrate that the range of options and the reasoning that would drive them in a technology transfer context can be more complex and varied than my Part 49 discussion of this might have suggested. Businesses seek out and develop, or otherwise acquire innovations both to advance what they can do and to protect what they are already doing in their here-and-now. And that takes me directly to the second of the to-address points that I began this posting by repeating, and the issues of direct and indirect competition. And I begin doing so by briefly saying what direct and indirect competition actually are:

• Direct competition is the competition that arises when businesses vie for the same completed sales from the same customer base in the same, or at least overlapping markets. Businesses A, B, C and so on in my above examples are direct competitors there and this is the form of competition that is more commonly referred to when the words competition and competitor are used in business performance discussions.
• Indirect competition is a more correlational phenomenon that arises in supply chain and related business-to-business systems among other contexts. And to more fully explain what it is, I at least begin with a working example that I offer in counterpoint to my above-offered direct competition example. Here, let’s assume that businesses A and B are supply chain system partners and that B provides a support service that A benefits from in enabling its sales transactions (e.g. as a delivery and related logistics support service provider.) B succeeds in its business with A insofar as those sales transaction deliveries go through quickly and correctly, with an absolute minimum of damage or delay in shipments. And that means that B benefits from A’s success, and both for retaining their business and for maintaining their overall business reputation as a quality service provider. That alignment means that if C is a direct competitor with A, then it is an indirect competitor with B too – and with that certainly holding significance if C for whatever reason does not use B’s services too. But it holds true even if they do. Then B would be playing the role indirect competitor in at least two directions at once and the impact of this type of relationship would be diluted accordingly. But in a more winner takes all, zero-sum situation as would apply in the innovation developer and acquirer example that I offered above, indirect competition applies to the business that is competitively marketing and selling its breakthrough, and certainly with respect to any potential buyers that it chooses not to sell or license to. And there, that competition is anything but trivial for its significance.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will more fully address the competitive significance of technology transfer in both a collaborative and a more traditionally considered single business versus single business, zero-sum context of the type offered by my working examples here, and how a technology providing business can be as competitively involved in that type of marketplace sale, as any potential buyers are. Then after completing my discussion of that second basic topic point I will turn to and address the third entry in that list:

• Where that (e.g. technology transfers) may or may not create monopoly law risks in the process.

But before I begin addressing any of that, I am going to return to and expand upon a more subsidiary topics point that I offered in passing, earlier on in this posting that I did not then discuss here. And that is where I will in fact make explicit use of the linchpin versus collateral versus endpoint innovation distinctions that I cited above too. This topic point, as expanded upon here in anticipation of discussion to come, is now:

• For smaller businesses, innovation acquisitions and divestitures impact on their organization as a whole and on their market-facing productive puzzle as a whole too, and largely independently of their precise nature (e.g. linchpin et al.)
• For larger and more diverse businesses, and businesses with larger reserves and operational spending capabilities in general, that type and level of impact would mostly be found in a true linchpin innovation context.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation. And also see Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 3 and that directory’s Page 1 and Page 2.

Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and the contrasts of leadership in the 21st century 23: some thoughts concerning how Xi and Trump approach and seek to create lasting legacies to themselves 12

Posted in macroeconomics, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on December 16, 2019

This is my 24th installment in a progression of comparative postings about Donald Trump’s and Xi Jinping’s approaches to leadership, as they have both turned to authoritarianism and its tools in their efforts to succeed there. And the most recent 12 of those postings have focused on legacy building as both Trump and Xi seek to build for that. I continue developing that narrative here, with a goal of more explicitly discussing Xi’s approach to control, and both as he seeks to lead and shape his nation, and as he seeks to build a personal legacy out of that, and fame for himself in doing so.

The key to understanding all of this can be found in how Xi understands and values stability and constancy in his nation and among his peoples. Ultimately, his China Dream: the organizing framework that he pursues as a guide and model for achieving his goals, is a striving for security and for a strength from that, that he sees as possible only if his vision of stability is achieved.

I have argued a case for viewing Mao Zedong as a would-be new, nation shaping emperor in the China of his day: a first Communist Emperor, holding all of the power of the more legendary golden age imperial emperors of old, and more. And I have also in effect argued a case for presuming that Xi Jinping seeks such an historic role too. The How of leadership in his here-and-now, and in his future facing legacy building efforts become as if one there. And I offer this next series installment here, with that vision in mind. And like everything else in Xi’s planning, this all at least appears to revolve around his historical narrative-grounded China Dream: his Zhōngguó Mèng (中国梦), as I have attempted to analyze and discuss that in this series.

China can quite legitimately claim to have one of the oldest and certainly richest histories of any land or peoples on this Earth, with Paleolithic and Neolithic antecedents to that, going back much farther still. In fact some of the earliest hominid fossil finds known, outside of Africa, can be found in China.

The earliest traces of pre-human hominids to have been found in all of East Asia have been found in China, prominently including early Homo erectus fossils and tools. Fossilized remains of Yuanmou Man as a case in point example of that, have been found in Yunnan province in southwest China that have been dated back to 1.7 million years ago. Stone tools from Xiaochangliang in the Nihewan Basin of the Hebei province in northern China have been found that date back to 1.66 million years ago.

China’s Neolithic Period, might arguably be said to have ended in approximately 2070 BCE with the founding of the Xia Dynasty by Yu the Great when Shun, the last of the Five Emperors gave his throne to him. And the Xia Dynasty was succeeded by the Shang Dynasty (also called the Yin Dynasty) which is said to have ruled from 1600 BCE to 1046 BCE, to be followed by the dynastic complexities of the Zhou of 1046 BCE to 771 BCE, the Western Zhou Dynasty, the Eastern Zhou Dynasty and finally the Warring States Period with that ending in 256 BCE. I end this brief, terse timeline with that, including it here to help put what follows into a clearer perspective.

I have mostly focused on the history of China in this series, as it has transpired since the late Ming Dynasty (which lasted from 1368 to 1644), and particularly from the Golden Age of the Qing Dynasty on towards the present. But for purposes of this posting and to put what I would write of here in a more proper perspective, I would begin with the age of the Zhou and with some selective references to events that preceded that.

Let me clarify a point there, of current import, and certainly where an historical understanding might shed light on today’s Xi Jinping and his plans and his actions. I have discussed his China Dream in what might be considered starkly simplistic terms, focusing on what has to be seen as the compelling positive of the Qing Golden Age, and on the equally compelling negative of the years and in fact Decades of Humiliation that followed that. Xi’s historic vision selectively draws on a much wider span of China’s long history for its sources of justifying support. So when I delve into earlier history than I have been here, I do so facing Xi’s vision and his Dream there too. And that noted, let’s begin earlier than the age of the Zhou in its varying forms, to put that complex span of years and its events into fuller perspective.

We know the China of its Neolithic and earlier ages from the few remnants that have endured the ages to this time and that chance has brought to discovery and awareness. The earliest dynastic accounts of China that are offered as early history there can best be considered a blend of factual historical record, and of myth and legend. And archeologists, anthropologists, linguistics experts, historians and others are still trying to separate what might be considered more historically validatable truths, from legends and culturally defined and defining stories as collectively form those earliest dynastic narratives.

The fact of earlier history there cannot be denied, as remaining structures from the Great Wall and particularly from its earlier predecessors prove. Much of the Great Wall itself date to the time of the Ming Dynasty and late in this narrative. But portions of defensive walls that were incorporated into that massive structure clearly date back much further. They remain as validated parts of China’s past too, including sections of the Qin Wall of Qin Shi Huang: the First Emperor of China, who ruled from 220 to 206 BCE, ending the Warring States Period in the process. And some of the defensive wall remnants that still remain date back at least to the seventh century BCE. But I begin this posting’s narrative for the most part with the Zhou and late in that complex era and with the Warring States Period in particular.

• China has faced strife and challenge and throughout its lands, and throughout most if not all if its history. To put that assertion into longer-term perspective, I just cited defensive walls that the people of what is now China built, starting at the latest in the initial Zhou Dynasty and probably well before that. (Note: still earlier earthen wall and stone-reinforced earthen wall barriers were almost certainly constructed before then, but little if any of that remains.)
• And much if not all of the impetus for that centuries and even millennia long effort came from the outside and particularly from the North with threats of foreign invasion and conquest.
• The Warring States Period and its history show how much of this conflict has always come from within what we think of as China too. And the nation that we now know as China came into being as a unified presence through conquest, and ultimately as a product of force.

A significant part of what is now the geographic heartland of the People’s Republic of China, came together as a single nation state out of the conflicts that arose as the Warring States Period, as is more usually dated as having taken place between 474 BCE (or thereabouts) and 221 BCE when Qin Shi Huang is said to have unified China, making him China’s First Emperor. This was a period of intense conflict among and between what began as seven distinct smaller, at least nominally separate and independent states: the Qin, Chu, Han, Wei, Zhao, Yan and Qi. And importantly for purposes of this narrative, it marks only one period of division, conflict and consolidation that China and its diverse peoples have undergone, leading up to the more unified single state that we know of as the China of today.

• This is crucially important if we are to truly understand the China of today. It has been and it continues to be shaped by a combination of competing, compelling forces: one oriented towards division and differences, and others oriented towards creating order and constancy out of all of that.
• I will turn to and discuss the voices and forces of unity and stability that have made a more stable China possible as a nation, in upcoming discussions, only citing one of the more important factors there in passing and by name for now: Confucianism and its system of piety, and of the relationships that define that within that belief system. But I will hold off on that until later in this series.

For here and now I note that I have focused more in this series and its historical narrative, on the China that emerged from the downfall of their Qing Dynasty’s Golden Age, as conflict coming both from within and from outside the nation began to overwhelm its government and its overall societal order as well. The Qing Golden Age, as personified in the reigns of its two greatest rulers: the Kangxi Emperor and the Qianlong Emperor, became the Great Qing in fact and not just in official title because of the stability that they created and built from. They ruled over China during auspicious times; but the seeds of the Years of Humiliation and of the downfall of the Qing and of Imperial China as well, took initial root during the Golden Age itself – which is why the collapse of that Golden Age could take place so quickly and begin so significantly, so soon after the Qianlong Emperor’s death in 1799.

I am going to continue this narrative in a next series installment where I will turn to and focus on the issues and questions of stability and constancy, and both as they have arisen and been challenged throughout China’s history and as Xi understands them and as he seeks to impose them on the China of his day. In anticipation of that, I will simply note here that if the Golden Age of the Qing was in fact golden, it was because its rulers of that period could build and develop during a period of at least relative calm, and of at least controllable discord, and with their forces prevailing and under terms that did not significantly challenge the center, as for example when they expanded their empire along its western frontiers. But as I noted in passing above, the seeds for a downfall of this surety of calm and stability, can be found in the core practices and policies of that same Golden Age and its system of governance. And I will discuss a few of those points of consideration in my next installment to this, with that including a discussion of how the imperial government communicated with and worked with their provincial government officials but left all direct contact with more local government officials and with the people of China as a whole to them. And I will discuss the fact of and the consequences of their having and maintaining two monetary systems: one locally used and relied upon that was copper based, and the other nationally required and certainly for tax collection purposes that was based upon silver. The dynamics between these basic decisions and their consequences proved to be telling.

My goal for this overall historical narrative has been and remains one of building a foundation for more fully understanding what Xi Jinping is doing now and how, as he deploys modern technologies in an attempt to create a perfect surveillance state out of his China. And I will delve into that emerging reality too, as this series progresses.

Meanwhile, you can find my Trump-related postings at Social Networking and Business 2 and its Page 3 continuation. And you can find my China writings as appear in this blog at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation, at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time, and at Social Networking and Business 2 and its Page 3 continuation.

Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and the contrasts of leadership in the 21st century 22: some thoughts concerning how Xi and Trump approach and seek to create lasting legacies to themselves 11

Posted in macroeconomics, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on November 30, 2019

This is my 23rd installment in a progression of comparative postings about Donald Trump’s and Xi Jinping’s approaches to leadership, as they have both turned to authoritarianism and its tools in their efforts to succeed there. And the most recent 11 of those postings have focused on legacy building as both Trump and Xi seek to build for that.

More specifically, I have primarily been focusing on Xi’s legacy building decisions and actions here, since Part 16, with that ongoing narrative oriented around a discussion of his China Dream: his Zhōngguó Mèng (中国梦) as that has served as his road map and his guiding vision, and for fulfilling both his own more personal goals and ambitions, and for addressing his more publically facing, Communist Party and national government supportive goals and ambitions too.

Xi’s China Dream is predicated upon a carefully constructed historically framed dichotomy:

• Of a lost Golden Age China with its greatness that can be and must be restored.
• And a multigenerational span of Years of Humiliation that followed it that he must fully, finally redress if his China is to regain what it has lost: if it is to recoup and then further build upon what has been taken from it and that he would bring back.

According to that narrative, China’s Golden Age ended in 1799 with the death of the Qing Dynasty’s Qianlong Emperor, if any one turning point event were to be chosen to mark the end of that age. And after his death, what had been his stable, unified nation began to drift into decline and from that point on. That drifting downwards reached what amounted to a tipping point into overtly impactful national decline by the mid to late 1830’s when foreign powers that surrounded China, began to see that nation more for its weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and less and less for its strength and capabilities. And they (e.g. Russia, Great Britain, Japan and others) acted upon that new and emerging understanding of China through imperialistic encroachments.

And as further elaboration on that narrative and Xi’s Dream, this Age of Humiliation did not end until the rise of Mao Zedong and the establishment of his People’s Republic of China. But even now, China still faces outside challenges – and China’s basic national level policy and planning see all such challenges faced: both foreign and domestic in evidentiary fact, as ultimately being foreign-imposed in nature. And Xi still sees, and argues a need for his China to undo and resolve the still painful and unjust vestiges of those humiliations that still remain, and even under Chinese Communist rule. He would erase the remaining scars of past wrongs suffered.

• And critically important to this Dream narrative is a simple precept: the positive side to Xi’s Zhōngguó Mèng is entirely pure, good and positive and the negative side to it is entirely negative and to be ended and reversed. And there can be no negative or problematical in that Golden Age, and certainly for what was achieved in it. And there can be no nuance: there can be no possible good blended in with the bad coming out of the Humiliations and certainly for those branded as having been responsible for them.
• And Xi’s and his government’s and Party’s efforts to achieve his Dream can only be positive in nature or outcome too, in keeping with the Golden Age image that they would restore.

I have been discussing this Dream and its historical basis here since Part 16 as noted above. And then in Part 21 I begin drawing parallels between decisions made and actions taken and their consequences, in the China of its Age of Humiliations, and the China of the People’s Republic of today. And yes, that has meant my challenging both the historical accuracy of Xi’s Dream, and the purity and perfection that he would claim in how he presents it and in how he seeks to realize it.

I said at the end of Part 21 that I would complete my briefly sketched comparison of:

• A declining imperial China and of a first Republic China as both systems sought to rule their nation through its Humiliations,
• And the People’s Republic of China as that system has sought to both end and redress that period of perceived wrongs committed.

And I specifically noted what I see as a crucially consequential decision that was made near the very end of the Qing Dynasty in 1898, and that was also made by Mao Zedong himself in 1956 – first when the Qing Dynasty was dying and then when Mao’s new Republic was still growing out of its early childhood as a new nation state. I will in fact discuss that historical parallel and its contexts as it arose to be repeated, 58 years later. But setting aside a more strictly chronological ordering here, I would begin this posting with 1912 and the abdication of China’s last hereditary emperor: Puyi, the Xuantong (宣统) Emperor.

China was in turmoil: beset by foreign powers that sought gain from its weakness and disorganization, and beset by competing endemically Chinese power bases too, and with this all taking place in seemingly all of its provinces. And the Qing Dynasty was doomed.

And then Puyi was overthrown as a concluding consequence of the anti-Qing Xinhai Revolution (of October 10, 1911 until his abdication on February 12, 1912.) And chaos and disorder continued with multiple power centers openly competing for control, and both locally and nationally. A Qing loyalist turned opportunist warlord: Zhang Xun even tried restoring Puyi to power as the Xuantong Emperor, with that attempt lasting from July 1 to July 12 of 1917. But ultimately it was the Republic of China that prevailed, insofar as any of those competing voices could or did.

I have written in this blog of how Japan wrested control of the island of Taiwan from China in 1895 (in Xi Jinping and His China, and Their Conflicted Relationship with Hong Kong … 8, citing that event for comparison purposes in that series.) I begin addressing the years between 1912 and the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949 with a second Japanese encroachment: a Japanese invasion as begun in 1931. And yes, this also involves the use of Puyi as a puppet again.

Puyi, or Henry as he was called when using his Westernized name, was a tragic figure. Born on February 7, 1906, he was declared emperor of all China and holder of the Dragon Throne on December 2, 1908 – at almost three years of age. And he was a puppet and a powerless figurehead to be manipulated and used all of his life, and certainly from that point on in it. And to validate his fears in the event that he might be seen as challenging that, his role in life, in 1898 his immediate predecessor as emperor: another easily manipulated and outmaneuvered ruler, the Guangxu Emperor was forced into internal exile for even just the possibly of his rebelling against his constraints.

But Puyi was a Qing emperor by title and inheritor of the “Great Qing” as it was still called, if nothing else. So Zhang Xun and others from within China sought him out to use him. And when the Japanese invaded Manchuria in 1931, and set up a puppet state there: Manchukuo , or the Empire of Manchuria as it was called after 1934, they chose him as its figurehead ruler too, first as regent and then as emperor of this new “nation state.” He was kept on in that role until the end of World War II and Japan’s surrender. And to round out this aspect of this overall discussion, Puyi was used again, though as anything but a presumed figurehead leader after Mao declared victory and his People’s Republic became a reality.

Puyi was finally allowed to live out the last of his years in relative obscurity as a gardener, dying in 1967.

I have come to see him, this one-time Xuantong Emperor as a metaphor for China in those troubling years, and for his nation’s efforts to gain, or regain stability and direction and under its own control and in its own interests. But according to Xi’s Dream, all of that challenge ended with the assent of Communism as a shaping and guiding order in determining China’s fate. Yet the chaos continued.

I have written elsewhere in this blog about Mao’s Great Leap Forward (大跃进) of 1958 to 1962, and his Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (文化大革命) of 1966 through 1976. And I have at least briefly written about the devastating costs and consequences of those programs, and about the divisively self-destructive infighting among Mao’s enforcing cadres as they sought their own place of power out of all of this.

I cite Red Guard forces in their multiple competing groups as a particularly telling source of case-in-point examples of that; Mao initially mobilized them as organized cadres of fanatical followers who would enforce his will over all others, as he imposed his Cultural Revolution on his nation and his peoples. And he guided them himself from their organizational birth in 1966 until he backed away from them and began to denigrate them in 1967; the Red Guards were his personal shock troops of change while he still found them useful. And the fact that competing Red Guard forces attacked and slaughter each other, and sometimes even more diligently than they attacked Mao’s “enemies of the state” did not affect how he “guided” them and made use of them. In fact that served his purposes too, by keeping him the only voice of stability in his imposed sea of chaos.

In a fundamental sense, these massive, conformity enforcing nation-spanning programs were instituted and followed through upon with a goal of ending, once and for all, any possible competing voices: any possible competing power centers, however locally-only they might challenge his rule. And this assessment applies as much to Mao’s Great Leap Forward with its ostensible focus on making China a modern industrial nation, as it does to the Cultural Revolution as a Communist Party defined national unifier. All were required to contribute to and actively, avidly support both of those national undertakings and regardless of the actual impact of their contributions as they sought to do so.

Mao essentially closed off his nation from the outside world, in order to end foreign meddling. And this closing off even came to include a fundamental breaking of relations between China and the Soviet Union: China’s ostensible Communist nation role model. And he just as actively sought to control and limit possible threats within his China too. And it is in this context that I finally turn to the events that I have alluded to here of 1898 and 1956.

The Qing Dynasty was dying and the real powers that be in the Forbidden City, surrounding the Dragon Throne and controlling it knew that. And that definitely included the single most powerful voice and force in the China of her day: the Empress Dowager Cixi. She saw pressing need for technological and military reforms; China’s repeated military defeats and the one sided treaties that came from them, starting early on in the Years of Humiliation, compelled that. And her nation’s ongoing loss of competitive position in the international marketplace compelled that too. To cite a simple but telling example of that, porcelain originally came entirely and exclusively from China and the very name China is in fact a reference to that nation’s porcelain dishware and other goods as they were brought to market, principally at least at first in Europe as Western markets began to open up to Chinese goods. Then Europeans began manufacturing similar goods and they became strong competitors in the global market for porcelain ware, significantly eroding this source of foreign income and both to Chinese manufacturers and to their government for loss of tax revenues. But this type of example can only address a small part of a larger and more pressing, emerging problem where a vast majority of the Industrial Revolution, as it unfolded globally around China, never made it there. And China became more and more of a technological and industrial backwater as a result.

Cixi saw need for change and particularly where that would strengthen and reinvigorate Chinese manufacturing, and their capacity for self-defense. But she flatly rejected any possible adaptation of any reforms that smacked of Western models of governance. So she supported what became known as the Self-Strengthening Movement (自強運動). And this opened a door to possible organized, more widely inclusive reform, at least if it could be contained within the bounds of Cixi’s vision. And what became known as the Hundred Days’ Reform (戊戌变法– literally “’Reform of the Year Wuxu”) was launched.

I briefly noted, earlier in this posting that the Empress Dowager Cixi forced Puyi’s immediate predecessor as emperor into exile for appearing to seek to rule on the basis of his own judgment and understanding. This is where that event came to happen. The Guangxu Emperor and his more active supporters saw fundamental need for reform too, and it was that emperor who most actively promoted and pushed for a genuine opening up to new ideas and new ways with what became known as the Hundred Days’ Reform. Cixi crushed this rebellion as she saw it, exiling Guangxu to an island on a lake in the Forbidden City, and under terms were his safety required that he remain there. She also had his less noble supporters dealt with though less kindly. And this moment of possible reform, identified as lasting 100 days was so shortened because of that decision and action.

More officially, Cixi put an end to this because she feared that Japanese and other foreign interests would see the turmoil that enacting change would create, as a sign of weakness. So officially, at least insofar as any official explanation had to be offered, she and her followers at the highest levels of China’s government ended this to safeguard their nation and their people from further invasion and attack. But realistically, that type of explanation was as much a distraction as anything else. The Guangxu Emperor’s vision of reform went way too close to including governance reform to please anyone whose power was grounded in maintaining the status quo there. And Cixi and her supporters feared calls for reform coming from provincial and even local levels in government with officials throughout China calling for changes that would create new stability for them as they sought to carry out their duties, in support of the communities they were responsible for. And a fundamental lack of vision as driven by fear of the unknown and of loss of status and position ended … we can never know what that actually ended because any positive opportunity that might have been there was lost before it could fully show itself. If this reform movement had gone through and if the best of what emerged from it had been implemented and with the full support of China’s central government, would that have kept legions of the discontented, in and out of power from standing in support of uprisings such as the Xinhai Revolution? Could it have helped China to endure and even fend off at least some of the rebellion and both from within and from the outside that led to the downfall of emperor and empire? We can never know.

I have written in this blog and in this series in particular, that history can seem to repeat itself, and certainly for those who do now know it, or who simply seek to game it to their own advantage, carefully selecting and slanting tidbits from it that they see as suiting their needs. And with that I move this narrative along to 1956 and to Mao Zedong’s People’s Republic of China and to his Hundred Flowers Campaign and his pronouncement to “let 100 flowers bloom.”

The Communist Party of China saw need for reform from all that had preceded their rise to power and the creation of a proletarian New. So they began to reach out for open dialog and on everything from farm practices and other utilitarian matters, to emerging Party practices and decisions and how they were arrived at. And then people actually did begin to speak out in ways that were critical of the new Party regime, with suggestions for change and discussion of specific problems that called for change.

To put my above-repeated Mao quote in fuller perspective, he said:

• “The policy of letting a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend is designed to promote the flourishing of the arts and the progress of science.”

He almost certainly did not expect or want his people to take this pronouncement so literally or to interpret it so broadly. So he crushed this, his own self-created rebellion and all who had made themselves too visible for their own good from speaking out according to his proclaimed call for openness. And what happened next? Any answer to that would have to include the Great Leap Forward and Mao’s Cultural Revolution – reforms if you will that were firmly guided and shaped by Mao himself and with no other voices allowed. And we will never and can never know what might have come of Mao’s China if he had only had the vision and the courage to let the people of his Communist revolution speak and if he had encouraged the best of what they could offer, a chance to be tried and implemented. All we can know is that China’s history from that point might have been very different, just as Cixi’s China might have been if the reforms that she backed away from had been attempted.

I will almost certainly add to the historical narrative that I have been offering in this series, and certainly since its Part 16, in the next installment to this series. I will also at least begin to more directly and fully apply what I have been developing here to the context of Xi Jinping’s current, modern China.

Meanwhile, you can find my Trump-related postings at Social Networking and Business 2 and its Page 3 continuation. And you can find my China writings as appear in this blog at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation, at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time, and at Social Networking and Business 2 and its Page 3 continuation.

Xi Jinping and his China, and their conflicted relationship with Hong Kong – an unfolding Part 2 event: 8

Posted in macroeconomics by Timothy Platt on November 12, 2019

This is the 8th posting that I have offered here since June 19, 2019, to address significant and still expanding conflicts taking place in Hong Kong, arising as a response to actions taken by China’s government and by their hand-picked executive leadership in Hong Kong, that would fundamentally limit the rights of citizens there (see Macroeconomics and Business 2, postings 343 and loosely following for Parts 1-7.) And this conflict continues on and with no realistically definable end point in sight – no readily visible way out of it; people have died now as a result of it and opposing sides have only become that much more entrenched in their resolve to prevail.

I have been discussing Hong Kong and that city’s people, and I have been discussing the People’s Republic of China and their leader: Xi Jinping in this series. And as a core defining element of all of this I have been discussing Xi Jinping’s leadership-defining dreams and ambitions, as represented by his China Dream: his Zhōngguó Mèng (中国梦). And I have been discussing the hopes of the people of Hong Kong who have their own dreams too. But perhaps more importantly here, I have been discussing how those two visions have collided, and certainly since the government of Great Britain agreed to return that port city back to Chinese control under the terms of the Transfer of Sovereignty over Hong Kong Agreement, or the Handover of Hong Kong as it is commonly called there. This treaty does stipulate that Hong Kong will fully revert to China and to its administrative and governmental control … but only eventually, with that now former British colony set to retain significant forms of autonomy from Chinese governmental authority until at least 2047 (the 50th anniversary of the signing of that hand-over agreement.)

To be more specific here, I have been writing this series as an ongoing narrative discussing the consequences of Xi’s attempts to usurp control over Hong Kong’s courts and legal system now, challenging among other agreed-to details in it, the treaty-specified rights of that city’s citizens to court trials that are free of political interference if they find themselves facing criminal charges. And then at the end of Part 7, I stated that I would turn to consider Taiwan here as well as continuing my Hong Kong narrative. And reiterating that point here again, as prelude to my doing so, leads me to a simple question. Why expand this Hong Kong oriented discussion geographically, and more specifically why bring Taiwan into it?

My answer to that is simple. Xi’s dreams and ambitions, and all of his plans for China stem from an historical understanding that has at its roots, a vision of a Golden Age China that was undercut and brought down from greatness, and largely by foreign interference and even overt foreign-sourced military threat and action. His dreams and ambitions as China’s current leader are predicated on an understanding of his nation’s past history that is grounded, and certainly in recent centuries in greatness, and in a decline from that greatness that became a century and more of humiliation.

Ultimately, Xi’s Dream is at least as driven by fear of a continuation of that humiliation and its consequences – and in his name and image, as it is by his hope of restoring past greatness and in his name and image. Xi sees the current unrest in Hong Kong as an existential threat and both to himself and his ambitions and to his Communist led government. He sees it and the treaty that his government signed with Britain as fitting into the negative, humiliation shaping historical side to his Dream, and certainly for how China’s then current communist leaders felt compelled to agree to its terms if they were ever to regain Hong Kong as a part of their nation again. (Nota bene: see my concurrently running series: Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and the Contrasts of Leadership in the 21st Century, and particularly its Part 16 and following as can be found at Macroeconomics and Business 2, for a fuller discussion of Xi’s Dream and its historical underpinnings.)

• Xi and his Communist Party leadership see anything like Hong Kong independence as an all but existential threat and even if that separate status is constrained in form and even if it is time-limited, as is the case here given that 2047 terms of transfer agreement endpoint.
• China’s national governments and their leaders have historically, after all, found very genuine reason to fear the Different as it arises in their overall population. And they have actively pushed back against it as they have seen difference and diversity as such, a sure path to resistance from their more central control, and one that with time can only lead to rebellion.
• And this concern – this fear has historically proven valid and with reason, and for imperial dynastic China and certainly as I have discussed that in my Contrasts of Leadership series as cited above, and particularly in a Qing Dynasty context there. It equally applied to China’s forays into post-dynastic governance as a republic as were attempted with the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912. And it has continued to hold force in a People’s Republic of China, communist-led context too. (Consider the Beijing government’s current fear of their Uyghur population with their adherence to their Muslim faith and their distinctive overall ethnic identity as an ongoing mainland China example of that. Or consider the Beijing government’s fear of losing control of what is now their Tibet Autonomous Region or the Xizang Autonomous Region (西藏自治区) as it is more officially called by the Chinese government. And consider their resentment of, and their pushback against those in the West who claim that Tibet should still be a separate, independent nation in its own right.)

And with that noted as yet one more example: historical and current, of Xi’s reasoning behind his general principles and policy here, I note that China attained its greatest territorial reach in its Qing era Golden Age. And then it began to be carved apart along its periphery as that ended, as so briefly noted by way of examples in Part 21 of my Contrasts of Leadership series, among other places here in this blog.

I did not specifically discuss Taiwan there, or Japan and its activities that led to China being forced to cede that island province to a foreign power. But this is where Taiwan and its peoples very directly and specifically connect to the Hong Kong narrative that I have been developing here – because both represent historically grounded, humiliating wounds that very actively carry over into China’s here-and-now. Both represent challenges that Xi feels absolutely compelled to address, to rectify, and to reverse if his China Dream is to be fulfilled. And both serve as litmus tests of his success and of his basic capability as a supreme leader in his country. And with that noted I begin an at least briefly stated history of the island of Taiwan, and of China and of Japan as they have historically faced each other through their overlapping, competing territorial claims there.

• First of all, the island that we now know of as Taiwan was populated by indigenous aboriginals from well before the first Chinese or Japanese arrived. And these ethnically distinctive people still account for some 2.4% of the island’s overall population. And it was Europeans and primarily Dutch traders who arrived at Taiwan first, as a first wave source of significantly scaled outside contact with the world at large, beginning at least officially in 1623.
• And I note here that this happened during the waning days of the Ming Dynasty and the start of the Qing in China, and during a period of uncertainty in which China’s governmental forces were looking more inwardly than outwardly. Ming loyalists and Qing faithful were caught up in a civil war to see which side would prevail. And while the Qing did win there, that outcome was not entirely certain in 1623. The Ming Dynasty is not considered to have formally ended, in fact, until 1644.
• And this happened during the reign of the third Tokugowa Shogun in Japan: Tokugawa Iemitsu. And he is known for crucifying Christians, expelling all Europeans from Japan and even from the few trade ports that they had visited and tried to develop business opportunities through. And he closed the borders of his country to foreigners in general, initiating a basic policy there that lasted for over two centuries, with Japan only formally opening itself to the outside world after United States Navy Admiral Matthew C. Perry sailed his fleet into Edo (renamed Tokyo) harbor in 1854, and after he forced the then Emperor Kōmei to agree to the terms of the Kanagawa Jōyaku: the Convention of Kanagawa. (Nota bene: there was always some leakage in Japan’s formally stated and officially enforced isolation and some of that was in fact very consequential – and certainly where unofficial but still significant trade took place between Japan and China, and between third party participants and China with that going through key Japanese ports. But that is another story.)
• My point here is that China and Japan both played crucially important roles in the historical narrative that I would outline here, but none of that could have been possible when the Dutch first arrived in Taiwan.
• The first Chinese to arrive there, at least with any lasting impact, were Ming loyalists led by Zheng Chenggong (Koxinga); they drove out the Dutch in 1662 and established what became a short-lived, Zheng Family kingdom on the island. The Qing brought that to an end in 1683 and proclaimed the island a new “province” of China, though it was a territorial holding that was always in strife and rebellion as ethnic Han Chinese brought in, in large numbers, sought to take over the island, marginalizing its indigenous peoples in the process. (Nota bene: compare that to the current Xi era policy of moving large numbers of ethnic Han into Xinjiang {traditional Uyghur} and Xizang {traditional Tibetan} lands in order to marginalize them as minorities in their own homelands.)
• And then the two centuries and more of Tokugowa isolation ended and Japanese began to find value beyond their own borders, in Southeast Asia, and in places like Taiwan too. And it was not long before that sense of interest and that awareness of value turned into imperialistic, expansionist ambition. Pertinent to this series, and to the narrative of my above-cited Contrasts of Leadership series, this included Japan actively seeking footholds and at least selective control over territorial assets that they saw as holding high value in Southeast Asia and even in peripheral areas of China. But for purposes of this specific posting, I focus on one other place in which they actively sought direct hegemonic control and national expansion: Taiwan. And I begin outlining something of that by noting the brief but telling existence of the Republic of Formosa.
• Qing forces and Qing government officials were forced to leave the island in 1895 when China was forced to cede it to Japan under the terms of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, after a stinging military defeat. The people of that island immediately tried to establish their own independent government and create their own separate and independent nation: the Republic of Formosa. It was short lived as it was quashed when Japanese military forces arrived. The Republic was proclaimed on May 23, 1895 and it was obliterated on October 21 of that year, when its capital, Tainan was overrun by Japanese forces.
• At least one ongoing message in this progression of bullet points should come across as holding defining value for the people of Taiwan, and from their earliest contacts with foreigners who have had expansionist intentions there, on. They have resisted, seeking at all costs to gain and hold their own independence.
• Japan formally lost control over Taiwan in August 15, 1945, as part of the treaty they signed to end their part of World War II, and the island was formally handed over to the Republic of China on October 25, 1945. (Nota bene: the Republic of China was the sovereign nation of mainland China, officially in place there from 1912 with the fall of the Qing Dynasty, until 1949 when its government was forced out of mainland China by Mao Zedong and his communist forces. It became the government of Taiwan, though not without a struggle. And after an authoritarian and even repressively dictatorial start, it transitioned into becoming a true democracy. And the people of that island nation still seek to remain free from foreign domination, and they still seek to remain independent as a separate nation – just as the people of Hong Kong of today seek their own freedom and independence.

And this brings me back to Xi Jinping and his quandary. He is driven by both the positive and the negative of his China Dream and that negative is grounded in a history in which China has been whittled away, piece by piece by foreign powers – and certainly during its many years of post-Golden Age humiliation and decline. Hong Kong and Taiwan are the two largest, most visibly compelling pieces of that humiliation to remain, resisting his and his Communist Party’s and his government’s efforts to reestablish control. The people of those two lands: those two pieces of the more expansive Golden Age China that he seeks to recreate, still remain separate. And they both continue to deny the legitimacy of his China’s claims over them and the validity of his China Dream insofar as it would include them.

I finish this posting by returning to a point of detail that I noted in passing above, but that is crucially important to understanding both Xi and his Dream, and his policies and actions. He sees both Hong Kong and Taiwanese separateness and independence from his rule as challenges to all that he hopes for: all of the perceived positive that he aspires to. And the pushback and resistance that he faces, and from those sources as his principle outside challenges, and from differences and diversity within mainland China as well, drive what can only be considered his matching fears too.

I am going to at least briefly add to my here-started Taiwan narrative in the next installment of this series, as well as delving further into the puzzle that Hong Kong provides. Meanwhile, you can find this and related China and Xi Jinping-oriented material at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation.

Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and the contrasts of leadership in the 21st century 21: some thoughts concerning how Xi and Trump approach and seek to create lasting legacies to themselves 10

Posted in macroeconomics, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on October 29, 2019

This is my 22nd installment in a progression of comparative postings about Donald Trump’s and Xi Jinping’s approaches to leadership, as they have both turned to authoritarianism and its tools in their efforts to succeed there. And the most recent ten of those postings have focused on legacy building as both Trump and Xi seek to build for that. (Nota bene: this is the 22nd posting in this series, even though its title indicates 21 because I added in an unplanned for supplemental installment here, in order to address emerging news events with a Part 20.5.)

And to round out this background note as I seek to connect what I would offer here to the larger progression of postings that it fits into, I have been discussing Xi Jinping and his China Dream: his Zhōngguó Mèng (中国梦) as his road map and his guiding vision, since Part 16 of this overall series, only deviating from that narrative focus with the above-cited supplemental addition to the series. (I primarily discussed Donald Trump and his legacy building there.)

And with that noted, I turn back to more fully consider Xi Jinping again here, and by invoking a detail from earlier postings in this progression of them, that I would argue is crucially important to understanding him and his policies and actions, and both as they play out within China and as they take shape internationally too. Xi’s China Dream represents the public face of all of his own dreams and ambitions, as well as serving as an orienting framework that shapes his public facing goals and ambitions. And it is grounded in and even fundamentally predicated upon a very particular, selective interpretation of China’s history. And that understanding of China’s history is one that he has sought to bring into resonance with a more popularly held historical mythos that holds sway within his country, as well as serving as a foundation for justifying his own decisions and actions.

What are the key driving tenets of that historical understanding?

• China has been a great nation and even a leading one and it can be again.
• But at the same time, China and her people have been brought low, and both from within and crucially importantly: from the outside, by foreign interference and threat.
• So any such return to greatness has to, of necessity, include a recovery from and a reversal of past wrongs faced, even as it would call for a positive New, too.

I have discussed both sides to this dual narrative here, starting with the Golden Age of the Qing Dynasty as an idealized image of what China was and could become again (see Part 16). And I have continued on from there in subsequent series installments to discuss the years of China’s Humiliation too, as a fundamental shaping influence. That Golden Age, quite arguably ended with the death of the Qianlong Emperor in 1799. And the Age of Humiliation that followed it, began in the years that followed. And the events that came to define that period in China’s history reached significant and even era defining levels of significance by the 1830s; it is often in fact thought of as having begun then and certainly if a time point for that is to be cited where challenges faced had already begun to show significant impact. And that era in China’s history did not end, at least according to the tenets of Xi’s China Dream, until the rise to power of Mao Zedong and the founding of the Chinese Communist Party and of the People’s Republic of China.

I ended my historical progression-based discussion of the years of humiliation, at least insofar as I have presented that up to here, with Part 20. And the one at least general-conceptual detail that I find myself thinking about as I review those postings in my mind, and their historical timeline is how so much of that history that I have at least selectively touched upon here, has in fact repeated itself.

There is an old saying to the effect that those who do not know history, repeat it (or at least its less fortunate details.) The same apparently applies to those who do study history but only very selectively and for how its lessons can be shaped to conform with their own already established and desired visions. The same seems to apply to those who seek to use history as a source of support for their own stereotypic understandings and as a forced-fit tool for promoting their own personal agendas. So my goal here is to – once again, briefly and selectively, raise and make note of a few parallels that I see of importance in a legacy-understanding context, and particularly for similarities and parallels that might be drawn, connecting the decisions and actions and their consequences of the late Qing when China was truly in decline, and decisions and actions and their consequences as found in the People’s Republic of China with its still unfolding history.

I begin with the non-Han: the people of China who in a fundamental sense are not thought of or treated as true Chinese and certainly by the state. The Xinjiang (Uyghur: شىنجاڭ‎; Chinese: 新疆) Provence of China (now the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region) was initially captured through military conquest in the 18th century as a part of a Golden Age Qing Dynasty expansion of China as a whole. And that served to shift that region from being an independent entity that held a tributary relationship to China and to the Dragon Throne, to the status of being directly controlled by China’s government and emperor as part of their nation. And even the name Xinjiang (meaning New Frontier), at least to my understanding only first came into use in 1768 as a name and a descriptor of that region. But this change in status was made to work, and certainly during the Qing Golden Age, and particularly as the Qing and its government pursued a more hands-off policy there, allowing for example, unimpeded observance of religious beliefs and practices by a largely Muslim local population. A complex local hierarchical structure was in fact allowed for with both local administrative leaders (baigs) and local spiritual ones too (akhoonds.) Then when the Qing Dynasty began to unravel, this mutually beneficial system began to break down, and what efforts were made to retain control there from the center: from the imperial government and ultimately from the Dragon Throne, only created more discord, and still more.

The late Qing’s attempts to control their Xinjiang province failed, and both from their inability to restore order there as a connected part of their overall nation, and from how their attempt at that drained essential resources that they could not afford to waste, and that might have been more fruitfully deployed elsewhere in facing very real threats. As one possible arena that they could in principle at least have focused on more effectively, consider the very real challenges and the overt threats of more of that to come, arising from foreign governments and their supportive business empires (e.g. the British East India Company and its far-reaching activities, as backed by the British military in what became the first and second Opium Wars.)

And I write of this history and of what was actually attempted there, thinking of China’s current repressions in its western territories, and their current attempts to achieve total control over Xinjiang and its people as a case in point example there, while still seeking to secure genuine loyalty to their current “emperor” from them, and to the Chinese Communist party that he leads.

China’s already vast and still growing system of Vocational Education and Training Centers (职业技能教育培训中心): re-education internment camps in Xinjiang, go beyond anything that anyone of the late Qing could have even imagined possible for reining in and controlling a minority within their country, in order to retain hegemony over them and their territories. And Xi’s system there is both formidable in appearance and powerful for its reach. But the fact that China’s Communist Party and government, and their leader see this as necessary if they are to avoid seeing the western borders of their nation disintegrate from their control, is very telling. Ultimately, an ongoing need to display overwhelming power over one’s own peoples shows fundamental weakness at the core, and more so than it does strength at the periphery.

To finish at least this first phase of my discussion of this complex of issues here, unrest resulting from the breaking of a de facto covenant between Beijing and its imperial Throne, and the people of Xinjiang led to rebellion, with that coalescing around an increased observance of what became known as the New Teaching: religious teachings that were based on Sufism – a more mystically framed form of Islam, that came to argue that Qing rule was contrary to the will of the Divine: of their one God himself. And Xinjiang was not alone in this and even just for its growing resistance to and even overt rebellion against the Qing emperors, from its Muslim population. Muslim rebellions also took place across western and southwest China and particularly impactfully in Yunnan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, and starting as early as 1821 in Yunnan. Full scale rebellion began in 1855 there, and could not be fully repressed until 1873.

The more China’s central government sought to squeeze, the more the people they were squeezing resisted. And the victory they achieved from that was ultimately to prove both short lived and largely illusory, and precisely because of the levels of force they deployed to gain that.

The lessons of my first example here, of the unraveling of what had been a stable, mutually advantageous system connecting Xinjiang to China, had far reaching consequences for other ethnic minorities in China too. And the first such group to come to mind for me in that regard is the Miao of West Hunan and adjacent areas of Guizhou and Sichuan. They were settled agriculturalists who observed a religion that among other things meant their worshiping the White Emperor Heavenly Kings. And then China’s government decided to send large numbers of ethnic Han Chinese into that sparsely settled land, and in numbers that would have left the Miao a minority in their own lands – just as China is seeking to do now in Tibet and in Xinjiang! The rebellion that this mass migration led to, continued on from 1854 to 1873. But the anger and resentment behind it lived on and fed the continued unraveling of what had once been a powerful and sure Qing dynasty, and with that ultimately leading to an ending of hereditary dynastic rule in China at all.

I just mentioned Great Britain and its Opium Wars, and by extension the devastatingly demeaning treaties that that foreign power forced upon the Dragon Throne and upon all of China before it would agree to end them. And I freely admit that that was a red herring in this context. As damaging as those conflicts and those treaties were, with China being forced to cede both territory (e.g. Hong Kong proper and then Kowloon as well) and legal authority (through extraterritoriality), the “treaties” that foreign powers like Russia, Japan and yes – Britain among others, signed with Chinese minorities, and certainly at the expense of China’s central government, were worse. A succession of foreign powers made ongoing, concerted effort to weaken and undermine Chinese rule by encouraging, at the very least, insurrection from within China against it. This, I have to add, very definitely included Russian activity in Xinjiang, and particularly after the imperial court was forced to allow Russian traders and others, direct access to the region. And Russia capitalized on what they were now able to do there, to force the imperial government of China to cede Ili, in northern Xinjiang to Russia, just as it had been forced to cede areas of land along the Amur River in Manchuria. (As a side note, Russians helped to foment unrest in northern Xinjiang. Then they sent in military forces to quell that. Then they assured the Qing government that they would withdraw as soon as China restored order there, knowing that would not be possible and certainly with their ongoing participation. The government in Beijing knew that too, so they finally had to agree to let the Russians stay, and stay with what amounted to hegemonic power there too.)

How does this narrative of foreign intervention as a breaking down of China as a capable nation, mesh with Xi’s China Dream? The answer to that as a negative, and as a matter of what is to be righted is obvious. Foreign powers have at times reached out positively towards China and with a goal of achieving mutual benefit. But even when they do, goals and ambitions can change and positives can turn into negatives. Russia, for example, voluntarily agreed to and became a signatory to the Treaty of Nerchinsk in 1689, accepting wide-ranging trade rights in northern China and particularly in Mongolia that benefited them, in exchange for a border dispute resolution with China that served its interests. And Russia and China both benefited from that as Russia relinquished its hold over territory in what was the China side of the Amur. Then, as China began to collapse into weakness and discord as a nation, a later generation of Russians saw greater opportunity in expansive moves into China again. And that led to carefully planned out, systematic violations of the terms of that treaty, with incursions into Chinese territory that were specifically designed to end it, and entirely to Russian advantage. Count Mikhail Nikolayevich Muravyov, the appointed governor general of Eastern Siberia, led this effort and as a matter of pursuing official if unpublicized policy towards China, as coming from the palace of the Tzar. (Interestingly enough, Muravyov is perhaps best known for having initiated the Hague Peace Conference of 1899, that laid the groundwork for the Geneva Conventions and the International Court of Justice (the World Court) at The Hague among other lasting measures.)

How does this narrative of foreign intervention, as a breaking down of China as a capable nation, mesh with Xi’s China Dream as a guide that would point to a positive path forward for him? How could he use this type of narrative to find and promote a path towards greater strength and resiliency for China as he seeks to realize the positive side of his China Dream?

Let’s consider the whole of what I have offered here, with the two parallel perspectives of the China Dream in mind: recreating greatness, while addressing past wrongs inflicted. And to start that, let’s consider what Xi has learned from the history of resistance to China’s central government, as has occurred in Xinjiang and in so many other places and for centuries and longer now. Xi has by all appearances, primarily learned that difference and diversity pose an existential threat to China and certainly as he envisions his nation. So if the lower levels of repressive, regimenting control that China’s leaders of earlier generations could bring to bear to suppress the different could not work, he would apply much more. And in fact Xi would bring to bear all that an emerging 21st century with its technologies can offer him for that. And my concern at least, is that when he feels threatened, as he clearly does by minorities that seek to maintain their traditional cultures and beliefs, outside of his and his Communist Party’s control, he will continue to apply more and more force to stop them – creating and reinforcing the very same unrest and pushback that he fears in the process.

I have already framed this set of issues and discussed it in terms of Xi’s and China’s current policy and practices for dealing with religious and other minorities in general (see for example: Xi Jinping and His China, … 6 for further details on that.) But with that noted, I cite the still unfolding history of today, of Hong Kong’s current unrest (and see my series: Xi Jinping and His China, and Their Conflicted Relationship with Hong Kong as can be found at Macroeconomics and Business 2 as postings 343 and following.)

Perhaps more pertinently, and certainly for its much more expansive reach, consider Xi’s policy based efforts to dominate all the South China Sea, the East China Sea, Southeast Asia and more, as he seeks to both recreate and expand upon the Qing Golden Age’s span of hegemonic control.

I am going to continue this line of discussion in a next installment to this series, and will simultaneously continue posting to my series on Hong Kong, as the issues raised here in this series specifically apply there. And in anticipation of how this series is developing for all of that, I expect to complete my parallel historical narrative as begun here, with a discussion of two events that in their own way and for their respective generations constituted fundamental opportunities lost. The first of them comes from very near the end of the Qing Dynasty and was caused by the Empress Dowager Cixi and her conservative courtiers as they overthrew and ended what could have been the Hundred Days of Reform of 1898. And the second was from the rein of Mao Zedong when he started and then brutally ended his Let 100 Flowers Bloom of 1956.

Meanwhile, you can find my Trump-related postings at Social Networking and Business 2 and its Page 3 continuation. And you can find my China writings as appear in this blog at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation, at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time, and at Social Networking and Business 2 and its Page 3 continuation.

Innovation, disruptive innovation and market volatility 49: innovative business development and the tools that drive it 19

Posted in business and convergent technologies, macroeconomics by Timothy Platt on October 21, 2019

This is my 49th posting to a series on the economics of innovation, and on how change and innovation can be defined and analyzed in economic and related risk management terms (see Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation, postings 173 and loosely following for its Parts 1-48.)

I have been discussing the questions and issues of technology transfer in this series, since Part 43, initially doing so in terms of a specific business model, to business model interaction, with:

• University research labs and the university-as-business systems that they function in, as original sources of new innovation,
• And invention acquiring, for-profit businesses that would buy access to these new and emerging opportunities for development and sale.

Then I began to generalize this line of discussion in Part 48 and with a goal of more fully including business participants of all types that might find incentive or even outright need for entering into technology transfer agreements and transactions. And I focused there on four basic due diligence questions that together constitute a basic analytical planning tool for this, that I will continue addressing here too:

• What value would the initially owning business gain, or retain if it were simply to maintain tightly controlled, access limited hold over the innovation or innovations in question here?
• What value could it develop and secure from divesting at least contractually specified control over the use or ownership of this innovative potential?
• And from the acquiring business’ perspective, what costs, or loss of positive value creating potential would it face, if it did not gain access to this innovation and on terms that would meet its needs?
• And what positive value would it gain if it did gain access to this, and at a good enough price and with sufficient ownership control and exclusivity of use so as to meet its needs?

I began addressing these questions in Part 48, at the level of the individual innovation or invention, and in terms of its costs and risks, and its financial returns and other benefits as a possible technology transfer offering. Then at the end of that posting I changed direction and began addressing wider contexts here. More specifically, I said at the end of Part 48 that I would turn here to:

• Add in the complexities of scale, and for both the divesting, or licensing business and for the acquiring one.
• And I will also discuss the issues of direct and indirect competition, and how carefully planned and executed transfer transactions here, can in fact create or enhance business-to-business collaboration opportunities too,
• Where that may or may not create monopoly law risks in the process.

My goal here is to at least begin to more systematically address those issues, and with that including my explaining them where it is easy to read limiting assumptions into them. And that last possibility holds as true for business managers and owners who seek to run businesses as it does for business people in general who simply seek to better understand them. And I begin all of this with the first of those three points, and with what can be an assumptions-laden word: scale.

• Scale of what? There are at least two possible answers to that question, both f which significantly apply here. The first is the scale of overall technology transfer activity that businesses might enter into, and on both the offering and acquiring sides of these agreements. And the second is the overall scale and I have to add the overall complexity and diversity of the businesses involved.
• And in both types of contexts, scale here is all about significance and impact, and for cash flow and profitability potential, for competitive impact, and for market appeal and market share.

Let’s start addressing the first of the above-offered topics points by more fully considering scale from the first of those perspectives, and with innovation itself. And I begin addressing that by offering a point of observation that in fact does conflate the two understandings of that word, but that does indicate something as to how larger contexts can shape the significance of any given single innovation in this type of context:

• While there are possible exceptions to this presumption, it does make sense that a single, at least potentially profitable innovation and rights to developing it, is going to hold a greater individual significance to a smaller business that would buy or sell rights to it,
• Than a same potential value innovation would if it were bundled into a large assortment of such offerings for sale of rights to interested parties, and particularly for larger businesses.

According to this, a larger business that was buying or selling off what might, in fact be a large number of to-them unneeded patents, is less likely to be particularly concerned about or even interested in any given single innovation in that collection, than a smaller business would be that was buy or selling rights to a single innovation. To start with, if that smaller business was the innovator in this, with much more limited reserves and cash flows, it is likely that developing this innovation expended a much larger proportion of their then-available liquid resources than a large and diverse business would, when developing one of many innovations and on an ongoing basis.

There is of course a fundamental assumption in that, that merits explicit consideration, that I would enter into here by introducing three terms:

Linchpin innovations are innovations that offer value from how they enable other innovations and make them possible.

So for example, a new photolithography technology that would make it possible to produce very significantly, physically larger integrated circuit chips with the same or higher circuit element density and with the same or higher quality control scores, and at lower costs, would be a linchpin innovation when considered in terms of any and all collateral innovations that could be developed from it in realizing the maximum amount of achievable value from it.

Endpoint innovations are innovations that offer explicit value, but they are either more stand-alone in nature, fitting into otherwise more stable application contexts, or they are collateral innovations as noted above here, that are not absolutely required for other innovations too.

Here, true linchpin innovations that are readily identifiable as such from the perspective of an involved business and its direct competition, are innovations that are essentially by definition, disruptive in nature. They are innovations that open up new ranges of opportunities, including opportunities for developing new emergent and new next-step truly linchpin innovations. Collateral innovations might significantly stem from specific readily identifiable linchpin innovations or they might simply arise as next step developments in already established technological or other arenas. And they might be specifically supportive of other innovations, but they are not likely to be essential, obligatorily required foundational elements for developing or implementing them. And endpoint innovations are collateral but without specifically being required for any other innovations to work or to be utilized. If you organize these three categorical types of innovation in a tree pattern according to how they functionally relate to each other and according to how they do or do not depend upon each other, linchpin innovations form the base of the tree, endpoint innovations comprise the tips of the smaller branches and twigs, and collateral innovations fall in-between and merge into and can meaningfully include those tips too, and certainly as the branches involved grow and next step innovations elaborate on what were those endpoint tips.

This conceptual model discusses the issues of functional utility and value. And from a business development or acquisition perspective, this addresses the relative value that one of these innovation types would carry as a perhaps-marketable offering. Linchpin innovations hold fundamental value that can only increase as more and more elaborations arising from it are conceived and developed as endpoint and then collateral innovations from it. Even an overtly endpoint innovation might be developed into a source of new innovations, emergent to it. But statistically, they are more likely to hold value for some period of time and then fade away in significance as they become outdated and replaced by new innovative alternatives.

• As a general pattern, already identified linchpin innovations hold the greatest value
• And simple evolutionary development derived endpoint innovations hold the least, and they are likely to remain that way for the value they offer until they age out for being innovations at all. They offer the least value and are in most cases the most ephemeral even for that.
• And already-identifiable mid-range collateral innovations fall in-between those two extremes for this.

Now let’s at least briefly consider business scale as an explicitly defining parameter as it fits into this pattern. I have already touched upon this factor here in this posting, but to more systematically include it here in this overall discussion thread, I note that:

• A smaller business is not likely to invest the time, effort and expense needed to develop an innovative idea into a more actively productive reality unless it fits into and supports at least one key aspect of their basic underlying business model and business plan.
• Larger and more diverse businesses can and do innovate more widely. And while they also tend to focus on innovative potential that would in some way support their business, they do not necessarily limit their involvement and participation there, to innovations that would be central to what they do. Innovation and its development call for proportionately smaller fractions of their overall resource bases so they are proportionately smaller investments for them. And they are proportionately less risk-involving investments, if an innovation development effort falls through and becomes a source of financial loss from that.
• On the acquisition side, smaller businesses correspondingly focus their attention and their activity on their core essentials and on optimizing their competitive strengths and their market reach and penetration. So if they acquire an innovation from another business through a technology transfer transaction, it is all but certain that their core due diligence decision making process there, will center on how this acquisition would support the fundamentals that define the business for what it is and that make it work. And they would compare that with analyses of the consequences they would face if they chose not to acquire this, and simply continue on as is.
• Larger, more diverse businesses can and do acquire innovation and controlling rights to it to competitively fill gaps in what they can and do offer, and how. Technology transfer acquisitions impact on parts of their organization and their market-facing productive puzzle.
• For smaller businesses, these acquisitions impact on their organization as a whole and on their market-facing productive puzzle as a whole too.

I am going to continue this discussion in my next installment to this series where I will turn to consider the second and third innovation context topic points:

• The issues of direct and indirect competition, and how carefully planned and executed technology transfer transactions here, can in fact create or enhance business-to-business collaboration opportunities too,
• Where that may or may not create monopoly law risks in the process.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation. And also see Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 3 and that directory’s Page 1 and Page 2.

Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and the contrasts of leadership in the 21st century 20.5: some thoughts concerning how Xi and Trump approach and seek to create lasting legacies to themselves 9

Posted in macroeconomics, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on October 17, 2019

This is my 21st installment in a progression of comparative postings about Donald Trump’s and Xi Jinping’s approaches to leadership, as they have both turned to authoritarianism and its tools in their efforts to succeed there, with this posting offered as a fractional installment number update to this narrative flow, added in here in order to address emerging news events. And it is my 9th installment in that, to specifically address their legacy-building visions, ambitions and actions.

I have primarily focused on Xi Jinping and his goals and ambitions in this, since Part 4 of this legacy-oriented progression of postings, as included here in this larger overall discussion of how he and Trump approach leadership per se. And I freely admit that I was at least initially planning on continuing my discussion of Xi and his China for several more installments here, before explicitly focusing on Donald Trump again, and his presidency and his legacy building ambitions and actions. But recent events have forced me to reconsider that, and offer at least one Trump-oriented series installment here and now. And in anticipation of that, I begin by noting that the two perhaps largest and most significant individual news stories to date in the Trump presidency, that have come to dominate coverage of his administration in recent days and weeks, only provide part of the impetus for my writing of him here and now:

• The still actively unfolding scandal of how Donald Trump, and both directly and through his personal emissaries, has sought to extort the new president of the Ukraine to influence the upcoming 2020 presidential election in the United States, by damaging one of his strongest competing candidates for election in a smear campaign.
• And Trump’s abandonment of America’s Kurdish allies in Syria: soldiers and civilians who have risked all to help American forces there and to help them succeed in their fight against terrorism in that part of the world.

And chaos has come out of both of these transgressions against reason and against moral duty and responsibility, and for at least the first of them, against the US constitution and the law too. So both have served to erode at least some of the support that Trump has managed to maintain over his core supporters, at least at their edges and for swing state and swing district Republicans in elected office who see continued blind support of him as a real threat to their staying in office. And Trump’s foray in foreign-supported dirty politics here in the United States has led to impeachment hearings in the US House of Representatives.

If these issues are not enough to prompt me to write about Trump and his decisions and actions, and their impact upon any legacy building ambitions that he might have, what is? My answer to that is simple:

• The basic mindset that has made both of those news stories possible, and that has really propelled the first of them in a direction that makes impeachment in the House and a trial in the US Senate seem all but inevitable now.

Donald Trump, as a rational person would have seen sufficient warning in the firestorm of rebuke and the calls for impeachment coming out of his contacts with the Ukraine’s president, to want to distance himself from all of that. His quid pro quo phone call with president Volodymyr Zelensky, trading the release of military aid funds already authorized by Congress in exchange for personal “favors” is now openly known, with as full a transcript as was taken of that now publically available and known. And the roles played in all of this by both president Trump’s Attorney general, William Barr, and by his own personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, and by at least two staff attorneys in Giuliani’s law firm: Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, among others, is known too. And those two Giuliani associates are now facing criminal charges after being arrested at the Dulles International Airport while trying to flee the country on one way plane tickets out.

But Trump doubled down on this to use a term that he might have learned from his failed attempt at running a gambling casino, and openly admitted that he tried to get a foreign power to collude with him in digging up, or manufacturing if need be, dirt against at least one of his political opponents in order to influence the upcoming 2020 presidential election. And he then went on to publically ask China and their government to do the same for him too.

Basically, what he has done there is to eliminate any possible discussion, or need for it as to whether he actually did what he has been accused of doing, as impeachment papers are being drawn up, just leaving the question of whether his actions in doing so rise to the level of impeachable offenses. And his has done all of this while actively threatening some of his key supporters in the US Congress, where any congressional Republican vote lost, and even just in the House has to be considered a key loss.

The more Republicans vote to impeach in the now Democratic Party controlled House, the freer any Republican senators would find themselves, to challenge Trump and his hold on their political party and vote to convict too. And this brings me to some fundamental questions that I have found myself mulling over and that I would address here, at least to the level of offering them and a few orienting thoughts about them.

• What does legacy even mean in a Trump context and in a Trump world view?

My answer to that type of question is relatively simple and straight forward in a Xi Jinping context, or in the context of most any other leader who seeks to be remembered for enduring works achieved, authoritarian or not. And I have been at least relatively systematically addressing that and certainly from a Xi perspective for months now in this blog – and every time that I have raised the issues of Xi’s China Dream and how he understands it and seeks to realize it. Legacy in that sense is ordered and directed and long-term oriented and even when, as in Xi’s case he is now consistently taking actions and making decisions that undermine his own overall ambitions there, from how he is mismanaging the crisis that he has in effect created in Hong Kong as that is still actively unfolding. But long-term does not and cannot extend beyond the span of an unconsidered twitter posting or off-the-cuff spontaneous remark made in front of an open microphone, in Donald Trump’s world.

And once Trump says or posts something, he can never take it back and regardless of how self-damaging it proves to be. Retraction would require his admitting that he had made a mistake and if he did that on anything, however seemingly trivial, his entire presidential administration and in fact his entire adult life and personhood might unravel as more and more possible errors and mistake well up to the surface, demanding their own recognition too! That, at any rate seems to be how he views that ego challenging existential threat possibility. (For trivial there, remember his insistence, in the face of direct photographic evidence to the contrary, that his in-person inaugural crowd at his presidential swearing in, in 2016 was huge, was tremendous, was the biggest ever.) So Donald Trump: the actual person has created Donald Trump: the image, and Donald Trump the image of a president, has emerged as a fragile, unstable presence that could shatter if successfully challenged on anything. And this means that Trump cannot learn, and by that I mean anything.

You cannot learn unless and until you can admit, even to yourself that you do not know everything already, and that you might be wrong on at least some of what you assume.

• How does this impact on the basic question that I am addressing here, regarding the nature of legacy building, at least where such efforts might have at least something of a chance at succeeding?

Successful legacy building is of necessity a team sport where others with their varying expertise are brought in, and in ways that would bring them to want to support the overall vision of that effort. This means bringing in people who know things, and who can do things that the legacy builder at the center of all of this does not know and cannot do themselves. And successful legacy building has to be a learning curve activity as an intended is shaped into a possible and achievable, and from there into a realized and in the face of any and all set-backs and challenges faced.

That is an area where Xi Jinping has not been very successful either, and certainly in the context of Hong Kong. History will show how successful Trump is at that, though his prospects there do not look good for him right now.

That noted, I would conclude this posting by citing one more quality that any long-term sustainable legacy building effort would require and on all levels, from determining what should go into it and with what priorities, to enlisting support in developing it from key potential stakeholders, to enlisting general support for it as an ongoing symbol and presence. Xi is certainly trying to achieve that, as I have been arguing in recent installments to this series. Donald Trump has at least seemingly come to see his long-term legacy in terms of simply getting reelected for a second term – which is a big part of why he has tried enlisting foreign support for this reelection efforts; he is trying to recreate the type of then-Russian interference on his behalf that got him elected to office in 2016 in the first place. And now, and with his current scandals and worse coming to haunt him, he legacy building effort seems to have shrunk down to simply serving out the fullness of the term of office as United States president that he is going through now – and with his getting reelected if he can make it successfully through the emerging Congressional scrutiny that he is currently facing.

Thinking back over what is rapidly approaching three full years since he was first elected president, I remember mulling over and in fact citing what can only be considered a legacy oriented poem for Trump’s type of vision, as written by Percy Bysshe Shelley in late 1810 or early January 1811, titled Ozymandias.

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

What is Donald Trump’s lasting legacy likely to be?

• He and his supportive Republican led Senate have pushed a large number of ultra-conservative jurists into lifetime tenure positions in federal courts, including the US Supreme Court. And he may very well add at least one more like-minded jurist there too, who’s only defining litmus test qualification required by him is likely to be found in their politics.
• He has done much to unravel all of the positive international treaties and all of the alliance forming nation-to-nation support systems that generations of his predecessors in office have worked so hard to build for the United States: Democratic and Republican presidents alike. And in fact Trump has done more of that in his purblind xenophobic strivings than any of America’s enemies have ever been able to achieve. (As a side note on this, Xi Jinping has actively, and surprisingly successfully cut off and isolated Taiwan by bringing nation after nation to withdraw their ambassadorial and consular recognition of that island nation; he has wielded this same basic isolationist approach against Taiwan and its peoples that Trump seems to be attempting with regard to the United States. And yes, Trump has by all appearance been attempting to do this to the United States, at least actively alienating all of our key allies, even if they do keep their embassies here, and without the aid of a foreign leader such as Xi Jinping to help move that along.)
• And to cite a third leg to this statuesque edifice, Trump has actively fought against any efforts to address or even acknowledge the legitimacy of climate change and global warming and certainly as consequences of human activity. And he has done so both within the United Stated and internationally and even as progressively more and more dire evidence emerges to refute him on this. He calls all of that, “fake news,” the same way he does anything he sees as challenging him or his understanding of the world around him.

And the impact of these efforts on his part and of others like them will endure for generations after he is gone from office and even as …

“Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

I am going to return to my intended narrative as noted towards the start of this posting, in my next, more regularly planned out installment to this series. Meanwhile, you can find my Trump-related postings at Social Networking and Business 2 and its Page 3 continuation. And you can find my China writings as appear in this blog at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation, at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time, and at Social Networking and Business 2 and its Page 3 continuation.

Xi Jinping and his China, and their conflicted relationship with Hong Kong – an unfolding Part 2 event: 7

Posted in macroeconomics by Timothy Platt on October 2, 2019

This is the seventh posting that I have offered here since June 19, 2019, to address significant and still expanding conflicts taking place in Hong Kong, arising as a response to actions taken by China’s government and by their hand-picked executive leadership in Hong Kong, that would fundamentally limit the legal rights of citizens there (see Macroeconomics and Business 2, postings 343 and following for Parts 1-6 of this.) And I add that the basic wording that I use in this introductory paragraph, and that I have used in starting earlier installments to this series, still applies: “… significant and still expanding conflicts” and all.

I find myself writing this news analysis piece after learning of how a Hong Kong police officer shot a protestor with live ammunition: not with a “non-lethal” alternative such as rubber bullets on October 1 as a next step escalation in force used in China’s efforts to quell and subdue this unrest. (Here, Carrie Lam, the Xi Jinping appointed senior executive of Hong Kong is a servant of Xi’s government and rule, and her police force works for her as her enforcement arm in that arrangement, and certainly in this context. So this escalation in force applied is China’s and Xi’s.)

When I wrote Part 6 of this, with that installment going live to this blog on September 5, 2019, I had a fairly simple and direct plan for how I would continue here, even given my expectation of seeing need to add discussion of breaking news events into an intended narrative, that could not be predicted and certainly in detail as of early September. My plan, such as it was, was to focus in Parts 7-9 of this series: this posting and the next two beyond it, on:

7. The People’s Republic of China and truth, and the manipulation and control of message, and in news reporting, in schools and in what can be taught in them, and more – and in fact in and through all publically available and societally connecting channels where possible.
8. Hong Kong and Taiwan as challenges to the People’s Republic of China and its Communist party, and with relevant Taiwanese history added to this narrative, and with a here-and-now focus. There, I would cite Taiwan as a comparative example of how Xi’s and his government’s goals, plans and actions are playing out, and I would discuss how the simultaneous occurrence of these sources of pushback and challenge synergistically complicate matters for China and for Xi’s China Dream.
9. And I would explicitly discuss Hong Kong as it has become what should be an entirely avoidable existential threat to Xi’s China Dream, for how it is likely to shape both Xi Jinping’s and his administration’s futures.

And in this course of this narrative flow I would of necessity also discuss US president Trump’s trade war with China as a further stressor in all of this, and at least something of the internal challenges that mainland China faces – many if not most of their own doing. I definitely include China’s government implemented and Communist Party led campaign to repress their Uyghur population, noting that they as a people and China’s approach towards them only represent a perhaps more visibly known example of how a much more widely spread policy is being followed. See Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and the Contrasts of Leadership in the 21st century – 20 for further details on that.

I will in fact pursue the line of discussion noted in the above-offered Point 7, at least touching upon all of the main issues raised there. But before I do so, I want to step back from consideration of Hong Kong and that city’s here-and-now issues, to focus on the other end of the lever that is tearing away any real semblance of stability as it had prevailed there, and for China as a whole too; I step back from that to more specifically consider Xi Jinping himself and his decisions and actions, as they would inform and perhaps even somewhat explain what is happening in Hong Kong today. And I begin that by citing a quote from Boris Yeltsin as he looked back at the crumbling ruin of a then still just recently collapsed Soviet Union and as he looked forward to what might come next:

• “You can build a throne out of bayonets, but you can’t sit on it for long.”

Control by force, and control by and through the threat of force can have real impact, but not long-term stable impact, at least in and of themselves.

The same principle offered here in the words of a Russian, looking back at the fall of Soviet Communism, holds relevance for other contexts too. And it holds such relevance for what amount to the cyber- bayonets of information control, as much as it does for more conventional metal ones, as alternative voices are certain with time to leak through: alternative voices that would compete with and come to repudiate any attempted centrally controlled message. In this, bayonets are bayonets and coercive top-down mandated control by force is still just coercive top-down mandated force. And the mandate of authority that it can lead to has limitations that history has repeatedly validated for their overriding significance, but that next generation leaders and would-be leaders all too often seem to forget – and even when they turn to history as a source of justification for their own decisions and actions.

I in fact first read a sentiment of the type expressed in Yeltsin’s 20th century quote, a number of years earlier, in reference to instabilities that arose during China’s warring states period. The only real difference between Yeltsin’s quoted line and this earlier possible reference was in the choice of bladed weapons involved.

• I have been writing here, of a fundamental conflict between opposing visions, and it is a conflict in which neither side is likely to be able to back down as each sees any alternative to their striving for their goals as being tantamount to a death knell for all that they value.
• Xi Jinping cannot abandon his China Dream in Hong Kong’s harbor and he sees any giving in on his part in how he deals with the people of that city as a giving in that would lead to the unraveling of everything he values: the (re)creation of a truly Golden Age China in which the wrongs of the past that were imposed on his nation are undone and the humiliations ended, and with him leading this return to greatness as his legacy.
• And the people of Hong Kong cannot back down either, least they lose all that they have come to value too: their freedom and their right to self-determination.

I said that I would address a series of next-step discussion points in this and the next two postings and I will do so, expanding those discussion threads out further if need be. But as a crucially important foundation point for thinking about all of those issues, I note that they all arise out of a fundamental conflict between irreconcilable differences and under circumstances where both sides would see any real, significant compromise towards the other as being tantamount to agreeing to the death of their dream. Xi has his dream and the people of Hong Kong have theirs too in this. And with that, I turn to consider the first of the three basic topics points that I made note of above, and the cyber-bayonets of Xi Jinping’s attempt at absolute political and governmental control through the control of news and opinion and of information availability in general.

I have been writing about China’s Golden Shield Project: its Great Firewall of China for essentially as long as I have written about anything explicitly China-related here, with my first postings on that topic area appearing in the first of what are now three pages to my Ubiquitous computing and communications – everywhere all the time directory, and with the earliest of them going live on this blog in 2010. Xi Jinping did not create this information access limiting and controlling system, and he did not take anything like a leading role in mandating its creation or design either; he inherited it. But this program has been fundamentally transformed and updated under his leadership as a core element of his overall effort at societal control through information control policy. So in a fundamental sense, he and his Communist Party and government leadership team have taken ownership of it. And one of their core goals in that expansive effort, has been to fully integrate this already vast enterprise into a single far larger system. That larger effort has increasingly included weaponized use of social media, and both through the activities of armies of online trolls, and through automated robo-posters and fake social media posting accounts.

That point of observation opens up what could potentially be a discussion of essentially all of China’s cyber policy and its implementation, but for purpose of this series and its narrative I would focus here on how this has played out in Hong Kong and as a response to the activities of that city. And I begin that by citing an initiative in the People’s Republic of China that goes back to the beginning of public internet access there: the so called 50 Cent Party, or 50 Cent Army of government and Party supportive “commentators” who were centrally managed as they in turn sought to shape the online message.

This is important; the types of control have changed and evolved there and both for the specific details of their implementation and for their reach. But the basic troll driven approach goes back to the beginning of the internet as it has been developed in China. And so does the government and Party mentality as it faces the internet, and the fear that shapes its basic policy and actions in all of this.

China’s government and Communist Party have actively sought to control the message that is collectively conveyed online concerning Hong Kong and its unrest, and globally. And this has included what amount to massive cyber-attack disinformation campaigns conducted globally, through outside social media companies and their online channels. And to back up that assertion, I would offer a few links to news stories that support it, and in a specifically Hong Kong protest context, that come from a diversity of sources:

Facebook and Twitter uncover Chinese trolls spreading doubts about Hong Kong protests ,
Facebook and Twitter Say China Is Spreading Disinformation in Hong Kong,
How China Unleashed Twitter Trolls to Discredit Hong Kong’s Protesters,
China’s information war is trying to turn its citizens against Hong Kong protesters and
The ‘spammy network’ of Chinese Twitter accounts meant to ‘sow discord in Hong Kong’.

And stepping back from the specifics of Hong Kong to consider my above stated cyber-control assertion as a whole, I add that leaks happen and that in time the truth: the actual, factual truth does eventually come out. And this news piece only points towards one small step in that revelation to come:

Massive Database Leak Exposes China’s “Digital Surveillance State”.

This externally directed effort is of course matched and exceeded by China’s officially mandated, supported and controlled effort to shape all that their own people can see, hear or know about Hong Kong and current events there, and through essentially all publically available channels in China itself.

I finish this posting by returning to a detail that I briefly touched upon more towards its beginning when I mentioned schools and school curricula, and I have to add text books and other teaching materials. The Beijing government of Xi Jinping has both directly attacked how social studies and related topics are taught in Hong Kong schools, and indirectly attacked those sources of perceived threat through their spokesperson, Carrie Lam. And this assault has been directed towards schools at all levels from grade school on up to university classrooms. And this has simply added fuel to the fire of protest for people in this education system, as protest against Chinese intervention in Hong Kong has become what amounts to that city’s new normal. And with that I cite a blog posting from a colleague and friend who teaches and who trains teachers:

Hong Kong’s Students Come Ready for Education.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will, as promised above, discuss Taiwan and I add other challenges too. Meanwhile, you can find this and related China and Xi Jinping-oriented material at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation.

Addendum Note of October 4, 2019:
I wrote this posting with an awareness of how the people of Hong Kong see China’s cyber policy and practices as a source of existential threat to themselves and to all that they value. And with that in mind, I update what I have offered here with a link to a news piece that came out this morning, that holds particular relevance here:

Hong Kong Takes Symbolic Stand Against China’s High-Tech Controls.

And to highlight why I would include that here, I share a quote from this news story that brings why I would cite it into sharp focus:

• “This invisible but stark technological wall has loomed as Hong Kong’s protests smolder into their fourth month. The semiautonomous city’s proximity to a society that is increasingly closed off and controlled by technology has informed protesters’ concerns about Hong Kong’s future. For many, one fear is the city will fall into a shadow world of surveillance, censorship and digital controls that many have had firsthand experience with during regular travels to China.”

And that is one of the core reasons why the protestors of Hong Kong cannot back down. And the hopes and fears that drive China’s government and Party to pursue this type and level of control in the first place, makes it impossible for them to back down either. And with that, I turn back to a point that I made at the very beginning of this October 2 posting: the shooting of an unarmed young student by a police officer. I had not seen confirming evidence when first writing of that, but I now know as confirmed that this police officer shot a young man in the chest with a hollow-point bullet: a bullet designed to all but explosively expand out in a body, causing maximal possible damage. Hollow-points are explicitly designed to kill – not injure or subdue. And it was only chance and good timing in getting this shooting victim to the right surgeon, expert in dealing with “ballistic injuries” that allowed him to survive this. My point is that when that officer and their peers loaded their guns with that type of ammunition, that made a dramatic, and a dramatically dangerous escalation of the tensions in Hong Kong inevitable. And they would not have been able to do that without explicit approval and explicit orders to do so.

I have written here of accidental escalation in tensions that could push all of this to places of conflict that no one would want. But accidents of that type are built on foolish, unconsidered decisions too. And that, I suspect is what happened here. So officially at least the shooting victim is blamed for what happened, but no one in the general Hong Kong population is likely to really believe that. And we see all of this continuing to drift that much closer to the edge of a cliff, from which there can be no return. See:

Hong Kong Police, Seen as ‘Hounds After Rabbits,’ Face Rising Rage .

%d bloggers like this: