Report on conversation with Chinese bureaucrats

Sometimes I write articles that are fantasies. This is not one of them. This is a report of what somebody actually told me about a conversation she had with a couple of attaches to the Chinese delegation to the APEC summit. This friend of mine knows one of these attaches from the past. The other evening they went out for drinks together – along with some others from the delegation. Here is what my friend reported:

In the first place, the attaches got really wasted. This is significant for two reasons. First is that in their condition any inhibitions were lessened. Second, my friend believes that these lower level bureaucrats are under tremendous pressure in their daily work lives and getting drunk is how they relieve the pressure.

Xi a “dictator”
The thing that they were genuinely furious over was Biden’s comment that Xi is a dictator. They took this comment personally. The general feeling was, “look, we are responsible for running a country of 1.7 billion people. We’re just doing our job, doing what we’ve been raised to do, which is join the Communist Party and work our way up the ladder. We work 12 hour days, as we’re supposed to do. We make our country run, and now you’re going to call us part of a dictatorship? Go to hell!”

I asked my friend if this was a sign that underneath it all they are worried about popular discontent with the government and they don’t want to be blamed. “100%” was what my friend said.

They went on in that vein at some length. “What’s the big U.S. obsession with elections?” they asked. “You have elections but nothing changes. Aren’t people very unhappy with government policies anyway?
“Not only that, but look what happened here in San Francisco. Your government removed all the homeless for the APEC conference. How is that different?”

The other point that they raised was that to them a dictator just runs everything themselves, as one individual, but Xi can’t. He has to have at least one third or so of his ministers to go along with something in order for an order to be carried out.

My friend’s point was that she didn’t think these people were just putting on the outrage over the “dictator” comment. It was genuine.

Other issues they raised:

On the economy, they are very worried. They say the housing market is in real trouble. They also said that Xi/China has made some $3/4 trillion ($.75 trillion) in loans to Africa which are unaccounted for. They believe this could do severe damage to the budget and could even result in Xi’s downfall.

On Ukraine, they think that Putin was stupid for having invaded and that he should just withdraw. How, on what terms they seemed unconcerned with. He should just get out.

On Gaza, they seemed genuinely outraged at what Israel is doing.

Categories: Asia

2 replies »

  1. Overall, very informative. However, the phrase “some $3/4 trillion in loans to Africa which are unaccounted for” has problems. Do you mean three-quarters or do you intend three to four? Especially if the latter, the huge amount makes one wonder if the figure is really yuan instead of dollars. The yuan is just under 14 cents, so for example 3.5 trillion yuan is $490 billion, still difficult to believe. On the other hand, 0.75 trillion yuan would be $105 billion – a credible amount but would it cause “severe damage” to the Chinese national government’s budget?

    It is said “new loan commitments from Chinese entities to African government borrowers … fell from a peak of $28.5 billion in 2016 down to just under $1 billion last year.”

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