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Serious Ah Tiong called Lanjiao Loong a filthy lackey of America, will he sue?

Discussion in 'The Courtyard Café' started by Cottonmouth, Jun 16, 2017.

  1. Cottonmouth

    Cottonmouth Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Chinese state media, netizens seize on Lee family dispute to criticise Singapore

    This photograph taken on June 2, 2017 shows Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at an event at the Istana presidential palace in Singapore. A feud between the children of Singapore's late founding leader intensified on June 14, 2017 after two siblings publicly accused their brother PM Lee of disobeying their father's last wishes and abusing his powers. Photo: AFP
    PUBLISHED: 8:00 PM, JUNE 16, 2017UPDATED: 8:55 PM, JUNE 16, 2017
    SINGAPORE — Chinese state media and netizens have seized on the feud between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his siblings to criticise the Republic’s leadership, drawing a sharp contrast between their coverage and that of the media in countries around the world, which have mostly stuck to factual and balanced reporting.

    On Thursday (June 15), for example, the Global Times ran an opinion piece headlined “Is family feud indicating a broader dispute in Singapore?” In adopting a hectoring tone, the piece posited that the family dispute was a sign that socio-political tensions were brewing in Singapore.

    “The attack launched on Lee Hsien Loong by his two siblings to some extent represents the dissatisfactions of the liberals and opposition parties against the ‘central interest group’ built up by Lee Hsien Loong, which may lead to the outburst of conflicts in Singapore,” the commentary said.

    It went on to say that “Singapore appears to be ill-prepared to adapt to global changes. Its avid support of the South China Sea arbitration rendered the country isolated. As an active promoter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it was caught in an awkward position after US President Donald Trump discarded the deal. These have cornered Singapore into an unprecedented passive diplomatic position”.

    It concluded thus: “Lee Hsien Loong has been granted a chance on the stage of history, but is being rooted against by his siblings. His winning edge lies only in his governance achievements.”

    The tabloid, which is published by the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece, People’s Daily, and thus offers a view of official thinking, has long had Singapore in its sights.

    Last November, after the Singapore Armed Forces’ Terrex vehicles were seized, it warned that the Republic’s “hypocrisy” over its military relationship with Taiwan could harm its relations with China.

    A month earlier, it published a series of reports critical of PM Lee’s official visit to Japan. The newspaper claimed that Singapore had agreed to cooperate with Tokyo on various issues, including territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

    That charge came after it alleged in September that Singapore had pushed for a stronger statement on an international tribunal ruling invalidating Beijing’s expansive claims in the South China Sea during the Non-Aligned Movement summit. Singapore’s ambassador to China, Stanley Loh, rebutted the report, calling it “false and unfounded”, but the paper stood by its story.
    Global Times’ readership comprises a sizeable number of young nationalists.

    Those voices were very much in evidence on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, after reports of the dispute between the Lees were published.

    The tone of the reactions bordered on the belligerent. One netizen, for example, wrote: “The Lee family is the vanguard of anti-China (forces). But if you want to oppose China, you should first get your family matters in order.”

    Said another: “Lee Hsien Loong did not go against the wishes of Lee Kuan Yew, because both father and son chose to be lackeys of America”.

    Hongkong’s South China Morning Post, meanwhile, reported that after reports of the dispute were published by outlets such as Xinhua and People’s Daily, many Chinese nationals took the opportunity to gloat.

    One such report, in the Global Times, was flooded with over 5,600 comments from netizens, with the top one attracting 1,440 likes, the Post reported.

    That comment called Mr Lee “an anti-China lackey of the United States”. The poster revelled in details of the family split, and added: “Chinese people should forever remember this anti-China lackey of the West. He is more anti-China than anyone else.”

    The tone in China contrasts sharply with that elsewhere.

    Headlines in news outlets such as the Financial Times, Guardian, BBC News, CNN, and The New York Times were mostly spober recountings of details of the dispute.

    The NYT’s headline, for example, was “In Singapore, Prime Minister’s sibligs are taking a private feud public”. The Financial Times’ story, headlined “Singapore frets over worsening Lee family feud”, noted that “the row has dominated political discourse in the Asian financial centre this week.”

    Closer to home, Malaysian newspapers have also adopted a sober tone.

    On Thursday, a day after the news broke, the New Straits Times carried a Reuters report which focused on the Lee siblings’ claim that they had “lost confidence” in the Prime Minister’s leadership. The Star, meanwhile, zoomed in on the accusation by Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling that the PM was milking their father’s legacy. AGENCIES
     
  2. kryonlight

    kryonlight Alfrescian (Inf)

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    It's OKAY to offend China. Just don't offend Malaysia. It's inevitable that Singapore will be returned to Malaysia in the near future. Will Jah_rastafa_I be able to tolerate holding a shitskin passport? LOL!
     
  3. Cottonmouth

    Cottonmouth Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Shitskin = Filthy Indian Fuckers/Swines
    Malaysia = Muds...
     
  4. kryonlight

    kryonlight Alfrescian (Inf)

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    They are all the same to yellow nationalist Jah_rastafa_I.
     
  5. frenchbriefs

    frenchbriefs Alfrescian (Inf)

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    im glad china is dishing these hard truths out to arse loong.finally someone needs to tell him to wake his shit up!!!!


    “The attack launched on Lee Hsien Loong by his two siblings to some extent represents the dissatisfactions of the liberals and opposition parties against the ‘central interest group’ built up by Lee Hsien Loong, which may lead to the outburst of conflicts in Singapore,” the commentary said.

    It went on to say that “Singapore appears to be ill-prepared to adapt to global changes. Its avid support of the South China Sea arbitration rendered the country isolated. As an active promoter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it was caught in an awkward position after US President Donald Trump discarded the deal. These have cornered Singapore into an unprecedented passive diplomatic position”.
     
  6. frenchbriefs

    frenchbriefs Alfrescian (Inf)

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    if singapore returns to malaysia then nothing would matter anymore,we would just be a quiet fishing village again.if arse loong knows whats good for him and PAP's wallet,he will submit to eleven jinping now and make SIngapore SAR of China.the emperor already has no clothes,but at least he has his gold rolex watch.
     
  7. kryonlight

    kryonlight Alfrescian (Inf)

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    Don't be stupid. The familee's wealth is built on the Western financial system. Complete capitulation to China will ensure the swift and dramatic collapse of the Singapore dollar and a real quick return to a fishing village. China is not going to be your savior, dumb dumb.
     
  8. Cottonmouth

    Cottonmouth Alfrescian Old Timer

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    It has been an excellent week to see Lanjiao Loong get fucked from every corner of the earth. :D
     
  9. frenchbriefs

    frenchbriefs Alfrescian (Inf)

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    Capitalism doesn't work simply because ur leaning to the east or the west.money is money,money has no allegience to race,creed,gender,nationality or religion.it obeys everyone and no one.The chinks have already beaten the west at their capitalism game.capitalism has been around since the dawn of mankind and I have faith in the chinks,they have good capitalist genes.
     
  10. eatshitndie

    eatshitndie Alfrescian (Inf)

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    guess who armed and trained these chink "bandits" in malaya?

    IMG_0174.JPG
     
  11. eatshitndie

    eatshitndie Alfrescian (Inf)

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    one of these jungle "bandits" killed my uncle in malaya.

    IMG_0176.JPG
     
  12. pocoyo

    pocoyo Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Your vision is up to as far as Malaysia only.

    Most of the countries around sg including malaysia are all looking up to China now.

    If sg offend China, don't think malaysia would take sg if it ever thinks of merging with malaysia.
     
  13. Reddog

    Reddog Alfrescian Old Timer

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    lhl is hated across China. With him in government SG will never have a chance to normalize relation with Chinese everywhere.
     
  14. kryonlight

    kryonlight Alfrescian (Inf)

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    You must be stupid. If Singapore fails, China would be the most happy to see it merge with Malaysia because that will give the chink communists complete control over the Straits of Malacca via proxy Malaysia.
     
  15. kryonlight

    kryonlight Alfrescian (Inf)

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    You are a very good joker. Capitalism is a Western invention. Communist chinks practise pseudo-capitalism via all their debt-ridden state enterprises.
     
  16. frenchbriefs

    frenchbriefs Alfrescian (Inf)

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    Ur right,i was looking for signs of capitalism in ancient China,even though there were famous entrepreneurs and merchants in ancient China and paper money was invented in china in the 720 bc.the success and prosperity of the Chinese economy never led to capitalism.the earliest form of capitalism or merchantile capitalism,was found in the medival Islamic world and europe,and only developed into a force in the sixteenth century in Europe.which later on became industrial capitalism.trade and commerce existed in ancient history but it was never considered capitalism.
     
  17. frenchbriefs

    frenchbriefs Alfrescian (Inf)

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    Why was there no capitalism in early modern China?

    In this paper, we ask the following question: why couldn’t Early Modern China make the leap to capitalism, as we have come to know it in the West? We suggest that, even if China compared well with the West in key economic features - commercialization and commodification of goods, land, labor - up to the 18th century, it did not traverse the path to Capitalism because of the “fact of empire”. Lacking the scale of fiscal difficulties encountered in Early Modern Europe, Late Imperial China did not have to heavily tax merchants and notables; therefore, it did not have to negotiate rights and duties with the mercantile class. More innovatively, we also propose that the relative lack of fiscal difficulties meant that China failed to develop a “virtuous symbiosis” between taxing, monetization of the economy and public debt. This is because, essentially, it was the mobilization of society’s resources - primarily by way of public debt or taxes - towards the support of a military force that created the first real opportunities for merchants and bankers to amass immense and unprecedented wealth.
     
  18. frenchbriefs

    frenchbriefs Alfrescian (Inf)

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    “In the West, capitalism triggered revolutions in science, technology and economic growth with the industrial revolution. From there, it became the dominant mode of production in Europe and in most of the rest of the world. Capitalism enabled favored classes and countries to amass capital, power and knowledge at an unprecedented rate. In China, something rather different occurred” (Gates, 1996, p. 40).

    However we may define capitalism - whether we understand it as a “free private enterprise exchange economy” or we grasp it as a mode of production based on exploitative property relations and the accumulation of capital through the extraction of surplus value from wage-earning workers - there is but little disagreement about the fact that Europe embarked, beginning in the late 1700s with England, on a road of sustained per-capita income growth that quickly made it look very different from the rest of the world, still mired in what Kenneth (Pomeranzs 2000, p. 207) dubbed as a “proto-industrial cul-de-sac”. But what really makes the European breakthrough - “the capital-intensive, energy-intensive, land-gobbling European Miracle”1 - unique is the fact that, as recent research has thoroughly demonstrated2, far from being unique, in the late 1700s “the most developed parts of western Europe seem to have shared crucial economic features - commercialization, commodification of goods, land, and labor, market-driven growth… - with other densely populated core areas in Eurasia” (Pomeranz, 2000, p. 107). The author is thus arguing that there is no reason to think that this pattern of market-development would necessarily have led to any kind of industrial breakthrough.

    There has been extensive research on what prevented China from breaking through to an industrial revolution3. If one equates capitalism with the “perfect functioning of markets”, one is boggled by the fact that it has not been convincingly proven that Early Modern Europe was closer to Smithian ideas of freedom and efficiency than China. In the seminal book “The Pattern of the Chinese Past”, (Elvin 1973) puts forth the thesis that in the 18th century China had reached a “high-level equilibrium path”: in Gunder Frank’s interpretation of this thesis (1998, p. 301-2), China had gone about “as far as you can go with the agricultural, transport and manufacturing techniques developed in the preceding centuries on the basis of abundant human labor combined with scarce land and other resources”. Elvin and others thus challenge cultural and institutions-based theories that purport to find Europe’s advantage against China in some kind of European civilizational traits that can be traced back centuries before the industrial revolution4. Andre Gunder Frank is particularly critical of what he dubs the “Eurocentric Vision, received from Weber, Marx and their disciples, that the Asiatic Mode of Production was stagnant and literarily useless, while European institutions were progressive” (1998, p. 205). Actually, he thinks the whole “Asiatic Mode of Production” construct is laden with unproductive prejudices, and thus needs to be discarded in favor of more unbiased analyses of Asia’s pre-industrial economy, what he convincingly did in his ReOrient.

    In this article, we offer a political economic contribution to an explanation of why China was not the birth place of capitalism, understood as a system of endless growth of the capital stock (commodities, machines, money) and unfettered search for profit. As Wallerstein puts it (1999, p. 27), this definition has the double advantage of being consonant with most or all explanations of the processes of the “capitalist/modern world” and of being a good fit with historical reality. Our argument will bear on the line of scholarly work first advanced by Braudel, who argued for a distinction between capitalism and the market economy, thus suggesting that the political economy of Early Modern Europe may have mattered more than social class relations in explaining the “Rise of Europe”. Especially, we will advance the arguments of José Luis Fiori, a Brazilian scholar who - to our mind - develops and improves upon the Braudelian tradition.

    Like Frank, Elvin and Pomeranz, we deem the birth of capitalism to have been something accidental, not the result of dialectical contradictions inherent in the feudal mode of production. While these authors focus on environmental and resource availability factors - silver and other resources extracted from the Americas allowed Europe to buy its way into Asian markets and then dominate world markets (Frank); China’s unfavorable man-to-land ratio thwarted innovation in labor-saving technologies, in comparison to Europe (Elvin); South-American and Caribbean colonies and Europe’s (chiefly British) coal reserves were indispensable for providing the necessary resources for capital and energy-intensive growth (Pomeranz)5 - we focus on the effects of state-making and war-making on “state rulers to economic elites (chiefly merchants)” relationships. Particularly, we stress Fiori’s powerful argument that capitalism was a sub-product of the power struggle within the Early Modern European Interstate system.

    This paper is organized as follows. In the first section we present our main theoretical underpinnings, respectively, (i) the Arrighian/Braudelian rejection to liberal theories of the transition to capitalism and (ii) Fiori’s Global Power theory, which actually downplays the very role of economics in explaining the transition. In the second section (before the conclusion), we outline why state-elite relations in Imperial China did not lead to capitalism, whereas the alliance between cash-hungry European rulers and merchants facilitated the leap to a new mode of production.
     
  19. frenchbriefs

    frenchbriefs Alfrescian (Inf)

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    THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE MARKET ECONOMY AND CAPITALISM AND FIORI’S GLOBAL POWER THEORY

    A series of scholars have tackled the problem of why China did not embark on a capital-intensive accumulation process - despite having reasonably well functioning markets, secure property rights to land, generalized wage-labor6 (etc.) - by escaping the conundrum one comes across when linking capitalism directly to the development of markets. These scholars argue that, while capitalism is obviously compatible and to a large extent dependent on the wide-spread development of property rights and competitive markets, the ideal conditions for continuous capital accumulation - and not only for its origin, for its debut - include (or perhaps demand) arrangements that make it possible for some people to circumvent competitive markets, to profit from securing monopoly rights and other state-sponsored privileges that make profit rates soar to the point where investment in capital goods becomes attractive. Were it not for these perpetually-reproduced arrangements, they say, the drive for capital accumulation would soon wither away as competition would plummet profit rates back to the levels of “traditional-market” societies. Hence the famous distinction that Fernand (Braudel 1977, p. 62) makes between the market economy and capitalism: “there are two types of exchange, one is down-to-earth, it is based on competition, and is almost transparent; the other, a higher form, is sophisticated and domineering. Neither the same mechanisms or agents govern these two types of activities, and the capitalist sphere is located in the higher form”. Whether state-sponsored or not, Braudel considers long-distance trade and financial intermediation examples of the second type. For him, it was the sheer amount of capital involved in these enterprises that, in turn, “enabled capitalists to preserve their privileged position and to reserve to themselves the big international transactions of the day” (1977, p. 58). But we should remember that, for Braudel, “capitalism (ultimately) only triumphs when it is the state”7, that is, when rich merchants enjoy from the state both the security and favour necessary for “capitalist dynasties” to build their fortunes over generations.

    Following Braudel, (Arrighi 1994, p. 10 ss.) also believes that the transition marking the rise of capitalism in Europe above the existing market structures little had to do with the proliferation of commercial activities (these have purportedly always existed), but with the fusion of capital with government, the mix that propelled European States towards the territorial conquest of the world (p. 11). In other words, it was the military and colonial endeavors of warring European states that created the economic loci that allowed capital to be accumulated - via public debt, tax-farming, trade monopolies, etc. - at unprecedented rates. More specifically, if it weren’t for the European inter-state competition for capital, blocks of governmental and business organizations would not have been formed. And for Arrighi, were it not for this fusion, the vast “elements of capitalism” - located everywhere in the world for the past few millennia - could never have amassed such power as to revolutionize the material world. So, for the Italian scholar what needs to be explained is not the domestic aspects of capital accumulation per se but how exactly the geopolitical competition between European States impelled them to furnish an ever-increasing concentration of capitalist power in the European (then World) system at large, a concentration that directly served the interests of sequential leading capitalist powers.

    Now it is time we presented an innovative line of research not well known in the English-speaking world because most of it has yet to be published in English8. Like Braudel, for José Luis Fiori the specifically European collusion of profit and power is central to explaining the rise of capitalism. However, Fiori thinks that Braudel’s Wheels of Commerce (1982) focus excessively on the development of individual trade and markets and conveys the idea of a gradual transition - within the “games of exchange” - to the “high gear” world of capital and capitalism (Fiori, 2010, p. 126). To put it differently, there seems to be a missing link between Braudel’s “games of exchange” and his theory of capitalist “large profits” and “large predators”.

    Fiori’s main argument in his Preface to Global Power (2010) is that there is no intrinsic factor related to exchanges and markets that explain the decision to accumulate and the universalization of market themselves, and thus, that the leap from market to capitalism must be mediated by the worlds of power and war. Put differently, the expansive force that accelerated that growth of markets came not from the “games of exchange” nor from capital-labour relations (class struggle), but from the “games of conquest”.

    Somewhat counter intuitively, Fiori goes on to say that taxes were the first price of labor: only after its imposition was the population forced to produce a surplus. “The value of taxes became the elementary unit of value of the first pricing system within the payments community, unified by the sovereign’s taxes and currency” (2010: 130). And as the payments of taxes in cash fostered the exchange of surpluses in markets where “taxpayers” could accumulate the necessary credit (money) required for the payments of their debts in sovereign currency9, “a virtuous circle of sovereign power accumulation and increased surplus, trade and markets” (p. 130) ensued.

    For reasons not entirely known, it was only in late medieval Europe that a sufficient number of competing sovereigns monetized their tributes so as to turn Europe in what Maurício (Metri 2007) - another scholar from the Federal University of Rio that participates in the “Global Power” research group - calls a “monetary mosaic”. In other words, for historical reasons there emerged in Europe endless currencies, each valid within their “taxation area”. But by “monetary mosaic” Metri means that the originality of Europe lay in the fact that those tributary territories were not isolated and in conjunction formed an “international community of payments” in which operations for the cancellation of sovereigns’ debts and credits and arbitrage in foreign exchange became the first real opportunities for money to beget more money. In Fiori’s words: “the first European banks were born out of these transactions and began to internationalize their operations and multiply their financial wealth in the shadow of Power” (2010:131).

    The interlocking between power and wealth first appeared decisively in the Northern Italian maritime republics, where rulers and merchants often found themselves being the same person, but the Italian Republics of the late middle ages were too small in scope to constitute what Fiori calls, in The Global Power Formation (2004, p. 14), “revolutionary forces of accumulation of power and wealth, with global expansion strategies”: the national economies, born half state, half empire.

    War could not have played more important a role in the shaping of these nascent National Economies. In the north of Europe, the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) was decisive in shaping the national identities of France and England, and responsible for providing a “power concentration impetus” that outlasted the war and led to the relatively “centralized” governments of Louis XI and Henry VII. In the Iberian Peninsula, the centralizing impulse that resulted in the union of the crowns of Castile and Aragon led to the completion of the Reconquista (1492) and ultimately to the Great Navigations and the exploration of the American colonies. And it was the Spanish Habsburg Empire and its long wars against France in Italy (1494-1559), England (1588) and the United Provinces (1560-1648), that borne out their correspondingly National States. Lastly, the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) in Germany, the first “European International War”, was the war that finally integrated and established the frontiers (in 1648) of these incipient National States. The Great Northern War (1700-21) brought Russia into the system and by the second decade of the 18th century one could already speak of a European International System (soon to become a world system by action of the expansionist rationale of the European Nations-cum-Empires), integrated by virtue of war, the fundamental engine of this system10.

    Of course, war, currency and trade have always existed. What was original in Europe, as of the Late Middle Ages, was the way the “need for conquering” induced, and was later associated to, the “need for profit”. This is why the historical origin of European capital and the capitalist system “derives from the conquering and accumulation of power and the authoritarian encouragement to the growth of surpluses, exchanges, and large financial gains11 built in the shadow of winning powers” (Fiori, 2010: 132).

    Therefore, the success of England in becoming the first mature capitalist country cannot be understood without bearing in mind that England was, undoubtedly, the most successful mercantilist country. Mercantilism, defined as a set of policies designed to increase the state’s power and wealth in a non-friendly environment, was necessary to create the locus in which capital could be accumulated: in Fiori’s words (2004, p. 32), “mercantilism was the knife territorial states wielded to carve “national markets” out of the vast and disorganized “European World Economy” of the 16th century” (and later, it was the weapon states employed to protect their new creature - the national markets - from foreign competition). To use another Braudelian metaphor, mercantilism - and all the national policies so related - was necessary to carve extraordinary profit opportunities out of the “ordinary and ever existing market economy”. Why mercantilism, financial revolutions12, and capitalists having political clout did not take place in China is what we turn now to answer.

    BY WAY OF COMPARISON: CHINA VERSUS EUROPE

    Scholars have argued that, in pre-modern times, a virtuous symbiosis between the Chinese government and mercantile/financial activities was non-existent; that the Chinese government was hostile to “higher forms of exchange”13; that the Chinese highly developed and precociously meritocratic civil service drew the elite’s attention away from commercial activities and into building specific human capital to pass civil service examinations, whose basic readings were the Confucian classics, that supposedly taught “rational adjustment to the world”, not mastery over it14; that the late Imperial China - framed broadly as the Song through Qing dynasties, ca. 960-1911 CE - official discourse lauded farming and weaving activities as the material foundation upon which a proper social order should be built, a social order that “rested on wholly non-capitalist understandings of materialism, efficiency and instrumentality”15; that the self-engrossment of the Celestial Empire, particularly after its withdrawal from the avenues of long-distance trade and conflict, in the 15th century, deprived China of the inventiveness and flexibility that warring European states were forced to develop if they wished to remain sovereign16; that the impact of the Chinese empire upon the economy was negative, in the sense that the “empire supported a traditional status system which was a surer access to money than was commerce”17.

    All of the arguments above stress that the fact of empire, present in Ming (1368-1644) and Manchu (1644-1912) China (and much before), militated against the full impact of capitalism. The authors underline that, whenever “buds of capitalism” sprang, they were sooner or later nipped by political institutions that (1) either diverted potential merchants/industrialists away from pursuing a “capitalist career”, or (2) made sure they would not receive the necessary support from the state - according to the Braudelian/Arrighian tradition, vital for the development of capitalist dynasties - because the geopolitical situation of non-competition (of empire) dispensed with the politically risky prospect of supporting merchant/financial capital. None of the authors quoted above would deny that China’s pre-modern achievements in science and technology were remarkable18, that China had probably the most advanced economy in the medieval world19, that market exchanges did increasingly characterize Chinese imperial society until its demise, etc. Nonetheless, they all believe that the fact of empire - 1371 to 1911 represented the longest period of (practically) uninterrupted imperial rule in history - removed alternative bases of power, that is, removed internal and external threats to the almighty Chinese bureaucracy, which consistently stifled the development of capitalism.

    Notwithstanding our endorsement of the view that the “fact of empire” precluded capitalism, we need to assess some of the arguments outlined above. First of all, it is not clear why - in the social structure given by the fact of empire - Chinese merchants and entrepreneurs would be more inclined to invest their accumulated wealth in land and offices than their European counterparts. The Marxist scholars (Brenner 1976, 1977) and (Teschke 2003) argue that, in pre-capitalist Europe, where agrarian relations were essentially feudal (even during most of the Early Modern period, in continental Europe) - most of the surplus that the ruling elites extracted from the peasantry was invested either in land or in the purchase of offices. Calling Absolutist France a tax/office state, the authors claim that a good deal of the surplus in the French economy was channeled into the state by way of the selling of future revenue streams (tax-farming) or through public debt per se. The French State resorted to these expedients because, like any other Pre-Modern state, it did not possess big enough a bureaucracy to directly administer taxation, and thus was forced to do so via local notables. For all the talk of the power of the Chinese empire, its government was even more ill-equipped: in the early sixteenth century there were probably not many more than 20,000 Mandarins (civil servants) for a population of probably no less than 150,000,00020, whereas in early seventeenth-century France the Crown could count on almost 40,000 royal servants, or one for every 400 inhabitants21. This means we should not think that the Chinese bureaucracy had strong blocking powers over the development of trade. For example, despite a series of edicts (between 1371 and 1567) that officially banned foreign trade, private “pirate” trade continued to exist22. In the rest of this paper we will outline how it was precisely the fact that Chinese capitalists were seldom the instrument used by Ming or Qing authorities to draw revenue from, build Merchant Empires23 or help wage wars - and not the purported blocking powers of the bureaucracy - that stifled their development.

    Scholars often view Ming-Qing economic history in the light of the Song Era (960-1279). The Song - and to a lesser degree, its predecessor, the Tang (618-907) - period brings the formation of institutions and structures that evolved in the foundations of what we think of Traditional/Imperial China: a land-based tax system; the regularization of a merit-based civil service; and the use of written examinations, rooted in Confucian ideology, to select candidates. The political changes were accompanied by long-lasting transformations in the economy: a shift from large landholdings to an agriculture regime based on small-holder ownership and the growing importance of markets for goods and factors of production along with the extensive development of private mercantile activity (Brandt et. al., 2013: 6). In other words, building on the considerable expansion of markets and commerce under the Song - some of which declined during the short Mongol (Yuan) interregnum (1279-1368) - the Ming-Qing era witnessed renewed expansion of commerce and growing commercialization of agriculture. (Wong 1999: 215-217) goes on to assert that between 1500 and 1800 some of the same kinds of commercial expansion that took place in Europe also happened in China. Commercialization penetrated to the village level and engaged peasants in cash cropping activities. Long-distance domestic trade was rampant, grain being the most important commodity traded (40% of the total in the eighteenth century). Even international trade was also significant - most was intra-Asian, with China shipping manufactures and tea in exchange mainly for timber, spices, bullion and horses -, though for obvious reasons the bulk of demand and sales was domestic and trade could never make up much more than 1% of pre-modern China’s GDP24.

    However, despite sharing structural economic similarities, circa 1500 there came a large set of changes in the scales and dynamics of European maritime commerce that did not take place in Chinese long-distance trade. In the late 15th century onwards different European governments started to directly support merchants and adventurers:

    “The Spanish extracted New World silver, while the Portuguese and then the Dutch sought to control the lucrative trade in spices. The Dutch formed the Dutch East India Company to organize their maritime aspirations; the English did likewise creating the English East India Company. Between 1500 and 1800, Europeans in Asia and the New World shifted from spices to drugs and stimulants - coffee, tea, and sugar. For sugar Europeans went beyond merely organizing lucrative trading arrangements, creating what Sidney Mintz has called ``agro-industrial enterprises’’ in the Caribbean and Brazil” (Wong, 1999, p. 216).

    The Chinese imperial government did not offer as much support to merchants because, in Wong’s words (1999, p. 221), it “did not depend either economically or politically on the support of many rich merchants for its fiscal security or its political power and legitimacy”. Hence, Chinese officials would not risk making concessions to the nascent capitalist-class, concessions that granted European economic elites an unprecedented voice in government.

    This is not to say that commercial capitalism did not exist in Traditional China. For example, two major merchant groups came to occupy dominant positions across the empire (Wong, 1999, p. 217). In the north the Shanxi merchants, who expanded their wealth in the fifteenth century by supplying government troops in the northwest in return for monopoly rights in salt distribution to the interior25. In central and southern China the Huizhou26 merchants established themselves in many marketing centers. The economic undertakings of these merchants were broadly similar to those practiced by, say, merchants of northern Italy or of the Low Countries. Each competed with others for profits to be made through long-distance trade. In particular, when the above mentioned grain-salt exchange system broke up in the end of the fifteenth-century, merchants from the region of Shanxi and merchants from Huizhou of southern Anhui met in the newly-formed Liang-huai salt-administration area. With the salt-trade thrown open, new opportunities were afforded to these two groups of merchants who, “because of the niggardliness of their native soils, had long been trading throughout the empire and gained notoriety for their hard-working and frugal habits” (Ho, 1954: 143). For centuries, they reaped great profit from the salt trade. The Liang-huai salt merchants even contributed financially to the Qianlong Emperor’s (1735-1796) campaigns to suppress the Jinchuan rebels in the western province of Sichuan. But, yet, no “European-like virtuous synergy” between the need for profit and the need for conquering ensued. It is, then, in the general exam of Imperial China’s fiscal system and needs that we might find the answer to why this was so.

    Peer (Vries’s 2012) thorough survey of the Chinese system of public finance in the period stretching from the consolidation of Qing rule in 1683 to the outbreak of the First Opium War (1839) reveals, pace Pomeranzs and the revisionists, a state that was in almost all relevant financial aspects completely different from Early Modern European states. In China we see no upward trend in the collection of taxes, no development of constitutional constraints on the executive, no consolidation of public debt, no discernible system wherein revenue was traded off for property (and monopoly) rights; no consolidation of state-sponsored charted companies, etc. Indeed, notwithstanding the long tradition of describing China in terms of “oriental despotism” and of claiming that there taxes were oppressively high27, official tax income for Chinese Central government was very low during the Qing. According to (Vries 2012, p. 18 ss.), these are the estimates of the average annual official central income for the government: 35 million taels during the reign of the Kangxi emperor (1662-1722); 40 million in the reign of the Yongzheng emperor (1722-1735); and some 43 to 48 million during the reign of Qianlong (1735-1796) (and it continued to be at that level for the next half century). Of course, these figures refer only to the official taxes on land, salt and customs28. Adding all types of surcharges, the Imperial Household income - that although not government income per se, was often used to pay for public expenses - and sources like the sale of offices, land, titles and tax-farming, Vries’s very high guess - according to him, higher than any guess ever found in the literature - is that total income for the Qing government may have amounted, before the Opium war, to a maximum of 300 million taels, in peak years. What is surprising about this figure, says (Vries 2012, p. 20), is that it is extremely low (per-capita wise) compared to the central government income for Europe’s most successful fiscal-military state, Britain (even without taking into account that only a minor part of these 300 million taels ever reached Beijing). Three-hundred million taels were roughly equivalent to 11 billion grams of silver (using the official conversion rate of 37 grams a tael). In England, taxes were clearly on the increase during the so-called Second Hundred Years War (1688-1815) against France. The average annual taxes jumped from 3.6 million pounds during the Nine Years War (1688-1697) to 6.4 million, during the War for the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). They would double again to 12 million in the American War of Independence (1775-83)29and reach a whopping 28 million pounds30, at the end of the Napoleonic Wars (1815), what amounted to around 18% of National GDP31! 28 million pounds are worth slightly more than 3 billion grams of silver, using Vries’s exchange rate of 110 grams a pound sterling. In other words, in the beginning of the 19th century the British state drew almost a third as much tax revenue as the Chinese state from a population 20 to 25 times smaller32!

    Of course, 1815 was a peak year and the purchasing power of silver was 2 to 3 times higher in China than in Britain. In any case, the comparison between tax revenues leaves out Britain’s most lethal weapon: the public debt. Tax receipts scarcely funded a third of the immediate costs of military mobilization of most 18th century wars33. The Revolutionary Wars of 1793-97 cost the British crown 100 million pounds, 90 million of which came from loans. The percentage of immediate military costs covered by loans came down to 50%, during the Napoleonic Wars (1798-1815), if only because of Pitt’s new income tax. But one must not forget that this last war cost the British state an astronomically high figure of 772 million pounds (MacDonald, 2003: 339). By 1815, public debt reached 830 million pounds, or more than 250% of GDP (O’Brien, 2006).

    (Vries 2012, p. 15 ss.) contends that the British public debt at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, being the equivalent of 88 billion grams of silver, was equal to more than half of the Chinese GDP (following the 1833 estimate of 4 billion taels, or 150 billion grams of silver). To put it differently, this estimate of the Chinese GDP in 1833 boils down to about 10 taels or 370 grams of silver per person. And, thence, the British national debt of about 6300 grams of silver per capita would mean that the British State commanded a per capita sum 17 times bigger than the average annual earnings of a Chinese. Even taking into account different silver purchasing powers, “per capita in real terms, Britain’s government always spent far more than its Chinese counterpart - in my estimates at least, excluding Ireland, seven times as much at the height of the Napoleonic Wars -, accumulated an enormous debt, and got away with it” (Vries, 2012, p. 16). While other European states did not appropriate- in the long 18th century - as big a share of the national product in the form of taxes and debt, they still were in many regards closer to Britain than to China. The Dutch State appropriated roughly the same per-capita taxes as Britain in the second half of the 18th century (around 160 grams); France came a not too close second with 70 grams; Spain came with 50 and most other European states hovered around 30-40 grams of silver of average annual per-capita taxes in the second half of the 18th century34. China found itself, then, at the lower end of the scale35. The biggest difference, though, would accrue from public debt, which China did not manifest whatsoever. For lack of space, we should only refer to the fact that it was partly a financial crisis that triggered the French Revolution: public debt stood at 60% of French GDP in the 1780s (Bonney, 2004: 195).
     
  20. syed putra

    syed putra Alfrescian Old Timer

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    I think its the other way round. Nobody, not even chink sinkies like chinese people.
     

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