Chinese Communists, Hong Kong and Impeachment


Wall Street Journal listeners come from all walks of life and business and no matter what type of business urine eighty P is here to help you achieve what you're working king for with. HR talent time benefits and payroll informed by data and designed for people learn more at design done eighty p dot com from the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal. This is Potomac. Watch welcome to the Wall Street journals Potomac Watch. I'm bill mcgurn filling in for Paul to go and with me are to my colleagues Jason Jason Good to be here and Kyle Peterson then today too big as we want to talk about one is in China the People's Republic celebrated its seventieth anniversary of when Mao stood stood on Tiananmen Square nounce to formation of his government people in Hong Kong. Don't seem to be very happy with that. We'll talk about that and then we want talk about what the latest is an impeachment and particularly what it's going to mean for the next democratic debate which I believe is two weeks from today so so let's get started kyle. What do you th- what how do we put the founding of the People's Republic in historical perspective? I mean it's outlasted the Soviet Union Union all these other communist societies. Why is that well? It's it's got power. It's got strength. I mean what what strikes most about the reporting on National Day is the juxtaposition so on one hand you have this demonstration of raw Chinese power military power. you have tanks rolling by Tenement Square. You have ten thousand troops goosestepping intercontinental ballistic missiles on trucks that are rolling by supersonic drones reportedly and then on the other the other hand. You have protests continuing in Hong Kong where people are fighting fighting for the deal that they thought they had made when Britain left and you have the first protester who has been shot reportedly into arm reportedly a high school all student and it just showed goes to show you know how how China keeps keeps its authority is by putting people under the thumb right well Jason Part of that though is one reason I would argue having lived in Hong Kong ten years that China is still around while the Soviet Union they used to have the big military sorry parades and the my and they were fermentable power. I think one difference is the Chinese wisely open to the market under Deng Xiaoping in Nineteen seventy-nine and though it's it's not it's clearly not the free market as we would know it. It's free and it's open to trade and that has has greatly Lee increase the wealth of the average Chinese citizen you know when I was there people called it market Leninism and there's something to that because communism awesome is always been much more about Lennon power than it has been about marks in an economic arrangement yeah after the Soviet Union collapsed I think some Western commentators thought well this is the end of sort of communist systems and regimes that don't depend on the consent of the people and that that aren't liberal democracies. This is the end of the line for them but China has been able to thread the needle. It's gotten the benefits of market growth and its legitimacy to some extent sent rests on these fantastic increases in living standards for ordinary people and in exchange for that it's able to maintain its authority. So what you're saying is basically the it's called at least some dissent. There is still dissenters and they do what communist regimes always do they check them in jail. If you get to ornery but the they've been able to buy off the people at least in this sense and it's not an unreasonable bargain for the people who make if if I feel tomorrow's ours is going to be better than today and especially that my children will have a brighter future than I am. I May Not WanNa rock the boat. That's what they seem to be banking on right so they're very very vulnerable to a downturn. Yeah I mean I mean that's not even so different from democracies when democracies are delivering growth for people than the incumbent administration incumbent government is less likely to face a stronger challenge from arrival and with China. That's yes that does seem to be the whole model kyle you know looking at history to one of the the extraordinary things to me is how Mao in communism are kind of considered jokes in some way the imagery as opposed to Stalin Dolon in the Soviet Union and mouth of course killed lots and lots of people and subjected them to crazy things like the great leap forward and the Cultural Revolution. I mean in a sense the greatest disaster for the Chinese people has been to have the triumph of communism there right and one one of the things is notable in interesting in in recent years has been you know after this fall of the Soviet Union the idea on Orwellian state was a sort of dismissed whereas now China is really pioneering the use of technology to make that kind of a society -IETY to stand in a way that was not possible before I mean you read some of the stories about the the social credit system that they're implementing where you know your ability to get a loan or travel. Even is based in part on how loyal you've been to the party. Maybe how loyal your family has been to the party. that's another element enough of it to certainly bears looking out. That's a big element today in our newspaper. We have an article by Jimmy Lai who is a a friend of Milton Friedman's a Hong Kong resident who's been a big advocate of democracy and freedom for China and a lot of people point out Jason that would kyle's talking about is for years you could argue China was moving from totalitarian system. You know remember the Mao suits everyone's dressing the same and the the sessions Sion's were. If you had any kind of western education you'd be the make you wear done sat in the sent the educated people out to the farms you could argue. They moved away from that to become a more authoritarian country where you couldn't challenge their political rule but you could do a lot more economically and you're a lot more free people I started having access to the outside world but now what caused talked about particularly the two things like the facial recognition features so if you walk into an airport they know who you who are in these social credit scores were if they think you're a problem you might not get that flight to Shanghai that you are counting on you might not get that job and and if you look at what sheeting Pakistan a lot of people would say he is a lot more power than now did or at least trying to get it and look he's. He's locked act up the way he's persecuting the Tibetan Buddhists. He's persecuting the Falun Gong. He's tearing down Christian churches. I think the only people aren't being persecuted accused the Jews because there aren't any yeah I think what we said. In our editorial is there was some hope after Deng Xiaoping's economic opening that China could become a relatively not not an open society but in the model of some of these other Asians yeah these transitioning democracies Aussies and so on but instead you've seen beginning Hu Jintao in especially under Xi Jinping that there's a complete change. Yeah I mean cracking down on Hong Kong the surveillance systems you know in Nepal and Brennan Jiang being pioneered there and then being used against Chinese people you you know Oliver the rest of the country he's he and you know also a more hawkish posture toward Taiwan interfering more aggressively there so you're definitely seeing you're definitely seeing G. Tighten his grip a return to or well you know in the when Tiananmen Square happened if if you remember you guys are probably too young but a lot of the information the fax machine was a revolutionary tool because people faxed information in and out of China it was really before the computing revolution and that meant that they weren't cut off from access. I believe China cut. CNN's cable at one point but through faxes magic effects is people were and now of course you have people with access to a lot of information so at the time it was thought that or will had been turned on his head right that I think that the digital revolution empower the individual and now we're seeing you know the the kind of Orwellian view fighting back that they're going to control troll and that's why you know in Hong Kong. The protesters are tearing down these towers that have facial recognition features because they don't want. They don't want to be known yeah. I think I think that's happening in China and it also happened in the Middle East where in the Arab spring we thought people who had twitter and who had social media we're going to be able to you know topple the government democratize the flow of information instead. It's been something more like the reverse and China's on the cutting edge of making that happen right. We're going to take a little break right now. You've been listening to Potomac Watch from the Wall Street Journal Wall Street Journal listeners come from all walks of life and business and no matter what type of business you're in eighty P is here to help you achieve what you're working for with. HR talent time benefits and payroll informed formed by data and designed for people learn more at design done eighty p dot com you from the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal. This is Potomac. Watch we'RE BACK WITH POTOMAC. Watch from the Wall Street Journal on Bill mcgurn filling in for Paul Zhigo with my colleagues Kyle Peterson and Jason will call just to wrap up the China thing. I think sometimes people don't realize again the absolute disaster astor that that Communist China has been for the Chinese people some there are a lot of people were very romantic about Mao and back you know backed him during the worst abuses and so forth by contrast Taiwan and Hong Kong showed what a free Chinese people people could do you know in terms of their productivity and so forth and now that's under threaten Hong Kong again. We saw a lot of violence last night but most of the people aren't violent silence. What does what does this tell us? The people of Hong Kong who are completely unarmed say we're not going gentle into that good night. We do not want to be part part of China. I saw a recent thing you know when I lived in Hong Kong twenty years ago if you ask people what they were that say Chinese Cantonese now they say Hong on Congress. They don't want to be identified as trying to because they don't like China yeah and it's not quite clear how this standoff will end. I mean so far China has shown Joan has has not moved in military leader. Hong Kong has not really cracked down in the way that certainly has the power to but yeah I mean it just shows the the the juxtaposition I mean you talked about the disaster. A Communist China has banned. I mean the one child policy is a good example Levette. You re just a really horrific stories. people's personal stories about their their that that policy touching their lives on another example is is pollution. I mean the the economic studies of these things show that communist totalitarian regimes are just terrible ruble terrible on the pollution and it's I mean it's there's there's huge weaknesses their free societies that allow protests are stronger you know they're they're good good ideas that bubble up in Rice's service and they also attracts people. I mean America has has a lot of Nobel prize winners who have moved to its shores over the past fifty years. They're not a lot of great scientists who are moving into China bright right for all its technical skills so I would just say it did to this observer. It does not look like there is a happy ending for Hong Kong and one difference with Tiananmen Square is that when China crack down then Beijing was not a world class financial center which Hong Kong is and and no city in China no matter how rich it is Shanghai or so forth can take the place of Hong Kong because the world class financial center includes reputation and the rule of flaw so there's a lot at stake there for China's well as Hong Kong. Let's switch now to an end patron Jason. There's been so much moving so Mrs Pelosi authorize an official impeachment inquiry by the committees and so forth. Let's look ahead a little bit. I think two weeks from tonight is the next and fourth Democratic presidential ventral debate. Now we knew impeachment would be subject even without Mrs Pelosi because Tom Steyer the wealthy businessman has been making that initialing that's his big tissue and he just got on the stage well now. They're all going to have to address it. Is that right I think so. I think it'll be a if everyone endorses impeachment. How can you you distinguish yourself from the rest of the crowd? It's going to be impeachment on what grounds on how quickly who else you want to impeach Bill Bar Mike Mike Pompeo is on the Ukraine call you know so I think I think that is going to dominate the debate and I think that the Democrats think that not without the reason that that's key to winning their primaries showing voters that they want to impeach the president. That's a question call because it may it may actually be good for the candidates each to endorse missile throated impeachment as many of them have and it may be necessary in other words that any candidate that that express some skepticism about how impeachments going going could not hope to win winner of Democratic primary but is that good for the rest of the party particularly on thinking of those thirty one Democrats sitting in districts carried by Donald Trump yeah. I don't think it's good for them at this point but we're still early in this process in will two weeks is a long time. We'll have to see what they dig up. I mean so far. We've had the memo of trump's call with Ukrainian president released. We've seen most of the whistleblower report and now the you know the congressional committees are going to start turning out looking for information. The whistle blower stuff was generally secondhand so they're going to be trying to confirm firm that trying to lock down details trying to see if there was some sort of harder quid pro quo on the the Ukrainian aid that the trump trump administration put on hold for a time and you know who knows what that will look like in two weeks time right and Jason the one of the things that also it does seem clear if they're going to discuss impeachment as I think they have to can they do that without addressing hunter Biden and Joe Biden and their own role in the Ukraine as recall hunter accepted a position on the board of Ukrainian gas company that was being investigated and Joe Biden while he was vice president got the guy fired doesn't mean he did anything wrong but there's clearly a conflict of interest. It's going to be very awkward for Joe Biden on that and stage. If either the moderators fellow candidates are pushing this so when asked Kamala Harris a reporter asked Kamala Harris that very question and she sort of tried to dance rounded and say I want to leave the Biden's out of this but certainly that's that's an awkward dance and I think that's why a lot of people are saying this is bad for Joe. Oh Biden right and it's good for everyone else. The question is it it may not be good for the person who benefits may not benefit by bringing it up but the question is will one of the Mi- more minor candidates not the big three bringing it up in hopes of advancing but I I would think that Joe Biden has to be very clear on this kyle like he can't be stammering around and look lost and so forth he has to be very clear and he has a to expect somewhere in one of his flanks someone to come out with a pretty tough attack. I think that's right and you know don't discount the idea that the moderators may bring this upright because this this this this discussion of this already circulating and I think you're absolutely right. I think he has to have a very strong and crisp answer to with you know some memorize lines that he can deploy to to undermine the narrative around this as much as he possibly can but as far as how it affects the race there are a lot of progressives who probably don't mind that that this is gonNA pull joe down to because they would prefer to see Elizabeth Warren so for for them. This is kind of a twofer in a you go you go after president trump while advancing your preferred nominee right and Jason. They don't have to say he didn't just they they have have to say look. The stakes are really great in this election. We wanted to feed Donald Trump. How can we have someone on stage with him? Who is also compromised by Ukraine? If we are impeaching donald trump over Ukraine yeah I mean maybe the best answer for Joe. Biden is to go on the offensive and say well look this up. Oh dump they just did on Elizabeth Warren and all the extent of her sort of entanglement with this native American issue. I you know I'm still the most electable right and you know the the Ukraine thing is so complicated. There's the prosecutor he was looking into this. They seem to be a lot of prosecutors and and you know and I think you know maybe if Joe does it right. Voters can just be confused. you know because there's so many dump on Rudy Giuliani right that kind of thing exactly and I mean you know and and even as the Republicans are talking about the way that the Democrats may have been talking to the Ukrainians in two thousand sixteen to get dirt on Donald Trump. I think voters might just be like what is going on in Ukraine who are all these all these people fright. What what's your take on that yeah? I think there's something to that and that's that's part of what makes the story for the president. I think so difficult is that it's very easy to understand. you have a a a a memo. It's not quite exactly a word for word transcript but a memo oh that's out where he's saying you know this would be great. I'm GonNa put you in touch with the Attorney General so I mean I agree that it's it's very complicated with with one hundred nine the story in a way that makes that less likely to stick and the reverse of that is that the the trump stories pretty easy to understand but again for Elizabeth Warren this is I mean she's struggling now kind of in a three way race with Bernie and and Joe Biden no one's been able to really knock Joe Biden out of that first place perch right so she she has to hope. I don't know which one you said it before that this story remains around look it's. It's not clear to me that that the they're gonNA find that Joe Biden did anything but it reminds me of the scene in the Godfather when the witnesses supposed to testify about the mob behavior to the Senate and just as he's supposed to testify Michael Corleone comes in and he brings with him the witnesses brother from Sicily doesn't speak English doesn't know where he is. He's just kind of happily. Message received the witness clammed up didn't didn't give them what they want so it's easy for the Ukraine company to say Joe you. We're not gonNA Hunter. You don't have to do anything just sit on the board that may be enough to discourage desks right so we may not find that there's any overt call to although Jason to be fair Joe Biden said he never discussed it all in any any way shape or form his son on this committee the article that came out before was it the New Yorker had hunter Biden thing his father did bring it up to once yeah and I mean who knows who knows what the truth there. Is You know if he were President and there was a special prosecutor. Who knows you know how many people they would? You know I mean th these kinds of things are just so hard to to untangle. I think overall I think overall Joe Biden just needs to say you know. Look my son you know was sitting on this board. I didn't have anything to do with it. Lots of people sit on boards and they get compensated waited for it and that's how it works and you know by the way you know this prosecutor prosecuted him because he wasn't being aggressive enough on corruption not that he and you know and I'm not sure which one people believe I'll say more broadly. I think you know this is something that happens. We saw it with the Clintons. We see it in others that I'm not sure that's a precedent that the Buzzer to invoke as a defense right but but just just more broadly I mean this is a problem that people see the political class lasts apparently profiting off of its connections to Washington you know the Democrats are accusing trump of doing this and his children of doing this and binds being accused of doing this and that's it's something that in this case it is interesting that Joe Biden took hunter with them on some of these trips where he made deals. I mean that that seems to me an odd thing to do with the Fed the president's frequently take investors along but when it's your son signing deals on issues that he has no particular competence in I'm. I'm rather surprised that he did it so anyway. Kyle what you're saying is the next the next debate the democratic debate. They'll probably really get into it and one of the questions will be will it be dominated by Donald trump or Joe Biden hunter by the discussion. You know where we're going to see the most fireworks clearly they're all going to become an out of the box against trump but but the question is again whether they take down Joe Biden as part of that and one of the things that's interesting as this plays a little bit too one one of Warren's Elizabeth Warren's campaign narratives which is anti-corruption. She's talking a lot about that on the campaign trail talking about we need we need bans on lobbying cheese. She she means specifically relations with big business right Paul political relations with big business and also with former members of Congress. Go go out and getting these lobbying jobs. That's not quite the same as one hundred Biden thing but it's close it's reparable. It's these people who have connections who are getting paid to sit on boards so she has has made that into one of the themes of her campaign so far and you know I would expect that she would definitely hit that hard in this context right so it's GonNa be a lively night. What are you looking forward to on that night there any question you would like to see well I well? I kind of think that The you and I and I think some other people saying that the impeachment squeeze is going to start to narrow the field that it's going to make voters want to start getting serious about getting just a few view. candidates and I do think it's going to knock out some people. I think Kamala Harris is on her last legs. I think you know Pete which is surprising because is on paper. She checks boxes right on paper. She checks a lot of boxes but when she speaks she seems to often fumble things and come across his sarcastic our cast Dick and and just not not pull off the lines as well as as she might so I'm looking for. I'm looking for you know the field to start to narrow. I'm of course looking for the the buying fireworks and I'm looking forward to some of the more the Democrats may be going on the record over some of the more extreme things that have happened in the last couple of weeks including with the with Brett cavenaugh and and that effort against him in Kyle warn the big question marks over this. We still don't have the inspector general's the report about the FIS warrants. We still don't have the material debt Donald Trump or claw classified into a lot of those scandals we still still don't have what the to prosecutors looking into this including one looking into Ukraine and its actions I mean a lot of that could change the debate between between now and then if this information is out there in fact some of us you brought up POMPEO and Bob Bartha Bill Bar some people people think that these attacks designed to discredit them in advance before these kinds of serious accusations come out and one thing to keep an eye on as as we move toward the debate is the the the last gasp of some of these campaigns are not gonna make the next debate if I'm remembering the polling threshold for this one is two percent and and the the Democratic National Committee has tight for the next two three percent so we have eleven or twelve candidates here now at some of them are not gonNa make the stage next time so they got to be thinking about what what what is the one thing that they can say that we'll get some social media attention and and stick around a little bit longer right so Jason. You said it looks. It looks in the in the house if you had to read it. It looks like there are the votes for impeachment right. Maybe maybe not for conviction in the Senate and at that to me looks very dubious. at this point isn't one of the messages of the Clinton impeachment that if you're going to go after the king you've got to kill the King could actually make trump's stronger if I mean it seems to me that Mrs Pelosi by her decision has also decided we are now the impeachment each been congress. We're putting all the other stuff on the side and we are going to base it all bet bet the farm on impeachment I think that one in perils barrels her own house members and would if they get an impeachment but like the Clinton effort it becomes a dead in the Senate yeah. I think that's quite possible. Oh I think it's too early to say for sure because I think some of the polling has actually been somewhat encouraging for Democrats the numbers among the public for impeachment. We're never very high. They were always a minority position now. Some polls show taking up with grain thing who knows how long that's GonNa last as the investigations go on and on and all these confusing things things make the public tired of it we don't know but I think Miss Pelosi had no choice. I mean I mean she held off from that for a long time and I frankly think I think that she might have been ousted by her member if she wouldn't have gone ahead when it I think you're probably right but that's also a different picture of Mrs Pelosi than the one we've been given when she was up for speakership was all about how she's the wise Old Lady of Washington and she the people there aren't any match for but she's kind of been boxed into this corner anyway. We'll leave it for their today. thank you kyle. Thank you Jason. I'm bill mcgurn

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