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Friday, September 11, 2015 A13

Sparring partners
Paul Letters says Republican contenders in the US presidential race are spouting a fantasy China policy

H

istory tells us that the
next US president
should be a Republican. At the end of
every two-term presidency since 1954, the electorate
has changed to the party in opposition on all occasions bar one.
Mao Zedong
privately
told Richard Nixon he preferred
Republicans: “I am comparatively
happy when these people on the
right come into power.” In reply,
Nixon boasted that “the important
thing to note is that in America …
those on the right can do what
those on the left talk about.” However, in the race to be a 2016 presidential nominee, it’s the right who
are talking loudly – but they can’t
deliver.
Republican candidates are
cheered to the rafters on each occasion that they reaffirm their overinflated sense of American narcissism, most readily through Chinabashing. Nobody does it with more
gusto than the GOP’s current front
runner, Donald “Make America
Great Again” Trump.
Trump declared that “China
has rebuilt itself with the money …
and the jobs that it’s sucked out of
the United States.” Vote for Trump
and he vows to return Chinese jobs
to the US by imposing tariffs on
American companies that manufacture overseas. And to combat

the price advantages a devalued
renminbi brings China, Trump
would increase protectionist taxes
on Chinese imports.
It’s beyond the imagination of
the rational that Trump will win the
nomination, but the deeper concern is the other candidates who
are clamouring to out-Trump each
other on economic policy and foreign affairs.
Ahead of President Xi Jinping’s
visit to Washington later
this month, Florida Senator Marco
Rubio promises to expand the
defence budget and end the growing threat posed by China’s
military.
Wisconsin Governor and Republican candidate Scott Walker
attracted a good deal of attention
for these comments: “Given
China’s massive cyberattacks
against America, its militarisation
of the South China Sea, continued
state interference with its economy, and persistent persecution of
Christians and human rights activists, President Obama needs to
cancel the state visit.”
As with Rubio, this was a bid by
Walker to get noticed as Trump
tramples over the other candidates
in the polls. Walker photobombed
acampaign that was becoming one
long Trump selfie.
Caught in the populist spotlight, Walker went on to blame

America’s woes on China’s slowdown and economic manipulation. He challenged US President
Barack Obama to hold China
accountable. But when Walker was
asked how he would hold China accountable if he were president, he
declined to give specifics. If you
have ideas – any ideas – about
engaging China, then it appears
you’re not a tenable Republican
candidate.
All of these Republican candidates fail to show any recognition
of reality: the US and China don’t
need to weaken cooperation but to
strengthen it, most readily on
economic policies. Furthermore,
Obama is not likely to ignore the
elephants in the room: the White
House has stated that Chinese currency manipulation and cyberespionage will be discussed during
Xi’s visit.
Yet those who believe the main
issues that concern Americans are
cybersecurity, disputes in the
China seas or Beijing’s human
rights record are missing the dartboard. The way it’s shaping up, this
is not a foreign policy election. This
is a big reason why retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is now rising
in the polls: he fixates on domestic
issues.
The most important issue for
Republican voters is economic
security. The Republican Party

base is working class and very
white. So Trump’s anti-immigrant
stance and his concern for American jobs is what people want to
hear. (Whereas Jeb Bush’s cashrich campaign is lagging behind
expectations because his message
is greeted as too inclusive.)
Xenophobic sound bites shout
their way through the media. The
front-running candidate favours

The Grand Old
Party must wake
up to the modern
world – and to
modern America
building a “Great Wall of Trump”
along the border with Mexico and
Walker thinks that mounting a border wall with Canada “is a legitimate issue for us to look at”.
In the case of Walker, it transpires that he has already met Xi. In
2013, in Beijing, he reportedly
praised the US-China relationship
and informed Xi’s of Wisconsin’s
strategies to promote trade with
China.
Unsurprisingly, the “What Hap-

pened to Scott Walker?” headlines
have already been written. It will
take more than a photobomb to
sustain his run on the presidency.
It’s not just Walker who is open
to ridicule for spouting hot air. A
“President Trump” would never
follow through on his rhetoric for
fear of the retaliatory damage a
broken relationship with China
would cause the American economy.
The Republican Party is hardening its base of blue-collar, antiimmigration whites – but across
the country, that demographic is
shrinking. To hold any hope of winning the presidency, the Republican candidate must do better than
Mitt Romney did in 2012 in winning the votes of non-whites – a
burgeoning demographic.
The 2012 presidential election
clarified the boilerplate constituent
parts of the diminishing Republican electorate: white, male and
ageing. The Republican Party has
to widen its base, not narrow it
through chauvinistic rhetoric. The
Grand Old Party must wake up to
the modern world – and to modern
America – to offer relevant leadership.
For any Republican who makes
it to the White House, their actual
policies vis-à-vis China would be
unrecognisable from the current
rhetoric of disdain.
Paul Letters is a freelance journalist
and novelist. See aChanceKill.com

Civil aviation
chief should
take off – now
Albert Cheng says the department
has become a bad joke, with
some dubious decisions under
its director-general, whose
replacement is long overdue

U

nder the command of its director-general
Norman Lo Shung-man, the Civil Aviation
Department has degenerated into an
embarrassing bad apple within the government
bureaucracy.
Lo has been at the helm for over a decade. Born in
1959, he is a qualified helicopter and commercial
airlines pilot. He started his career in the department
as a student air traffic controller in 1977 and was
promoted to his current position in 2004.
His budget currently stands at HK$1.36 billion,
and he has over 750 staff at his disposal. Yet, instead
of enhancing Hong Kong’s status as an aviation hub,
Lo and his department have become a constant
source of bad press.
Last year, he made a public apology after the
Director of Audit found multiple violations to the
original plan for the new department headquarters
approved by the Legislative Council.
It was assigned a net operational floor area of
22,775 square metres for the new headquarters at
Chek Lap Kok. The audit report revealed that an extra
1,500 square meters was built without notifying the
Architectural Services Department and Legco.
Shower facilities in Lo’s office and restrooms for
accident investigators – both not in the original floor
plan – were installed.
After an inquiry, the Public Accounts Committee
condemned Lo in “the strongest terms possible” over
his failure to follow proper procedures while building
the premises. Its report said that “as the head of the
user department of the new CAD headquarters
project, [Lo] had willfully neglected his responsibility
and duties to provide complete, accurate and not
misleading information to Legco for funding
approval”.
Lo conceded he needed to bear “part of the
responsibility.” Yet, he has emerged unscathed. And
that is not the end of the story.
Last June, the Public Accounts Committee also
denounced Lo for having purchased an expensive air
traffic control system that apparently failed to
perform. The committee recommended that an

It would be best for all if
Lo were to be replaced as
soon as possible, to get the
department back on track

A day to mourn and remember
the hypocrisies of ‘war on terror’
Yonden Lhatoo says memorials should
acknowledge the hundreds of
thousands of innocent victims killed
in the US response to the 9/11 attacks

S

orry, it’s September 11 and I
know I’m treading on
hallowed ground here, but
today I’ll be mourning so much
more than just the terrorist attacks
on New York and Washington.
While Americans hold their
annual vigils, memorials and
tributes for the nearly 3,000 who
died on this day in 2001, I for one
will be thinking of those innocents
along with the hundreds of
thousands of victims of the
disproportionate and misdirected
response to 9/11, and some of the
hypocrisies inherent in the 9/11
sequelae.
Yes, those innocents died
horrifically 14 years ago and their
devastated families continue to
feel unimaginable loss and pain.
But I don’t see why the rest of
the world, egged on by the
mainstream media, treats it like
the only sacred cow around. If we
must mourn victims of
horrendous mass murder, let’s put
the facts into perspective.
After the George W. Bush
administration declared its socalled “war on terror” following
9/11, it slaughtered up to 20,000
Afghans in the first four months of
bombing the country. That figure
surges to hundreds of thousands,
factoring in the US-led invasion
that followed. Keep in mind the
vast majority of casualties were

not fanatics brandishing AK-47
assault rifles, but innocent
civilians – just like those who died
on American soil.
Where are the memorials for
them?
Even worse was the Iraqi
catastrophe after 9/11, when the
US bombed the country, once a
cradle of civilisation, back into the
Stone Age on the pretext of
removing a dictator and looking
for weapons of mass destruction
that never existed. The Iraqi body
count within the first four years of
the American invasion was
anywhere from 500,000 to more
than a million.
Fourteen years after 9/11, most
Americans can afford to get over it
and move on. Afghans don’t have
that luxury. Their country has
been reduced to a bombed-out
basket case and left to the wolves.
The same goes for Iraqis. Now
that the US has destroyed their
country, they’re at the mercy of
terrorist groups and warring
militias that didn’t even exist
before the Americans “liberated”
them.
Their September 11 is still going
on. I don’t see anyone lighting
candles or staging laser shows for
them.
I was in the audience when one
of the architects and cheerleaders
of the “war on terror”,

Condoleezza Rice, gave a lecture
at Chinese University in 2010. We
journalists were not allowed to ask
questions, for obvious reasons,
but I would have imagined that in
such an illustrious gathering of
intellectuals and leaders of liberal
thought, there would be less
bowing and scraping and more
hard grilling when members of the
audience were invited to ask
questions.
It didn’t happen. Instead, I
heard people clap when she said
she would do it all over again if she
had the chance.
A couple of brave students put
the audience to shame by staging
a protest in the auditorium and
reminding Rice that she had blood
on her hands.
They were quickly kicked out
and the audience applauded
when she said something to the
effect that it was thanks to
Washington’s “war on terror” that
they were able to hold such
protests. That same old
nonsensical rhetoric about
terrorists attacking the West
because “they hate freedom”, and
how the US is bombing babies so
that ingrates such as myself have
the “freedom” to write articles like
this.
When we remember 9/11
today, I hope someone will lift this
jaded hack out of his quagmire of
cynicism by sparing a thought for
the nameless victims who remain
unmourned by the world.
If it’s going to be business as
usual, I’m running out of tears.
Yonden Lhatoo is a senior editor
at the Post

An upgrade for Chinese trade
Helen Wong believes Beijing’s efforts to move up
the manufacturing value chain will succeed,
current market turbulence notwithstanding

T

he volatility in the Chinese
stock market has not
changed the fundamental
picture: China is poised to
strengthen its trade leadership
with Asian countries as it
transforms its economy.
Its future economic advances
will be more about building ports,
robotics and electric vehicles, and
less about selling toys, textiles and
cheap electronics.
Oxford Economics’ latest trade
forecast paints a picture of how
China’s trade is going to evolve
and grow. Despite the current
outlook for slower growth in the
near term, the forecast is for solid
expansion in the coming decades.
China’s rise up the economic
value chain will support its
transition to a consumption-led
economy with a widening scope
for export growth, it suggests.
Driving these changes will be
two centrepieces of economic
policy: the “One Belt, One Road”
initiative and “Made in China
2025”.
“One Belt, One Road” plans to
strengthen economic relations
with trade partners, particularly
Asian neighbours, via a network of
transport and other infrastructure
projects. The idea is to ensure
goods, services and capital can
flow easily – which will in turn
support domestic and external
demand and help modernise the
Chinese economy.
The “Made in China 2025”
policy, announced in May, plans
to move the economy away from
low-value manufacturing, and
boost 10 hi-tech sectors, including

information technology, robotics,
aerospace, railways and electric
vehicles. This strategy will shift
China’s manufacturing sector up
the value-added chain and fuel
export growth.
Higher value-added goods are
increasingly being produced
domestically, according to the
trade forecast.
Meanwhile, on the import
front, China’s rebalancing towards
more consumer-led growth will
strengthen demand for higherquality goods and services.
Transport equipment, for
example, will gain importance.
By 2030, China is set to be a
major importer of a whole range of
consumer goods, the more
sophisticated of which are likely to
be supplied by developed markets
or newly industrialised economies
like South Korea.
This trend will help to
rebalance existing flows with
developed economies, turning
China into an even more
important source of global
demand. Its increasingly educated
labour base, meanwhile, will
become a force in global
innovation.
China’s influence on global
trade continues to grow – not just
through its role as a key source of
regional infrastructure
investments, but also as it
becomes a marketplace for an
ever-wider range of the world’s
goods and services.

independent expert be hired to re-evaluate the
contractor’s capability to deliver a safe and reliable
system for the first stage of the project.
During the past three months, there has been no
notable improvement or progress in this important
area and the department is back in the headlines this
week, coming under fire for continuously delaying
the start date for its HK$570 million Autotrac 3 air
traffic management system, designed by US defence
company Raytheon.
According to Ming Pao, the system’s safety was
questioned in reports compiled by the Air Traffic
Management Standards Office, the division in charge
of safety assessments. The office doubted the ability
of the new system to locate planes accurately in bad
weather and concluded that the system has low
reliability during crises. It has been reported that the
new system’s data processor failed to recognise some
commands and operators needed to communicate
manually, by voice. This also involved timeconsuming filling in of forms by hand.
The system has so far only been installed in two
other places – Dubai and India. India has
subsequently abandoned it. Those in the front line at
the Civil Aviation Department regard Autotrac 3 as
having inherent safety problems and considered it
vital to initiate a further 31-day test run before it could
be commissioned. The management, led by Lo,
brushed aside the problems. Lo insisted that the
issues had been fixed and the new system should be
approved.
Lo is due to retire early next year and seems eager
to make his mark before he bows out. However, he,
and the rest of the management, should be held to
account over whether the proper procedures were
carried out in this case, and whether public safety has
been compromised.
It would be best for all if Lo were to be replaced as
soon as possible, with a more capable hand, to get the
department back on track without delay.
Albert Cheng King-hon is a political commentator.
taipan@albertcheng.hk

Helen Wong is chief executive,
Greater China, at the Hong Kong and
Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited

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Concern has been raised about the new air traffic
control system for Hong Kong. Photo: Nora Tam