One of the odder things about the debate on climate is how many people fantasize that the People’s Republic of China is showing us the way. Including American progressive one-percenter (roughly $50 billion net worth) and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who just said China’s dictator is not a dictator because he’s listening to the masses on climate.
Why is this claim odd? Well, there’s a danger that, as with “What is sex?”, people who need it explained won’t understand when it is. But we will try. (China being a dictatorship, we mean.)
When there were great big climate marches around the world they were not permitted in one country because that country does not let people criticize its government or its president for life. It is the one that puts Mao Tse-tung on its banknotes, shoots and strangles dissidents, puts Uighurs in massive re-education camps, throws its weight around geopolitically in pursuit of ugly and unjustified claims, uses its high-tech companies to spy on industrial and military secrets, arrests people without cause and… but you figured it out. It’s China.
Justin Trudeau infamously expressed his admiration for China’s “basic dictatorship” because it “is actually allowing them to turn their economy around on a dime and say, we need to go green fastest … ." Which nowadays you’re at least grateful that he admitted it was a dictatorship though you wonder, if he knows what the word means, why it didn’t bother him as a passionate, misty-eyed defender of human rights.
Trudeau is also so committed to climate activism that in September he protested against his own government. Yet on Friday September 20 when everyone was all Greta Thunberg in an estimated 185 countries, which is most of them even today, there were no protests in China. As the Guardian acknowledged, waaaaaay down in its story, “No protests were authorised in China, the world’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions”. Awkward? Well, don’t worry. The story went on immediately, “Zheng Xiaowen of the China Youth Climate Action Network said Chinese youth would take action one way or another. ‘Chinese youth have their own methods,’ she said. ‘We also pay attention to the climate and we are also thinking deeply, interacting, taking action, and so many people are very conscientious on this issue.’” And of course CYCAN is in no way whatsoever a front organization for the Chinese government which is not a dictatorship. That CYCAN’s flagship 10-year report begins with an obsequious quotation from President, General Secretary, Chairman, Paramount Leader and “core leader” Xi just shows how much his people love him.
China is a dictatorship. And the argument that even dictatorships listen to their people on some issues would lead to the conclusion that Hitler wasn’t a dictator because lots of Germans were anti-Semitic, or that Stalin wasn’t one because lots of Russians envied the rich. Which makes his statement odd. But it gets odder.
You see, that Chinese dictatorship is the same Chinese dictatorship that’s building coal plants galore in its drive for world domination, military and economic. That one. The one that doesn’t allow climate protests. It’s not listening to the masses on climate, even assuming the masses speak with one voice through the masks people so often wear there to screen out particulates and other air pollution. Instead it’s unapologetically the world’s largest emitter of GHGs. And as you may imagine, CYCAN doesn’t mention them in its massive report lest such an emission cause a flood of arbitrary arrest and imprisonment.
China seems to have a bad effect on people’s reasoning process. One person even wrote on Bloomberg.com (run by guess who), “Let's hope developing countries such as China will follow the moral example of the U.S. and implement their own stringent carbon taxes. But there’s no guarantee they will.” No. Or any reason to think they might, evidence of China’s tendency to follow the moral example of the U.S. on anything being in remarkably short supply. On top of which the U.S. hasn’t implemented a carbon tax for China to imitate. But why get bogged down in details?
Oh right. Because that’s where the devil lurks. Including that China is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and a dictatorship. Guess it matters after all.