For decades, China exploited Western and American enablers while re-thinkers—as Michael Pillsbury calls them (see 2nd video at bottom)—branded 'freaks' or hawks, lost the national security debate.
Thankfully, hyper nationalism got cocky. China's regime thought the Trump Administration would be just another predictable, enabler-led presidency, good for China's secret war. Except Xi Jinping now finds himself outhustled, waiting to see whether Trump's hand is weakened or not, come midterms November 2018. The same Xi who won't tell Chinese how Intellectual Property theft got us here.More than having its act together, China's greatest weapon—until Peter Navarro and Trump's Trade War—was the ignorance, apathy and lack of global leadership and stakeholder will. And while Trump's America doesn't have it house in order, what the average indoctrinated Mainland Chinese will learn downstream, is that the protracted Trade War had less to do with Trump and everything to do with bipartisan, even global objection to China's greatest secret weapon. (Click or tap to zoom image)Culturally in China, deception has been the way. And hyper nationalism, which has worked against the Japanese, Koreans and others, is sweet. But what the public was never prepared for was: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” In other words, arrogance—after decades of free-riding Western liberalism while vilifying it; intellectual property theft, unfair trade, covert economic warfare and other Asymmetrical Hybrid Warfare robbing nations of their economic security and militarily and aggressively seeking to revise maritime law and international norms—was always bound to backfire. And in this edition, Michael Pillsbury picks up where the Roots of U.S. Foreign Policy Naïveté (2), Why Strategy Execution Is The Ultimate IQ, and Strategic Deception in Leadership left off. Additionally, for #iTHiNKLabs insight into the U.S.-China rivalry including what a Trump win means, click below.From the easily duped binary thinking American, Westerner, African, entrepreneur, techie, or cyber security professional who thinks politics and strategy isn't his/her job—perpetually in a filter bubble—to the greedy, corrupt, nonstrategic and naïve business or political leader, China's strategic preeminence was unwittingly facilitated globally by people who assume all 'investment and/or engagement is good.
That casual, cultural predisposition to drugs—and in China where productivity is the unwritten law, only losers get stoned, and certainly, CEOs dare not flaunt such lifestyles—and short attention span, combined with China's discipline, focus, strategic intensity, and strategic execution IQ fueled China's rise to global economic and regional military dominance, while poking holes in their national security.
To be clear, 'China 2049' isn't guaranteed, if Xi's self-deluding hyper nationalism keeps winning in China, which feels misunderstood, even as SHE misunderstands international norms and values.You can't genocidally erase ethnic minorities (click image), forcibly harvesting organs and biometric identity, forcing 're-education' on Uighurs, building mass crematoria you call “Burial Management Centers” all while buying friends in Africa and around the world thinking you can keep them. You can't pretend the forced disappearance and suppression of Tibetans and other Han Chinese is acceptable either. Or, in the case of Taiwan, bully civilized, freely educated global citizens and businesses into believing a democratic country 'doesn't exist' when the civilized world increasingly detests oppression. Not even with advanced technology. One can't do all that and survive as a regime, history shows. Indeed CCP Confucius Institutes—where you can't discuss “sensitive topics”—aren't soft power either but delusion. And Pew Research offers annoying proof for brainwashed nationalists.History repeats itself when leaders or more appropriately, 'regimes' sanitize history and facts through censorship, indoctrination and propaganda, robbing citizens of conviction, self-expression, self-determination and organic culture. That's what led to World War II. That's the threat today.
Which is why bemused indoctrinated Mainland Chinese believing Trade War or unfair trade talk is merely Western jealousy, is childish. As if those of us who have been studying intellectual property theft, law, cyber espionage, security, war and unfair trade/competition for over 20 years are fools.
Love them or hate them, the CPC (Communist Party of China), and by extension, the PRC (People's Republic of China) has many lessons to teach one and all. Whether one is a journalist, hacker, spy, security professional, business or political strategist, leader, entrepreneur, student or teacher.You may be a developer or investor content to think you're making good business decisions when in fact you're unwittingly complicit in China's secret war against the U.S. Or, as with enablers like Apple (whose entrenchment in China is well-documented), and most recently, Google (click above), you're helping the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) oppress and abuse Chinese citizens' Human Rights and data privacy, even as you knowingly or unknowing facilitate its secret war effort. That too, is a lesson worth pondering.
Including my contention that Pillsbury's book, as well as Robert Greene's 33 Strategies of War and 48 Laws of Power (both hyperlinked here), are equally as important—if not more so than 孫子's Art of War—if you're going to claim to be a conscientious, socially responsible technology, security, or business professional, as well as diplomat or citizen who cares about freedom and global security.
Fox News would have partisans believe “the China threat” is the only one. Again, binary. Indeed as two newly enlightened Amazon reviewers remarked: “The problem is not Russia but China...Screw Russia. We need to worry about China...This book should be read by everyone who thinks Russia is our main problem.” To which like Daily Show host Trevor Noah, I say: “Why can't it be both?” And to Mike Pillsbury, I'd ask: When will Americans understand that it's not just FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) but the U.S. Constitution that lacks national security threat clarity? (2nd image further below)Michael Pillsbury's work, insight, and lived experience—like mine in China and the region for over 16 years—should be taken seriously. Period. The China he portrays is the one I've already told a world of naïve binary thinkers and enablers who won't listen, focus, or take time to connect the dots about. Only clear-eyed, strategic, holistic and proactive security vigilance spots such monumental threats. Which is why even if like Steve Bannon you want Donald Trump to 'make the trade war with China “unprecedentedly large” and “unbearably painful” for Beijing' you're missing the point. For Russia, we know. And as we learned in Strategic Deception it is both good at absorbing pain and outlasting its enemies. But China's greatest strategic advantage is that like a slithering snake, its even more cunning and resourceful. And to defend oneself against any snake, whether an anaconda, or python already hugely successful in Africa or inland taipan making its way from the Mainland via Australia, you can't be a nation engulfed in a billion distractions. Political indiscipline, disunity, corruption, divisive politics, guns violence and serial mass shootings, endless sexual harassment and other scandals presided over by an unhinged President, and most of his nominees too, is easily exploitable baggage and chaos in a wired world with China rising. Just like the China expert/author and first questioner above who was 'schooled' it's easy to overstudy China as a tourist or pay “expert” scholars who in turn build comfortable careers shaping wrong-headed policies. But in classic Einsteinian spirit, having lived there and seen how the world gets China wrong: “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” And except for Malaysia's few Asian nations have China figured out. Except Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad (further below).
It doesn't matter what his predecessors or other world leaders knew, or privately complained about. What matters is, it took clumsy, unpredictable, unconventional yet cunning Donald Trump to force the issue. From the 100-year plan—Made in China 2025, unfair trade tricks, cyber espionage, security, national security and global security elements and implications and all—to the ongoing Trade War.
While there's nothing wrong with having Agricultural, electrical power, and aviation and aerospace equipment, as well as new materials, new energy/EV (electric vehicles), railway transportation, next-generation information technology, high-end robotics, maritime engineering and biomedicine and advanced medical apparatus ambitions, the Xi regimes strategic blunder was: getting intoxicated by hyper nationalism, cockiness, and blabbing about a political vision based on intellectual property theft, unfair competition, and distorted state-run economy.
That's how China got where it is today. Not just with 2.33 million or so active PLA troops, but an easily triggered jingoistic vast market, national unity and political decisiveness, it has practically all the apex deterrence boxes checked. Even before one factors in it's nuclear arsenal. So in case you're an American already celebrating China's misfortunes in the Trade War, remember: China is no India. Love them or hate them, China is a resilient and and efficient quick learner.
Remember when President Xi Jinping urged China to be “disciplined at home and strong abroad”? Well, while Indian trains travel 160km/99miles in the wrong direction, America's execution problems are funnier, —to adversaries. For to live in China, witness dogged Chinese focus and determination realizing like Saudi Arabia and other repressed regimes, China's maximum output, is perspective.Elon Musk who is no Level 5 leader (click above), is playing with fire. And Facebook's misadventures in China, including being repeatedly kicked out, is sign that Facebook's top management, if not soley Mark Zuckerberg, doesn't get strategy. That's why I tweeted: I have no pity for organizations or people who ignore my advice and foresight. The smug and nonstrategic hire all the wrong people, kiss up to governments—in Facebook's case the CCP—thinking learning or speaking Mandarin, or even being married to a Chinese is a surefire ticket to success in a market and political culture that tolerates, rather than welcomes foreigners there. Indeed as Professor Michael Porter would tell you: “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” Knowing for example when not to party, glamorize sideshows or legalize getting stoned while your focused adversaries upgrade their military and constitutions to better survive a new world order, matters. Clinging to outdated, self destructive institutions from the 1700s because success got into your head only allows your adversaries multiple attack vectors from which to strike. From Cyber & Asymmetrical Hybrid Warfare to strategically exploiting divisive gun debates, this is how America is currently being systematically dissembled.Strategy is not about blindly and greedily chasing wrong global markets. Nor for corrupt Republicans, the delusion that end always justifies the means, with no cost to person, Party, or nation they claim to love. Indeed as Baltasar Gracián aptly put it: “Never open the door to a lesser evil, for other and greater ones invariably slink in after it.” Which is what's happening to African nations increasingly finding themselves indebted to China. Indeed at the time of writing, China is at war with the United States (click image below) simultaneously as its decades-long exploitation of U.S. business and political naïveté runs into Trump's unpredictability vis-à-vis trade tensions, just as I predicted. Yet ever nonstrategic, unfocused and distracted by individual wealth, American voters' likely inability to stomach China-U.S. trade wars—a legitimate issue of strategic importance to the U.S.—as they are weighed down by Trump-Russia collusion distraction, may be an advantage for the CCP. For whereas President Reagan had 8 years to weaken the USSR, China who as one commenter said it is yet to learn it's not OK in the West to “lie, steal, cheat, hack, bully, or threaten” knows the Trump Presidency clock is ticking. Meanwhile, Malaysia's cunning Mahathir Mohamad has a lesson for African leaders:With better understanding of strategy, you learn, as I told someone ridiculing Iran's war of words with the Trump Administration that: Iraq is not Iran and vice versa. Every war—and in Facebook's case, every market—is different. Security is NEVER guaranteed. In fact, every success only exposes the rigid victor. This, the culturally strategic and nimble Chinese and Russians get. Ignorant Americans scoff.There's never been a better time to upgrade your leadership IQ by studying both conventional and unconventional leadership, and conventional and unconventional strategy execution, — which I've argued is 'the ultimate IQ'. For without that, leaders who are unable or unwilling to adapt are doomed to fail. Indeed those who doubted me in the waning years of the Obama Presidency until most recently, the Trump-Kim (Singapore) Summit, now get it. These are radical times. And:Whatever your lofty ideals, a certain mindset is required for survival. From leadership and business to geopolitics and China's long game or Boxing (click above), to Putin's Game of Death and successful de facto annexation of the United States. And it is ignorance of that mindset plus the laws shared here that guarantees inevitable painful failure, — with recovery, tragically for many, often impossible.
Realism, and inoculation against naïveté will save you, your loved ones, or any organization you're entrusted to lead. Indeed as I told a new follower bemoaning the chaotic state of affairs in America right now: Voters who don't know better gave political power to BOTH spineless and corrupt GOP “leaders”. And if you can fix voter stupidity, 99% of America's dysfunction will go away so leaders with better strategic acumen, focus and sense of urgency can attend to pressing national, economic and social security concerns rather than zero sum partisan pettiness.
And if by chance, you're either a U.S. government employee or hold leadership office in any such capacity, The Economist recently bolstered arguments I've already made in previous writings, vis-à-vis national security/national interest focus, the urgent need for constitutional reforms, and strategic costs of not adapting to our new world order by starting with the latter.
Trump's Trade War is necessary. But Americans deluded about “American exceptionalism” will only understand when it's too late that you can't compete with a nation as strategically effective and culturally deceptive as China, using a culture of distraction that worked in the 20th-Century.
China doesn't have a 2nd Amendment problem, a Mitch McConnell (Party-over-country) problem; an NRA lobby problem; a serial mass shootings problem; a lets-turn-sexual-harassment-allegations or any Trump distraction, pettiness or rancor into political entertainment or braking news problem. China doesn't have a showdown problem where obvious infrastructure development needs are held hostage. No gerrymandering, or perennial sabotage and obstruction vis-à-vis the Obama years, problem. And highlighting China's voter suppression or democracy problem or how it censors the thoughts of billions is a waste of time when voter suppression is GOP tradecraft. We already know how morally bankrupt the CCP is. The more important strategic question is: When will America get a better Constitution?That is, in the interest of being a functional, as opposed to dysfunctional superpower that is as vulnerable to energy draining, time consuming strategic deception and subterfuge like the failed governments, dynasties, empires, civilizations; extinct or reactive business organizations and leaders studied in the feature audiobook as well as this article's prequel. Click image(s) to delve deeper.Almost wherever you find yourself—even in churches, temples and mosques—you'll find there's a game going on. One much older than you and I are. It loves suckers. And if you don't want to be old too soon, smart too late, or a day late and a dollar short, as the sayings go, this update to my Leadership Manifesto, and relevant tweets will significantly raise your IQ. Because reality doesn't care whether or not you “hate politics” or want to “stick to” pigeonholes trolls foist upon you or your brand.One of the best lessons I learned over a period of more than a decade living in China that no book could ever teach the smug cynic remains: Practically everyone you meet often has an angle. You find agreements, commitments, and words don't matter. And like new SIM cards, one's allegiances change overnight. Which is why mastering survival, self-defense and problem sensitivity (below) is critical.
Like his predecessor, Donald Trump (images hyperlinked) will learn perhaps too late there's a difference between deception and self-deception. Indeed mindful of the cost, socially and strategically astute individuals, like superior leaders, are always mindful of striking the right balance between hope balanced against realism. Pragmatism, over hypersensitive emotions or blind trust.
In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping assured President Obama during a Washington State visit that: “China does not intend to pursue militarization.” It was around the same time the since violated Obama-Xi Cyber Theft Agreement was agreed. Moreover, we now know the PLA State-sponsored Winnti Umbrella cyber espionage collective was before that Agreement, and since, been active. Even as China landed nuclear strike-capable H-6K bomber on its illegally annexed, internationally disputed fast-developing South China Sea military bases just recently. What happens in November 2018?China's long game has too often been misunderstood by Americans (many Africans too) in their binary, short attention span elements and culture. Yet the question of how America can effectively compete in a new global strategic security order that suits both China's strategic national ambitions and its current political system is one of detail, focus, will, and consistency long after the Trump presidency. Not brevity or short American attention spans. For as Jack Goldsmith and Lawrence Lessig rightly said: “Revolutions promise drama, but change comes in the detail.” Also, it's already here, folks.For years, I predicted in previous writings, and on Twitter, what is only now becoming a favorite refrain in mainstream media, that China's CCP and the PLA, more so than Russia, poses the greatest global security threat. From the Washing Post to CNN (images hyperlinked, mind you), there's now talk of a 'new Cold War' when in fact in China's case, it's been underway since Xi Jinping's regime in particular. Indeed not just America, but both the West and freedom-loving sovereign states from Asia to increasingly debt-trapped economies face the second clash of civilizations (final Trump-Xi image below) in less than a century. So how can America self-correct before a serious military conflict?The most succinct answer, courtesy of former UK Brexit Negotiator David Davis is: “If a democracy can't change its mind it ceases to be a democracy...” for one can't adapt or self-correct, when their institutions are too rigid and lethargic, —a handicap both countries share. Except in America's case (image above), 'U.S. Advanced Weapons Systems Have Ridiculously Weak Cyber Security' while having lived there, one knows the Chinese start everything with security in mind. Which means psychological operations (PsyOps) or Influencing Operations, Cyber Warfare and Hybrid Warfare aside, it is dumb to be a dysfunctional superpower with so many vulnerabilities to begin with. Hence, my argument.
Whether the Trump Administration is able to successfully exploit the Trade War to economically weaken China, dictate or embolden ASEAN policy and dynamics in favor of Taiwan and other contentious issues without worrying about the Xi regime's disapproval remains to be seen. Xi may be politically more secure, but Vice President Mike Pence's has plan to outlast Trump. And even if he is replaced, Democrats are equally hawkish due to China's exhausting human rights abuses and hegemonic designs. For detailed insight, finish below, read the previous edition and follow/click the white dove below. And for leadership, business and strategy consultation, contact me here.
The Art of Deception in Leadership III | Threat Smart Series
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