Monday, 29 June 2020

臆想国安法



《港版国安法》出台,越看越精彩。本来觉得事情已经在专业领导手中,无需边吃瓜边插嘴了,但我对一些执行细节和目标的臆想,好像没有什么人谈及,所以忍不住又要多口。


港式汉奸只不过一群贪生怕死的小人,对国际政治文化毫无认识,以为蟑螂可以假借纸老虎发威,愚蠢程度不可思议。现在看见国安法的影子,屁滚尿流鸟兽散是意料中事,不值一提。既然不值一提,那就不浪费篇幅了。


我倒觉得一般港人和香港的所谓“建制派”应该清楚认识这重大里程碑,把握时机,停止投机取巧,为香港的复原和真正回归做实事。假如政棍一族以为有阿爷作靠山,可以继续不务正业,单靠一声“爱国”指天笃地的话,则大错特错矣。


2014年占中期间,我提议用国安法平乱,初审在港,上诉及终审回国内,原意以为可以两全其美,给香港假发官一个下台阶重归正途,而中央稳守底线,万无一失。现在回头看,当年国际环境尚未成熟。再者,假如初审在港,终审在国内,很容易发生一个现象:黄官把汉奸们褒奖几句后放人,待国内收拾残局,美国的大小媒体喽啰乘机大造文章,显示香港司法公平,国内未审先判。就算正常的法官,很多也会“走精面”,先判无罪,将烫手山芋交回国内处理。


假如初审也回国内办理又如何?这看似坚决的方案引来的大量“一国两制已死”噪音,是早已习惯的废话,倒可不理。但事实上香港真的可能会因此进一步脱离“一国”轨迹,变得更不作为。何解?因为把汉奸们綁回国内之后,香港便干手净脚,大家无所事事,泡壶茶评头品足:这案公平爽快,好!那案嘛,跟“我们”的做法有出入,“不过大陆是这样的啦!” 


而建制派中某些废人,到时的唯一“爱国“行为是猛打小报告,动不动向中央投诉:“阿爷!阿爷!呢条友(这人)好乞人憎哦,拉啦拉啦!好嘢!” 香港离开一国两制只会越来越远,港人治港的能力得不到培训,只会继续下滑。而阿爷,不觉变成了香港的“怪兽家长”,被逼在特区捡垃圾“执手尾”,最后吃力不讨好,甚至适得其反。开了先河,所有特区的无能失败,通通高呼阿爷救命,比国内的省市乡镇更依赖中央。

 

但目前看来,中央打算在香港设立国安部门,将一切正常司法程序留港办理,其实是个深思熟虑的长远方案,显示了北京决心“收回”而不是“放弃”或“教训”香港,目标是要香港真正回归,巩固一国两制,培养港人治港。


中央的国安与法制人才在港扎营,可以融入香港的关键架构,现场了解情况,物色本地人才,发挥培训作用,把守重要关卡。再者,过去23年来,在香港得罪汉奸会惹麻烦,而爱国爱港则没有后台,没有前景,甚至没有战友,造成不少正常人也站中偏黄。有了驻港国安部之后,有能力的港人可以亲自了解国家处事手法,自己办事有了后盾,前途有了出路,有志者会慢慢凝聚,与黄营此长彼消,十年后的高度自治才有实质。


至于其它沦陷区如教育,传媒,公务架构等,收复不难,时间而已。教育害死了整代人,已成事实,只有尽力挽救,同时扑灭火源,这些具体任务,是特区政府能力范围内的职责。而政府的庸懒黄官,相对更好收拾;前朝政务官都是港英训练出来的“无骨两头蛇”,不外太监宦官。朝中无皇帝,宦官阴阳怪气是正常现象。一旦皇帝现身,公公们会三百五十九度转姿态,三呼万岁。公公们转了姿态,下面小的十之八九自然跟着蜕变,大可放心。


至于香港其它千千万万的小问题,已冰冻九尺。梦想一个国安法短期内解决一切是不现实的想法,只会失望。整体来说,香港正遭“富不过三代”现象的折腾,要扭转这社会风气得靠香港市民自己醒觉,转变心态,中央政府能够帮忙的地方实在不多,只能用心观察,吸取经验,引以为鉴。香港大幅减低财政储备,把钱用在上一代有需要的港人身上,避免庸官万事用钱代替能力,应该会有帮助。


经常听到有人提议香港仿效新加坡,这想法其实反映了很多人对“一国两制”缺乏意识,不明白香港虽小,却是超级大国的一部分,必须摆脱小家气,培养大国心态。中国无论眼光,手段和量度,与小国寡民的新加坡都有很大的基本分别。中国通常有必要抓大放小,包括处理暴徒汉奸。


从“一国”角度看,香港身为国家成员,长期得益于地理和历史是福分,值得庆幸。但每当面对严峻国际形势时,定要心明大义,认清大局,不能够事事只看香港的眼前利益,为分享国家红利而“爱国”,而不愿为大局作出短暂忍辱,甚至牺牲。


谭炳昌 2020.06.28

A Money Story



Most of us have been too busy making money to give it much thought. To diehard capitalists, money is everything, something which one can never have too much of. But is it?


What is money?


Money is a trade medium and value unit. I have a cow; you have a hundred bushels of onion. You want to eat beef, while I need onion for my soup, but we still can’t barter successfully. With money, you can buy my cow. I used a small portion of the proceeds to buy a kilo of onion from you, and save the rest for other things. Unfortunately, some people get stuck in the process, and hang on to the money, the more the better — feeling rich is a great capitalistic feeling. 


Once upon a time, shells were used as currency in China (except in coastal areas, I assume). I can imagine some people selling all their cows for a good price, and plan their retirements accordingly. Then came Qin Shi Huang, who invented a national currency. Suddenly, Tycoon Wang with a houseful of shells couldn’t buy a steamed bun with it. Overnight, he was broke.


Hyperinflation


When people have lost confidence in a currency, hyperinflation results. History has witnessed hyperinflation multiple times in nearly every country — from China to America, Israel to Germany. In the 1940s, my father had to carry baskets of money to the market. Vendors weighed the bills in exchange for vegetables, rather than wasting time counting them filthy notes.


Once confidence in a currency has collapsed, money is just paper — wastepaper.


What is money without economic activities?


Practically nothing. Imagine being a fugitive banker stuck in an island without import and export, and very little production. Your suitcase of dollars is only good for counting and recounting to kill time.


A common misconception is that if a country manages to produce everything in this world, and eventually monopolise the global “free” market, it will eventually make all the money in the world, and be rich beyond imagination. But what could this country do with the money? Mostly just to buy things from itself, using money printed by others. This country would become a global slave with lots of “money”. 


A healthy equilibrium is when there is true multi-polar productivity, from everyone's perspective.


The USD Formula


How did the greenback become the international reserve currency? Confidence of course. In the beginning, that confidence had a lot do with American innovation, productivity and military power. Anyone who wanted some of the great stuff from America better go make some US dollars. Otherwise, no matter how much Congolese Francs you offered, they won’t sell. Gradually, under the influence of human nature and due devolution, America decided to let others sweat. They focused on printing money instead, and became addicted to it.


But what would happen when the world doesn’t need American dollars for all the good things available elsewhere? Henry Kissinger had a good idea. If all the oil producers accept only American dollars, then demand for the currency can be sustained, as everyone needs oil. The Petrodollar was born. What if some oil producers refuse? Ask Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Gaddafi of Libya, Iran, and Venezuela.


American Debts


The mind-numbing mechanics by which USD is generated has been well explained by numerous pundits. I wish to focus on a fatuous threat brandished by some really dumb politicians: sequester China’s one trillion plus American bonds. Sure, go ahead.


Let’s first see how China ends up with so much American dollars.


There are two main sources: foreign investment and trade surplus. Foreign investors come to China to build factories, taking with them a bunch of dollars. They must first exchange it to the Chinese currency RMB. Greenback becomes red notes — paper for paper. With RMB in hand, they can now rent land, build factories, hire workers, and start production. Employment is created, invigorating the economy. 


China uses the greenback received to buy oil, minerals, advanced equipment, computer chips, soybeans, GM corn etc. — whatever it needs. What’s left is saved in US Treasury Bonds. America of course knows that money without use is as good as garbage, so whatever China wants to buy in America would be re-classified as something with security significance.


After spending as much as possible on purchases and foreign aids, China still has about one trillion stashed away in US Treasury Bonds. It sounds like a huge sum, and it is. But the true value of this money — value which can only be realised through labour and participation — has long been realised inside China, and multiplied manyfold. What’s left is mostly, you know, just money with no immediate purpose. 


Furthermore, if the US robbed this phantom wealth from China, will other debt owners just watch and exclaim? And what would happen if China as a result has no option but to refuse USD for trade? Would the Middle East revolt at the same time? In that scenario, we can quite safely assume that the Great American Empire would falter dramatically. American taxpayers spent two trillion on Iraq for reasons only they understand. To bring down the most warlike Empire on Earth for a trillion would be a fantastic deal.


Widespread war waged by an irate Empire is of course a concern. But how many countries can it invade with its kamikaze F35? More importantly, the Euro and Yen, even the Pound Sterling, have been waiting for their rightful share in the currency basket for a long long time, while getting bullied by Big Brother.


The Greenback’s Final Assault


According to the Washington Post, which is not always credible, the mysterious financial mechanism in America has produced about six trillion new money to jump start the post Covid-19 economy. Some say it’s only three trillion — only three trillion! Has anyone seen the money?


In modern America, nobody knows where any money goes. I can only venture a wild guess. Money is not the true substance of wealth; only labour and productivity can sustain prosperity. But under the current world order, money, especially American money, can still buy ownership of productivity and resources. Now that the greenback’s days are numbered, its printers are working overtime to produce prodigious amounts of it, to buy up as much as they can. 


If that’s true, we’ll see hyperinflation of assets and equities for a while, followed by hyper-devaluation of the USD — the most effective way to default on the Empire’s impossible debts.


James Tam 2020.06.09

钱作怪




国际上有关钱的假动作太多,令人眼花缭乱,心惊胆跳,不敢看不敢想。但我对恐怖事物有偏爱,决定把碎片拼合,组织自己的幻觉。


问世间钱为何物?

钱是交易的媒介和等量单位。假如我有一头牛,你有一百擔洋葱,虽然你想吃牛肉,我想吃洋葱,但以货易货很难成交。有货币作媒介,你可以用钱买我的牛,我只用一少部分收入跟你买一斤洋葱,余款用来买其他东西,或储蓄起来。古代的内陆居民曾用贝壳担当货币功能。但假如有人把辛苦养大的牛通通好价卖掉,一心做个“守贝奴”过世的话,会在秦始皇出现后瞬间破产,只剩下一箩箩的贝壳。昨天足够买整栋房子的宝贝,今天买不到一个馒头。


恶性通胀

人们对一种货币失去信心,便会导致恶性通胀,这在秦始皇之后发生过 N 次,几乎所有国家,由中国到美国,以色列到德意志,都经历过。我父亲的一代,解放前也有过一斤钱换一斤菜的经历,钱不值钱的时候,大家也懒得数了。


货币的交易功能全凭信心和管理支撑。货币一旦失去公信便成废纸,或废电子。


没有经济支撑的钱是什么?

什么也不是。 试想你有亿亿万世人热爱的金钱,但生活在一个与世隔绝的荒岛。孤岛没有生产,没有进出口贸易,你的钱什么也买不到,只可以用来擦屁股。


由此可以引申到一个较常见的错觉:有人以为国家早晚有能力生产一切,到时把全世界的钱都赚回来:哇!发达啰!他们没有想过赚回来的钱用来干嘛。拿着大量外币跟自己买波鞋?所以,全球分工是必然现象,也是我们希望的现象,否则情愿闭关。当然,战略性物资和生产能力一定要掌握在自己手中,但其余的生产力和市场份额,按比例合理分配才是健康的财富平衡。整体市场份额过大,大小通杀,只不过劳役自己。换来一大堆没出路的钱,比便秘更难受更伤身。

美元方程式

美元靠什么称霸呢?早期靠全球一致的信心,而信心来自美国当年庞大的创造力,生产力,和军事能力。想买美国出产的好东西?先赚点儿美元再说吧,否则你给更多刚果法郎也不卖,就是那么简单。后来美国吃太饱,竟然想出妙招:干活那么辛苦,何不让人家流汗,自己拼命印刷大家都接受了的美元,便可以呼风唤雨,空手套白狼,过瘾!


但这样下去,美国出产的好东西越来越少,美元需求自然减退,怎生是好?基辛格聪明,搞了石油美元。在全世界买原油都要用美元结算,美元还愁没需求?那么卖石油的不接受美元怎办?这方面可以找个灵媒,向伊拉克的侯赛因和利比亚的卡塔菲讨教一下。随着时代进步,霸主无所事事,想出来的洗劫方式五花百门,不胜枚举。这里只不过以卡通形式点出大纲。


美债故事

美债故事和美元的生产工序已经有很多真懂的人介绍过。有兴趣可以网上搜寻。我想探讨的是很多国人担心的问题:假如美国把我们万多亿的美债一口吞了怎办?血汗钱哦!


先看看我们为什么有这么多美元,和这些美元的血汗值。


中国手中的美元有两个大来源:外国投资和贸易顺差。美国公司拿着一叠美元来华投资,找人代替出汗,但美元不能在中国通用,唯有去人民银行兑换,绿纸换红纸,两不相欠。换过我们定价的人民币之后,投资者租地招工盖工厂,把生产力和经验转移到中国,提升工业能力,制造就业,打开市场,搞活经济。谢谢。


人民银行拿着这些美元,四处购买原油矿石,大豆芯片,多余的便暂买美债。但中国人勤奋,生产力强,手上的美元越来越多,一部分发放到一带一路建设,助人助己,一举数得。偶尔会有几个穷兄弟无力偿还。这不打紧,看远一点,迟些再算。江湖上多交几个朋友,得道多助,反正美元是名副其实的身外物。


一万亿美债听来数目惊人,但金钱能够换来的“内涵”价值,早在中国落地生根,开枝散叶,多年来翻了不知几十倍了。贸易顺差赚来的美元得益相对较少,但原理相近。所以,能够及时适量减持美债最好,否则也并非世界末日。


再者,美国够胆赖债吗?抢了中国持的美债,其他国家会若无其事吗?要知道,财富的基础是生产,是资源,不是纸币。假如强抢导致中国停止接受美元,一切交易用人民币、其它可信货币或实物资源进行;又假如石油大国趁机起义,也拒收美元的话,帝国就此完蛋。根据美国专家估计,他们打伊拉克一共消耗了两万亿。能够以一万亿纸币的代价打垮纸老虎的话,简直便宜得有点儿过意不去。


霸主一怒之下,为美钞而战怎办?飞几次掉一次的超级神风战机F35,能打多少个国家?更重要的是,欧罗日元一大堆都会乘虚而入,在全球新秩序霸一席位。绝大部分的纸扎盟友们除了嘴巴响亮,会两肋插刀帮助多年来把自己欺负得难过死的大佬吗?


美元的最后发难

华盛顿邮报(https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/15/coronavirus-economy-6-trillion/)估算美国为了疫情,过去几个月一共狂印六万亿。不理他三万五万还是六万亿,这些疯狂数字已经毫无意义,也令大众失去感觉。这货币海啸据说是用来抗疫,刺激经济,太搞笑了吧!美国老百姓反正一毛钱也见不到。那么钱都哪去呢?美国人民都不知道,我怎会知道?


但我不介意胡乱猜度:纸币只是财富的暂时缓冲,生产力和资源才是真正的财富。但暂时来说,在资本主义主导的秩序下,虚无的纸币仍然可以购买生产力和资源的拥有权。心知美元命不久矣的大佬们于是决定发难,赶紧在临危一刻找个借口疯狂发钞,以无限美元全球抢购,把随时可变废纸的货币转换成资产。在几万亿美元洪水的冲击下,股票资产飙升的话,完全不犯逻辑。


大冲洗一轮之后,随之而来的是美元大贬值。这是最实在的赖债方式:昨天你借我一亿,价值整栋洋房,今天我还你一亿,只可以买间狗屋。


谭炳昌 2020.06.07


Friday, 5 June 2020

The 2nd Worst Scenario of a Sino-US Split




Momentary disruptions caused by a forced divorce with the US may be a catalyst for China to restore its historical position. 

What is China’s historical position? Let’s examine some features which defined and sustained the ancient civilisation for most of past millennia.

First and foremost is defence capability.

China had never been a hegemonic empire, but it had long learnt that unarmed prosperity is an open invitation to invade; it had experienced this multiple times throughout its dynastic vicissitudes, most traumatically during the 19th century. Today’s Middle East is a sobering reminder that barbaric pillage has never stopped, just repackaged.

As a matter of priority, the People’s Republic has reestablished adequate defence against aggression. Presently, even America’s grotesquely oversized military, built at the expense of its education and health care systems, is no longer a credible threat. Lumbering USS carriers are fit only for a show, or mass burial of poor soldiers at sea, if they crossed China’s home-turf redline. Further afield, their destructive power remains predominant; but that is by now a familiar international menace which China alone can’t change.

The second is an effective political structure. 

In ancient times, the Middle Kingdom’s advantage against nomadic adventurers was relative organisation. Nowadays, the Communist Party’s edge over imperial antagonists is relative rationality and long-term vision. Beijing has a coherent vision of the country in twenty, fifty, even a hundred years. Foresight of this magnitude is in fact necessary for any nation in our complex wold, especially when it comes to preserving planet Earth — our only home. Unfortunately, populist democracies can only see four years ahead max, less campaign time.

Some may argue that a Deep State with wider horizon is pulling the strings in major American policies, and that partisan politics is only a charade. But increasingly, the actors on stage are deviating from script. The director and producer, if they indeed exist, can only swear and jump backstage till the next act, or the curtain comes down.

Thirdly, ancient China was characterised by innovation, productivity, and a huge, vibrant, domestic market.

Since the Roman Empire, the traditional West had always wanted to trade with China, which treated international trade with reluctance, even suspicion and resistance at times. Periodically, China would close off its boarders completely without a press conference announcement. The Great Wall was not for tourism. The giant black swan of the industrial revolution changed all that, for a while.

When New China was established in 1949, the nation was battered and decrepit. Average life expectancy was 35, literacy had become rare, and national GDP stagnated below that of early Qing Dynasty in mid-seventeenth century. The country needed to rest in intensive care. But in 1950, barely months after establishment of the People’s Republic, an alliance of sixteen Western nations, led by you know who, wasn’t going to let that happen. The People’s Liberation Army, armed with antiquated rifles, wearing green canvas liberation shoes which had recently replaced straw sandals, eventually pushed them back to the 38th Parallel in the Korean Peninsular. Many many died, in return for a few decades of lockdown recuperation.

Ancient empires wanted to trade with China for simple and pragmatic reasons: goods and market. They desired some of the goodies China produced, and wanted to sell their goodies to the giant vibrant market there. Whether they romanticised or demonised the Chinese was irrelevant. 

Today, a similar commercial reality has again been created, with a globalised China. China is now the top trading partner of 124 countries. It would take a lot more than Trump’s wishful thinking and histrionic tweets to change that fact.

EVEN if Trump’s impossible decoupling plan materialised, China will soon adapt. Presently, export makes up 17.4% of the country’s GDP. Nineteen percent of that goes to America. If export to the USA dropped to zero, the impact would be about 3.3%. Meanwhile, the Belt and Road economy and domestic demand, which have been growing impressively, will make up in no time.

Furthermore, 1.4 billion Chinese have been enjoying quantum leaps in living standards for a few decades now. A growth hiatus, even a period of manageable decline, would be beneficial to the country’s mental and physical health.

China is clearly well behind America in one area: international propaganda. But with patience and perseverance, it may still be able to push the liars back to their parallel universe with boring facts and logic. Current asymmetry in this battlefield cannot be worse than that in the Korean Peninsular seventy years ago.

And so what if China lost the propaganda war resoundingly, and the Western masses started to loathe everything Chinese? 

Australia, always a perfect example to illustrate befuddlement, is decades ahead of Trump and Pompeo in China loathing. Has it stopped buying everything made in China? Has it sailed a little gunboat over to lob cannon balls on us? In the end, it’s just meaningless spittle from a nation needing to recover from a historical inferiority complex, desperate for attention.

Out of Trump’s countless pouty threats, complete Sino-US decoupling in hi-tech areas is the most credible, and it’s happening. But that would likely be a development spur for China. 

For decades now, China has been barred from anything NASA, including academic conferences. It’s also the only country not allowed anywhere near the International Space Station. Thanks to this stimulus, China now has the only quantum satellite up there, and visited the dark side of the moon. It’s also busy preparing to launch a space station.

China should feel ready for a Sino-US split, if that is what America really wants. From a longterm perspective, it may be a fortuitous turning point for the country. 

However, this is only the second-worst scenario. The worst scenario is self-obliteration of suicidal Homo sapiens. In that event, Planet Earth will gradually recover its crystalline ocean and starry nights, but with nothing worth talking about from humanity’s point of view. 


James Tam  2020.05.28

中文版: 《中美博弈的第二最差結局》


中美博弈的第二最差結局



中美博弈猶如兩個高手比武,驚心動魄。雙方擁躉一時鼓掌,一時驚叫。有切身關係的旁觀者,好比下了賭注的觀眾,心情被拳來拳往牽動。看見自己的拳師打中對方一拳,立即拍腿歡呼;中了人家一招,則高聲怪叫,好像世界末日。這些情緒是人之常情,也可以營造賽事氣氛,但對賽果影響不大,倒不如專心欣賞,有需要時在旁加油打氣,最重要是保持信心, 團結一致。

信心哪來呢?

信心可以不需理由:喜歡就是喜歡,拳手是親人的話,會特別緊張,甚至脫離現實,一心希望他十個回合里拳拳到肉打對家,自己不損半條頭髮。

但信心也可以來自基本因素。

我比較淡定的原因,是我對國家的信心來自基本分析。中國不犯傾覆性錯誤,不被下注在對手身上的漢奸公知們過分騷擾的話,勝算在握。不過最終勝利並不等於過程中不中拳,甚至倒地一兩次,流出鼻血。對手說到底也是衛冕冠軍,破船亦有三斤釘。

基本因素中,首要是軍事力量,否則越富有越死得快,死得慘。

中國人過去幾十年默默耕耘,低頭練劍,已經大致有了成果。今天美國就算進一步關掉醫院和學校,把全國資源投放在軍工綜合體上,也沒有實際能力在中國本土作威作福。遠渡而來的航母,可以是個流動墳場。而我們根本沒有興趣與它在遠洋碰撞,所以硬碰的風險較低。

其次是政治體制的巨大優勢。

中國領導層可以長遠佈局,視乎情勢與變數作出調整,五十年不夠的話,看足一百年。中國可以扮傻二十年,韜光養晦二十年,待時機成熟才公然建設獨立自主的發展道路。美國最聰明能幹的政治家,也只能看四年。縱使幕後勢力較有遠見,但幕後終歸是幕後,當舞台上的演員不依劇本爆肚亂來的時候,導演班主只能在後台乾急暴跳等落幕。

第三個基本因素是工業生產力與國內市場。

中國的工業底氣,很多專家已經分析透切,無需贅述。但工業力量與內需市場,其實是恢復我國歷史地位的基石。

自羅馬帝國以來,西方各國都希望與華通商。而中國雖然好客,卻老是欲就還推,動不動還會鬧脾氣封關;起初修長城的目的,並非吸引遊客。直到十九世紀工業革命這巨大漆黑的天鵝出現,才把中國閉關自守這老習慣改變過來。不過到了新中國初期,在奄奄一息的文明古國,人均壽命只有三十多,文盲率百分之九十以上,GDP不如清初。為了休養生息,中國又一口氣閉關幾十年,試問還有誰能做到?

兩千年來,全球的大帝國和小部落,有些把神秘傲慢的東方大國神化,有些把中國描繪成妖怪魔龍,卻都千方百計要跟我們通商。為何有這現象呢?

因為他們都需要中國生產的好東西,也渴望打進中國龐大的消費市場推銷他們的好東西。而中國一向相對自給自足,外來的特別事物有則過癮,無則算數。

今天中國已經大致恢復了過往的創意和生產力,國內市場也回復到歷史上的比例。中國目前是124個國家的最大貿易夥伴。中長期來說,大家爭相與中國通商的境況不會逆轉,只會越來越興旺。特朗普想帶動全球抵制中國,是毫無常識的痴想,與重新發動鴉片貿易差不很遠。

就算這沒有可能發生的怪事真的發生了,對封關經驗豐富的中華民族來說,也不值得大驚小怪,不消三五年便會習慣得很舒服。要知道,今天出口佔國家 GDP 17.4%,而美國佔我們出口總額19% 。換句話說,美國出口降到零,也不過影響我們3.3% 。而美國出口可能降到零嗎?還有,另一邊廂,我們的內需和一帶一路國家的購買力正在不斷增強。

更重要的是,中國人民的生活經過幾十年的不斷提升,來個頓號可以醒腦消滯,延年益壽,不無好處。這段時期內,國人模仿了不少美國東西,有益的可以保留,有毒的應該清洗。

不過在國際傳媒戰場,美國確實比我們強大太多,無可相比,令有些人擔憂難過。

今天的傳統西方在傳媒影響之下,越來越多人對中國有負面看法。這是客觀事實,必需接受。然而接受並不代表躺下挨罵。盡力反攻還是必須的,也沒有理由過分悲觀。在今天的世界,事實雖然不一定勝過詭辯,但可以令詭辯在明眼人面前現形。還記得我們曾經手執經典老步槍,腳踏綠色解放鞋,在朝鮮半島擊退當時比我們先進十倍的十六國聯軍嗎?

就算我們在傳媒戰場輸得一敗塗地,那又如何?

舉個例:講到歧視中國,澳洲比特朗普和蓬佩奧要先進幾十年,但對我們沒有絲毫影響。他們因此不買中國貨?不可能吧。一怒之下開艘小戰艦,乘風破浪過來扔炮彈?太滑稽吧。

假如中國徹底輸掉了傳媒戰,大不了就是臉上沾了幾滴無關重要的人的臭口水。過不了幾天,他們隨時嬉皮笑臉,主動打招呼:嘻嘻,一場誤會,口水乾了吧?你泱泱大國不許小氣,君子不准念舊惡哦!呃,要不要來點鐵礦石?新鮮挖的,給你個優惠?’ 

提到美國科技制裁,有些人會悲從中來,全身發抖。

唉,想想看,一般科技比太空和軍事科技難搞嗎?這兩方面我們已被隔離幾十年啦!美國太空總署連學術會議也不讓中國人參加,一向如是。我們也是唯一不許靠近國際太空站的國家。然而沒有這制裁,中國哪來今天的航天成就?哪來量子衛星,探月背面,和其他幾項獨領風騷,甚至獨一無二的航天技術?而這一切都是由零開始,短短幾十年間的成就。現在沒有 5G 的美國要科技制裁我們,我們有沒有理由嚇昏過去呢?

分析之下,我覺得中國在這場被逼上擂台的賽事中,贏面不錯。當然,任何情況下都不能輕敵,而什麼競賽都有觀眾持相反看法。我只希望美粉們能夠言行一致,來點骨氣,把賭注押在美國,投資美國資產,更不要做中國生意。這賽事是持久戰,應該要打好一陣子。散場後我請吃飯。

為什麼以上是第二最差結局呢?因為低估了敵人的愚蠢,與輕敵同樣致命。中美博弈最差的結局是人類終結,之後地球慢慢復原,變得藍天碧海,萬獸歡騰。我希望美國人還沒有那麼蠢;有的話,也沒有什麼好分析的了。


譚炳昌 2020.5.26

English Version: The 2nd Worst Scenario of a Sino-US Split


Sunday, 3 May 2020

賺美匯購美債永續不息?



特朗普兩年前發動中美貿易戰,認為中國一直透過與美國的貿易順差賺取美國人的錢,而又不願意在大量購買美國商品,令美國人吃了大虧,必須向中國揮動關稅大棒,迫令中國簽訂不平等貿易條約,讓美國重新偉大。另一方面,很多中國人覺得辛勤勞動,把大批商品以低廉的價格供應美國人消費,賺取的美元換回海量的美債白條,美國人不勞獲享受成果而繼續稱霸,肯定是中國人吃了大虧才是。

塞翁失馬、焉知非福,要說清當中的利弊得失並不容易,或者可從公司企業的損益表(Income Statement)與資產負債表(Balance Sheet)的概念尋找啟示。

Sunday, 26 April 2020

One Planet Two Morals



There are two main streams of moral traditions — one idealistic and absolute, the other relatively pragmatic and flexible. Each is a product of history and cultural perspective.

Absolutely, from God to Man

About six thousand years ago, God switched on the light, made things, and authorised humans to reign over them. Man was supposedly in charge of the world, which wasn’t exactly the entire universe — something we still don’t know much about, but pretend we do. Subsequently, God gave religious peoples the foundation of their moral codes. Nothing too complicated, but thou shalt not kill or steal is universally sensible, and works well if followed honestly.

Gradually, science nudges God off His throne. Humans take over, and steadily expand their God-given birthrights to reign over fish and birds. They march to conquer strange lands, funny heathens, the oceans, and nature in general, singing war songs.

Nonetheless, God’s exit has left an empty spot in their psyche, a vacancy which physics and chemistry can’t fill. After centuries of spiritual dependence, the urge to believe in something doesn’t go away easy. Moral excuses are needed to justify actions, many of which detrimental to themselves and others.

In cartoons, funny characters saw doggedly at the branch they’re perching on. In real life, Homo sapiens exploit their one and only living environment for short-term gains, and call it human achievement. Meanwhile, political ideologies have replaced religion, rationalising the killing and destruction of heathens. In man’s hand, morals have become more arbitrary, manipulative, and impractical.

And impractical ideals inevitably lead to hypocrisy and fanaticism. 

Supporters of specious doctrines seldom “act as they preach” because, well, what they preach is not always practicable. But stepping back to rethink is sacrilegious. Moral principles are tautologically and absolutely good, uncompromisable. An ideal is a perfect end-point to strive for. Revising something perfect is yielding to the dark side, not incremental refinement. Unfortunately, to loyally defend untenable beliefs and infeasible ideas is the first step to fanaticism.

非常道德观


当今世上有两种主流道德观,各有各的历史成因和文化背景。第一种比较绝对和理想化,第二种比较实际,注重探索。


源于上帝,绝对理想

据圣经所述,大概六千年前,上帝说要有光,便即时有光。可惜四周没有反光体,依旧渺冥无明。上帝于是创造万物,最后附加男女组合阿当与夏娃,让他们在伊甸园快乐逍遥,为所欲为,但不准吃苹果,原因不明。无奈这对祖先天生好奇,偏偏把禁果吃掉。上帝怒责之余,却仍然让他们凌驾世界,但要从此知羞,穿衣蔽体。不许在公共场所裸体,可能是最原始的道德要求。后来为了部落秩序,上帝颁布无杀人,无偷盗等戒条,进一步规范道德。十戒内容颇合情理,大众无话可说,反正不服者杀无赦。

转眼几千年,人类长了知识,略懂科学,开始摆脱造物主的精神枷锁,自把自为日久,逐渐野心膨胀,把天赋特权无限扩张,除了统治鱼虾野兽,铲高山镇海洋,臣服异族,更扬言要征服大自然,甚至宇宙,以显人类力量,把不知天高地厚这话发挥得淋漓尽致。

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

China Will Never Rule the World


Around 400 BCE, Thucydides analysed the history of Greek inter-city strife, and concluded that war is nearly inevitable between a rising power and the incumbent. This so-called Thucydides trap is not only difficult to say, but also anachronistic and misleading when it comes to the avoidable rivalry between China and America today. 

In scale and complexity, the competition between Sparta and Athens at Thucydides’ time, with a combined total population of a few hundred thousand at most, was tribal warfare. Using it to project the global dynamics between China and the US in the 21st century is no more relevant than modelling World War III after the Great Mafia War in Sicily. 

More significantly, China’s foreign policy has been different from — even opposite to — Western imperial traditions for at least a couple of millennia.

中国永远不会统治世界




修昔底德陷阱这个饶舌名词,近年常被引用来推算中美博弈,我认为并不合适。

两千四百多年前,生活在今天希腊一带的修昔底德先生悉心研究当地的斗争史后,发现了一个春秋常规:每当新旧霸权交替之际,都难免大战一场。且不论修昔先生的观察是否独具心得,从规模和复杂性来看,用当年希腊城邦的经验来估计今天错综复杂的中美关系,有如采用黑帮火拼记录来预测第三次世界大战,十分牵强。

修昔底德年代的斯巴达和雅典城邦,男女老幼加起来才一共几十万人,全民穿上凉鞋厮杀,也顶多算得上是有规模的部落战事。再者,西方的争霸传统与中国大秦以后的外交方针有基本分别,甚至完全相反。

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Hong Kong Tomorrow



Many people are asking when will Hong Kong get better. To answer, we must clarify what Hong Kong and better mean. This clarification is fundamental and necessary, not pedantic or rhetorical. Without any notion of Hong Kong, and better, the question is meaningless.

If Hong Kong means the 1100 square kilometres of landmass, then it will remain largely the same, assuming no climatic or geological catastrophes.

If you see Hong Kong as an entity defined by performance indexes and its currency, then you’ve got a huge black cloud, though not without its silver lining.

香港明天




很多人都问香港什么时候会复原。香港市民有这关切很合情理,但很多关心人也没有想过何谓 ‘香港’,和心目中的 ‘复原’ 是什么。我问这些基本问题并非咬文嚼字,也不是故意刁难。希望香港明天更好,但对 ‘香港’ 和 ‘好’ 没有足够认识的话,整个问题基本上没有意义,当然没有答案。

假如 ‘香港’ 是这一千一百多平方公里的土地的话,那么除非发生巨大地壳变动,否则随时五亿年不变,不用担心。

假如你认为 ‘香港’ 是被一堆人为指数定义的经济体,那么前景暂时不大乐观,不过危中有机,长远看不一定是坏事。

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Manufacturing Demons


Demonisation of adversaries and dissidents, a favourite device of the Anglo Empire, has been developed and overused to absurd levels by the American Empire. The world needs to better understand how it works.

Remember Slobodan Milosevic of former Yugoslavia? Hardly anyone does. According to the IPC — Imperial Press Corp, aka Mainstream Media — and “Human Rights” NGOs, he was the “Butcher of Balkans”, the most talented monster after Fuehrer Hitler, an ardent ethnic cleanser and, of course, a rapist whenever he took breaks from murdering innocent women and children — Muslims, as usual. He was imprisoned in 2001, when the breaking up of Yugoslavia had been set in motion, and the potential emergence of a sizeable and independent-thinking European nation aborted. 

制妖编魔记



妖魔化对手是大英帝国的拿手把戏。美国称霸之后,更把这传统伎俩极限发挥,值得世人花点时间关注,认真了解。

相信记得前南斯拉夫领导米洛舍维奇的人不多了。在西方政治家,传媒集团和各式各样的“人权组织”的大量报告中,米洛舍维奇被形容为“巴尔干屠夫”,是自希特勒先生以来最有天分的顶级“魔头”。他专长种族清洗,屠杀无辜妇孺,集体乱葬。受害者照惯例都是西方人最关爱的回教人士。

米先生在2001年被收监审讯。当时南斯拉夫已经注定要四分五裂,一个很有潜力但不大听话的欧洲大国切底被打胎切碎,任何人都没有能力挽救了。2007年,当时的国际法庭主席亲自宣布米先生的“反人类战争罪行”证据确凿。2010年,美国的“生命杂志”把米洛舍维奇列为全球最糟的独裁者之一,实至名归。

意想不到的事情来了。米洛舍维奇在2006年于荷兰监狱离奇死去之后11年,海牙法庭竟然静悄悄宣布米先生无辜。大魔头种族清洗这事情只不过误会一场,嘻嘻,大家当没有发生过便好了【链接】