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China bans our tech companies — America must return the ‘favor’

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China bans our tech companies — America must return the ‘favor’

The Chinese Communist Party just blocked another US social-media app — and the Biden administration must respond.

This time, the party’s target is Clubhouse, a voice-chat app that facilitates conversation rooms that users can freely pass between, listening or speaking. The app has surged in popularity since its March 2020 launch as lockdowns made people eager to embrace new ways of socializing.

Now it has fallen victim to Beijing’s allergy to anything resembling spontaneous civil society. Chinese-based users knew it was not a question of if but how soon the party would act. Still, the efficiency — the Feb. 8 ban came just days after Clubhouse began spreading in the Middle Kingdom — proved party censors are more vigilant than ever.

Communist apparatchiks clearly saw the live format and the size of virtual conversation rooms (up to 5,000) as a particular threat to “public security.” In the final 24 hours on the platforms, thousands of Chinese nationals discussed verboten topics like Taiwan’s status as a nation and Xinjiang concentration camps.

It’s too bad the lively exchanges among users in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland won’t continue. Worldlier types in large cities may pay $50 a month for a virtual private network to bypass the Great Firewall. But for most Chinese Internet users, Clubhouse is now yet another inaccessible foreign app.

America remains impotent in the face of such obvious bullying. US tech companies are shut out of the huge Chinese Internet market, and there is no meaningful demand for reciprocity. It’s too late now for Google, Twitter or Facebook to compete for China’s consumers. But that doesn’t mean the United States must bow down, accepting the one-sided economic relationship of the last three decades.

The party blocks and censors American social media and cultural exports to achieve its own political ends. The effect is to help Chinese companies and harm their US competitors, often our best companies with the greatest potential in China. The imbalance also grants the Chinese access to our data.

The unfairness runs deep. Chinese law requires that social-media firms register large groups of users with the state; foreign companies must store Chinese user data domestically, turning it over to authorities and reporting users as demanded. Even had Clubhouse paid the tremendous costs for compliance, a local competitor would soon dominate the Chinese market for voice-based social media.

The party believes, perhaps correctly, that foreign apps threaten stability and welcome social unrest. But the result is that Chinese tech giants have cover to create a Clubhouse competitor. Chinese firms can copy the outside world, innovate and compete against each other toward creating strong national champions.

Chinese micro-video firm TikTok grew strong domestically before gaining its hundreds of millions of global users, including 80 million in the United States. The Chinese voice social-media app could easily become bigger globally than the US version.

The eclipse of US tech as a result of Chinese trickery follows a long pattern. We already relinquished critical manufacturing, from steel to pharmaceuticals, and barely retain our lead in semiconductors and software. An app like Clubhouse blends tech, culture and branding. This type of soft-power advantage needs to be nourished, not allowed to go the way of our other China-ravaged industries.

President Biden correctly asserts that strengthening US economic foundations is the basis for a strong China policy and that the emphasis must be technology. He must insist that if China blocks our best companies, we have the full right to block theirs.

Ironically, the players China treats worst, the likes of Google and Facebook, also lobby to stop regulations that would prevent Chinese companies from exploiting our market. They cling to the fantasy that someday they will make it big in China.

Biden should ignore their counsel and abide by his goal of forming a coalition of allies to counter China’s bad practices. The message should be that Washington sets different standards for rule-of-law democracies than it does for a regime that disregards any semblance of fair play, prioritizing only its own internal stability and global rise.

This is about more than market share. It’s about security and the endurance of American power. In the age of artificial intelligence, data are gold. China hoards its own gold — and with its growing and underhanded tech dominance, Beijing increasingly owns our gold, too.

Supreme leader Xi Jinping knows what he’s doing. Does our new president?

Nels Frye writes from Boston.

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Opinion

Joe Biden is even more of a ‘master of disaster’ than Jimmy Carter

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Joe Biden is even more of a 'master of disaster' than Jimmy Carter

President Joe Biden entered office poised to oversee a record recovery and a return to the booming economy and all-round stability of pre-pandemic life. Instead, he’s turned out to be a master of disaster, with self-inflicted crises across the board threatening to set America back to the 1970s — with that era’s infamous “stagflation” as well as a foreign policy in flames.

When Biden took office in January, the nation was on the mend from a post-holiday surge in COVID cases and seeing a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccines produced at unprecedented speed and nearly a million jabs a day going into American arms. With the unemployment rate — 3.5 percent — at a five-decade low in February 2020, Biden inherited a strong pre-pandemic economy that was already bouncing back strong as the pandemic and lockdowns began to end.

President Donald Trump had also done him a favor at the southern border, getting what was once a real crisis under control by prioritizing strong border security, negotiating a Remain in Mexico policy that saw asylum-seekers await the conclusion of their cases outside the country and instituting a public-health order that kept migrants out while we focused on eradicating the virus.

Biden even looked set to negotiate more peace deals in the Middle East, building on Trump’s Abraham Accords, the first deals in decades between Arab nations and Israel.

But barely four months into his presidency, it’s disaster after disaster as Biden wastes every opportunity his predecessor left him.

US consumer confidence fell unexpectedly this month as rising prices, a hiring slowdown and energy uncertainty hit hard. On Friday, the University of Michigan said its Index of Consumer Sentiment declined to 82.8, from 88.3 in April. Economists had predicted it would rise to 90.4.

It wasn’t the first disappointment for prognosticators this month. Economists expected the country to tack on 1 million jobs in April after seeing gains of 770,000 in March. Instead, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported just 266,000, as the unemployment rate rose to 6.1 percent.

And then it announced that consumer prices rose 4.2 percent year-over-year in April — far worse than economists had predicted. It was the largest such jump since September 2008, when the financial crisis was at its height. Oh, and core inflation rose 0.8 percent from March to April, the biggest rise in nearly four decades.

You can thank Biden’s focus on expanding government at the expense of everyone else. Democrats (alone) passed his $1.9 trillion COVID “relief” bill — which had little to do with either — in March, as things were finally picking up. Throwing money into the economy without much consideration of its necessity directly led to the inflation we’re seeing now, with the money supply up by 25 percent over last year.

That “relief” bill also extended the $300 weekly federal unemployment supplement to Sept. 6, meaning nearly half of people getting checks make more by staying home than going back to work. Employers coast to coast have cited it as a reason they’re having trouble hiring.

Biden claims the jobs numbers show his two other big proposals ($5 trillion total for “infrastructure” and “families”) are desperately needed, but that “medicine” would mean more disasters, not least because they’re (partly) paid for via huge tax hikes on investments and business.

He’s also adding fear and gloom now, by refusing to rule out making his planned tax hikes retroactive.

Gas prices were already on the rise under Biden before the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline led to long lines at the pump. It now costs $1.05 more per gallon than it did a year ago. With Biden closing the Keystone XL Pipeline on his first day in office and generally vowing to wage war on all fossil fuels, it’s no wonder there’s uncertainty and higher prices.

Nowhere is the self-inflicted nature of Biden’s disasters more plain than on the border. He put a moratorium on deportations his first day in office and ended the Remain in Mexico program as well as all construction on any border barriers. Border apprehensions were at a 20-year high last month, but deportations were at a record monthly low.

And the feds have a record number of unaccompanied minors in custody — around 22,000 — because Biden ordered the public-health rule keeping migrants out to be lifted for solo kids.

Meanwhile, Hamas and its allies have gone on the attack against Israel, leaving it no choice but to defend itself. As Jonathan Schanzer notes, the Biden team’s drive to restore the Iran nuclear deal plainly inspired Tehran’s terrorist clients to start firing, even as it makes Israel less willing to listen to Washington’s efforts to broker a ceasefire.

It’s stunning how much success Biden has managed to reverse in not even four months. With long lines at the pump, slowing growth and rising inflation, it’s looking like the Jimmy Carter era — except that it took Carter years to produce the disasters that this president has fostered in scant months.

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Opinion

Attacking test-in schools is anti-Asian

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Attacking test-in schools is anti-Asian

On Wednesday, a handful of students — including a couple of Brooklyn Tech kids — demonstrated against the specialized high school entrance exam in front of Stuyvesant HS in Lower Manhattan. Teens Take Charge, the group sponsoring the event, chose Stuyvesant as the venue because it is 70 percent Asian and this year just eight black students did well enough on the test to win entry.

What made this affair sad, besides the low turnout, was that The New York Times and NY1 took the rally seriously — thinking this somehow represents a majority opinion. Democratic politicians also pretend that the existence of elite schools, and the tests required to enter them, is a problem. During Thursday’s mayoral debate, only Eric Adams and Kathryn Garcia (a Stuyvesant grad) stood up for the entrance exam.

The problem is not the test. It’s a sign of the larger problem of too many underperforming elementary and middle schools in our city — and the absence of Gifted & Talented classes — in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

The SHSAT is a color-blind admissions test where neither political influence nor money can buy entrance. For over 80 years, these schools have offered advancement to all through a high-quality, merit-driven education.

Remarkably, many of the same voices decrying the surge in anti-Asian assaults as the product of “systemic racism” also denounce a race-blind exam that happens to lead to elite high schools being predominantly Asian high schools, even suggesting that this, too, is somehow the product of (extremely well-hidden?) racism.

Dropping admission standards for the specialized high schools means sending in students who aren’t prepared for the rigorous workload, which helps no one and robs others of the challenging education they’ve earned. It’s the pursuit of “equity” at the expense of justice and excellence.

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Opinion

Letters to the Editor — May 16, 2021

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Letters to the Editor — May 16, 2021

End tribalism

Thank you to Ayaan Hirsi Ali (“The tyranny of tribalism,” May 12) for an amazing article about what is happening in America today. It’s a unique look at the old “divide and conquer” issues that have plagued Ali’s native country of Somalia, and are now plaguing America.

There is no longer freedom of speech because you are judged, called names and even canceled if you do not agree with another person’s narrative.

Our country is not perfect, and we’ve certainly have come a long way over the past century. But in the past eight years, it feels like we have stepped back in time, and our politicians and the media are turning our countrymen against each other more and more.

If we do not learn from the past, our failures or the failures of other countries, then what hope do we have?

Gina Beckmann
Salt Point

History’s heroes

Sohrab Ahmari’s column at first seemed to be another lament about “wokeness” (“Wisdom of Ages,” PostOpinion, May 10).

It was so much more. Telling Saint Maximilian Kolbe’s story of heroism transcends the loud voices of the crowd and speaks to a way of living a truly free life.

As he says, “Freedom meant choosing what one ought to do.”

We need to tell these human stories over and over to our children, so they can understand what takes a lifetime to understand, not erase them.

Jayne Lee
Rockway

Cop’s tot save

Bravo to Police Officer Alyssa Vogel for her heroic actions in rushing a wounded child out of harms way and to medical attention (“Hero cop’s assurance,” May 10).

Kudos also to the NYPD and Florida police for catching the suspect. It’s a desperately needed reminder of what police here and throughout the country face daily, and another stark example of how the vast majority of officers handle dangerous situations bravely and effectively.

Conspicuously absent are the usual tweets from the usual suspects decrying police actions. Right-minded people of all stripes need to push back against the selective outrage that fuels the anti-police rhetoric that endangers all of us.

David Perez
Brooklyn

Economy truths

Two of the primary rules in economics are that people act in their own self-interest and they respond to incentives (“Biden’s relief doesn’t ‘work,’ ” Charles Gasparino, May 8).

President Biden’s “stimulus” has created incentives that result in people not wanting to seek work. It’s in their self-interest to stay home because their compensation is on par with what it would be if they went out to work.

Democrats are creating an economy where government drives the market, and that is a recipe for disaster. History is loaded with failed societies where the collective made decisions at the expense of the individual.

When Biden says: “The economy is on the right track,” it just exposes his ignorance of basic economics.

Peter Kelly
Hazlet, NJ

Mother madness

As I read Matthew Walther’s column on mothers now being called “birthing people,” I shudder to think what’s next in the name of “political correctness” (“The Mother of All PC,” PostOpinion, May 12).

Will I be celebrating “sperm donor day” next month with my children? We all need to speak up and stop the madness before all traditions are canceled.

Lou Aiani
Staten Island

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