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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

Letters to the Editor — Feb. 26, 2021

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Letters to the Editor — Feb. 26, 2021

The Issue: The accusation by a former aide of Gov. Cuomo that he sexually harassed her on the job.

When it rains it pours, especially for Gov. Cuomo. Already on the hot seat for hiding the true number of CO­VID-related deaths in nursing homes, now he is accused by a former aide of sexual harassment (“Cuomo’s a pig,” Feb. 25).

The details already released are pretty bad. This could be the beginning of the end for him. He has, in essence, abused the power of his position to a great extent.

It’s about time he meets his fate in a courtroom. It seems like every day a new, ugly truth is revealed about him, so let justice be handed down against him to the fullest extent of the law.

Joseph V. Comperchio, Brooklyn

Obviously, Cuomo did not heed the adage that you shouldn’t throw stones if you live in a glass house.

He conducted a virulent campaign against former President Donald Trump, accusing him of being egotistical, autocratic, a sexual predator, a vindictive bully and, of course, a liar.

Now it seems the chickens are coming home to roost for Cuomo, and not a moment too soon.

Frank Brady, Yonkers

Cuomo is in deep doo-doo now. His directive caused the deaths of thousands of people in nursing homes. He’s been dancing around it, pointing fingers at others, and he may never answer for it.

But now a former aide has accused him of giving her an unwanted kiss on the lips — without warning. And that may be the end of him. It could be the first snowflake in an avalanche of accusations.

One scandal should have caused handcuffs to be slapped on him, and the other should have caused a solid slap in the face from an aide.

James Grant

Massapequa

Score one for Mayor de Blasio, a fellow Democrat in the moral minority, who is calling for an independent probe of the sexual-misconduct allegations against Cuomo.

Although I find it discouraging that the left-wing media is turning a blind eye to Cuomo’s harassment charges and liberal women leaders are not demanding that aide Lindsey Boylan has a right to be listened to.

It was a different story when allegations were made against now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Trump.

The American people have a right to know the full story — not the cherry-picked version that the media chooses to report.

JoAnn Lee Frank

Clearwater, Fla.

The most revealing part of this “Cuomo is a pig” story is the hypocritical silence from the former loudmouths of the now-forgotten “Me, Too” movement.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that Harvey Weinstein was the most evil person on the planet? And Hollywood turned into judge and jury for the despicable Kevin Spacey?

Impeach this creep, now.

Joe Nugent

Staten Island

After causing the deaths of thousands of the elderly and trying to blackmail people into silence, we now find out Cuomo is also an accused sexual predator.

Using his power to allegedly maul a woman shows what a low-life he really is. Why isn’t his brother reporting on this?

Too bad New Yorkers don’t have the guts or brains to remove him from office. Maybe then they could save their state.

Storm Destro

Bayonne, NJ

Lord Cuomo has been exposed for the corrupt bully that he is. It’s time to stop talking and start taking action.

We need to start the impeachment process immediately to have him removed from office so he cannot do any more damage to the great state of New York.

Gene O’Brien

Whitestone

Now that Cuomo has allegedly done some very bad things that brought dishonor to his last name, it might be time to remove the Cuomo name from the Tappan Zee Bridge, which spans the Hudson River.

The “Mario Cuomo Bridge” never sounded right anyway.

John Kirkwood

Westwood, NJ

Want to weigh in on today’s stories? Send your thoughts (along with your full name and city of residence) to [email protected]. Letters are subject to editing for clarity, length, accuracy and style.

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De Blasio’s lame recovery plan won’t end NYC’s Ghost Town

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De Blasio's lame recovery plan won't end NYC's Ghost Town

Almost a year into Gotham’s devastating lockdown, Mayor de Blasio has announced the appointment of former school-construction chief Lorraine Grillo as “recovery czar” to, in his words, “super-charge” an economic recovery. 

But a close look at the mayor’s sad, thin recovery plan belies his commitment to the future of New York City as a locus of growth and opportunity — which it must once more be if the desolate ghost-town effect is to disappear.

In his news conference announcing Grillo’s new role, Hizzoner proclaimed the “incredible” news that the city would extend its contract with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to manage Kennedy airport. The contract, set to expire in 2050, will now run through 2060. This “great plan,” says de Blasio, means that “a lot of the money from JFK will go to minority and women-owned businesses. A lot of the hiring will be from the surrounding neighborhoods in Southeast Queens.” 

Indeed, people in Jamaica will continue to work at the airport, as they always have, and the renovation of terminals, runways and parking lots will surely involve the hiring of local labor, too. But so what? It’s not like de Blasio was going to take over the largest airport in the Northeast when he can’t even able to figure out a way to assume management of two Central Park ice rinks from Donald Trump. The mayor’s role in determining what happens on Port Authority property is miniscule. 

It’s a sign of how unserious de Blasio is about economic recovery that he celebrates the planned return of the city’s 330,000 municipal employees to their offices. City workers have been held “harmless” throughout the pandemic, even while many of them have had little, if anything, to do. Been to a library lately? It’s fine that they will finally be getting back to work, but only in de Blasio’s fantasies do government employees represent economic vitality. 

The key to de Blasio’s economic-development strategy is to leverage Gotham’s newfound expertise with contagious disease to make it the “public-health capital of the world.” Central to this vision is a plan to rename First Avenue, with its many hospitals and labs, “LifeSci Avenue.” This moniker may not have the romance or elan of “Museum Mile” or even “Avenue of the Americas” — but you have to give the mayor credit for trying. 

The problem is that the United States already has two cities that are “public-health capitals,” namely Atlanta and Bethesda, the homes of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, respectively. Public health — as in, tracking seasonal influenza outbreaks—is important but not very profitable, which is why the federal government manages it.

Assuming that because the Big Apple was slammed by COVID we should now go into the pandemic business is a bad joke. It’s like telling Flint, Mich., to start a new company to compete with Pür water filters. 

De Blasio also wants to hire 10,000 temporary workers for a “City Cleanup Corps” to beautify the city by removing the graffiti that has steadily taken over New York’s streets and even subway cars. Of course, it was just last July when de Blasio suspended the popular and successful Graffiti-Free NYC program, after which the scourge of graffiti really exploded. The NYPD has substantially cut back vandalism-related arrests, too. So there’s another formula for economic rebirth: encourage filth and then hire the unemployed to clean it up. 

The mayor also plans to make the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, a city-funded boondoggle his wife nominally runs, a permanent office of city government. The taskforce will help “identify areas of structural racism in New York City” and “root out this systemic rot.”  

None of that will revivify a dead Midtown. Instead, de Blasio, as usual, wants to “tax the wealthy and redistribute wealth.”

Taxing billionaires to plump up social services has been an enduring strategy for the city’s political class for a long time, but it only works as long as the goose doesn’t mind waiting around to be plucked. But raising taxes isn’t a plan for growth and will only hasten the accelerating departure of rich New Yorkers for sunnier climes. 

Memo to the mayor: Reviving New York City’s stalled economy will take more than slowly bringing municipal clerks back to their desks. 

Seth Barron is managing editor of The American Mind and ­author of the forthcoming book “The Last Days of New York.”

Twitter: @SethBarronNYC

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Lockdowns don’t work and other commentary

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Lockdowns don't work and other commentary

Libertarian: Lockdowns Don’t Work

“Despite the stark difference in policy,” America and Britain “saw remarkably similar COVID-19 trends this winter,” Reason’s Jacob Sullum points out. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s lockdown “closed most businesses” and required everyone without a “reasonable excuse” to stay home. Britain’s “seven-day average of new cases peaked” Jan. 9, while America’s peaked Jan. 11; cases then “fell sharply in both countries.” The same story of “starkly different policies and similar outcomes” appears in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed a lockdown, and Texas, which “remained largely open.” The two states have had “almost the same drop” in cases: 85 percent and 81 percent. And California’s infection rate tripled in December and January while Texas’ doubled. Lockdowns, with their “economic and social costs,” simply weren’t “necessary to bring case numbers back down.”

Ex-hostage: What I Learned in an Iranian Prison

At The Wall Street Journal, Wang Xiyue recalls his shock at being ­arrested in Iran in 2016 “on false espionage charges,” even though the ­nuclear deal had been implemented and it seemed to be “a period of rapprochement between the US and Iran.” He had thought doing research there would be safe, since his professors stressed that Tehran’s hostility was exaggerated, stemming largely from the bad behavior toward it by the West, “particularly” America. Yet his 40-month captivity gave him an “intense re-education”: The regime’s hostility “isn’t reactive, but proactive”; the “menace of Iran can’t be appeased” but “must be countered and restrained.” And “only by showing strength of will can President Biden hope for genuine progress in containing the Iranian threat to peace.”

Iconoclast: America’s Real Divide

America is supposedly divided along race and gender lines — yet, ­observes Joel Kotkin at The American Mind, the conflict might really be between those who primarily make a living manipulating “incorporeal” information and those who toil in the “tangible world of making, growing and using real things.” President Biden’s campaign was propelled by the incorporeal class — and so far, he has mainly delivered for its members, with anti-industrial climate plans and sops to the woke. Yet “it’s unlikely” that the heartland’s oil riggers, welders, haulers and machine-tool operators will be “too thrilled” by Team Biden’s promise of “green jobs.” Worse, Biden’s folks “must address the fact that the key Democratic base — the big coastal core urban areas — has been fundamentally undermined by the pandemic, last summer’s disorders and a steady rise in crime.”

Conservative: Fauci’s No Shaman

President Biden’s chief pandemic adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, “is a bureaucrat,” National Review’s David Harsanyi ­declares, “not our parent, or our personal physician, or a shaman, or our life coach.” Yet Democrats and media elites treat him as all that and more — including by unquestioningly accepting his calls for harsh lockdowns and a “unified approach” to the pandemic. Yet “the Fauci approach” is basically “an Andrew Cuomo approach”: “centralized,” devastating to the economy and to individual rights — and far from effective. And don’t forget Fauci’s early ­anti-mask guidance and “praise for the Chicoms’ lackeys at the World Health Organization.” Bottom line: “The press should never have canonized Fauci.”

Defense beat: China’s Hidden Weakness

At The Hill, Susan Yoshihara flags an overlooked but huge problem for Beijing’s ambitions: Thanks to decades of state-ordered population control under the harsh one-child mandate, “China’s downward human spiral is ­accelerating.” That’s “on top of nearly a decade of contraction in working-age Chinese citizens.” As a result, “China’s main state pension fund and ­urban-worker pension fund are projected to run out of money by 2035.” In the short term, the population drop helps explain Beijing’s aggression from Tibet to Taiwan and the South China Sea, as well as its genocide of the ­Uighur minority: It sees “closing windows of opportunity to resolve manpower-intensive security disputes before losing its robust working-age population.” Longer term, America “should be thinking about exploiting China’s strategic weaknesses.”

— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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