03 December 2014

Puerto Rico As A Province Of China: An Extended Look With Captain High

From a recent post in which I suggested that Puerto Rico should become a province of China came some comments made by Captain High. In the exchange the good Captain brought up some questions and points that merited a more thoughtful set of responses than the space allotted by Blogger. So I moved the salient section here, with Captain High's comments in bold and Mine in some combination that the NSA probably thinks is a code.


a) What is the draw for China?
Making Puerto Rico their new province means acquiring territory that combines an economic advantage (to be determined, but largely based on privileged access to the U.S. of part of A. economy) and a political thumb in the eye of that same rival.

b) More importantly, how do you suppose that this state of affairs would come to be a reality? Do you believe, for example, that the United States would really allow China to just have it? What of the military relevance the island holds? It seems unlikely that the US would be inclined to give that up, and that might be the only reason why China could want the island (I am still unclear as to what attraction Puerto Rico holds for China).
First things first: why would China want Us? The simplest answer: We are an import-dependent economy with pretty much a single-source supplier. Even with a recession, We are the 4th largest buyer of the U.S. of part of A. and We have been for a long time. And We've shown, for a long time, that We don't care that Our economy is handcuffed and hobbled so long as We get easy credit and layaway terms. If you think about it, all China would be doing is cutting out the middlemen and selling directly to Us.

Along those lines, one thing people don't understand about China is that they have been practitioners of capitalism for barely 30 years. Their culture does not have several centuries of market-based activities, so any chance Chinese businessmen can find that lets them (a) exploit a well-defined market and (b) learn to identify, enter and exploit other markets, is great.

The Chinese mentality is not that of daring leaps of imagination, but of rational increments. Puerto Rico would represent a rational increment, easily-controlled (We have been for 5 centuries, except for one day when We actually rose up and took arms in Lares and...No, that was nothing more than a tiny whisper-fart in a 500+-year windstorm), a captive market that would allow for great cash infusions once the sucking sound of U.S. of part of A. companies finish making their moves off-island and one whose highly-educated, bicultural people can serve as "faces" for Chinese interests in the New World. Are the advantages clear? Maybe not, but they certainly aren't much more obscure than those of being a screwed-up colony in the 21st century.

Now, how would this come about in reality? Although China could inquire about absorbing Us into their geopolitical sphere, like a neighbor asking about a lawn mower, but that has a 0.01% probability. The other option is We ask China if they're interested. We ask politely, formally and make sure the whole fucking world finds out within 12 hours of China receiving the inquiry. We tell them that the broadcasting of Our inquiry is not to pressure them (they won't believe Us), but to make the U.S of part of A. stop and take a good hard look at Us (they'll believe that.)

Here's the kicker: what the hell can the U.S. of part of A. do about it? Yeah, the options are plenty, but they boil down to just two angles: (1) let it happen and see where the chips fall or (2) step in and intercede...thus proving that We really have no self-determination, i.e., We're just their fucking and fucked colony.

Think about it. No matter who We petition, any obstructive response by the U.S. of part of A. will clearly define just how much "freedom" We have. Now Uncle Sam has a long, very long, history of being an obnoxious busybody jamming his nose in where it doesn't belong, and in Our case, the temptation to do so will overwhelm rationality. The best response would be to let Our petition slide by, unremarked, and back-door a response to China in 4 pages of ambassador-speak that boils down to "No way, but with the right offer..."

And why would the U.S. of part of A. entertain "an offer"? Why not? Since 1898, no territory on the continent or off of it has ever waited 116 years (and counting...to infinity) for statehood. Hell, it took the Oklahoma Territory until 1907 only because it was given as a sop to Native Americans and when Congress got tired of that charade, they scattered the remaining tribes someplace else. Statehood for Puerto Rico is as likely as smoking being the only cure for cancer. 

I once said Cuba had a better chance of becoming a state (closer to the mainland, larger than PR, still has exploitable resources, slaps communism down and many stateside Cubans are wealthy businesspeople) and now I'd toss in Panama, too (the Canal and its shipping-crucial access). Puerto Rico no longer has any military value in this age of 2,000-mile ranged missiles, drones and subs that can circle the planet without coming up for anything. Would it be a threat to the U,S, of part of A. to have a Chinese province in the Caribbean? Yeah, but so fucking what? They've had a Communist island-nation barely 100 miles away since 1959, so yeah, they can get over it.

Once again, We're back to why China would want Us. Here's My final point on this: We won't know unless We ask. Like many great deals, this one could come about from imagination, seizing opportunity or sheer chutzpah.

Then there is this: al jazeera article.
Al-Jazeera loves to pretend objectivity while slashing away with hidden agenda razors. As with Our media, both gringa and boricua, I take the "Uh-huh, Let's see what unfurls" stance. The article is not bad, it's just not good enough to be truly useful.

Tourism? Maybe, if Puerto Rico could - in terms of land mass - sustain it, it would be more along the lines of creating jobs for the Chinese migrants to take.
So? It would mean an influx of people who want build a new life/career on Our soil, bolstered by Chinese investment, with a common goal of making Our island better. What's the downside? That We'd have to learn Chinese? Puh-lease. We haven't learned English in 116 years (and counting), so My over/under on Chinese is in the 4-digit range.
Immigration is one of the few truly productive economic forces, provided the process is largely even-handed. We're losing folks at a rate of some 260,000 a year, many of them well-prepared and capable. It would be nice to turn that outflow around, even if the inflow is just "filling gaps," a notion that makes enormous sense for a culture that currently has one way into PR: working as an indentured employee in Our version of Chinese restaurants.

There must be hundreds of thousands of Chinese who would love a chance to make a new life for themselves and their families, away from the regimented policies of their home districts, but still within a disciplined system. And as for taking jobs away from Us, puh-lease. We're too bumfuck lazy and coddled to pick coffee or clean streets or do heavy manual labor because, you know, We're boricuas pa' que tú lo sepas. The Chinese wouldn't be "stealing" jobs: they'd be doing the jobs My Brethren think are beneath them. That's called "the immigrant experience" and it has happened for centuries around the world.

The hidden part in all this: the Chinese will eventually force Us to work harder and better, because they play a long game and We don't. It's only a matter of time before their vision starts pushing Us aside. Is this a bad thing? No. Since We haven't learned that We can do things on Our own without sucking on Uncle Sam's dic--tatorial fiats, We'll have to learn to do it by watching the Chinese come here, learn Our ways and beat Us on Our own playing field. They've already done a good job with eateries: I'm betting they can teach Us a lot more.

About My original tourism point, We're no longer the #1 U.S. of part of A. tourism destination in the Caribbean. We have the potential to receive about 9 million tourists a year and We're barely in the 3.8 million visitor range (the Dominican Republic gets more European tourists than We get total tourists). The thing is, a large chunk of gringos are just passing through to what they think are more interesting destinations. Can We get 3 million Chinese to drop in every year, as a start? Just 3 million from a "market" that's probably in the 275-350 million range...and growing? Shit, even Our feckless hyena horde of a government can set something up that can manage those paltry numbers. Then the Chinese come in, play their game and ramp it up to world-class status in a decade. Economic progress ensues.

And you can not forget to note that although they have invested money into Africa, they did not actually colonize it (or express an interest in doing so). For lack of need, want or capacity...
I haven't forgotten that. What the Chinese have done with this general policy is three-fold: (1) Provide financing where Western nations/institutions have refused; (2) Secured strong(er) positions on key resources, and (3) Provided an outlet for Chinese rural workers unable to participate in their country's growing but still localized (urban) economy.

Many of China's investments in Africa have been of the "We'll do everything" type, from financing to workers, support crews, shipping and logistics. When finished, they leave. The reasons range from practical and economical to political and cultural, but a key point is: none of the African countries they have invested in is truly stable. That's why they were able to get in in the first place, but that's a good reason to stay out afterwards.

Puerto Rico is not Africa, or at least, not like post-colonial African countries in strife. We're a colony, but We have an economic and political stability that matches that of South Africa, for example. If the Chinese could find a way to invest strongly in South Africa, they would jump at it, for an opportunity like that combines stability and safety. Puerto Rico would represent a stable and safe investment environment, modeled on U.S. of part of A. practices, thus allowing a new way of exploring business options within the largest export market China has (single nation, as the European Union is larger).

It is nice to entertain possibilities, but at the end of the day you need to be realistic about what is probable.
Here's the thing, Cap: I am being realistic. Very much so. At the risk of beating the dusty remains of a dead horse: statehood for Puerto Rico is not going to happen, ever. Ever. Period.

Here's another stark reality: Our "Let them make the choice" attitude is fucking stupid. "They" don't want to choose, don't care to choose, can't be bothered to even think about choosing what Our new status should be.

One more: Our idea that We can force them to change Our status is even more fucking stupid. They hold almost all the cards and they know it. They also have the wallet that too many of My Brethren worship. "Force" them? Yeah, that's like tugging a warship with a wet noodle.

Another one: We don't believe We can go it alone. No: We are terrified of even trying to go it alone. Like children, We romp and prance and pretend, but when it comes time to act like an adult and take on the risks and responsibilities thereof, We hide beneath Uncle Sam's skirt or bury Our faces in Our hands. That's fucking pathetic, but it's reality, pure and simple.

So what's left, Captain? The U.S. of part of A. doesn't want Us in their over-valued republic, We don't want to take Our rightful place as a nation on the world stage and We are nothing but a fucking and fucked colony. What's left is to make Our decision and find another partner/owner, because nothing more will satisfy Us. That means We hitch Our little wagon behind some other horse's ass, but choosing one that at least feels happier about Our load.



Yes, We could petition Spain, again, but have you seen their economy? How about Germany, the banker of Europe? But have you seen their investment policies in foreign economies? Japan was once an expansive economic powerhouse and that was the first choice of this idea back in the 1980s. (Yes, the 1980s.) Now Japan is a shell and they need immigrants, not the other way around.

Go ahead: pick an economy somewhere in the world and compare it to China. Because that's what it boils down to: economics. My Brethren have always based their votes on their wallets and purses and live in the fantasy world of political bullshit that promises many rich trappings and delivers mainly bitch slappings.

Realistic? I'm all over realistic. It's the rest of Us that are tripeando con kechup.



The Jenius Has Spoken.


P.S. - Doing research after writing this post--I am a Jenius, you know--I encountered this Mike Robles post hinting that the U.S. of part of A.holds  on to Us to avoid massive China investment here. His angle is more "shot in the dark" witty than "pie in the sky" solution, but it has its own charm. And I borrowed the dual flag pin above from his site, so thanks, Mike.

[Update: 6 December 2014: Hey, gringos, wake the hell up! "The Chinese economy just overtook the United States economy to become the largest in the world. For the first time since Ulysses S. Grant was president, America is no longer the leading economic power on the planet."]

15 comments:

Nelson said...

I enjoyed this post.

I remember back in 2006 on several occasions I told people that the Puerto Rican government should really stick it to the U.S. government and formally ask the Chinese to invest in the island.

And like in so many other times I was called a nutcase.

I am certainly not a nutcase, but delusional? yes, when did the Puert Rican government really do much good? or great?

When the elites in Ecuador were asking for president Correa's head for making deals with China he asked "if Chinese investments are good for the U.S. why are they evil for Ecuador?" (I paraphrased)

In the end not much is going to get Puerto Rico's economy going or even the U.S. economy. The Fascist/Socialist mentality has to die first and that isn't happening and I see a collapse in the near future.

Captain High said...

Hey there,

Thank you for your thoughtful and in-depth reply. I need to think about what you have said, but I will get back to you, rest assured.

Right now, I wanted to ask you about something else that I have been thinking about for a couple of months.

Are you familiar with the song 'Brimful of Asha' by Conershop? It was a really big hit in the late 90s. I recently read an article/essay (here) about its meaning, and had previously taken much interest in the history of India.

What I was wondering is if you think that a similar sort of attitude is present amongst the Puerto Rican people?

Particularly in lines such as 'we don’t care about no government warning, about the promotion of the simple life and the dams they are building' and the whole idea of escaping reality through the enjoyment of Bollywood (substitute for, perhaps, salsa - more lately Reggaeton? - and mass consumerism). 'Simple life' in this case, for me at least, might be juxtaposed with the ever-enduring Jíbaro.

I could be entirely off base, but it would be interesting to hear what you think.

I will respond to your actual post soon-ish.

P.S. if you would like to hear the song and have not, it is here ('Crimson and Clover' by TJ and the Shondells / 'Sweet Jane' by VU chords, of course!).

Gil C. Schmidt said...

Captain, I look forward to your remarks and insights. I'll also listen to the song and give that some thought.

Nelson, you ain't a nutcase: you are simply accepting reality. Sadly, that makes you an oddball amongst My Brethren. Sigh.

Captain High said...

Hello,

Sorry for the delay in my reply, it was longer than I had intended. Largely because after thinking about what you said, I decided I should do some further research (yes, I am that genuinely curious about all of this).

As I am capable of understanding it so far, China has been involved with Latin America like this since the 1980s (according to this book). Knowing that, I can understand much better, at the basic level, why you are proposing this possibility.

I know that I asked you what China would get out of such an arrangement, but it is still interesting that the majority of your reasons generally give the expression of further exploitation. Is that the right price for acquiring a healthy economy? It also seems, from what meager research I have done in this short time, that although it is of initial benefit to [ Latin American country of choice here ] to begin such a relationship with China, there are concerns regarding the sustainability of it. I believe it was in that book I referenced above, that they said that the LAC's GDP is increasing, but at a much lower rate than China's. To quote: 'Will China's extraordinary growth spill over to LAC, or will China attract investment and trade that will divert from LAC?' Is that not what is happening (or has happened) in Puerto Rico, with all of these American companies?

Although it is true that technology has rendered the need for strategic bases less necessary, I can not bring myself to believe that the United States would be inclined to give the island away like that. In spite of the technology (which you know does sometimes fail us), just having this land and these bases on that land is an advantage, whether it is used for the purpose or not. Furthermore, what it really comes down to is that Puerto Rico belongs to the United States. That basically says, to me, that it is off-limits.

Suppose a request of this sort was put in to China: as you say, there are two different things that might occur. Let it happen or intercede. I can not say to what extent the United States is concerned with perpetuating this idea of self-determination, but whatever the reason, I really have trouble believing that China would find it worth their while (right now, at this juncture in history) to tangle with the United States over Puerto Rico. There are so many other countries that would entail much less effort to begin a relationship of this sort with. Are the reasons you provided, outlining what Puerto Rico’s attraction for China would be, compelling enough from China’s perspective?

Al Jazeera suffers from bias, like all news, but it is better than its counterparts.

How about racism? When I was talking about the Chinese migrants taking work in Puerto Rico, it was not so much about the actual 'loss' of jobs to Puerto Ricans. As you implied they do not want to work, the actuality would not be the problem. The problem would be the introduction of another people, who can be viewed as inferior, for whatever reason. As I understand it, Puerto Rico is rife with racist attitude (is this true?), and this might make things worse for some time, for a lot of people.

More interesting destinations than Puerto Rico? No, unthinkable. These tourists could do with reading some more books.

Perhaps it could be argued that, in the tradition of their incremental protocol, the Chinese are slowly colonizing the entire earth. All over the world they send their people to work, and those people then send the money that they earn back to China.

I've come to conclude that what you say is a possibility, but not right now. More importantly, is that really the path that Puerto Rico should take, if the time were right? The line is fine between could and should.

Whatever the case, it depends heavily on how the future transpires.

Captain High said...

Hello,

Just an update on a previous exchange we had: I ordered a copy of 'When I was Puerto Rican' almost three weeks ago and it has finally arrived. I am presently reading 'Geografía de Puerto Rico' by Rafel Picó and have many others ('The Puerto Rican Movement', 'None of the Above', 'Military Power and Popular Protest' and 'Imagined Commmunities' to list very few of them) but I should have it read before February and I will tell you what I think.

On a slightly related note, do you know very much about Rafael Picó-Santana? I am thinking that there is very little question that he is the same Rafael Picó whom authored the book I am currently reading, but do you know if this is the case? Either way, I would like to know more about the Muñoz-Marín identified Picó-Santana. If you could send me in the right direction, I would greatly appreciate that (wikipedia is almost useless).

Gracias, y feliz navidad. :)

Captain High said...

Hola Gil,

No hay pregunta que Rafael Picó, el autora del 'Geografía de Puerto Rico' es lo mismo Muñoz-Marín identificado uno. Para citar: 'the planning board studied and projected in broad terms the island's economy and social developement (I was the first chairman, 1942-1955)' (chapter 14, pg. 297).

Other indications include his self-professed keenness on business-related tax exemption (Muñoz-Marín blah blah blah), Picó a Statehooder and all that. I am still very interested in more information about him, if you would happen to know where I could acquire it.

Ay, lo siento mucho por mi pésimo español, estoy aprendiendo y experimentando en usted. ;)

¡Feliz año nuevo!

Captain High said...

Hello,

I am back. I have read 'When I was Puerto Rican' and it was enjoyable. I learned the supposed origin of the term 'spic' and other cultural bits of relevance (foodstuffs, in particular). Thanks again for suggesting it.

Returning to the Chinese proposal, I recently (that is to say, less than one hour ago) read about the early anarchist movement in Puerto Rico. Are you familiar with the shenanigans of Santiago Iglesias-Pantín? I assume you are. He seems to me as mixed up as Albizu-Campos was, if that is at all possible. At any rate, there appears to have been a strong anarcho-communist vibe happening around that time (early 1900s), and in particular with one, Alfonso Torres (writer of something called '¡Solidaridad!'). Torres apparently believed that the AFL would be the gateway to communism in Puerto Rico, I assume with regard to its FLT affiliation. This is funny as the AFL would, no doubt, be very anti-communist.

Is there much (or any) communist activity in the island these days? If so, perhaps appealing to your camaradas comunistas could be a manner in which to get the ball rolling with the Chinese takeover? There again, perhaps not if they are half-decent communists, since China seems to be pretending communism, while very seriously endeavoring in capitalism.

What can you do?

Captain High said...

Hola, ¿cómo estás?

Did you ever wonder why Scotland had not attempted for independence during the eighteenth century? I did not, but once the thought was put to me I was naturally inclined to think: Canada (a Scottish invention since 1867). They had no real desire until the Nineteenth century, and then no real need, per se, as they just appropriated Canada. Why not the Puerto Ricans do the same with America?

In all seriousness, though, I wanted to ask if any body has outright asked Juan Everybody what his ideal PR would entail? How can you solve a problem that you cannot define, prioritorily? (My conjugations are worse in English than Spanish, if you can believe it.) If it has not been done, I am planning a grand social experiment to contribute to the dialogue. I would graciously request your help, Señor Gil. Unless you think it's a waste of time. But in that case, shame on your cynicism! (Or is that 'I shit on your mother's cynicism'?)

Please get back to me. Gracia.

Captain High said...

Hey hey hey Gil,

It has been a while. I think I may have offended you, although I am not sure. Just wanted to clear the air and say that it was not my intention and so if that was the result, I sincerely apologize.

What I am actually hear to tell you about is The United States of Banana by Giannina Braschi. I am reading this, and on page 95, I encountered something that made me think of you, of this post:

I am prophetic, revolutionary, and apocalyptic. I'm afraid the United States of Banana will end up like Hamlet at the end of the play--bodies everywhere--the king, the queen, Hamlet, Laertes, Ophelia, Polonius--all dead. Then Fortrinbras enters. He didn't do anything to deserve the kingdom--it comes to him like a coup de grâce. Right now Fortinbras seems to me to have Chinese eyes. China could end up with everything--because it's not warring--but quietly building alliances--while the United States is walking like a chicken with its head cut off. Let me find that chicken head--here--at home--here in America--here--where my friend Rubén Darío says: If Segismundo grieves, Hamlet feels it.

So, there is yet another individual, albeit not favorably disposed, to the possibility of China. Scary business!

Gil C. Schmidt said...

Oh no, Captain, you haven't offended me at all. I've been focused on other matters and failed to follow up here with you.

What with the ongoing meltdown of the Chinese stock market (and think about how weird, how utterly weird, that sounds), We might not have as big a chance as before to grab a bundle of free-floating yuan-turned-dollars.

We'll see. Funny how money to pay Our bondholder debt appeared when it absolutely had to, which goes to show that only way to really deal with thieves is to threaten them with being denied any future chance of thievery.

I owe you feedback on the whole "China province with sabor boricua" scenario and about Puerto Rican novels, of which there is either very little to talk about or nothing worth mentioning.

Thanks for dropping in!

Captain High said...

Hey Gil, sorry for the late reply. I am relieved that you are not offended.

With regards to feedback owed, I was wondering, ¿puede ponerme al tanto sobre la vida cotidiana? For example, I have read that water is off for two days, on for one. However, in another case I read that it is off for five days at a time. Does it depend on the area? What about stores (however many are still in business, at any rate) are there products on the shelves?

Are you personally experiencing a shortage of water and/or perhaps other things that I had not considered or read about?

It' is absurd that none of this seems to matter to anybody.

It is extremely heartbreaking.

Thanks.

David said...

Please Jenius, come back. It's already such an arroz con culo and we're still one year away from the November circus.

Alex Vargas said...


For many many years I would tell the family back in the Island about what happend to Hawaii and how the it's native population lost there Islands and how they hold the worst of jobs on the Islands.And that the same thing would happen there in Puerto Rico. I forsaw this back in the late 70's . I told them over the years how they where voting in a bunch of Italian gangters . Just read their last names (Governers that is) and make your own assumptions . Yeah as I did some research I found mafia links in the goverment. But it dosent matter anymore . I lost my Island a long time ago and my sheeple , sorry I meant people . Are a bunch of idiots that if it wasen't for the fact that they can cook. One could swear that your dealing with a missing link type of biologic.
I was told back then that i didnt know what I was talking about and was ridiculed.
I do love my Island and it's inhabitants but since thats what they wanted. All I could say is. FUCK EM.

Anonymous said...

I dreamed that China asked the US to pay their debt and they gave the island away as payment. The Chinese handcuffed and slaved the puertoricans and made them work until the last dime of the US debt was paid. They took all their houses and properties and changed the language. Yes, it is possible, but not for the benefit of the island.

Gil C. Schmidt said...

Nice dream. So you think that China would take advantage of Us, treat Us like chattel and drain Us of money? Like that isn't happening now?

Seems to Me that your dream is that things won't change rather than that China will Yank-ee Us around. But China would have beaucoup incentives to treat Us right (I've written over 2,400 words to that effect so I won't go into it here) and We need a change like Donald Strumpet needs a makeover. Rejecting an idea based on a dream is short-sighted at best: what We need is to build Our dreams, and since We as Puerto Ricans are too damn cowardly to do it on Our own, the option is to find a new imperial power who actually wants Us rather than stay with the one that has made it oh-so-very-clear that they don't want Us except as cash cows. To stay as We are is a living nightmare.