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."]