March 29, 2014

The Chinese military-disco complex

In recent years, the government of China has been announcing large increases in military spending (although they usually don't wind up spending all they announced).

Back in 2000, there was a horrific disco fire in China with 309 people dying in a nightclub with safety violations. I vaguely recall an NPR segment explaining that fire codes weren’t enforced on discos because all the discos in China at that time were owned by the People’s Liberation Army. So, fire inspectors, lacking main battle tanks, were outgunned in confrontations with disco-owning generals.

I haven’t been following the Chinese military-disco complex since then, but has there been a cultural revolution in the military in which China’s best young men join today because they want to defeat America in battle or are they still getting the kind of recruits who see the military as the best route to becoming a nightclub owner?
    

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://thediplomat.com/2014/01/chinas-deceptively-weak-and-dangerous-military/

"But if China’s lack of decent hardware is somewhat surprising given all the hype surrounding Beijing’s massive military modernization program, the state of “software” (military training and readiness) is truly astounding. At one military exercise in the summer of 2012, a strategic PLA unit, stressed out by the hard work of handling warheads in an underground bunker complex, actually had to take time out of a 15-day wartime simulation for movie nights and karaoke parties. In fact, by day nine of the exercise, a “cultural performance troupe” (common PLA euphemism for song-and-dance girls) had to be brought into the otherwise sealed facility to entertain the homesick soldiers."

Anonymous said...

this is actually common-ish in 2nd world militaries. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard owns launromats, construction firms, oil and gas concerns and taxis. "physician heal thyself" is kinda not all so far from "infantryman pay thyself"

Anonymous said...

Steve, did you feel the earthquake? How bad was it?

Anononymous said...

They should have more fire drills.

Anonymous said...

Is the shampoo industry in China also owned by the People's Liberation Army?

Whiskey said...

Steve, most of the non-Western world has massive military ownership of things like discos, farms, factories, and such. Egypt (the FT had an article on this yesterday), Iran, China, India, Turkey, all come to mind with massive military ownership of things from shopping malls to factories to farms and apartment complexes.

The problem with these military forces is that as an institution in and of themselves, they act like Prussian Junkers to preserve their own interests which are not always the same as the nations.

Egypt is a good example. Egypt has a crisis of too many people, too much Islam, not enough education, not enough jobs, not enough food, not enough industry. The Military meanwhile has been pre-occupied with holding onto its monopoly power in most of manufacturing and land-holding. Most of the land in Egypt that is inhabitable is owned by the military. Needed reforms that would touch military land ownership, monopolies in things like cement and ceramic manufacturing, things that Egypt could trade for food for its people, never happen.

Eventually wars get launched because the military is over-confident, not focusing on the core aspect of being able to deter conflicts by being strong.

The Von Schlieffen Plan modified by Moltke, was a consequence of this hubris caused by over-entanglement in political and economic affairs by the Junker military class. Basically to win the German Army had to fight a holding action against Russia while defeating the French, Belgians, and English in just forty days or so. ANYTHING that went wrong would kill the plan's ability to win; and the plan depended on replicating the Hannibal victory over the Romans at Cannae.

Most professional military leaders from Caesar to Napoleon to Lee to Grant to Sherman thought Cannae was incredibly risky -- Hannibal nearly lost and incurred such serious casaulties that his effectiveness further in the Italian campaign was severely limited. But the Von Schlieffen/Moltke plan was formed by political and economic objectives by a military distracted in entanglements and not focused on constraints of mobility and logistics.

Anonymous said...

"Steve, did you feel the earthquake? How bad was it?"

It was bitchin. You shoulda been here. -not steve

Steve Sailer said...

It was the second noticeable one in a few weeks, which is not reassuring. It's been 20 years since the last major earthquake Los Angeles, so another one is presumably becoming more due.

Simon in London said...

"as there been a cultural revolution in the military in which China’s best young men join today because they want to defeat America in battle..."

I doubt that very much. Those are the kind of men to keep well away from the military, unless there is an actual war on. In peace they're too dangerous to their own side. You want the kind of men who join because they want to defend the motherland (including those bits of 'motherland' currently in someone else's pocket, eg Taiwan) - but you don't want them to go getting your country into a major war.

Anonymous said...

Everybody was kung fu fighting.

el supremo said...

The Chinese military is still mainly interested in two things - keeping the Chinese Communist Party in power and making its officers rich.

For the first ideological mission, it's estimated that Chinese officers spend almost 40% of their time listening to interminable lectures or running discussion groups on Marxism /Leninism/Deng Xiaoping Thought / whatever ideological innovations the recent rulers issued. Read the Chinese language editions of the military newspaper and you'll see there are 40 articles on legitimizing the regime for each on foreign threats.

The money making tradition is alive and well - in addition to factories, property investments, and such, the discos are alive and well. Many Chinese cities had military facilities in the middle of town, so why not rent some of the extra space out, especially as rental income tends to find its way into the pockets of the officers. The Chinese city I used to live in had a Brazilian barbecue, karaoke club, and disco all on the base open to the general public.

(Although at least the army has stopped running grand theft auto rings as they did in the 80s)

The first article posted by "anonymous" is a very accurate overview of the Chinese military.

manton said...

Cannae was not a near defeat. Hannibal faced an incompetent Roman general (Varro) and knew full well what he was doing. It was risky in the sense that he was outnumbered, but his strategy and tactics were so superior that the outcome was never in doubt. Fabius Maximus, whom Varro replaced, saw the disaster coming and tried to warn the Romans off it, to no avail.

Hannibal's mistake was not to go directly to Rome after the victory. He killed around 70,000 Romans at Cannae and while manpower among the Romans and Latins was still significant, not nearly enough were mobilized at the moment to prevent a sack or even destruction of the city.

But he didn't go. His Numidian cavalry commander is reported to have said "You know how to gain a victory but not how to use one." Livy and Polybius consider this inexplicable. Modern historians say that Hannibal was right not to try, that his forces couldn't have taken Rome. But I put more stock in what the ancients say.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone yet floated the idea that the discos serve as glorified brothels for the soldiers?

To keep them fat and satisfied and "happy"?

It stands to reason that a fat and satisfied and "happy" soldier would be much less likely to think about aiding and abetting an insurrection than would be a lean mean fighting machine with a chip on his shoulder.

And the phenomenal imbalance in the male-to-female sex ratio, from nearly 40 years of the 1-Child policy, in tandem with sex-selective abortions, would tend to imply that, without a ready outlet for release [to be found in, say, an officially sanctioned disco cum brothel], the average soldier would have a very obvious reason to be burdened by a great big 800-lb gorilla of a chip on his shoulder.

Josh Yellowfever said...

The military business was taken out more than 10 years ago. I don't think that they own any real business now. The description by Ian Eaton is some sort of factoid with a lot of willful interpretation.

Eric Ruttencutter said...

I remember reading that Chinese military interrogators asked the captured crew of the American surveillance plane that collided with a Chinese jet in 2001 what were the lyrics to Hotel California.

Anonymous said...

off topic: Tiger mom sighting.

But her efforts to motivate her own children, as alleged in documents supporting the restraining order, included threatening to cut off her son’s hand if he didn't complete homework for a tutoring program — and her husband told the court that during one angry confrontation he caught her in the kitchen of their home holding the boy’s wrist in one hand and a large knife in the other.

Former Sunset District candidate ordered away from her kids

http://oceanbeachbulletin.com/2013/11/21/former-sunset-district-candidate-jaynry-mak-young-ordered-away-from-her-kids/

Anonymous said...

" getting the kind of recruits who see the military as the best route to becoming a nightclub owner? "

versus the kind of recruits who see the military as the best route to early retirement, preferably in Costa Rica.

Anonymous said...

Something about the story in the first link makes my bs detector go off.

Anonymous said...

China's Military is so weak because they spend so much time having ideology drilled into them

It is amusing that the author cannot add up the time that PC Training sessions, All Men Are Rapists Training sessions, White Men Are Evil Training sessions and Be Nice to Fudge Packers, Carpet Munchers and Trannies Training sessions and wonder how it is affecting the effectiveness of the US military.

And of course, the US Navy has never lost a submarine during peace time.

Anonymous said...

But her efforts to motivate her own children, as alleged in documents supporting the restraining order, included threatening to cut off her son’s hand if he didn't complete homework for a tutoring program — and her husband told the court that during one angry confrontation he caught her in the kitchen of their home holding the boy’s wrist in one hand and a large knife in the other.

Kids are resilient, and if you want to ensure that they can compete with all the other Chinese kids out there when they grow up, extreme measures are called for. It's a Natural Selection thing you probably would not understand.

Her mistake was in choosing a white guy who does not understand Chinese child raising techniques.

Anonymous said...

The Tiger Mom sighting is pretty out there. In other weird Bay Area Asian news, it looks like a gun grabbing state senator is involved in a gun running operation that includes a Chinese mobster named Shrimp Boy, a Freemason lodge, and possible arming of Muslim separatists in Philippines.

Anonymous said...

Publically, the PLA has committed to building a more western style professional army. This goal requires a well trained and educated officer corps and most importantly, a solid level of long term career NCOs.

This takes decades and it takes volunteers. They can do it, if the senior leadership can exercise patience. If I were the Chinese, I would be studying the history and evolution of the ROK Army.

Jerry said...

The PLA (People's Liberation Army) was told a few years ago to get rid of its business empire. China's recent jingoism may partly be a symptom of the army lacking an occupation and a purpose. Moreover, there is a general crackdown these days on illicit entertainment (read about the Dongguan busts!). China now on the ground really is much different than ten years ago. Anyway, I have a feeling the next few years will be interesting for China-watchers.









lincoln hi said...

re Sunset District Tiger Mom:

Unfortunately, she's an anomaly. Ride any SF muni bus and see how well Asian boys are assimilating to the black standard. I actually listened to 5 Chinese kids proudly compare notes on how bad their grades are.

Anonymous said...

Remind me of something I overheard at the sub side officers mess in Pearl Harbor. I walked by two pale looking O5s with dolphins and heard one drawl "yeah, well the chicom that scares me ain't been born yet"