Beating up on the inanities of Tom Friedman is about as hard as falling out a first floor window, and there’s an entire catalogue of Power Line entries to prove it. (Here’s his Green Weenie, for example.) But like taking out the recycling, somebody’s got to do it.
Today Friedman departs slightly from his favorite “China-Is-Awesome” theme to write critically of China for a change. And what, pray tell, has upset Friedman? Do the Chinese smoke too much? Has he noticed that their crony capitalist model has serious problems? Is he finally willing to criticize China’s authoritarianism and hostility toward basic human rights? No: his suck-up article today, “Dear President of China,” expresses his embarrassment that China has decided to censor the Western press! They can’t do that—those are Tom’s friends and dinner party buddies:
Dear President Xi, in recent years there’s been a tug of war inside the global investment community between those who think China is a bubble about to burst and therefore a “screaming short” and those who believe that China has big problems — but also big tools and smart leaders — and will find a way forward, even if at a more normal growth rate. I lean toward the second camp, but looking at some of China’s recent behavior I’m beginning to wonder: Maybe your system is more frail than I thought? . . .
The Chinese-language websites of The Wall Street Journal and Reuters were recently blocked, and those of Bloomberg News and The New York Times have both been blocked for months. More important, The Times and Bloomberg together have more than 20 journalists in China whose visas are up for renewal by the end of December and, so far, your government is refusing to act on them — in apparent retaliation for both organizations exposing the enormous wealth amassed by relatives of senior Chinese leaders, including yours. The rumor is that you intend to deny both organizations the right to report from China.
The whole thing is utterly predictable and typically jejune. He signs off, “Sincerely yours, A Friend of China.”
But then, somehow, there’s this delicious correction:
An earlier version of this column misspelled the name of the president of China. He is Xi Jinping, not Jingping.