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  • In 1980, this was the small fishing town of Shenzhen, China.

    1980 年,中國深圳曾是一個仰賴捕魚維生的小城鎮

  • And here it is just 30 years later, with the population of over 10 million.

    30 年後,人口數已超過一千萬

  • In that time, Chinese poverty dropped from 88 out of 100 people to less than 4.

    那段期間,中國貧窮程度從 88% 降至 4% 以下

  • And if you plug China's growth rate of 6.8% into the rule of 70, its economy may double in just 10 years.

    若把中國的成長率 6.8% 放入 70 規則來看,只需要 10 年,中國經濟就可能雙倍成長

  • To put that in perspective, that the US is growing about a third as fast.


  • So how is this level of growth for this long even possible?


  • The answer is, an incredibly tight Iron Fist.


  • The Chinese Communist Party is not a source of power, but THE source of power.


  • It elects the leaders of the eight other political parties, and owns everythingfrom oil, to phones, to tobacco, and life insurance for when that tobacco kills you.


  • It makes black mirror look utopian, with Social Points determining the train you ride on, and the school your child can attend.


  • But with absolute control comes absolute efficiency.


  • With a snap of a finger, cities like Shenzhen became special economic zonesbubbles of kinda capitalism or the market runs free.


  • Call it capitalist, communist, cruel or corrupt. But it's really good at getting things done.


  • In a democracy the president's real job is to get reelected,


  • which means spending today and worrying, about debt tomorrow.


  • That's the next president's problem, but because China is ruled by one party and its president less influenced by the immediate demands of voters, he can think in the long term.


  • And with less red tape slowing things down, his words are quick to become reality.


  • The only system of checks and balances is the world's biggest population ripe for revolt if things slow down.


  • That's pretty good motivation.


  • It's how the country went from ancient to atomic era in only 30 turns.

    這就是為什麼它只拐了 30 個彎就從古時代進化到原子時代

  • So you might scoff at the size and budget of its military, but economic power is the ultimate power.


  • It determines a nation's sphere of influence, and bullets can always be bought.


  • The government knows its claim to power is rooted in its ability to keep growing.


  • So there may be ups and downs, but the trend is clear, China is gaining power extremely quickly, and those already in power tend not to share well.


  • To the leader of a country, war is just another tool of strategy.


  • If war would deliver more land power or resources than it would cost in dollars and votes, it's usually a go.


  • And if not, you pretend it never crossed your mind.


  • Since the US is China's biggest customer and it owes China kind of a lot of money. Both countries have more to lose than gain from war.


  • Not to mention the enormous destruction fighting would cause.


  • So is war inevitable? The answer seems obvious. Of course not.


  • Neither would even want it. But here's the paradoxthe same self-interest that makes neither want war also motivates them to act as though they do.


  • In a world with nuclear weapons and highly dependent economies, war is extremely costly. But that makes the threat of war all the more effective.


  • Take a country like North Korea. Under normal circumstances, it could never get away with all it does.


  • But with a finger near or appearing to be near the nuclear button, it can do what it wants without fatal consequences.


  • It survives because it has convinced the world it's willing to fight, even though war would be its downfall.


  • So too are china and the US incentivized to convince each other they're willing to fight. It's an amazing tool for getting what you want.


  • China already does this in the south china seanearly colliding with american ships, who it knows would rather back off than risk escalation.


  • And in theory each knows how much the other really doesn't want war.


  • But when someone has so much to gain from acting otherwise, they can be very convincing. Just ask Kim.


  • And it doesn't take much for that performance to become real. This is Thucydides' trap:


  • Whenever a rising power threatens an established one, the probability of conflict is awfully high, whether between people, companies or nations.


  • Those in power want to keep what they have and are very quick to see others as threats, and those on the rise don't realize how much of a threat they are.


  • Say A increases its defense just in case, B may see that as aggression and do likewise.

    假設 A 以防萬一而加強了防禦,B 可能將此視為侵略行動,所以也跟著照做

  • Which A sees as confirmation—B is a threat.

    如此 A 就更加確定了—B 就是個威脅

  • Escalation has begun without either party wanting it. And for China and the US, there isn't just potential for miscommunication,


  • but real fundamental disagreements.


  • Like the rapid and unexpected rise of his country, Xi Jinping went from living in a cave as a teenager to ruling all of China and I mean ALL of China.


  • He's become known as Chairman of Everything:


  • For being President; the Party's General Secretary; Chairman of the Military; head of two committees he created for himself, and much much more.


  • He began a massive anti-corruption campaign to purge anyone, who might weaken his authority.


  • Then for the first time since Mao, he added himself to the Chinese Constitution.


  • Just in case you weren't sure who's in charge, he ordered the party's 88 million members to copy the document by hand.


  • And according to that same Constitution, this should be his final term in office. But instead he's taking the Putin approach, staying in power seemingly forever, by rewriting the rules.


  • If it isn't obvious Xi has very high ambitions.


  • He doesn't just want to rise or modernize, but monopolize. Reclaiming control of the Pacific from America:


  • There's the One-Child policy;


  • One China policy; and One Belt One Road policyconnecting China to 68 countries and giving out loads of money for development.

    一個中國政策;以及一帶一路政策—將中國與其他 68 個國家串聯起來並投入大筆資金以利開發

  • China expands its influence and how could anyone say no? They don't ask about human rights or tack-on conditions, just dirt cheap loans.


  • This also means insisting it owns most of the South China Sea, even though Malaysia, Vietnam,


  • Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan beg to differ. And it's become the American military's favorite place to hang out.


  • Hey, this looks like a neat spot to sail, especially since its international territory, so we totally can.


  • Meanwhile China is literally dumping sand in the ocean to build new islands, and moving people on them. And it's not really


  • about land, it's got plenty of that. But THIS specific land. Oil, gas, fish and the passage of 5.3

    與土地無關,中國土地多的是。但特別是這塊土地。石油、天然氣、漁業資源以及每年 5.3 兆的

  • trillion dollars of trade a year. But even more important is the military advantage. If anyone attacks China, especially the US.


  • Those few hundred yards of land are the difference between a fight on the mainland and one at a comfortable distance.


  • It's the same reason China puts up with North Korea. Not because they like them, but because it keeps America an arm's length away.


  • It's so important to China that it keeps the North alive at


  • huge political cost, and it's so important to the US that it's pivoted from the Middle East to Asia. And this isn't even mentioning their


  • disagreements about Taiwan. So the top priorities of two nuclear powers are deeply incompatible, with no easy or obvious solution.


  • The Internet is very much the same whether visited in Georgia or Georgia. But not in China, not Google or Facebook but

    無論你到 (美國) 喬治亞州或是 (東歐) 喬治亞,網際網路的使用大致上相同。但中國卻非如此,沒有 Google 或是 Facebook

  • Baidu, and Tencent. Even the biggest companies struggle in China, where national companies dominate. Part of this is because of strict


  • Chinese censorship. The Communist Party even bans puns, which it says cause cultural chaos, but it's


  • also about economic control. It looks the other way as its own companies steal intellectual property


  • and hack American companies, these cost American companies an estimated 600 billion dollars a year. And because the US


  • considers its economic power central to its national security. This is a


  • major threat. China is also quietly ramping up its efforts in space and if artificial intelligence is anywhere as powerful as expected,


  • China is well positioned to lead the future. There's more funding for AI research and far more STEM graduates.


  • So America can either enforce the rules and risk escalation, or let


  • China surpass it economically and technologically. You should know, from the law of headlinesany title landing in a question mark can


  • be answered with NO, that war is not inevitable.


  • Unfortunately it would take more work to prevent war, the incentives are to escalate so things may get a lot


  • worse. But actual war could certainly be avoided. That's the same conclusion Graham Allison comes to, in his book Destined for War,

    更糟。但真正的戰爭是絕對可以避免的。這和格雷厄姆.艾利森在他的著作 Destined for War 中有著相同的結論,

  • which I listened to on Audible, the absolute best place to find high-quality audio books.

    我是在 Audible 上聽到的,那絕對是你能找到高品質有聲書最棒的地方

  • Allison goes into far greater detail including lots of historical examples I ran out of time to talk about


  • here. You can listen to it or any other book Audible has to offer, completely free, by going to

    做說明。你可以到 Audible 聽任何一本他們提供的書,完全免費,只要搜尋

  • Or by texting Polymatter to 500-500.

    或是打上 Polymatter 傳訊至 500-500

  • And in researching for my North Korea video, I listened to the real North Korea. Also on Audible a lot of stories about North Korea are really sensationalized.

    以及搜尋我關於北韓的影片,我傾聽真實的北韓。另外,Audible 上也有許多關於北韓的故事是非常聳動的

  • But the author of that book actually lived in Pyongyang as an exchange student and talks about what it's really like.


  • The reason I love Audible so much

    我會這麼喜歡 Audible 是因為

  • is that I just don't have the time or sometimes patience to sit down and read a book but I can


  • always just pop in my headphones, while I'm walking to class doing chores or cooking. We all have time during the day,


  • when we're not really doing anything with our brains, so you might as


  • well learn something in the process.


  • Members get one book of any price a month and if you don't like it just choose something else instead it's really really easy.


  • Start a 30-day trial and your first audiobook is free. Go to or text Polymatter to 500-500

    你可以開始 30 天的試用期而且你的第一本有聲書是免費的。搜尋 或是打上 Polymatter 傳訊至 500-500

  • (I don't know why I subbed the last... but whatever.)


In 1980, this was the small fishing town of Shenzhen, China.

1980 年,中國深圳曾是一個仰賴捕魚維生的小城鎮


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