Buying the Dragons Teeth

Wall Street Bull after being bitten in the rear by rabid Chinese Dragon

Yesterday (24 Aug) was  “Black Monday” on Wall Street. Within minutes after the opening bell, the Dow plummeted an unprecedented 1,089 points – the largest point loss ever, repeat “ever”, during a trading day. There was full-blown panic on the trading floor. And this was happening in Tokyo, London, Berlin, Paris, and Mumbai – in fact all over the financial world.

The crash was, of course, driven by deep fears about what is euphemistically being described as China’s economic “slowdown”, but which really should be called, at the very least, a “financial meltdown” or more bluntly “the collapse of the Chinese economy”.

Fortunately for the US, the Dow rallied a bit at the end of Monday. Wall Street opened sharply higher on Wednesday after data showed U.S. orders for durable goods rose more than expected. In China the fluctuations and chaos continues, but the leadership is carrying on in public as if nothing has happened. Speaking of leadership, within the wider CPC membership, party loyalty seems to be fraying and various factions are said to be preparing for hard times – “going to the mattress” to use a Godfather analogy. A recent gathering of Party bigwigs at the seaside resort of Beidaihe was reported to be “tumultuous”. Rumors are floating of the former Party boss Jiang Zemin (reputed to be the eminence grise of the Communist Party) and his two sons being placed “under control”. Capital flight rocketed to a rate unseen in China’s history. In July alone $190 billion left China for safer shores.

I’m not going on any further. I have bored readers enough with my attempts at “bullspeak” in “Rangzen Spring I & II”. This post is an urgent appeal to all Tibetans to wake up to the fact that events in China are moving  rapidly, and no one, least of all Dharamshala, is prepared for this, not even in the most superficial sense. Kenneth Rogoff, professor of economics at Harvard speaking on China’s financial crisis quoted the German economist Rudi Dornbusch: “In economics, things take longer to happen than you think they will and then they happen faster than you thought they could.”

I have been waiting a long time for this moment. I was always certain that “Communist China must fall of its own contradictions” but I had been wary of making predictions. In 1989 I was tempted to try my hand at the game, but I hedged my bets:

We can see the cracks in the facade of the Empire, though when that vast edifice will crumble and break up is difficult to predict. The vastness of the country and its immense age gives its history a rhythm very different to that of other nations.

People are often exasperated by the slow toil of history. They assume that the lightning of cause will be swiftly followed by the thunderclap of effect. Though changes in China may not come about as swiftly as we would like, it will most certainly come.

(“Postscript” Illusion and Reality, 1989)

In 2005 I published a book, Buying the Dragon’s Teeth, a detailed exegesis of how business and consumers in the West and Japan were propping up the Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarian control of it citizens and underwriting its Laogai slave labor camps, its repression of religion, its military occupation of Tibet, its forced abortions and sterilizations, its psychiatric persecution of political prisoners, and so on an on. The book was a small one, only 160 pages but it helped provide information and talking points to labor, human-rights and Tibet activists and, I was told, helped to inspire other more substantial tomes as Death By China.

Near the conclusion of the book I laid out my arguments why the Chinese economic system was fundamentally flawed, “a bubble in the making”. That “its banking system was dysfunctional” and that the underlying official corruption, the CPC’s “Let the Good times Roll policies” were creating a dangerously overheated economy.

Covers of English, German and Japanese editions of Buying the Dragon's Teeth


The book is out of print now and some of the information a little dated. But those interested can download pdf files of the English and German editions.

Download English edition  Dragon’s Teeth

Download German  edition Drachensaat

Let me leave you with the main epigraph from the book which provides an explanation for the somewhat dramatic title, Buying the Dragon’s Teeth, and my conviction that consumers, businesses and politicians in the West were buying into something that would in the end turn against them in a nasty way.

The Colchian king Ætes consented to give up the golden fleece if Jason would yoke to the plough two fire-breathing bulls with brazen feet and sow the teeth of the dragon which Cadmus had slain, and from which it was well known that a crop of armed men would spring up, who would turn their weapons against their producer.

… Jason next proceeded to sow the dragon’s teeth and plough them in. And soon the crop of armed men sprang up, and, wonderful to relate! No sooner had they reached the surface than they began to brandish their weapons and rush upon Jason.

— Thomas Bulfinch, The Age of Fable or Stories of Gods and Heroes


7 Replies to “Buying the Dragons Teeth”

  1. If the West, in general, and the USA, in particular, fail to own the current downturn of stocks as result, in part, of West’s largesse bestowed to China over three decades, Beijing’s self-centered CCP apparatus might take down the West with it.

    Human rights supporters and Tibet supporters were perplexed when Bill Clinton, in all his earnest to befriend Beijing suspended for good the yearly review of the Most Favored Nation (MFA)status to China. The Clinton administration will remain as the sole architect of appeasement to China. And now, if Beijing’s nefarious economic polies bring down the whole citadel of Western materialism, the Clintons will be held responsible. Today, it seems, USA is at the mercy of China’s unscrupulous China.

    The democrat’s unto who front runner for presidency, Hillary Clinton has almost stopped talking issues with China, leave alone challenging China’s global clout where as Donald Trump is all over China, Japan and Mexico’s undue exploitation of the American people and nation.

  2. it is sad how Tibetan government in exile doesn’t seems have any clue about this…nor willing to do anything

    all what they know, is HHDL middle way, and how as fast as possible to establish so called dialogue with china

    what a failed government and system

  3. the good news is china continue to drop in its economy

    what the tibetans will do now to exploit this thing?

    there doesn’t seems any plan from dharamsala

  4. Plan and Lobsang Sangay is oxymoron .
    Everything this guy does must involve personal glorification .

    Fool us (Tibetan people) once, shame on you.
    Fool us twice , shame on us(Tibetans)

    Vote for Lukar Jam and send a message.

    Gaden Podrang popped him up against Tethong ,for his insistence on “self-determination”. But he interpreted that all out sale of Tibet will win him a Nobel and he kept insisting that Tibetans want no democracy and WiILL accept communism.

    The moderator both at Foreign Policy Center and then at National Endownment for Democracy helped him correct, thinking that he MIS-SPOKE. No, but the moron kept insisting that Tibetans will accept to live under communism!

    Tsering Woeser wrote in her from Beijing that after reading but Sikyong Lobsang Sangay said, she felt like she was stabbed.

    Now you be the judge. It is time to dump this guy into the trash can of the history.

  5. It is revealing to know about the possible popping up of Lobsang Sangay against Tethong because the latter’s insistence on Self-determination – as the best and right choice amongst the confusing choices of the so-called ‘referendum’ that virtually confused and ultimately divided the Tibetan community.

    Just as it hard to believe that Gaden Phodrang preferred Lobsang Sangay over Tethong, is it possible that now he has apparently become a liability to the august Lhabrang and therefore to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

    I am not an insider, but a close watcher of Tibet. My sources have alerted me to a very disturbing development between the Dalai Lama to Lobsang Sangay.

    His Holiness welcomed and heartily supported the fresh-from Harvard student when he won the election handsomely and sought recognition for him at home and abroad. But of lately, His Holiness has refrained from the ritual of recognizing and appreciating Sangay’s role.

    I was told that the latest incident when His Holiness, not only recognized him, but blamed without naming him that the Tibetan leadership should double-face at the biggest North American Tibetan gathering earlier this Summer. Refering to the Tibetan leadership, the Dalai Lama said, “Saying something (good) upfront, but long the opposite backstage,” is not good.

    This takes me to Wangchuk Tsering’s assertion that Sangay’s declaration at hearing at the US capital that he is not asking for democracy in Tibet, an that he is also not opposing Communist rule in Tibet.

    Understandably Sangay continues to be haunted by this episode. That episode could prove his Waterloo during the next year’s election.

    Tibet supporters in the West, especially in the USA need a leader to, at the least, undo what flamboyant Sangay’s bellicose…..

    The Tibetan electorate is seriously considering a candidate who would click a cord with the true nationalism spreading across Tibet, and not simply someone who seeks self-aggrandizement at all cost – sadly this has what has become of Mr. Sangay.

    My two cents is with his opponent -Lukhar Jam.

  6. Jamyangla can you please write something on the upcoming sikyong elections and some truths revealing the candidates’ histories as most of their positives and negatives are not known by us

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