Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the studio who discussed the changes of growth and advancement in China since the 1980s.
Leahy: We are joined in studio by our good friend. The original all-star panelist who has been on the airwaves here on and off in Nashville, Tennessee since the 1980s when he was a young man. Barely in his teens back then apparently, Crom Carmichael. Good morning Crom.
Carmichael: Good morning, Michael. Your math skills are not good.
Leahy: Not good at all are they?
Carmichael: Not good at all.
Leahy: Well Crom you’ve seen a lot of change in Nashville since he’s been on the air 1980s. a lot of change in this country. Attitudes towards China have changed and dealings with China have changed during that period of time.
Carmichael: Well Kathy and I went to China in 1989.
Leahy: I did not know that. Is this when you had a distribution deal for some sneakers?
Carmichael: This was just pure tourism. And back in back in 1989, The number of Americans going to China was a pretty small number.
Leahy: Very small. Now put this in context. What year were the Tiananmen Square protests?
Carmichael: That was ’89.
Leahy: Were you there before?
Carmichael: After I think.
Carmichael: So Kathy was quite young and the people would look at her. The Chinese would look at it because she stood out is as unusual. A young American woman was so unusual over there. But when I was there just to give you an idea of they stood economically. We were required to have a guide. Now that guide was a government employee. And so in every city that we went to we had a guide full-time.
The tallest building in Shanghai was the Sheraton Hotel. It was 40 stories. And it stood out as by Far and Away the tallest building in Shanghai. And when we were in our car going from point A to point B for tourism, there were tens of thousands of bicycles. There were virtually no cars in 1989 in China. And the streets that were being repaired you had like a thousand Chinese with picks. And they would pick at the pavement.
Carmichael: Manually. Then you would have thousands of Chinese who would come along with these little almost look like pooper scoopers. And they would and they would clean up the debris. And then you had thousands of Chinese coming along pouring tar or asphalt by hand and pounding it in by hand.
Leahy: Heavy on manual labor.
Carmichael: Yes. And we ran into a Caterpillar tractor dealer over there. and I asked him I said boy, this is a gold mine over here because one or two pieces of equipment can replace thousands of workers. And he said well, you’d think that except they haven’t figured out yet what they’re going to do with the thousands of workers.
Carmichael: And so so China was still a very very backward country in 1989 or primitive by our standards. And then I’ve been going over there since then.
Leahy: You have? I didn’t know that.
Carmichael: Oh, yeah. About every three or four years. I haven’t been there in three or four years. And the changes every time I go are amazing from just the last time that I went.
Leahy: And so they are making significant economic and technological progress.
Carmichael: Well, the difference is that I see is more buildings. In other words just the growth in the new buildings and new interstates and things like that. So that’s more about what I see than the other things. I’m going to compare this now to Russia where I also went to in the ’80s. Russia has improved but not that much. Economically Russia and just so that everybody understands Russia’s economy is smaller than that of Italy’s. So if anybody were to say that Italy is trying to dominate the world they would be laughed at.
Carmichael: In fact, I wouldn’t I would if there are any Democrat friends out there listening to our show like Karl.
Leahy: Karl. I don’t think he’d call himself a Democrat. He goes for the most competent.
Carmichael: Well, that’s fine. Then Karl won’t be challenged by this because he’ll recognize it to be true. Nobody can name a consumer product that comes out of Russia. I mean have you ever picked up a product in a store and looked at the bottom of it and it says Made in Russia?
Leahy: Made in Russia.
Carmichael: Made in Russia. No, you haven’t.
Leahy: They have oil.
Carmichael: They have oil and they do have programming. You can get Russian programming. And in fact, part of the problem that Russia has is when Stalin took over he murdered millions of people. And the people that he murdered were the intelligent Russians. And so he wiped out many of the people who had education and brains. And then what he also did was there’s a city whose name escapes me right now, but it’s over in the eastern part of Russia way away from everything else.
Leahy: Near Japan?
Carmichael: I don’t know if it’s near Japan but it’s way away from Moscow and it was isolated on purpose. and that’s where they put all their intellectual people. and so now have one city in Russia out in the middle of nowhere that has a whole lot of high-tech people living in that city. And so that’s where if you want technology and to strike a technology deal.
Leahy: That’s the city that you’d go to.
Carmichael: That’s the city that you’d go to. Today Mao Zedong took over China from Chiang Kai-shek, they were not from the Civil War. And the Ming Dynasty had been taken over by the, and I’m going to mess up the pronunciation here, but the Qin Dynasty which was the dynasty in the movie called The Last Emperor. It was on that emperor. That young person.
And China had expanded dramatically under the Ming Dynasty and then the Qin Dynasty also. So China is not just one monolithic country. It is a country that has half of its country that is not friendly to the core of Chinese culture. But when Mao took over he put in the harshest communist policies ever. And he wrecked the country. And there were tens of millions of people.
Leahy: Totally wrecked the country economically.
Carmichael: Yes economically. And then and then toward the end of his life, he recognized that this wasn’t going to work and so he’s the one who met with Nixon for the very first time. He’s the one who met with a U.S. President toward the end of his life. And then Deng Xiaoping took over after him. And then Xiaoping set up a government in China that was still a communist-controlled central party. But it had lots of different cabinet members for lack of a better term. And it had provincial heads kind of like our governors and things like this. So power was somewhat dispersed within the Communist Party. And that’s the way it remained until Xi took over.
Leahy: The current guy. Xi.
Carmichael: Yes. Xi took over around 2010 or 2012. I don’t know exactly the year, but when he took over he is now consolidated power and so it’s now back to more of a Maoist type of China which is a much more dangerous type of China. Not only to the Chinese people themselves, but to the world at large because he has so much power.
And what he has done is and there’s a book that I’ve mentioned before called The 100 Year Marathon by Michael Pillsbury that shows the road map that China has been on for more than 50 years where they would be the most powerful country in the world. And so if you look at the way that Xi manages things around China, he intimidates all of his neighbor’s. In fact, most recently he intimidated Australia.
Leahy: Yeah. I saw that. He’s a bully.
Carmichael: Emperors have always been bullies. But is becoming the same kind of bully that Mao was except he has a lot of economic power behind him. He has a huge military behind him. And so what they’ve been doing in the United States is they have been studying us and they have been taking over with influence in our most powerful institutions.
Leahy: And now with the way the presidential election appears to be headed.
Carmichael: And the elections are one of those.
Listen to the full second hour here:
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