2020 Letter (On China)

China is neither a Marxist fundamentalist regime nor a universally-surveilled open-air prison, in which one is free to do nothing but worship the party and carry out its edicts. That is however the impression created by quite a bit of the media. I think that’s not the fault of individual journalists, instead more structural explanations are at work. News bureaus are highly concentrated in Beijing, due in part to natural corporate consolidation, but mostly because the government maintains a strict cap on foreign journalist visas. As a result, the bulk of journalists are based in the part of China that has the most politics and the least sense of growth. Everything here is doom and gloom, a fact well conveyed to the outside world.