lundi 18 juin 2018

China's Pacific Islands Push Has the U.S. Worried

The latest frontier in Beijing’s bid for global influence is a collection of tiny island nations.
By Jason Scott

In the gritty, steamy streets of Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby, signs of China’s push into the Pacific island nation are inescapable.
A Chinese worker stencils a logo for China Railway Group outside the new national courthouse it’s building; China Harbor Engineering Group laborers tar roads under the searing midday sun.
“Little by little they are taking slices of our businesses,” said Martyn Namorong, who campaigns to protect local jobs and communities as China ramps up infrastructure spending in the resource-rich nation, bringing its own workforce.
“My people feel we can’t compete.”
The nation of 8 million people is the latest frontier in Beijing’s bid for global influence that’s included building artificial reefs in the South China Sea, a military base in Africa and an ambitious trade-and-infrastructure plan spanning three continents.

Advertisement for China Construction Bank outside the airport in Port Moresby.

China’s thrust into the Pacific islands region, a collection of more than a dozen tiny nations including Fiji, Niue and Timor Leste scattered across thousands of miles of ocean, has the U.S. and its close ally Australia worried. 
The region played a key role in World War II and remains strategically important as Western powers seek to maintain open sea lines and stability. 
For Beijing, it offers raw materials, from gas to timber, and a clutch of countries who could voice support for its territorial claims.
“We’ve seen a huge surge in China’s state-directed economic investment and mobilization of an enormous amount of capital in the Pacific which clearly has a strategic intent,” said Eric B. Brown, a senior fellow in Asian affairs at Washington-based think tank the Hudson Institute
“The sovereignty of these nations could be compromised by these predatory economic methods. And that could create a military threat to countries such as Australia and effect the ability of the U.S. Navy and its allies to maintain freedom and order in the Pacific.”

Debt Trap
China’s lending practices related to the Belt and Road Initiative have raised concerns among the International Monetary Fund and the Trump administration that poorer countries wouldn’t be able to repay heavy debts. 
Sri Lanka is considered an example of what could go wrong for developing nations: China received a 99-year lease for a strategic port after the government in Colombo couldn’t repay loans.
Indeed China has overtaken Japan as Papua New Guinea’s largest bilateral creditor and by the end of the year PNG will owe it about $1.9 billion in concessional loans — almost a quarter of its total debt burden. 
Standard & Poor’s in April lowered the nation’s sovereign credit rating to B from B+, citing rising costs of servicing debt that’s climbed above 30 percent of gross domestic product and is expected to reach about 40 percent by 2021.

The IMF warns that other recipients of Chinese money in the region — tiny nations such as Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu — have moderate to high risks of debt distress.
While the largess flowing into the Pacific from Beijing is a fraction of the $350 billion of Chinese aid distributed globally since 2000, it’s still big money for the nations, most with populations under 1 million. 
In April, the French Polynesian government approved construction of a $320 million Chinese fish farm.

Military Presence
Hugh White, a professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University in Canberra, says “there’s no doubt” China could seek to establish a military presence in the Pacific in the future, cashing in its influence with “one of these small, vulnerable states.”
“It intends to become the primary power in east Asia and the western Pacific,” White said.
Governments in the region have sought to strike a balance between accepting China’s cash and resisting moves that would raise concern among Western military powers. 
Vanuatu in April denied media reports that China had approached it to build a permanent military base in one of its harbors.

Peter O'Neill and Xi Jinping in July 2016.

The office of PNG’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, who’s due to meet Xi Jinping in China later this week, didn’t reply to repeated requests for comment. 
When O’Neill visited Beijing in 2016, he pledged support for China’s military build up in the South China Sea. 
In December, a month after China promised to construct $3.5 billion of roads, O’Neill said PNG will continue to be a “staunch partner.”
Beijing’s push into the Pacific islands risks further straining ties with key trading partner Australia — which views the region as its own diplomatic backyard and has been increasingly critical of China’s economic and military muscle-flexing.
During a visit to the region this month, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said “we want to continue to be the partner of choice for nations in the Pacific.” 
Her government on June 13 signed an agreement to build a new undersea telecommunications cable to the Solomon Islands, squeezing out a bid by China’s Huawei Technologies Ltd.
Papua New Guinea has traditionally looked to Australia — from which it won independence in 1975 — for a helping hand. 
Outside of the capital, the nation’s woeful roads network has helped push prices of food staples beyond what many can afford.
It’s also struggling with an illiteracy rate of 35 percent, poor tax collection and endemic corruption.



Australia is still its largest donor, contributing more than three-quarters of total aid and loans compared to China’s 14 percent. 
Yet the majority is directed to improving corporate governance, while Beijing has focused on infrastructure and major works.

‘Red Carpet’
Nursing a cool drink at a sports club in Port Moresby, British-born business adviser Paul Barker said China was stepping into a vacuum left by the west.
“The government in Beijing has rolled out the red carpet and our leaders seem to be a bit intoxicated by the experience,” said Barker, who’s lived in his adopted nation for more than four decades.
Australia’s assistant trade minister Mark Coulton acknowledged the merits of China’s investment as he sat in one of Port Moresby’s few five-star hotels near the Beijing-gifted convention center where APEC leaders will meet in November.
“You can’t deny your neighbor if someone is looking to build something they really need,” he said. “Our role is to give the PNG government and people the ability” to “handle influxes of foreign aid like those that are now occurring.”
China’s foreign ministry, which didn’t respond to a request for comment, in April said Pacific island nations weren’t in the “sphere of influence of any country” and called on Australia not to interfere.

China Railway Group signage at the construction site of the new national courthouse.

China is in the region to stay, said Jonathan Pryke of the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based think tank.
“China has entered the Pacific in a significant way,” said Pryke.
“It’s upended the status quo and caused anxiety, because no-one knows what its end-game is."

Chinese Peril

China’s control over economic zones leads to more protests in Vietnam
Protesters held signs that said “No leasing land to Chinese communists for even one day” and “Cybersecurity law kills freedom”.
AP


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Image result for bieu tinh chong luat dac khu BINH THUAN
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Vietnamese police have arrested eight more people after protests a week ago over a proposed law on special economic zones that protesters fear would fall into the hands of Chinese investors.
The men from the south central province of Binh Thuan were accused of disturbing public order, opposing officials and damaging state property, the state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.
Protests against the law took place across the country, including in the southern commercial hub of Saigon where seven people were arrested for allegedly disturbing security and opposing officials.
Protesters fear the three proposed special economic zones, where land could be rented for up to 99 years, would be dominated by investors from China.
Lawmakers have postponed the passage of the law until October.
Security on Sunday was tight in many cities and provinces in Vietnam, with a large presence of police in public areas. 
But in central Ha Tinh province, live-stream footage on Facebook showed thousands of people attending a Sunday mass protesting peacefully against the laws.
Protesters held signs that said “No leasing land to Chinese communists for even one day” and “Cybersecurity law kills freedom”.
Witnesses said there were no clashes with police during the two-hour protest.
The Vietnamese government has vowed to punish “extremists” it said had instigated rare clashes with police in Binh Thuan province. 
Protesters hurled bricks and Molotov cocktails at police, damaging some government buildings.
Charge d’affaires of the Chinese embassy in Vietnam, Yin Haihong, said on Friday that the cause of this incident was internal affairs in Vietnam and there was no connection with China.
“However, the incident still has a negative impact on Sino-Vietnamese relations;” Yin said in an embassy statement.

samedi 16 juin 2018

Ah Q-ism Syndrome or Passionate Love for Truth?

CHINESE ARE DEFENDING EINSTEIN'S VIEWS ON THEIR ANCESTORS: "The Chinese are a peculiar herd-like nation... often more like automatons than people".
BY JASON LEMON

With the widely reported news this week of Albert Einstein’s harsh comments against the Chinese, some in the East Asian nation have actually come out in defense of the legendary physicist.
Published by Princeton University Press, The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein: The Far East, Palestine, and Spain, 1922-1923 is the first English printing of the intellectual’s writings from his trip to Asia.
German-born American physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955) referred to the Chinese as “industrious, filthy people.” He also said that the Chinese are a “peculiar herd-like nation… often more like automatons than people.” 

Among other critical comments, Einstein referred to the Chinese as “industrious, filthy people.” 
He also said that the Chinese are a “peculiar herd-like nation … often more like automatons than people.” 
He argued that "it would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all races,” saying that such a thought “is unspeakably dreary.”
Einstein took issue with the fact that the Chinese he encountered on his trip “don’t sit on benches while eating but squat like Europeans do when they relieve themselves out in the leafy woods.” 
He also lamented that “even the children are spiritless and look obtuse,” and explained that he can’t understand how Chinese men find Chinese women attractive.
While some around the world expressed criticism of the iconic scientist's severe words, Chinese have actually jumped to defend Einstein. 
According to The Guardian, several users of China’s popular social media site Weibo voiced their support for the scientist and even gave credence to his views.
German-born Swiss-US physicist Albert Einstein, author of the theory of relativity, declares his opposition to the 'H' bomb and to the arms race between the USA and the USSR in a conference 14 February 1950 in Princeton during a TV broadcast which created a considerable stir in the United States and all over the Western World.

One user wrote that when they see photos of that time period, they also perceive their ancestors as “dirty," the South China Morning Post reported
The user said: “This is called insulting China? That’s ridiculous... Einstein depicted the true state of China.”
Some even compared Einstein’s writings to those of Lu Xun, who is considered "the father of modern Chinese literature." 
Xun is best known for his critical satire of Chinese society in the early 1900s. 
As one user wrote, Chinese “praise” Xun for pointing out China’s historic disadvantages. 
“Why should we blame Einstein for this?”
Xun was "a savage critic of traditional Chinese culture and revered European writers who were also social critics," Professor Mary Gallagher, the director of the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan, told Newsweek. 
A sculpture of Chinese writer Lu Xun and a painting featuring Soviet leader Stalin and Chinese leader Mao Zedong, are displayed at an exhibition on Soviet painting titled 'The City of the Sun - Triumph of the Socialist Realism,' at the Three Gorges Museum October 22, 2006 in Chongqing Municipality, China.

The Chinese "are pointing out the perceived 'defects' of their culture that both Lu Xun and Einstein noticed," she explained. 
According to Gallagher, history education in the country also portrays the period when Einstein visited "as China’s most humiliating period in the modern era." 

The Final Solution to the Uyghur Question

Half of East Turkestan Village’s Residents Sent to Political Re-Education Camps
By Shohret Hoshur

A security officer holding a shield and baton guards a security post leading into a center believed to be used for re-education in Korla, Nov. 2, 2017.

Authorities in Qaraqash county, in northwest East Turkestan, have detained nearly half of the population of a village in “political re-education camps,” according to a local official.
Beginning in April 2017, Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” views have been jailed or detained in re-education camps throughout East Turkestan, where members of the ethnic group have long complained of pervasive discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression under Chinese rule.
A duty officer with the Chinibagh township police station in Qaraqash recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service that in his home village of Yengisheher, almost all of the adult males from the area’s more than 1,700 households had been placed in camps, leaving few people behind to farm the local fields.
“Overall, 40 percent of the population in our village is currently in re-education camps,” said the officer, who spoke to RFA on condition of anonymity.
The officer acknowledged that village authorities were following an official directive previously reported by RFA which brands Uyghurs born in the 1980s and 1990s as “members of an unreliable and untrustworthy generation” and targets them for re-education because they are considered “susceptible” to influence by dangerous elements.
He said that “only children and old people” remain in the village, and that the local labor force had been decimated by the sweep.
“If the husband is taken away, his wife must take over his work, and where there are young children in a family … they must help in the fields,” the officer said.
For families with no remaining able-bodied members, “the village cadres have made arrangements for their fields to be cultivated by other people,” he added.
The officer, who said he helps to question detainees, said none of his siblings had been placed in the camps because his grandfather had taught them to “refrain from anything which would get us into trouble, and to always be loyal and give a good impression to the authorities.”
“From a very young age, we followed the call of the [ruling Chinese Communist] party.”
When asked how many residents of Chinibagh township have been detained in the camps, the officer said he was unsure, and referred questions to his supervisor.
The officer’s claim comes after the party secretary of Qaraqash’s Aqsaray township told RFA at the end of last year that he and other township officials had received an order from county-level authorities to target 40 percent of the population for re-education.
At the time, RFA found that around 5,000 of Qaraqash’s population of 34,000 people—or nearly 15 percent of the county’s residents—had already been taken away to re-education camps.
Reports suggest similar orders for “quotas” have been given in other areas of East Turkestan, and that authorities are detaining as many Uyghurs as possible in re-education camps and jail, regardless of their age, prior service to the Communist Party, or the severity of the accusations against them.

Camp network

China's central government authorities have not publicly acknowledged the existence of re-education camps in East Turkestan, and the number of inmates kept in each facility remains a closely guarded secret, but local officials in many parts of the region have in RFA telephone interviews forthrightly described sending significant numbers of Uyghurs to the camps and even described overcrowding in some facilities.
Citing credible reports, lawmakers Marco Rubio and Chris Smith, who head the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said recently that as many as 500,000 to a million people are or have been detained in the reeducation camps, calling it ”the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.”
Adrian Zenz, a lecturer in social research methods at the Germany-based European School of Culture and Theology, said the number “could be closer to 1.1 million, which equates to 10-11 percent of the adult Muslim population of the region."
China regularly conducts “strike hard” campaigns in East Turkestan, including police raids on Uyghur households, restrictions on Islamic practices, and curbs on the culture and language of the Uyghur people, including videos and other material.
While China blames Uyghurs for "terrorist" attacks, experts outside China say Beijing has exaggerated the threat from the Uyghurs and that repressive domestic policies are responsible for an upsurge in violence there that has left hundreds dead since 2009.

Exiled in the U.S., a Lawyer Warns of ‘China’s Long Arm’


China’s rising threat to international freedom and democracy has become a hot topic
By Edward Wong
 
Teng Biao, a Chinese human rights lawyer who moved to the United States after being harassed by the Chinese authorities, has criticized China’s coercion of foreigners to bend to its point of view.

From his suburban home in New Jersey, Teng Biao has watched in frustration as what he sees as the apologies to China from Western companies have come fast and furious this year.
First, there was the hotel chain Marriott International, which apologized to the Chinese government in January for having sent out a customer survey listing Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and the self-governing island of Taiwan as separate territories, a violation of the Communist Party canon that raised the ire of some Chinese citizens.
Then there was Gap Inc., which posted a message to the Chinese apologizing for a T-shirt with a map of China that ignited similar criticism. 
And in May, Air Canada on its website began listing Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, as a part of Communist-ruled China, which the Taiwanese reject.
For Mr. Teng, one of China’s pre-eminent civil rights lawyers, it all amounted to craven behavior from Western companies trying to stay in the good graces of Chinese officials to maintain access to the enormous consumer market in China.
“For the past two or three years, I’ve been paying attention to self-censorship by Western scholars, institutions and companies,” Mr. Teng, 44, said one recent afternoon in a cafe in Midtown Manhattan. 
“It’s urgent. China’s rising threat to international freedom and democracy has become a hot topic.”
Officials and political analysts in Western nations have indeed spoken up in the past year about what they call China’s “influence operations” or “sharp power,” how it coerces foreigners to bend to its point of view, or to self-censor in return for favors or access to the Chinese market.
Since 2013, Mr. Teng has spoken about these concerns four times to groups in the United States Congress and he has given lectures on university campuses on the same topic. 
He said he plans to write a book on it.
“I felt it’s high time to change the West’s policy toward China,” he said.
Mr. Teng has embraced this new role partly out of necessity. 
Under increasing harassment by the Chinese authorities, he left China in 2012 to spend time in Hong Kong and the United States. 
He does not dare return because of an official crackdown in recent years on rights lawyers that has landed many of his friends in prison
He now lives with his wife, Lynn Wang, and two daughters, ages 10 and 12, in West Windsor, N.J.
Mr. Teng’s interest in putting the spotlight on what he calls “China’s long arm” comes from personal experience. 
In 2016, he clashed publicly with the American Bar Association over its decision to rescind an offer to publish a book by Mr. Teng on the history of the lawyer-led rights movement in China. 
Mr. Teng said the group did this because it did not want to jeopardize its operations in Beijing. 
The Bar Association denied his accusation, saying the offer was withdrawn for economic reasons.
“The cross-border repression of which Teng Biao himself has become a victim has become this whole new complex set of issues,” said Eva Pils, a scholar at King’s College London, who once directed a center at the Chinese University of Hong Kong that hosted Mr. Teng. 
“I’m wary of how repression crosses borders, and I’m wary of how China is changing norms.”
Mr. Teng and his family also ran into financial difficulties in the United States after his wife was dismissed from her job as an international representative for a Chinese technology parts company — a move that he said had been forced by Chinese officials. 
His wife had worked for the company for 17 years.
“The Chinese government put pressure on that company,” Mr. Teng said. 
“The company said that because of me, they couldn’t sell their products to Chinese agencies and the military.”
Mr. Teng grew up in a village in the northeastern province of Jilin. 
His father was a painter and held a low-level official post related to education and culture, while his mother worked as a farmer. 
He received a slot at prestigious Peking University and decided to study law, eventually earning a doctorate in law in 2002.
While teaching at the China University of Political Science and Law, he became involved in the case of Sun Zhigang, a migrant worker killed by the police while in detention in the south. 
This started Mr. Teng and other lawyers on the road to activism, leading to their harassment by officials.
Mr. Teng and his wife watched with growing anxiety as Xi Jinping tightened control over civil society after taking power in 2012. 
Mr. Teng already had been detained repeatedly and beaten by police officers, with his family illegally kept in the dark as to his whereabouts for weeks at a stretch.
He went to the Chinese University of Hong Kong as a visiting scholar in 2012, then flew to the United States with his younger daughter two years later after getting an invitation from Harvard. 
By then, his wife and elder daughter had been barred from leaving the mainland, but they fled through Southeast Asia in 2015 with the help of smugglers, at one point riding on the backs of motorbikes through the hills of Thailand.
After Harvard, Mr. Teng was able to establish affiliations with New York University and Princeton University’s Institute for Advanced Study.
At Princeton in 2017, he collaborated with two other liberal Chinese to found a nonprofit group that aims to promote democracy in China by holding local gatherings, publishing books in Chinese and running online courses. 
Mr. Teng said the site for those courses is largely blocked in China.
Mr. Teng helped organize a march in Washington last July to call attention to China’s crackdown on rights lawyers, which officials began in earnest on July 9, 2015. 
About 50 people took part in the march, and Mr. Teng plans to hold another one next month.
This April, Mr. Teng wrote an essay for ChinaFile, a website run by the Asia Society in New York, arguing that “Xi Jinping’s new totalitarianism and Mao’s old style of totalitarianism don’t differ by all that much.”
“I think there must be some leaders, even top leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, who have ideas of liberal democracy,” he said in the interview. 
“But they don’t promote democracy. The first thing is they’re too scared. The second thing is they don’t want to lose the benefits they get from the system.”
One afternoon in March 2017, at a student-organized gathering at Princeton, Mr. Teng debated China’s future with Sida Liu, a professor from the University of Toronto who was also a visiting scholar at Princeton that academic year. 
Mr. Teng took a harsh view of the party, saying it would never change, while Mr. Liu was more circumspect.
In an interview this week, Mr. Liu said exiles like Mr. Teng have had to take a new approach to activism because of the crackdowns under Xi and the constant detentions.
“When I was in Princeton, Teng Biao was busy helping victims and families of the crackdown get out of China — to flee rather than to put in resources into China or support the next waves of activists,” Mr. Liu said.
Mr. Teng has warned that Chinese nationals in the United States try to monitor the dissenters in exile and report back to Chinese officials. 
He pointed to the 150 or so campus chapters of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, where members maintain contact with Chinese diplomats and try to quash talks at universities that clash with the official Chinese view.

vendredi 15 juin 2018

President Trump Is Great Again

President Donald Trump approves tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods
By Pamela Brown and Julia Horowitz


President Donald Trump has given his approval for the United States to put tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese exports, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
An official announcement is expected on Friday. 
The president's green light came after a meeting Thursday with top economic officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
The move represents a serious escalation of trade tensions between the world's two largest economies.
It was first reported by Bloomberg.
Beijing previously said it would respond to American tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese exports with retaliatory tariffs on $50 billion of US products such as cars, planes and soybeans.
For months, President Trump has slow-walked threats of tariffs against China as punishment for intellectual property theft.
He first announced that the United States would impose trade penalties on about $50 billion of Chinese goods in March.
"We have a tremendous intellectual property theft problem," President Trump said at the time. "It's going to make us a much stronger, much richer nation."
After China warned it would retaliate, Trump threatened tariffs on a further $100 billion of Chinese products.
In mid-May, both sides announced a ceasefire after two rounds of trade negotiations.
The countries said in a joint statement that China would "significantly increase" purchases of US agricultural and energy products to reduce the trade imbalance, a top Trump administration demand. Mnuchin subsequently declared the trade war "on hold."
Ten days later, the White House abruptly said it would proceed with the tariffs, along with new limits on Chinese investments in the United States.
The Trump administration said it would finalize the list of goods that would be subject to 25% tariffs by June 15, and that the tariffs would go into effect "shortly thereafter." 
An initial list, which including items ranging from artificial teeth to flamethrowers, was released at the beginning of April.
A further round of trade talks in Beijing earlier this month failed to yield any breakthroughs
And the Chinese government warned then it wouldn't honor its pledge to increase purchases of US goods if tariffs were imposed.
The Trump administration last week cut a deal with Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE to end a crippling ban that prevented the company from buying American parts. 
ZTE's fate had become entwined in the trade talks. 
But the agreement to save the company has faced resistance from lawmakers in Congress, who argue the ban should stay in place because ZTE poses a security threat.
President Trump's decision to move forward with tariffs on China follows his recent imposition of steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union on national security grounds.

Ah Q-ism syndrome

Chinese defend Einstein's accurate portrait of their people as 'filthy' and 'obtuse'
Scientist’s travel diaries from 1920s described Chinese children as ‘spiritless’ and ‘obtuse’, and people who ‘relieve themselves in leafy woods’
By Lily Kuo

Einstein described Chinese children as ‘spiritless’ and ‘obtuse’ but Chinese say he depicted an accurate picture.

Chinese internet users have defended Albert Einstein’s recently published travel diaries in which the physicist calls the Chinese “industrious, filthy people.”
Portions of the diaries from his travels in Asia in the 1920s were posted online this week and their content surprised Einstein fans.
“Chinese don’t sit on benches while eating but squat like Europeans do when they relieve themselves out in the leafy woods,” he wrote.
“All this occurs quietly and demurely. Even the children are spiritless and look obtuse.”

Einstein's travel diaries reveal shocking truth about Chinese

The theoretical physicist added: “It would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races. For the likes of us the mere thought is unspeakably dreary.”
“Einstein went to China at the wrong time,” said one Weibo user, describing the early years of the Chinese republic, established in 1912, which came after centuries of imperial rule.
“Hunger, war, and poverty all pressed on the Chinese. How could Chinese people at the time gain Einstein’s respect?”
Many were in strong support of the scientist: “This is called insulting China? That’s ridiculous. Did the Chinese in that era look dirty? When I see the photos from then, they look dirty, Einstein depicted the true state of that era.”
Others compared the scientists’s observations to that of Lu Xun, considered the father of modern Chinese literature, who was best known for his scathing satire of Chinese society in the early 20th century.
“We praise Lu Xun because he pointed out our disadvantages. Why should we blame Einstein for this?”
Historical narratives promoted by the Chinese government often paint the days before China’s communist party took power in 1949 as chaotic.
But there were some dissenting voices amongst the comments: “This is just racism. We can see that Einstein is strong in physics but he doesn’t understand humans at all.”