Great Trade War begins, slightly

So the Great Trade War begins, again, but for real this time, in a Trump-puts-tariffs-on-$34bn-of-Chinese-imports sort of way, at least if you’re the type who loses sleep over the idea that ‘another $16 billion of goods could follow in two weeks’.

As we are constantly reminded, global supply chains and other forms of interdependence mean we will all suffer if the world lapses into protectionism. Yet it should be obvious that China – with extreme economic distortions and a paranoid dictatorship – has most to lose if the system breaks down. Beijing’s main hope is that Trump is too imbecilic to understand how vulnerable China is. (By ‘imbecilic’, we mean the sort of person who starts the ultimate strategic economic showdown against China by attacking Canada.) For an attempt to detect coherence in US actions, try this.

Which brings us to declaring the weekend open with some recommended reading…

Many people – certainly Trump – see international economic relations in terms of the half of the balance of payments known as the current account. If you look at the capital account, you see a different picture, such as this no-difficult-economics-required piece in the Atlantic.

Put another way: if China is on its way to becoming number-one, why are its richest people all moving their wealth to the West? Why – you’d almost think they thought the place was screwed or something. (A more compelling question is why legions of observers and analysts seem oblivious to this anomaly in the ‘emerging giant’ narrative, as if unable to understand how vulnerable China is… )

China’s rise seen from Manchester, England. And, following the recent much-acclaimed story in the NY Times, a Lowy Interpreter visit to Sri Lanka’s Belt and Road win-win rip-off at Habantota.

In the At-Least-It-Can’t-Happen-In-Hong-Kong department: compulsory conversion of Muslims to Xi-ists in Xinjiang, and exciting new books suitable for study groups on Lord Xi mythology, such as his early days in the village of Liangjiahe. If it ever does happen in Hong Kong, you might try fleeing here – the far edge. Lastly, a history of Kai Tak in pix.

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4 Responses to Great Trade War begins, slightly

  1. Knownot says:

    From Thursday’s post: “So all that’s left is some silent, seething micro-aggression. Imagine a whiny, just-chastised child stamping his feet and insisting he is still in the right – so there! – as you read the government statement’s defensive final paragraph.”

    Sympathy for the Believers

    In the beginning, God created . . . Start again.

    A hundred thousand years ago, standing straight,
    Roaming in the wild savannah, humankind,
    You and I, came forth; walking, riding, sailing,
    Fighting, killing – conquered, mastered all the world.

    A hundred thousand years would pass, but still we feared
    Death. Not our own death only. All human death.
    Women by the milliions died, giving birth.
    Children by the millions died, too young to breed.
    People by the millions died, felled by plague.
    So could the human race survive? Not being sure,
    We needed babies! Babies! The world was short of babies!

    Lurking in the shadows, furtive, sinful people,
    Women who loved women, men who lay with men,
    Sick, unnatural people, never making babies,
    Traitors to their race, sinners unto God;
    God’s own holy book condemned their loathsome acts.
    Though we multiplied, and all the world was peopled,
    So believers still believed, through the ages.

    Fifty years ago, only fifty years,
    Thinking changed, the laws were changed. Old beliefs
    Sanctified by God, were trashed, discredited;
    Old believers trapped, saying ‘I believe’
    But also ‘As a Christian, I must believe.’
    Old believers pushed aside by new reformers,
    Overweening as they used to be themselves.
    Why do I sympathise? Truly held beliefs
    Held for reasons moral, ethical, aesthetic,
    Ages old – are petrified, too hard to crumble,
    Not in fifty years. I understand: they fight
    A rearguard action, honourable, loyal, and futile.

    I admit my own block, so I sympathise:
    At the time of homosexual law reform
    I believed, not only through a sense of justice,
    But through natural (whatever that is) human feeling
    It was right. But at the time, who imagined
    Gay marriage? Civil partnership? Maybe
    Half a hundred – half a dozen – unknown dreamers.
    But later I could see, through a sense of justice,
    It was right. Further then, another claim –
    Gay adoption. This, I could not see. I thought:
    Even though they don’t have reproductive sex
    They still want children! Even though they don’t compete
    They still want prizes! It’s a paradox – a cheat!
    Well . . . I later thought . . . they really do want children.
    I thought . . . lots of men have reproductive sex
    But don’t want children! So maybe gay adoption is . . .
    No! I just can’t see it! Like an old believer.

  2. Mary Melville says:

    The bright side to these trade wars is that there should be a lot less crap crossing oceans.
    We could all learn to live more frugally and the environment would reap the benefit. Obesity levels would drop as the supply of sugary US cereals, big Macs and Hersheys dry up. Reduced car production, more space on our streets. Fish stokcs might be allowed to replenish. The possibilities are endless and beguiling.

  3. Joe Blow says:

    Ah, Mary Melville. The seventies, Bottoms Up, safari suits, Tsim Sha Tsui. Good memories !

    How are they hanging, Mary ?

  4. dimuendo says:

    Joe

    I would rather have Mary’s company, or her attitude, than your sneering obsessions.

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