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A: (extracts a Marlboro, lights it, inhales, smoke issues from nostrils, puts pack back into shirt pocket)
B: (looks at the shirt pocket, whinces, pulls out a 中南海, lights it, inhales, looks across the waters of Hangzhou's West Lake)
A: Friend, my country's Kudlow said we may meet at G20 in Buenos Aires next month. He added China has shown no willingness to accept our US' demand to end the escalating trade war and has not provided satisfactory responses to our demands.
B: (thinks of Su Tungpo, the real genius, astride his neighing horse) Ah, yes. Kudlow. The one who said China has a lousy economy? If China is such a goner, why bother to talk? If a global hegemon like your US makes demands, which other sovereign superpower should kowtow to even listen in this day and age of cultured coexistential diplomacy?
Look, A. Ask yourself who started the trade war? Certainly not China. Who made demands? Certainly not China. Who listed 140 demands and those after firing two salvoes of trade tariffs? Certainly not China. And, who responded by generously agreeing on the spot to one-third of those demands, asking to discuss further the second-third but standing firm to deny the final third because they remain incongruous, unreasonable and unthinkable? Only a nation as wise and justified as China. And your US is still not satisfied but remains oblivious to the nuanced messages?
Which sovereign nation can accept all demands that include demands which require another sovereign nation to slap its own face, shoot itself in the foot, tie itself up forever and keep quiet about it?
A: (hand trembles, ash falls onto pants) But our views on China are shared by Europe, Canada and Japan...
B: (eyes roll and roll). Oh, you mean this?
A: (amber falls on pants, burns hole size of nickel) So what you want us to do? Our trade deficit with your country is mountainous. We can't continue to bankroll the world. We have been taken for a ride for too long. Our workers are rusting in our rust belt. Our trigger-happy, opiod-generations have lost hope, direction and focus. If you were us, what would you have done?
B: If we were you? Let me see...One, accept that problems are better solved and more permanently at that if done cooperatively with others treated as friends rather than upfront as adversaries, rivals or enemies. Follow me so far? That is common sense, no? It is a counterproductive drain on teamwork energy and results if participants cannot trust one another long-term to solve problems common to all. No good can come or last from playing the zero-sum game that says i win only if you lose. This planet and its resources are not big enough for antagonistic hubris. Because if you do something bad onto someone, don't expect that person to just take it. If he just swallows it, that would be bad for the human right your lot seems to proclaim. And since humans make up a sovereignty, what more for sovereign rights.
Second, your rustbelt workers without jobs. Did you stop to look for a creative, cooperative and accommodating solution first instead so that no one loses and you get to develop for the future instead? Nah, you just took out your colt 45 and fired at shadows. Let me give you an example. How about steel? Your steel mills closed because you import directly and indirectly the products from China, India, South Korea, Germany, East Europe and so on. But did you check why your steel mills could not compete? It is because of your union-locked wage requirements and the static condition of your mill technologies. While other countries have been investing to start their steel industry and therefore could adopt the latest technology, yours remain moribund. Your management was more interested in looking for personal perks while others were lean and green. Then you say the imported steel was dumped onto your market. They were not dumped. They were just surplus production owing to competition by mills in different places which had opened up for the first time because your capitalists insisted the countries open up their markets but forgot that in order for open markets to pay for imports, the peoples must have jobs to buy them.
A: Ahah! Exactly the same reason we faced, don't you agree? (fumes emit from hole in pants)
B: (eyebrows rise a centimetre) Patience. Let me finish what i am saying.
In this case of your steel workers, the solution would have been simpler and overflowing with more finesse. Let's say it's between us. First, you ask us to help solve your problem of your own capitalists offshoring your industries, leading to less work for your workers. You must be honest, contrite and humbled that the problem is of your own doing. In fact, you can set the pace and mood of the consultation by admitting those facts upfront. There's no loss of face. If you do well, so will I since business must be long-term for both just as talk must supercede unnecessary acrimony.
Next, i will respond to try to help. I will suggest why not you let us take over your steel mills; we will pay market price for part of them, perhaps as joint-venture partners. We will retain your workers, and may even give them better wages than they have been getting. Then you and I will sit down and work out the value-chain of each mill to see how our products sent over from our mills can be the inputs for your mills to upgrade, thereby speedily raising the competitiveness of your mills' output so that more funds will be available to develop better steel products not just for your local market but also for us, even the rest of the world.
And as that happens, our mills back home here can develop higher value adds because they have been able to export to you so that the steel mills of both countries work in tandem to cooperatively raise each other's bars and more importantly, without either losing out in any way.
You may ask - but yours over here will steal our technology - and then bypass us globally. Let me respond beyond your thinking mode. If that were so, the entire suggestion will collapse for steel. And therefore not be sustainable for other industries as well. Which is exactly what is happening now. Can you see where i have been coming from? Holism rather than tit-tat trivials is what will make whole bigger than sum of parts in a world of shrinking resources.
You see, A, what is important for the world of trade and progress these days and into the future is not about competition that those kiddo's of yours seem to bray and echo thoughtlessly despite their education. What's important is cooperation to lift production value-chains everywhere so as to prime continuous innovation for all. Because that's how civilisations can progress.
And in the case of steel, aluminium, tyres, plastics, generators, cranes, tractors, machine parts, and what-not, your own engineers association has labelled the US infrastructure (which need them) as bucklingly subpar. The last time i was over, i thought that somehow the US must have liked its '50s so much it decided to remain there. So that because of the neglect, your industries can't progress faster but there's also the problem of funds which means you got to source cheaper materials. And in most cases, that's from us. Because we have the supply chains and scale of local demand that you need and can't reconstruct.
Notice that your White House has left to each of your states to solve their infrastructure problems? That's surrender of the matter, isn't it? In fact, putting tariffs on those products needed for your infrastructure rehabilitation is a sure way of growing the problem faster and bigger instead. Besides their impacts on your treasury and thus yield and thus stock market and thus interest rate and thus national competitiveness. What were his transcript grades from Wharton?