Author: wchao37

When will the US start calling China the Big Bully? [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2019-6-27 09:39:49 |Display all floors
Donald Trump’s impulsive approach to China makes US vulnerableFT June 26 2019

Why have the US-China trade negotiations stalled — and what will Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping need to do to revive the talks when they meet in Japan this week?

The US administration’s current position reflects an internal division. One faction wants to decouple the American economy from China; this group favours tariffs, barriers to cross-border investment, and uncertainties that would compel companies to break supply chains. The other faction seeks to change China’s practices in order to boost US exports, protect intellectual property and technology, and counter discrimination against overseas investors; these actions would expand American economic ties with China. To reconcile these conflicting aims, the compromise has been to make extraordinary demands — and rely on Mr Trump’s instincts to decide whether to do a deal.

The principal problem in the negotiation now is what America will do in return if China takes steps to open markets, buy goods, and secure US interests. For now, Washington has insisted on retaining the tariffs it imposed until Beijing delivers on its promises. US negotiators also want the right to reimpose tariffs whenever America chooses — and to prohibit Chinese retaliation.

When China’s politburo reviewed the prospective deal, it choked on the lack of mutual obligations. The two sides also failed to agree on Beijing’s shopping list for buying US goods. To China, the terms looked unequal, raising old ghosts from 19th-century diplomacy about foreigners treating them with a lack of dignity and respect.

Mr Trump’s decision to blacklist Huawei adds another obstacle. The Chinese do not know whether Washington is seeking to destroy the telecoms equipment group by starving it of critical inputs, to block the company’s business in the US and elsewhere, or to use it as a bargaining chip.

Along with the rest of the world, China has observed that trade protectionism, like immigration and the wall on the border with Mexico, appears to be a core political issue for Mr Trump. Those topics signal authenticity to his political base, so he needs to keep protectionism and hostility to immigrants in the news to show supporters he is true to his word — and different from other politicians. (Mr Trump’s political image is also to avoid military action and to break with his predecessors on North Korea and Iran.)

Mr Trump’s dealmaking is impulsive, based on his political assessment of the moment. If financial markets tumble, he is likely to trim his demands or at least pull back from the brink. If he is concerned about business complaints, consumer costs, and threats to the economy, he could well hold off on more tariff increases, while restarting talks. And if he decides to close after more negotiations, he will trumpet any deal as the “greatest ever”, regardless of the terms.

The biggest weakness of this approach is that tariffs and even a trade deal will not address the full range of Sino-American differences — and opportunities. That extensive docket requires persistent, in-depth interaction. Under Mr Trump, other work streams with China have been consumed by the trade talks.  Under Mr Xi, China has been planning a new long-term strategy toward the US, reflecting its perceptions of changed circumstances and likely futures. Mr Trump’s behaviour accelerated that work.

The writer is a former US trade representative, deputy secretary of state and World Bank president.

comments by readers:

China is following exactly what the US did to solidify its leadership in the decades following WWII. Make massive government investments in technology, not only for defense, but also for technology applicable to our commercial leadership and make massive government investments in infrastructure, in education, etc.We are on a fools errand due to the lack of such investments since the late eighties and we are trying to kneecap China for doing what we did. This is a losing strategy.Until we compete with the aforementioned investments, we will continue the downdraft we are in. Tech has provided so many new toys with which to amuse ourselves, and we have chosen building up the national debt rather than saving to finance government investments in our country's future.Blaming China for doing what we should be doing will never work.


A very American point of view. But at least one with intelligence.Does anybody in the US give any consideration to the morality of trying to “contain” a population of 1,4 bn people ? Or about the morality of trying to obliterate companies that developed an edge ?Where do these people think they get the moral right to do that ?What i see and hear is more or less “we are stronger, we can do it, they can not retaliate”If it serves our purpose, and we can’t be hurt, it seems to be ok.

(international/global observer)

Fascinating and v clear article with implications for us all. Has Trump pushed the Chinese too far (respect is a core value for China) and will he back down? It doesn’t sound like he will...


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Post time 2019-7-27 15:15:37 |Display all floors

The bullying has continued.  

Developing Country Status

Now it's China's standing as a developing country under the WTO definition that the US is contesting.  Just one comparison tells why China should continue to be deemed developing by the WTO:  the number of poor people in China is still about 400 million; what is the total population of the US?

So, in 90 days time when Trump asks his Lighthizer for a report on China's standing as a developing country, he should well be aware China still has as many poor as the total number of people in his country. How then can China not be a developing country?

The size of the number of poor in China to be uplifted by her economic programs is a huge challenge which can only be solved progressively. It cannot be resolved overnight in 90 days; after all, it took 40 years to lift the other 830 million out of poverty.

Therefore, it is unconscionable for Trump to raise the issue when China has already been making steady progress; instead, he should be encouraging China's progress and helping her to make a success of her poverty eradication programs and projects which are under the umbrella of her industrialization for national rejuvenation so that she will have more middle-income peoples to buy more goods from the world as has already been seen with her first batch.

It is a sign of inchoate decision-making on the part of Trump's administration to try and find another excuse to diminish China with view to forcing a trade deal favorable only to itself at the talks due to restart.

And by saying it will not follow the WTO rules if the organization does not rule in favor of the US, that is just extortionate bullying by the world's ex-eminent superpower on the only international organisation which adjudicates on global trade.

This is not going to end well. It may balkanize the world into trade blocs and usher a new era of cold war just when a global recession looms to hit by next year. The US growth rate itself has dropped to 2.1% owing to dampened exports of its big-ticket items like soybeans, chemicals and commercial aircraft.

With the global import markets so lacklustre these days and all his US workers fully employed, where is he going to find more people to raise production to grow beyond that rate in order to try and justify his Maga presumptions?

He doesn't want foreign workers, and factory line automation is a one-way street because once a factory invests in automation, it will try to recoup its machine investments and thus will not use more human workers so they will be retrenched and the same specter of loss of jobs that he said was due to outsourcing will now be due to insourcing.

The big issue with Trump is he never uses a brain (if any) when brains are needed to create the future through one's actions today. Because of that, it could well be a permanent issue unless he chooses to listen to wiser counsel.  So far he hasn't and it looks like he is ingrained not to because he thinks being the recalcitrant iconoclast of today's US political landscape will push through achievements he craves to burnish into his credentials as a businessman turned statesman. He ain't either.

Hence all the knee-jerks from day one of his administration. His first order of the day had started with him increasing US nukes; hopefully for the world, that's not how it will be ending.

International Law

It took Japan over 100 years of development before it could finally try on its western coat. However, the US should not in using Japan as a comparison be hasty to demand that China adopt international laws pronto although she has already made strong progress and reforms on the assimilation of legal ideas from outside to the extent even the European communities have accepted her progress.

That the US as a spinoff from Europe sees otherwise will only increase the suspicion it is not about assimilation of foreign legal statutes which is the matter. It is more about making China out to be a strategic rival as target enemy when she had never considered the US as one, except for one theoretical discussion long-relinquished that had only been prompted by US policy aggression towards her at the time. As said before, one doesn't make an enemy of one's customer otherwise one would also not be its major banker which China remains as in US books.

It doesn't require much thinking why the US still persists in saying China is slow in her reforms:

One, despite being a global player, the US is paradoxically wrapped up in its own development model cocoon and thus expects everyone else to follow its path double-quick.  It has advanced to a stage where it measures the rest of the world using only its exclusive benchmarks. Its experiment in government has ended whereas other nations are still continuing theirs in order to decide how to tackle the changes in the world; that the US is today facing so many intra-governmental crippling issues should presage it reexamine its assumptions since it unarguably hasn't accomodated global changes.

That it hasn't may explain why it cannot fathom as well that other countries have their own sovereign rights and ways, different forms of government but identifiable by similar overall objectives of progress, stability and uplifting of citizens, and historical legacies that add constraints to human transformation and organization that the US has not experienced enough to itself do on account of its established developed status;

Two, China's past experiences at the hands of foreigners might have influenced her approach to 'international' laws, especially when most of those laws were set by foreigners from the same countries which had visited ruin on her peoples in the past.

It takes time to heal the past in the present and elevate those laws from being secondary, especially in the western regions, until they can co-evolve with the domestic laws of the land which incidentally have, as principles, a lineage all the way back thousands of years so that, in perspective, one can ask exactly how old is the US that it can make demands on another nation grander because of age but greater because of youth.

One must also add the journey towards co-evolution between domestic and international laws will also have to run in tempo with the development of professional legal competence that has to navigate between two different sources inasmuch two different government-economic models;

In trying to decouple from China today, the US is only going to throw a monkey wrench to impede China's own pace of reforms even while she continues to make reforms but now with polarity towards Europe. If such be so, how not foolish be the US when what it is doing will ony deliver the opposite result of what it had originally wished for upon China's admission to the WTO.

In the end, when China comes full circle on her internationalization, the US may find itself left dry on the sauna bench away from her markets even when she has by then adopted the standards the US insists she exercises today.

It only goes to show the advanced stage of the US' mindset should not spill out as an unreasonable expectation of the same by others who have only had other dissimilar nation-growing experiences which the US seems too derelict to really find out beforehand.

Yet it is inconceivable the trumpers are that dumb. But that could be an oxymoron. After all, the linear analyses in so many pro-western think-tanks pay only skirting service to the true essence of China. Which may explain their recent paper to try and counteract the earlier pro-rational paper by citizens of the same US.


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Post time 2019-7-27 15:15:56 |Display all floors

National Security

Euphemistically, the gripe about US national security could have been brewed accidentally in, of all places, Hollywood California, where a movie called Eagle Eye was first made way back in 2008.

In that flick, the US had an AI supercomputer that tracked everyone and everything in real-time through computers, handphones, cctv's, scanners and cable wirings. That supercomputer was programmed to protect US citizens. Then one day, it prognosed that an intended US military drone strike against an overseas target had too large a collateral uncertainty. The US Potus in that movie decided otherwise and ordered the strike. It killed a group of funeral bearers. Their kin reacted by striking back at US society. The supercomputer's programme then triggered itself to use its networking to try and execute the entire US leadership for not stopping the first attack which had resulted in the counter-attacks on the citizens it was programmed to protect.

Fast forward, it can be asked whether such a message from the movie had embedded itself into the febrile imagination of some US policy-makers until they could only and viscerally extrapolate their fears onto offshore suppliers so as to next-step try to cordon sanitaire the US itself off by creating some entity-sanction lists to expunge bona-fide providers when its own agencies have been the ones spying on other nations all along through the networks the US has subsidized by collaborative research and funds allocated to its private enterprises.

Even if it is possible to embed or insert vulnerabilities into the US' domestic systems, one must ask and answer to what end will doing so ever serve any cause when all will still have to live on the same planet, especially when it is more than likely the US as first-mover in all things IT and cyber have the vastest array of anti-intrusion/information-mining and surveillance programs at its disposal ever since its days as the first intruders.

Put in another way to endpoint, what can possibly be served by going to war as the ultimate and final outcome of information asymmetry? An invasion? Manufacturing members of the US' NRA will jump at the call to supply more arms to US citizens against any 'red' (or any other color) scare.

The world should co-evolve to create more mutual interdependence; then, players will not seek conflicts but cooperation. Nations should not try to immolate themselves by withdrawing from peaceful collaboration and co-creation; advancing into outright, tedious and unsupportable rivalry will ultimate boomerang as grievous losses to all. Zero-sum games will ultimately result in only zeroes not heroes.

The business and technology worlds of the world's youths have already integrated deeply; decoupling will only tear off the common tissues of cohesion through which individual strengths can percolate to co-support one another up.  

Compute, not compete.

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