Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Advantage: America?

So what is our trade dispute with China?

There seems to be a mismatch in perceptions. President Donald Trump, in comments to reporters on Tuesday, characterized the trade disagreement this way: “We’re having a little squabble with China.”

Trump was calming jittery markets. The [Chinese communist] party, on the other hand, was inflaming passions. The stoking of emotions—“people’s war” suggests America is an enemy of all Chinese—suggests a trade agreement between the planet’s two largest economies is not in the cards anytime soon.

Does the US statement that we are in a "squabble" while China says this is a "people's war" indicate how much more the dispute is hurting China than it is hurting America?

Those favorable terms perhaps made some sense when China was poor and weak and when the prevailing theory (which I did not hold) that economic progress would lead to Chinese democracy.  They don't make sense for America--or the rest of the advanced West--as China advances economically and militarily.

Is Xi under economic pressure at home because of the trade dispute that has not yet been resolved? Does he need a "bad" deal that removes much of the terms of current trade that have favored China? Or is Xi weak politically weak despite his tremendous advances in centralizing power under his control, making him appear as a new emperor in all but name? Is a declaration of a people's war his effort to rally people to his side in a nationalistic appeal?

If the former, that would go a long way to ending the dispute on good terms for America and making the Great Trade War the trade war to end all Chinese-American trade disputes.

UPDATE: More on stemming China's rise.

UPDATE: Do the rival tariff lists show America has the edge in this trade terms dispute?

China increasingly realizes that it’s playing a losing hand in the trade war, and its counter-moves have been made mainly for public consumption in China.

Tip to Instapundit.