Friday, April 06, 2018

China Trade War - History Matters

It bears repeating. China will not meekly surrender in a trade war.
China has a history in trade wars unlike anything the United States has ever experienced. If Trump could read he would do well to study the history. The humiliation of China during and after the Opium Wars is taught in Chinese schools from an early age. It is a lesson seared into Chinese consciousness - never again. The Chinese will not allow themselves to suffer indignities.

Trade deficits with China are a recent thing, only a couple decades old. China didn't really emerge on the global stage until it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
American businesses, like dress maker Ivanka and tie seller Donald, have gone to China seeking sweatshop labor that is illegal in the United States. The products are then marked up extravagantly for sale in the US. American businesses have made billions of dollars from this "unequal" trade. Ford sells more cars in China than in the United States, earning $1.5 billion from the Chinese market in 2016. General Motors has done even better. Trade with China has made American fatcats significantly fatter.

From the Chinese perspective they have been more than fair. They help American businesses be prosperous and use the trade surplus to invest in American bonds, keeping US interest rates low. They see it as a win-win. Trump wants to create a lose-win scenario where China is the big loser.

China has the second largest economy in the world and is leading the United States in emerging technologies like solar power. The Chinese may view this trade war as a dying gasp of a fading superpower that seems determined to return to the 19th century.
They will not be submissive in facing the US. The Chinese do not remember the 19th century kindly.

No comments: