01 September 2023

The decline of China

Excerpts from an op-ed piece.  I have no idea whether the assertions are true or the predictions logical, but the implications are broad and serious.
The main challenge we will face from the People's Republic in the coming decade stems not from its rise but from its decline — something that has been obvious for years and has become undeniable in the past year with the country's real estate market crash...

A China that can buy less from the world — whether in the form of handbags from Italy, copper from Zambia or grain from the United States — will inevitably constrain global growth. For U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm, 64% of its sales last year came from China; for German automaker Mercedes-Benz, 37% of its retail car sales were made there...

Last month, Donald Trump described the rule of China's president, Xi Jinping, as "smart, brilliant, everything perfect." The truth is closer to the opposite. As a young man, according to a peer from his youth, Xi was "considered of only average intelligence," earned a three-year degree in "applied Marxism" and rode out the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath by becoming "redder than red." His tenure as supreme leader has been marked by a shift to greater state control of the economy, the intensified harassment of foreign businesses and a campaign of terror against independent-minded business leaders. One result has been ever-increasing capital flight, despite heavy-handed capital controls. China's richest people have also left the country in increasing numbers during Xi's tenure — a good indication of where they think their opportunities do and do not lie...

Xi's government's recent decision to suppress data on youth unemployment — just north of 21% in June, double what it was four years ago — is part of a pattern of crude obfuscation that mainly diminishes investor confidence... the real China story may lie in a version of what's sometimes called Tocqueville's paradox: the idea that revolutions happen when rising expectations are frustrated by abruptly worsening social and economic conditions...
More at the link. 


  1. “More at the link” – I’d like to read more, but can’t find the link.

    1. Thanks for the heads-up, anon. I was rushing to get finished and get outdoors in this great weather.

  2. I don't think Xi Jinping is very smart. He is typical of his kind. Like Trump, like Musk, like Stalin, like Putin, he has the opposite of the Midas touch. Everything they touch turns to shit. Go ask the Uygurs.

  3. There remains enormous opportunity in China, India, the rest of Asia and Africa because there are hundreds of millions of people living in poverty.

    Humanity has a moral imperative to help those people. If the invisible god of capitalism, economic growth, can help, great.

    However, helping those people hat will require proper leadership from local governments. It is troublesome that there is a rise in authoritarianism. In China, in India, in Turkey, there's a bunch of coups in tearing through Africa, and even the US and the UK are no strangers to leaders that prefer to fight idiotic ideological battles that do not benefit the public, but that do keep them in power. The rest of the western world is atm able to keep those out of power.

    I'm not impressed by the the opinions from a neocon, the ideology that brought us the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and increasing inequality, but the author is right that Xi is part of a troubling trend. Poor people are paying the price for his ego.

    I don't care much for people who are debate who the US's next enemy should be. We should be sorting out how we can live together in peace. Not dreaming up new wars, hot, cold or in trade.

    The US claims it's a force for peace, but it wages a darn lot of war......

    1. Relevant:

    2. Cool article, you are always relevant.

      However, to answer the question:

      1: The US and Russia promised Ukraine to back their safety when they handed over their nukes to Russia after the Soviet collapse. Russia already broke their promise. If the US does as well, no country will ever let go of their nukes in exchange for safety guarantees. That would make the world more dangerous in the end.

      2: We tried letting Russia have Crimea. That did not stop Russia from going further. There is no reason to assume that Russia would stop at the NATO/EU border even if we let them take all of Ukraine. Russia would reincorporate Belarus and some -stans in no time. Who knows what would happen to Georgia. Good luck then convincing our NATO/EU Baltic friends not to freak out.

      So in the end, this is about the US living up to its promises and nuclear proliferation, and the EU defending its territory. Cynically, for both the US and the EU, it's much better to fight a proxy war with Russia through Ukranian bodies, than to have to put their own bodies up.

      Everything else is political bullshit.

  4. The percentage figures for goods being "bought by China" are going to be mostly for goods being exported right back out to the rest of the world. eg iPhones still use Qualcomm chips (about to change though) and they're made in China, which accounts for about 15% of iPhone sales.

  5. The Mercedes figure of 37% - Mercedes has a joint-partnership with a Chinese company (because that's the only way you get access to the market) to make cars there. I'm guessing a large chunk of those profits stay within China.

    The point being, China is a pretty terrible place for human rights and nothing good will come of wishing Xi's dictatorship to be successful. If a collapse leads to a democratic movement (unlikely, to be fair) that isn't ideologically at loggerheads with the West then that'd be a good thing. Xi's crackdown came after years of growing freedom and a strong whiff of capitalism.


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