The new U.S.-China Cold War

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column.  It’s not my most fun piece, but in terms of content arguably the most important.  Here is one short bit:

The new dynamic affects people as well as products. China is asking state firms to avoid travel to the U.S. and its allies. And if you were an American or Canadian tech company executive, would you travel to China right now, given that Canada has detained a leading Huawei executive (and daughter of the company’s CEO) for extradition to the U.S.? Meanwhile, many American universities are kicking their local Confucius Institute off campus, most notably the University of Michigan, amid complaints that those institutes are spying on Chinese nationals who attend those schools. Whether or not that is true, this is another sign of the collapse of trust.

This is the deeper issue with the U.S.-China relationship: the continuing erosion, in an era of rapid deglobalization, of previous ties built at least partly on a common sense of purpose. Looking back at 2018, it now seems obvious that this was the most important story of the year.

Do read the whole thing.  It is much easier to break trust than to rebuild it.


Did China ever believe the Cold War was over?

Sure, they’ve adopted the machinery of capitalism to increase their wealth, but they are becoming more expansionist and antagonistic, not less.

Spying, hacking, technology theft, the South China Sea, NK missile tests, overseas kidnapping of dissidents and growing crackdowns on resistance at home.

There never was trust, and the Cold War never ended.

The only thing that’s changed is the US is pushing back with stronger ties among China’s increasingly nervous neighbors and a grinding economic war of attrition.

It was about time.

Agreed. Where was this musing about a new Cold War when Chinese hackers stole the background-check files of every US federal employee?

+1 also. China has been conducting a campaign against the West for some time. Trump has simply recognized it and acted accordingly.

Add another +1

I would even expand the whole fiasco related to the current crisis with NK to this underlying theme. Just how valuable it a nuclear threat from NK -- and perhaps even its use of such weapons -- to China's ambitions for both regional and global dominance.

The story is much longer than 2018.

New!? If you think this is new you aren't paying attention. What is "new" is now American politicians and media are noticing it and trying to do something about it. China has been stealing and eating our lunch for 50+ years and now the president has outed them and demanding they become an honest trading partner. IMHO we would be better off to not trade with China, they cannot be trusted in any way.

Did you respond to the wrong person? I never made any claim this is new. If you read what I say you should walk away with the view that it is hardly new.

As for the trade bit...maybe yet maybe no. I do think anyone doing business there should know (and be expected to know) that risks are much different. At times I even think we should say, fine, take your (not national threat tech) business to China. But don't cry to mommy about having your IP stolen. Moreover, as that is pretty much a certainty you as a company have voluntarily given up the patent protections. We are not going to hobble the small (or not small) players in the USA so they will have royalty free access to those patented technologies.

Want to keep your patents? Do business in countries that support those rights.

That's not going to fly but would let companies do business where they want and level the playing field a bit between the Chinese and USA producers. Might actually promote more domestic production and jobs.

Merely responded at the end of a thread to the subject at hand.

This was inevitable. Now it's just a question of what "winning" this cold war entails. My best guess is an independent Guangdong as Taiwan 2.0 (absorbing talent from a collapsing China and following the Asian tiger playbook, including a rough alignment with the developed nations against what is still a large and threatening (though significantly weakened through turmoil and flight of talent/capital to Guangdong) China. All of this is bolstered by stories/myths of Cantonese differences from the rest of China - "Yue" people and all of that. It doesn't take more than a few conversations in Hong Kong to find that there is rich fodder for this type of justification. Hong Kong itself would seize the opportunity to occupy a middle ground between independence and absorption into the full PRC. No Mandarin, simplified characters, or CCP would make the bogeyman much less scary, and of course as a smaller state heavily oriented towards international trade (both currently and historically), Guangdong wouldn't take terribly long to catch up in terms of wealth. Overseas Chinese populations (a substantial percentage of which are Cantonese) would easily fall into the Guangdong camp, bringing further wealth and soft power. Fujian could potentially move in the same direction, with a similar background and strong cultural ties with Taiwan.

This breakup is the only endgame I can see working for an extended period - otherwise even with economic stagnation you're still facing a massive rival with the potential to grow powerful again at any point (not to mention their vast talent pool is left with nowhere to go).

So Trump's trade wars have the following pluses and minuses:

(+) Pluses: China falls due to their export economy drying up; no more Red China, hence freedom for Uyghur Muslims in west China, Tibetans in Tibet, Cantonese in HK and Taiwanese in Taiwan.

(-) Minuses: more expensive junk at Walmart for a population already spending beyond their means (the Americans).

Sounds like a win for Trump, and for freedom.

So East Timor gained independence the same year the US gave up the Suez Canal. The same year there were 3 large chemical companies. Eugene (South Korea), Fufeng (China), and OMNOVA (Ohio).

Westinghouse went from company to corporation. I think Cowan is saying solar is a huge jump, but the US dollar has strengthened?

If hurting China more than benefitting your personal situation is what you want, then Trump is the answer. Kind of like the alt-right that wants to own libs even if that means making society more hostile and making things generally shittier.

Nonsense. China has been cheating the US for a long time and it is about time we have a president addressing the issue.

You didn't address the point that making things worse for yourself to make things worse for your rival is a good thing. The tariffs are an example of this, which Trump pushed but is causing all kinds of distortions in the US like all the taxpayer money redirected to farmers and tariffed goods costing more to consumers. Working with allies to contain China would have been the smarter move.

Nothing is free -- if it was there would not be a conflict to get it. Ed, correct, this has been a long time coming but needs to be done. You are correct that we have a price to pay.

What you ignore is that we are already paying a price for China's gains and that price is going up over time. It seem to me that the low cost for the USA as a whole, and I think the vast majority (poor and rich and middle) of the people is that challenge now not later.

The US is actually benefiting. We collect the tariffs and the tariffs are falling mostly on China. China has been lowering prices to counter the tariffs.

In my neck of the woods, I'm seeing higher prices for made in China.

The world stood by and did nothing as each member of the pro-democracy movements were jailed one by one. Your Taiwan 2.0 is a pipe dream without telling us how exactly that happens since its not exactly like China will allow a breakup (see Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan, etc.). So what is it going to be? Military response? CIA backed Independence groups? Remember that China executed dozens of US spies over the last decade. The US lacks the history, knowledge, experience, and connections in China compared to other parts of the world like Europe or the Middle East.

The US just needs to impose external stress, economic and otherwise, and let the rest happen internally. Whether any form of breakup occurs depends on the amount of stress - e.g. whether the EU and Japan go along with the US in this whole rivalry. But if pressure increases then there will be plenty of people wanting to escape it, and splittism is an option at that point, though certainly not an inevitability.

Right. Like we successfully did with Cuba.

More like what we successfully did with the Soviet Union.

China seems to have figured out capitalism and economic growth in a way the Soviets most definitely did not. We can't use the same playbook, and I'm not so sure we need to think of our countries as cold warring.

"Winning" the Cold War would probably mean China overthrowing the Communist Party and transitioning into a liberal democracy. Whether that will happen primarily depends on whether the Chinese people will support it. And whether the Chinese people will support it depends on how they think the West will treat them. Do they think the West will treat them like Poland, allowing them to have free elections even if they elect noxious nationalists, sending them billions of dollars in reconstruction support, and giving them free immigration and trade rights within the European Union? Or do they think the West will treat them like Russia, trying to break it into smaller countries, isolate it, and dictate its politics? Unfortunately, our track record suggests the latter. For example, in the 1980s, we even put trade restrictions on Japan, a pacifist democracy. Our actions against Japan leading to the Plaza Accords are widely perceived in Asia as causing the Japanese stagnation. People in Guangdong would never break off China and align with the West if they think we would treat them like we treated Japan in the 80s. And the Chinese will not support overthrowing the Communist Party if they think what comes after could be 1991 Russia or 1911 China.

A liberal democratic China is a threat all the same - the rivalry remains. And Japan is certainly not perceived in Asia as a cautionary tale - quite the opposite. In general terms, most want to become MORE like Japan, not less.

'most want to become MORE like Japan, not less'

Um, they already had a taste of becoming more like Japan when part of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Strangely, places like Korea or China or Taiwan rejected becoming more like Japan at the time.

He clearly meant more like post WW2 Japan.

But of course you know that. You were just trolling. It's weird that you continue to devalue your standing with comments like that. You are a smart person. Sometimes you make good points. But nobody gives you much credit because of all your "bad faith" comments like this one.

The post war Chinese and Koreans are quite explicit in detailing all the ways they don't want to be like post war Japan.

About the only way post war Asians want to be like Japan is being wealthy - they do not want (and at times violently reject, with things like riots) anything to do with Japan, and do not want to become more like the Japanese in any other way, shape, or form. And the reason for that is their own previous experience with what it is like to have the Japanese try to make them more like the Japanese.

You do you actually know some Asians, right? I would have thought that this framework was apparent to commenters here - seems that was incorrect.

Though who knows? Maybe some informed MR commenter will write about how the Israelis want to become more like the Germans, playing Wagner just like in Bayreuth and highlighting the prowess of the German chemical industry.

Bad faith only scratches the surface... You know damn well he meant many of Japan’s neighbors wish to have many of Japan’s (relatively current, post 60’s) advantages and successes like stability and strong exports without, uh, being enslaved by Imperial Japan.

'You know damn well he meant many of Japan’s neighbors wish to have many of Japan’s (relatively current, post 60’s) advantages and successes'

And yet what he wrote was 'most want to become MORE like Japan, not less' - which will be real news to the Chinese, and particularly the Chinese Communist Party, which has zero intention of becoming a Western liberal democratic nation.

And Japan's prosperity and stability predate the 1960s by a good 75 years - it was that Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere episode that put a real dent in Japan's prosperity for a while.

People here are aware of Japan's history, right? The 1960s is simply when the Japanese began to clearly overtake the U.S. in things like electronics, steel making, car production, etc. They had already demonstrated 40 years before the end of WWII that they had reached a European level (at least when using the Russians as a comparison).

And you ever wonder why the South Koreans duplicated Japanese success instead of buying Japanese electronics, steel, or cars? It just might have slightly different motivation than a simple desire to emulate the Japanese, such as ensuring that Koreans would not need to buy electronics, steel, or cars from the Japanese.

That point about Israel is applicable as a perspective.

Of course all nations want to be stable and wealthy. But the Chinese in particular want nothing to do with any Japanese model - whether it be the pre-1945 emperor worshipping model, or the current democratic one that is thoroughly integrated into the Western capitalist system.

Finally all are ruin our world

@Zaua - "Our actions against Japan leading to the Plaza Accords are widely perceived in Asia as causing the Japanese stagnation" - never heard of this reason before. If you have a source please provide. It's not plausible since even before the Plaza accords the dollar was trending in the same direction. But I've heard many common reasons of why a country is down, for example in Greece they often say the "Great Powers" or the "CIA" is keeping Greece from being great (again), so anything is believable to the hoi polloi.

There might be imaginable compromise states where China adopts constitutional government with serious rights based constraints and judiciary constraints to the governing party, without actually adopting "full" democracy or electoral party democracy.

Together with accepting constraints on projecting power and authority overseas, and on world economic 'rules'*.

Particularly if they accept the Western consensus that at least lip service to constitutional and rights based government should be behind their overall international "mission". (As much as this faces challenges at the moment because Russia and China and other do *not* accept this, and invoke 20th century and earlier Western actions to undermine this.)

This is tougher without Chinese democracy as tougher to believe that binding constraints will remain binding. Still, may exist out there as a possibility - as a compromise it seems more likely that putting the Communist Party in a situation where it may face "Truth and Reconciliation" and expecting them to sign up for it.

Dropping Marxist-Leninism as their official ideology might also help.

Example of Poland is a good one and shows it's really more about constitutionalism and rights, rather than democracy (freezing off of Poland within the EU is happening because of "illiberal democracy").

*Lack of compromise on international trade rules is not so much a big deal either, but if so, the West has to stop acting as if it is our "duty" to trade with China under any terms as set by The Party, in order to "lift China's people out of poverty", without regard to the West's own interests. That is, we need to be at least a bit tougher and less attentive to development economists who insist that whatever China does in flouting Western developed norms, which we follow, is justified by China's "poverty reduction record" and some kind of utilitarian philosophy that proceeds without regard to whether the beneficiaries are our people or theirs.

I'm not cure what you mean here. Are you saying "if China started governing in accordance with its existing constitution" or that "China needs to draft a new constitution and set of rights under which the government will then operate"?

Confucianism is probably more influential than Marx or Lenin.

Google and the terms "rule of law" and "china" are friends who can release you from bafflement.

Rule of law and "a more constitutional government" don't imply one another. The PCR *is* a constitutional government. So was the USSR and, I believe Russia (and probably SA under Apartheid) .

Hence the query to be sure what you intended. Seems like you meant to say rule of law government.

No, this is not what I mean and I have to disagree with you here.

When students of political science discuss constitutional government, do they really imply that a country with a written constitution to the effect of "The Party can do as it pleases" (as the PRC, not PCR) has constitutional government, while a nation with no written constitution such as the United Kingdom, but strong unwritten constitutional traditions of constraint on the government, is not?

What we're talking about is: "Constitutional government is defined by the existence of a constitution—which may be a legal instrument or merely a set of fixed norms or principles generally accepted as the fundamental law of the polity—that effectively controls the exercise of political power". Not "some written document exists".

I think it greatly mistaken to think the path followed by the USSR (which Putin is retreating from) would be followed by China. It will not fall apart internally from any cold-war pressures.

I do agree that a hot war, assuming China lost badly and the USA/West wanted to support the internal conflicts, may result in the type of dismantling the existing boundary and result in new, independent states in the area.

I find it hard to think about what winning a "cold war" with the CCP would look like, in part because I suspect that the narrative of China's growth and future dominance is already starting to change to a narrative of the problems that China will face with slower economic growth and a shrinking population. That is to say, the US only need wait this out, and China's power will gradually fade due to the politically and cultural problems that it has no interest in really solving (low birth rates probably means they need immigrants to keep the population up, and as well they probably also need strong, pro-fertility religions like Mormonism or some types of Islam and Christianity, to get more growth the CCP has to relinquish power over the economy, etc.). In thirty years time or so, all the Anglophone democracies will still have growing populations and growing per capita income. It is much less certain that will be the case in China. India will soon be the newest "next most powerful nation on earth" type country, and India has strong and deep ties to the Anglophone world.

Contrary to your Bloomberg piece it is ideology. Xi is a true believer in Marxism. Everything he’s doing and the way he’s going about it is Cultural Revolution light.

This will trigger some sackless libertarians but China respects rough play. Show them who's boss by pimp slapping them in the face a few times and they will fall in line because they acknowledge raw power more than they respect principle. This subservience to authority has been embedded in their DNA and culture for thousands of years. Banning Huawei is a good step. Trump was foolish to not let ZTE go bankrupt and looked like a stooge in the whole debacle. He can make it up by stopping China's militarization of the islands in the South China Seas and make any movement towards tearing down the Great Firewall. This is more important than flirting with Kim Jong Un. Let China make underwear and a few cheap trinkets that go to Walmart but no more than that. Refuse them chipmaking, biotech, 5G, any high technology. If they refuse to become a democracy then the 21st century will be another century of humiliation for them.

Ridiculous. The whole reason the Communist Party rules China today is because of how roughly the Chinese were treated in the past. The Communist Party's entire source of legitimacy is ending the century of humiliation and preventing another one. If there were no century of humiliation, there would be no Communist Party. And while Chinese cultural traditions do stress subservience to authority, they also stress ruling by example. Many Chinese do not respect Western principles simply because Western nations rarely followed them when dealing with China. If we actually try leading by example, the Chinese would be more likely to accept our principles.

So all those ignorant, uneducated Chinese peasants in 1949 were well aware of the history between China and the West, and were thus inclined to adopt communism under Mao?

Seems unlikely to me.

It seems likely the Chinese people, now and in 1949, were all trying to make the best of their own personal situations.

Abject poverty has a way of focusing the mind on the present, like the source of one's next meal.

If the uneducated Chinese peasants were 20 YO in 1949.......they should be dead by now.

So, it's the children and grandchildren of them who went to school and learned about the century of humiliation and how a strong Communist Party would prevent another fall.

You may well be correct about the rise of the CPC stemming from the humiliations of the past but that doesn't really settle much for how to engage with that government or the people.

Perhaps in that context, does how we answer the question "Would one of those children you mention have been standing in Tiananmen Square?" make any difference here?

Pretty sure the US under Bush and Obama treated China and the CCP in particular quite well. The amount of trade, travel, education that grew between the nations is a real result of that. It seems that many in the West are now disappointed that China failed to keep its part of the deal by regressing to an even more authoritarian, anti-democratic approach to governance, for example, the President becoming a lifetime position, the crackdowns on book stores, the heavy-handed approach to members of the foreign press. This feels like cheating to the West. China could have handled this like South Korea or Taiwan, which were dictatorships that transitioned to wealthy democracies. Instead their go it alone approach is both alone without friends and alone with a lot of enemies. So don't be surprised to see countries like Australia, Germany, France, the UK, Canada all try to ban Huawei from their networks and resort to other methods to contain China. If China is actively avoiding a century of humiliation they are walking into a cold war and could end up like the USSR.

Assuming you're right on "China could have handled this like South Korea or Taiwan, which were dictatorships that transitioned to wealthy democracies", what do you reckon are the strongest reasons for why not out of:

1) Probably most likely: CCP felt that the strength of China in the global economy meant that they didn't have to

2) They actually believe in that Communist Party ideology, and pivoting to bourgeois liberal democracy for either expedient or ideological reasons is simply unthinkable.

3) China can't - The Party holds China together from fragmentation to a greater degree than in the analogues, and institutions of civil society couldn't hold without them. In this scenario, unlike Taiwan and SK, China fundamentally has very weak shared institutions.

4) Self perception as a rival "civilizational" state: China can adopt Marxist-Leninism as a "scientific" economic theory, but adopting democracy would seem to them as a betrayal of China's civilizational centrality in ways that they just can't stomach. Mere "nation states" like Taiwan (freer from much of the weight of Chinese history) and South Korea don't bear this conflict of conscience.

5) Lack of Western pressure to change: The West probably wanted Taiwan and SK to become "beacons" of democracy in the Cold War, and were willing to take a cut to any bottom line on trade with T and SK for that to happen. Not so with China in the post-CW era, where complacent in the idea that they'd already won, the West focused on "poverty reduction" in China as if they were another developing country with no ideological conflict against the West.

Or any others you can think of.

+1, best comment so far. Tyler fails to acknowledge that China has been a bad actor. Imprisoning 1 million Uighurs' for ideological crimes is an obvious example.

"China was sharply criticized for its mass detention of members of the Muslim Uighur community at a United Nations Human Rights Council meeting on Tuesday — but the country pushed back, saying that the condemnation was politically motivated.

China has detained as many as 1 million Uighurs in so-called “reeducation centers” and forced them to undergo psychological indoctrination programs — like studying communist propaganda and giving thanks to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Chinese authorities have also reportedly used waterboarding and other forms of torture on the ethnic minority."

Who cares? China is transforming the Uigher's from useless people into productive citizens

Our goal as a species should be to kill off subhumans and unproductive humans who contribute nothing to humanity other than scarfing down resources.

Democracy is inherently a dead end since it hands over power from the few people with superior genes to the people with inferior genes.

Allowing the inferior to enslave the superior by turning them into tax slaves.

China's is humanity's greatest hope of destroying the democracy that cripples us as a species

The democracies are already destroying themselves with mass dysgenic policies created by the lower IQ and will only propagate more people with lower IQ

D - grade trolling.

Pretty weak stuff. Xi probably didn't pay you even a nickel for that one.

I see the real growing conflict as being between politicians versus ordinary people in both countries, not the US versus China. There is still a high degree of people-to-people trust between the two countries. One can see this in the millions of tourists that travel between the two countries and the massive popularity of US companies in China. During the Cold War, Soviet consumers were not buying hundreds of billions of dollars of US consumer goods.

The problem is that politicians fundamentally see things as zero-sum. Our politicians don't like China getting rich because they are worried about the US geopolitical position. On the other hand, ordinary people do not care about geopolitics, so they are happy that China is now a more modern country, which has lifted a billion ordinary people out of poverty and now has more capacity to trade useful goods and services with the rest of the world. On the Chinese side, hawkish Chinese politicians may resent US military dominance and want to build up the military. But most ordinary Chinese people are grateful not to have to fight wars any more and try to avoid military service or conflict like the plague.

Politicians try to manipulate people by painting the other country as entirely politicians. We should resist this. There are over a billion Chinese people. Some of them are evil and some of them are good, some of them support the government, but the vast majority just want a strong economy and standard of living, just as is the case with Americans. When we think China, we should think Jack Ma, not Xi. Then we will have good relations with the Chinese.

The real opponents of human freedom are not the Chinese, but politicians in all countries. The leaders of the free world are not much better than the ones in China; they are just more sanctimonious. For example, we worry that China's cybersecurity law will let the Chinese government put backdoors into Huawei devices for spying. Yet, Australia apparently is passing a law that will require phone companies like Apple to build backdoors to allow government spying. We say Chinese state-owned enterprises will put Chinese foreign policy above their own commercial interests and host "party cells." Yet, the US government aggressively uses sanctions to make sure that every company that does business in the US puts US foreign policy over its own commercial interests, and appoints "compliance monitors" in recalcitrant companies. The conflict between our government and the Chinese government is like the Iran-Iraq War; ideally, they should both lose.

Honeyed words of propaganda. Xi Jinping and his aggressive expansionism are in charge of China. Not even isolationist-leaning Trump can avoid conflict there.

What expansionism? China is smaller today than it was in 1800. It hasn't been in a war since the 1970s, and hasn't conquered significant territory in war since the 1700s. Which is more than you can say for America. In modern times, China gave up significant territorial claims--the Republic of China government in Taiwan still claims that all of Mongolia, and parts of Russia, India, Burma, and Central Asian belong to China because they were part of China during the Qing Dynasty, whereas the PRC has given up these claims.

You sound like a lobbyist for the Chinese.

Yes, let's have peace and trade, but the Chinese, whether the government or military or capitalists, have to stop stealing IP, selling counterfeit or buggy goods, and violating trade agreements.

Classic game theory, tit for tat, or two tats for one tit, but no race to the bottom.

Fair trade is fair, cheating is unfair. Cheating must be punished and cooperation rewarded. It's simple, don't try to complicate things.

@Ed - it does sound Zaua is part of the 'fifty cent army' of CH trolls, though he/she implies they are American or non-Chinese. I have a 'fool proof' (I think) way of outing a CH paid troll: have them post "FREE TIBET" somewhere in their post, even at the end of their post. My theory: if they are a paid troll, they don't want to have to explain to the political police why they posted "FREE TIBET" in their post, even if they can justify it so to camouflage their identity; also such a post might not even make it past the Great Firewall of CH.

Zaua: please post "FREE TIBET" in your next post if you're reading this, and you'll have instant credibility in my eyes.

I often get accused of being a Chinese troll so FREE TIBET

As for my personal views dictatorships are good democracies are evil.

Therefore I support the CCP

I am a eugenicist, I believe firmly that human intelligence is linked to genetics.

Therefore as a species we need to prevent the lower IQ mobs from breeding

This is inherently not possible for a democracy, since democracy hands power into the hands of the Low IQ and thus will never support policies to hurt the Low IQ, and will usually implement dysgenic policies like socialism and citizenship for refugees

Dictatorships are ideal because the high IQ people can remain in power and prevent dysgenic policies

Yeah those dictators in Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Brazil, and much of Africa are geniuses helping keep national IQs up.

I know you're trolling but come on man, do better.

(PS I added Brazil to get a reply from Thiago. The fact he hasn't posted here, on a thread basically tailored to him, indicates the comedic nature of his troll character)

I didn't say all dictatorships were good

But some dictators like lee kuan yew, ccp, putin are trying to implement eugenics or at least keeping out eugenics

Which is my exact point, a democracy will always be dysgenic

While for a dictatorship there is a possibility for eugenics

Therefore I support dictatorships, never did I make the claim that every dictatorship was eugenic


“Our politicians don't like China getting rich because they are worried about the US geopolitical position.”

Maybe that’s part of it, but another part is more valid: a genuine dismay at China’s behaviour: cheating, stealing and bullying using hard and soft power.

..."hasn't conquered significant territory in war since the 1700s."
Indian here. War of 1962.
Thank you.

India invaded first, google the "forward policy" by Nehru which states that India was to invade China

There's also the Chinese invasion of Vietnam in 1979.

Why did you fail to mention Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia 1979? in which the Chinese invasion was a response to since they were allies

You conveniently forgot that Vietnam invaded Cambodia to stop the mother of all 20th century genocides by Pol Pot. Makes China's support for the murderous Khmer Rouge look less noble doesn't it?

Good old propaganda

Declassified CIA, MI6 etc... intelligence reports have stated that the purpose of the Vietnam invasion was to install a puppet government and not about stopping the genocide

>Western analysts disagree about the exact reasons behind Vietnam's occupation of Cambodia and its goals in that country. But there is near unanimous agreement in the West that the reasons put forward by Vietnam are, in the words of former U.S. Representative to the United Nations Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, “a transparent deception.”3 Vietnam's Prime Minister Pham Van Dong, in an interview published last year in Newsweek magazine, said his government “could not stand by in good conscience and watch the Pol Pot clique butcher millions of innocent Kampucheans in cold blood.”4 The evidence shows, however, that Vietnam knew of the Khmer Rouge terror for years prior to the invasion. “Hanoi showed not the slightest concern for the fate of the Cambodian people while most of the killing was actually going on,” Morris said. “On the contrary, Vietnamese Communist Party and government statements were lush in their praise of Pol Pot and his regime.”

>Stanley Karnow, a journalist and former Vietnam war correspondent, agreed with that assessment. The “real reason” behind the invasion, Karnow wrote in Vietnam: A History, was Vietnam's “concern that Pol Pot's forces, underwritten by China, intended to embark on a campaign to annex the Mekong Delta and other parts of Vietnam that had formally belonged to the Cambodian empire. ‘When we look at Cambodia,’ a Vietnamese official in Hanoi told me, ‘we see China, China, China.’”8

>“Until mid-1978 China was Vietnam's second-biggest benefactor [behind the Soviet Union],” Morris said. “China showed public signs of hostility toward Vietnam only after Vietnam began to persecute and drive out its ethnic Chinese minority in the first months of 1978.”9 In February 1979, only a few weeks after Vietnam's successful takeover in Cambodia, Chinese troops engaged Vietnam in a brief but fierce border skirmish, which China described as a “lesson.”10 The two nations have been enemies ever since.

>There is some evidence that Vietnam's long-range goal is to colonize Cambodia—to subjugate the Khmer people. Journalist Jack Wheeler, who visited Thailand and Cambodia in July 1984, said that some 700,000 Vietnamese farmers, fishermen, merchants, technicians, mechanics and others have been brought into Cambodia as settlers since the 1978 invasion. The settlers, Wheeler said, have “appropriated much of the best land” and gained control over commercial fishing operations in the Tonle Sap (the Great Lake), a large and bountiful fishing ground in the center of the country.11 A significant number of jobs in urban areas have been taken by Vietnamese settlers, many of whom do not speak the Khmer language. “At least half the people in Phnom Penh who do mechanical work and the trades …are Vietnamese,” a Cambodian analyst told Editorial Research Reports. “The Vietnamese have taught Cambodians the Vietnamese language. So colonization is real, no question about that….”

So basically Vietnam pissed off China by genociding the Chinese minority living in Vietnam, they attacked Cambodia for the purpose of subjugating and colonizing Cambodia. They installed a puppet government that allowed Vietnam to extract numerous resources from Cambodia

And then pretended to be heros by claiming they stopped a genocide

I'm calling bullshit on this post. Tyler in addition to Russian trolls, you have Chinese nationalist trolls too. Wumao gonna wumao.

Thoughtful article, but it downplays how much this shift was a US (and Australian) led shift, not a Chinese one. China had already been banning US companies, limiting Western cultural influence, creating its own internet, and carving out its own sphere of influence for decades now. What changed was American strategy and thinking, not Chinese. Americans have lost faith in China, China never had any faith in the West.

"It is much easier to break trust than to rebuild it." I see you're finally starting to understand trump.

Given demographic and cultural trends in the US, the US has a very short window of time now to thwart Chinese geopolitical dominance, and it would require a massive conventional war which would risk nuclear exchanges. Alternative methods like fomenting "color revolutions" and separatism are unlikely to succeed, and China would likely respond in kind by promoting unrest in the US at a time when demographic and cultural trends in the US are creating a volatile situation with the possibility of civil war and secessionism.

The US won't collapse into civil war, it will merely continue to degrade over decades upon decades due to mass dysgenics.

"Whether or not that is true, this is another sign of the collapse of trust."

That's worth pondering, particularly in this context. There's a lot packed into that little phrase "collapse of trust" and the facts surrounding it that need unpacking. The suggestion here seems to be that it's always a bad development when someone stops (foolishly?, naively?) trusting another even when that other has not been, and is not, *trustworthy*.

When someone is not trustworthy '(e.g., "if true", using Confucius Institutes for spying), perhaps a "collapse of trust" is in order so that "trustworthiness can be established" or, failing that, at the very least, reality can be confronted.

Every US embassy around the world provides diplomatic cover for CIA agents. It's understood by everyone that some of the official State Department and embassy employees are going to be spies. NGOs and media outlets do the same.

This article goes some way to understanding China. The Cantonese/Mandarin/Fujanese divides are rarely spoken of. China's quick response to countries described "s%#thole" by Mr Trump. Friendship agreements and investment everywhere. Does the President understand the nuances of the powers in South China Sea? Please? Think to China's intellectual heritage from The Warring States period, The Tao, The Art of War, Thick Face, Black Heart? There are no simple analogies to be had.

"Does the President understand the nuances of the powers in South China Sea? "

What nuances? China is making an imperialistic claim to an island chain that's 200 miles away from it's border and is closer to three other countries.

Cold War or cold war?

The Cold War was the period 1947-1991 and it's long gone.

A new cold war which could have similarities to the Cold War? Features like proxy wars in the 3rd world, walls dividing countries, nuclear paranoia, missile crisis and endless propaganda? That's possible, but as there are similarities with the Cold War there are great differences.

The main difference is the Chinese capital investment in America (the continent), Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia. Perhaps I'm wrong, but the old USSR only financed guerilla warfare, gave some money to the governments of satellite states and weapons as gifts. The Chinese public and private companies own mines in Australia, manufacture smartphones in India, a robotics company in Germany (kuka).....such a long list.

The point is that China is well integrated, in economic terms, to the world through foreign investment and supply chains. They can lose a lot by causing trouble.

Ps. China is among the top sources of FDI to Brazil =)

What changed is the new phase of China's development, from the phase in which China firms produced goods for western (American) firms to the phase in which China firms produced goods for China firms to compete with goods produced by western firms including goods produced in China for western firms. It's no coincidence that America has singled out Huawei for sanctions: Huawei produces the largest selling smart phone in China and in many other markets in Asia and Europe. Globalization and trade was well and good as long as China was producing goods for western firms but now China firms are producing goods to compete with western firms, which wasn't part of the bargain. There are two very different paths from here: deglobalization as Cowen predicts or cooperation and consolidation with China firms and western (American) firms entering into strategic alliances or even combinations to produce and sell goods in partnership. I predict the latter path. Why? Because deglobalization will cut revenues and profits of both western firms and China firms, both ending up losers, while cooperation and consolidations will produce even greater revenues and profits. Given Cowen's positive views about market concentration, I would think he would prefer and expect
the consolidation path: it's the rational path for western firms and China firms to take.

>Whether or not that is true....

Oh, Tyler. Have you learned nothing over the past week?

If your fears only reach 2020 I fear you are in for a shock.

"Meanwhile, many American universities are kicking their local Confucius Institute off campus, most notably the University of Michigan, amid complaints that those institutes are spying on Chinese nationals who attend those schools. Whether or not that is true, this is another sign of the collapse of trust."

The Los Angeles Times article yesterday ( makes clear that concerns with the Confucius Institutes are about many more things than just spying on Chinese students. They have attempted to influence policy and may be participating in industrial espionage as well as attempting to silence dissidents.

The LA Times gives some attention to George Mason University's Confucius Institute. One wonders if it is just a coincidence that Mason's economics faculty also happen to be the leading advocates of protectionism for Chinese industry. Investigations are needed.

"arguably the most important": oh come now. In the old days a column in a newspaper might be important in that it effectively reduced the price of the paper we might use to wrap fish. Nowadays, phooey!

we all unanimously/anonymously disagree. gotta lotta high quality ideas in the article especially compared to the rest of the media. sumbody needs to come up with a way to wrap fish in cable "news"

This is a good summary but perhaps too US-China Centric. The various Chinese "Belt and Road" projects are taking a beating in a number of countries thought to be sympathetic to China. Pakistan, Malaysia and others had "Belt and Road" projects figure prominently in local elections. The Chinese opaque and graft ridden projects are heavy handed, often not employing local labor thus provoking public resistance. A thousand years of isolation plus 80+ of Maoist communism drained much of the Chinese talents of persuasion and collaboration out of the nation.

What I like the most is the use of the word "deglobalization."

Should we be blaming Nixon and Kissinger?

Tyler, you are so far behind, you think.....

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