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Letter to the Editor: The consequences of US-China trade war

By Jennie PC Chiang (People's Daily Online)    15:37, April 17, 2018

Neither country can come out a winner if there is a trade war between US and China. Although China may not win in the short term, America may well be the loser in the long-run as the table turns again. With the rapid expansion of Chinese middle-class, the growth rate of Chinese consumer spending has accelerated. Most Chinese people love and do not hesitate to spend great sums of money on American, Japanese or European products. However, given the strong nationalism amongst the Chinese, American should carefully understand that Chinese people can and definitely will adjust their lifestyle in no time and American products will be soon be replaced by alternative goods from either domestic sources or other countries. Once America loses the Chinese market, various forces will ensure that it becomes very difficult for American to regain its loss.

The trump administration claims that China hollowed out its earlier, traditional manufacturing base. The fact of the matter is that automation and lack of competitiveness of the American labor force caused the shift. China is strongly accelerating the automation of its manufacturing sectors across the board through advanced technology adoption such as robotics and networked intelligence as well as through process improvement and innovation at all levels. This means ever increasing competitive pressure for the US.

However, aside from technology heavy aspect of US's problem with China, the American labor force itself presents many deficiencies that the US refuses to recognize and face. God has not gifted China with the richness in natural resources of the land as bestowed on the Americans. Fortunately, China does enjoy its human resource as a favorable competitive advantage. Imbued with great discipline and eagerness to learn and excel, for most Chinese people working ten to twelve hours per day and six to seven days per week is quite normal. Personally my work average is 9 hours per day and 7 days a week, with only Christmas and New Year holiday breaks. Even then I find it hard to stack up against the work ethic in China.

A very efficient and effective worker can be a blessing and produce tremendous results upon compounding over even short term, whereas a laziness and undisciplined sense of entitlement are a heavy burden of society.

Furthermore, the sheer recklessness and short-sighted audacity of using Taiwan as a bargaining chip in trade conflict by the US against China should not be and will not be simply overlooked in the international arena as a passing tactical gesture but will definitely lead to deep, long-term and unexpected ramifications. It portends all-out war, not just trade war. The Chinese mainland has consistently tried to avoid cross-Taiwan-Strait confrontation through strategic tolerance. However, if either Taiwan or the US, along with behind the scene instigation from the likes of Japan, decides to exploit the bill signed by Trump to allow high-level exchanges or visits between them then China will definitely view such acts as unequivocal provocations and China will not succumb to such blackmail. That is, China has to prepare unsparingly for the worst case scenario and be mentally prepared to execute its planned response which may well include military conflict. Taiwan’s immature leadership may likely be manipulated into such a deadly trap by unscrupulous American and Japanese political forces. Both Taiwan and South Korea are strong competitors to Japan‘s high tech economy. Of course Japan would like to see Taiwan badly injured in the process. In the end, Taiwan will gain nil but will only suffer by far the most for such stupid behavior while its so-called friends become opportunistic bystanders seeking to profit. Only the US can perhaps afford to play this type of said high stakes bluff game once in a while, definitely not Taiwan. If the tension across the Taiwan Strait escalates and causes war, Taiwan will be devastated by war, not the United States, Japan or any other country or region. Therefore, President Trump and Republicans should not use Taiwan as bargaining chips for the trade dispute between US and China.

Based on recent events, China may have a clear understanding of America’s geopolitical calculus. China’s irreversibly accelerated preparation for it will only make China substantially stronger militarily, economically and geopolitically. This is a tremendously huge loss for the US as China had never viewed the US as an enemy and had always been willing to yield and accommodate the Americans. But it may likely be over and no more. 

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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