Dec 19, 2020Liked by Noah Smith

I think figuring out what it is that China wants will go a long way to deciding how far Asian countries and the US need to go to counter China. Though the Chinese communists' irredentist ambitions make complete accommodation impossible.

One slight mitigating factor in terms of China's size is that the working age population has already peaked.

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Dec 19, 2020Liked by Noah Smith

Great article, I agree and feel like this is soon to be the biggest challenge going forward. The sooner the West and allies get serious strategically the more options they will still have (kinda like with covid). However, I feel like the role of age demographics doesn't get looked at enough in regards to the rise of the Chinese economy and its economic model. Surely the massive baby boom they had roughly in the 60-70's and the one child policy that followed (leading to few dependents for them) played a big role? Now the consequences are starting to hit and its demographics look worse than all but the very worst in east Asia. Notable is when they ended the one child policy, births only went up for a single year before hitting new lows. In comparison, its developing neighbors and US demographics look quite good. As the shrinking of the Chinese work force accelerates, how big an effect do you think it will have?

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Be interested to get a perspective from any Vietnamese people on here.

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Dec 19, 2020Liked by Noah Smith

Let's not forget African nations in this gang. I heard an interesting Bloomberg Odd Lots podcast recently with a former minister of Liberia. His point was that China was willing to engage economically with a part of the world that at the time Western countries only looked at from a humanitarian aid perspective. Given the crippling shortage of infrastructure in parts of Africa, it is hard to imagine them forming a coalition with the rest of Asia or the West. I agree with you that trade pacts and long term alliances are needed, not least because China is capable and willing to play the long game and can plan across time horizons that no democracy can.

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Somewhat related: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/19/technology/china-coronavirus-censorship.html the ending got me. what a completely insane Gov't.

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Proclaiming the need to save Asian countries is, historically, more likely to exacerbate this country's internal divisions than straighten them out.

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RCEP is the 1st among a pack of aces fielded by PRC in COVID times for the struggling nations of the ASEAN ! RCEP has knitted the ASEAN into the PRC garment.dindooohindoo

The PRC has identified for the world,the “gateway to enter PRC”, via ASEAN. As time passes,wage increases and the rise in cost of living,in urban agglomerations,will provide the impetus to outsource,and shift manufacturing,to ASEAN.Rising costs are a signal,of the obsolescence of the business model and technology – and the driver,to re-engineer the manufacturing value chain.

This outsourcing to ASEAN,will soak up the entire manufacturing capacity of ASEAN,boosting profits and wages in ASEAN nations.Chinese can partake in this wealth creation,in the ASEAN nations,as under:

Lending to ASEAN companies by Chinese Banks like CCB etc.

VC and PE stakes in ASEAN companies,with exits on the HKEX or NYSE

JV with ASEAN companies

Hence,there will be a continuous pipeline of transfer of technology and products from PRC to ASEAN at a competitive cost,and with a stand-by financing from Chinese Banks.

This will make the ASEAN people and the ASEAN governments DEPENDENT on PRC,and enable ASEAN to be partners in the PRC success story.Thereafter,excluding Nippon and South Korea,no other nation will ally with the Americans,and might also, not allow their ports,to be used by the US Navy – as the financial and economic loss,will be tangible and huge – with no ostensible strategic benefits,to the ASEAN nations.

RCEP has knitted the ASEAN into the PRC garment.

Meanwhile PRC companies can focus on AI,Robotics and Nano to drive up the manufacturing value chain – with collaborations with EU companies and keep the Chinese skilled workers at the cutting edge of change.

Simultaneous with the above, the RCEP region (minus Nippon and Australia) can use the Yuan as the FX and even conclude agreements with OPEC or Saudis,and other Break Bulk Raw Material supply nations,to settle all purchases in Yuan (for the RCEP,as trading block).

History,Geneaology,Providence,Culture and Geography,have destined PRC and ASEAN,to be an integrated block.

What place does India have,in the block ?

Nippon and Aussies bring in technical and management excellence (which India never had )

Pakistan HAS to be given a choice to join RCEP,on the thesis that any SEZ of PRC,or a ASEAN owned SEZ o/s ASEAN, with an investment of,in excess of say,USD 35 Billion,can be DEEMED to be an EXTENSION,of the RCEP.

POST RCEP, The Path for EU manufacturers is as clear,as the white sand on a black clay beach.German manufacturers have to relocate to ASEAN,for manufacturing,and THEN export to PRC,else they will lose tarriff and non-tarriff costs,of at least 5-10%.

For those who complain about manufacturing regulations in PRC,and the costly and complex legal systems in PRC,the solution is to make in ASEAN,and seek legal redressal in ASEAN – and further,export their output to PRC.This will also secure the EU manufacturers,who wish to secure their assets,in democracies”.

The inevitable crisis of AI,Nano and Robotics,will make most humans redundant,even in EU manufacturing.The least the EU can do,is to offshore production to ASEAN,to crash the costs for EU consumers – so that,if the EU has to feed 200 million people (after they are rendered redundant),they can be fed at the lowest cost.

If the EU is PROTECTING its markets and industry, from the Chinese invasion,and thus,forfeiting unrestricted access for EU exporters to the market of PRC – that is a disaster -as the current manufacturing in EU,will ,in any case, become obsolete.

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You're arguing against a strawman. The question is not whether the Asians can balance China; the question is whether the Asians, even with the United States can balance China in the long run. The issue is one of horizons. In the short term, the United States enjoys a significant military and diplomatic edge. In particular, it enjoys maritime primacy in the Western Pacific still, even though China's reconaissance-strike complex can hold US surface assets at risk; and, importantly, the US enjoys escalation dominance for the simple reason that it enjoys nuclear superiority over China. Diplomatically, the United States can count all the rich, important and competent states in the world as its permanent allies. China's got North Korea and maybe Cambodia. Russia is as much a competitor as an ally. https://twitter.com/policytensor/status/1321897273530351616

In the medium term, China will perhaps grow larger and tower over others around it. We're sort of at the turn of the century stage if you take the American clock. But then it faces the extreme challenge of demographic decline, if indeed not the vanishing of productivity growth as well. So the long term is hard to predict. What is clear is that it will be a pole of the system. Indeed, my wager has been that we're looking at a tripolar world virtually in perpetuity. https://policytensor.com/2015/01/03/what-will-be-the-polarity-of-the-international-system-in-2100/

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Sounds about white. Cope you little dork.

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Hi @Noah Smith

Interesting article! Thanks for sharing!

We're glad that you like SunSpear Games' 'Q'rath cityscape' artwork (done by artist Damian K). However, we were not consulted for the use of it in this context, and we don't want our upcoming fantasy game's faction to be associated with modern China's behavior.

Please remove the image from the post, and reach out to me if you have any additional questions or concerns at ihunt@sunspeargames.com. Thank you!

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I'm not sure I agree with your read of Germany -- I think the evidence from Tooze and DeLong is that German productive capacity was not so enormous; instead, it was their military prowess and extraordinary daring that made them such a formidable foe.

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Historical correction : Germany was not alone fighting WW1. It had the Austro-Hungarian empire as partner (about 50 million people, third industrial producer in Europe...) and the Ottoman Empire. The latter, although less industrialised, opened a lot of fronts that depleted Allied forces resources. It was not called World War for nothing ! The fate of both empires after the war should be a strong lesson for Russia today. Choosing the wrong partner can be fatal...

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China will grow more in 2021 than any country in world history has ever grown, adding $2.4 trillion to its economy.

And by next June, 2021 there will be more hungry children, drug addicts, suicides and executions, more homeless, poor, and imprisoned people in America than in China.

As for "China claims Taiwan," it does so because Taiwan is part of China, according to the constitutions of both Taiwan and the PRC and, of course, the United Nations.

And abut "absorbing all of their territories and populations into its nation as it did with Tibet and Xinjiang, it did so before the UK did the same with Wales, so the issue has passed its sell-by date for most sane observers.

All of these 'terrified' neighbors have deepened and strengthened their relationships with China, as the signing of the RCEP agreement last week demonstrates. As a resident of SE Asia, can tell you that China's neighbors have both high opinions of China and high expectations of prospering with China's help.

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Ok, three more things. (Sorry, this China stuff takes up an inordinate amount of my brain space):

- How much of this China stuff is about America being big dog? I hear a lot of China takes from Americans, and the undertone seems to be we Americans will be the hero’s once again! To be honest, I think I’m susceptible to thinking and fall into it a lot.

- Are we have ignoring human rights abuse we could, arguably, more easily impact (I.e. Starvation in Yemen) because it doesn’t connect to the hero American complex as much (or for other reasons)? And more importantly, does that undercut are credibility vis a vis China?

- What are specific things the US might participate in (as opposed to lead), which might provide more leverage for other democratic countries?

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One thing:

- What measure(s) do you use to evaluate China’s economic performance? Is there a specific data source you trust? My buddy in China said it’s tough to find a job now, but it’s unclear whether his situation is representative of a larger trend.

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