Sunday, October 10, 2021

The Mandate of Heaven ...


Xi Jinping, China's president, speaks during a prerecorded video at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 21. (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)

A while ago, BRT posted a blurb about China regarding its population crisis as their birthrate is the lowest in the world along with Japan, Italy and Russia. Seems the decline of China regarding this issue is made even worse as China preferred male children over females, thus making their situation even worse. Xi's fear of the future is becoming more obvious as the problems China's facing are becoming as daunting as that of the US if the Washington Post's take is truly accurate.

Nations, like people, have reputations, and in both cases there can be gaps between the rep and the reality. China is known as the sage of nations, strategically patient, thinking in terms of centuries while the West flits about like a toddler in a toy store. Current events are forcing a reappraisal, however, as China careens wildly — and very dangerously — from one bad decision to the next.

Start with the Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarian U-turn after a generation in which China’s gradual opening produced extraordinary growth and modernization. Under the power-hungry leader Xi Jinping — who is abandoning the term limits honored by his recent predecessors to hold the reins indefinitely — the CCP is exerting state control over economic activity in ways that are rattling the confidence of global investors. Aggressive moves to stifle the Internet have drained more than $1 trillion in value from Chinese tech companies this year. In July, the State Department warned U.S. businesses of a souring commercial climate in Hong Kong since Beijing’s crackdown there.

Domestically, the CCP is flailing to defuse the demographic time bomb unleashed by the party’s foolhardy decision in 1979 to limit Chinese families to a single child. A preference for boys has created a nation of bachelors, which thwarts government efforts to reverse the damage. Runaway health costs and declining growth are the likely consequences of an aging population.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative to create a 21st-century infrastructure for eastern trade looks increasingly like a scheme to saddle weaker partners with debt while keeping China’s construction industry occupied. Meanwhile, the unmanageable domestic debt racked up to overbuild infrastructure at home has financial markets around the world quaking.

End game

Xi, 68, won’t last forever. But as long as he is ruler, the United States and its allies must move carefully to limit global exposure to Chinese mismanagement and deploy every tool short of war to deter rash action by China against Taiwan. A whole new way of thinking is required. Western policy has long been shaped by China’s rapid ascent, but that could be child’s play compared with confronting a China in decline.

Addendum: It appears energy's also a culprit in terms of crippling the manufacturing sector as well, something previously discussed in BRT's Suicide is Painless and in a CNN article titled It's official. China's manufacturing industry is in trouble. The Mandate of Heaven indeed.

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