Recession fears can by itself be a self-fulfilling prophecy


 

AS talk of a recession picks up, a veteran fund manager, Ang Kok Heng of Phillip Capital Management Sdn Bhd, correctly points out that the Malaysian stock market has been in “recession” in five of the six years since 2014.

Hence, he does not envisage how it can get worse for the Malaysian stock market if the global economy does go into a recession next year. Fears of a global recession have picked up pace based on the behaviour of the US yield curve.

The yield curve, which charts the spreads of US debt papers of various tenures, has inverted several times in the past few weeks. Most people would not understand what an inverted yield curve means.

Simply put, it means long-dated debt papers of 10 years giving lower returns compared to shorter-term debt papers such as two-year US Treasuries. It causes what is called an inverted yield curve.

It goes against the normal behaviour of US Treasury yields because long-term debt papers should give a higher return than short-term papers.

The consequence of an inverted yield curve is that it will lead to banks reducing their lending activities because their margins are narrow. Eventually, it results in companies reducing their activities and the country going into a slowdown or recession.

An inverted yield curve has been the precursor to all past recessions (see diagram).

However, there are some who are disputing the fears of an impending global recession based on the behaviour of the bond yield curve. Their reason is that the bond yields are not behaving as what they should due to the governments all around the world printing money to keep interest rates artificially low since 2009.

Interest rates have become so low to the extent that European banks are offering no returns on deposits. This means depositors do not get any money for keeping their money in the banks. Borrowers instead get discounts on their installments.

It’s happening in Europe because government bond yields there have turned negative.

For instance, the yield on 10-year Switzerland bonds is negative 0.74%, while German bonds of a similar tenure yield negative 0.52%. From France to Denmark, government debt papers have negative yields.

Only some countries such as Portugal and Spain still have positive yields on their debt papers.

Analysts believe that this has resulted in investors resorting to buying US debt papers that still offer positive yields. Hence, the price of bonds across all tenures in the US has gone up, causing their yields to come down.

The search for yields has also resulted in the narrowing of the difference between what the two-year and 10-year debt papers offer. And there have been several occasions in the last one month when the yield on the 10-year paper was lower than the two-year debt papers.

Apart from the behaviour of the yield curve, the other indicator that is seen as a precursor to a recession is the declining manufacturing sector all around the world caused by the trade war between the US and China. The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which is a leading indicator to assess the state of the economy, has been declining for all major economies.

For Malaysia, the PMI has been less than the 50-point benchmark for almost a year now. The same trend is seen in China, while the indicator has started to decline in the US in the last few months, which some see as a result of the trade war.

The trade war has caused supply disruptions, impacting the manufacturing sector.

However, there are other indicators that do not indicate a recession is imminent.

Banks are fairly well-capitalised and have pulled the brakes on lending. We do not hear of banks being impacted by major corporate defaults except for some financial institutions in China. Malaysian banks, for instance, have weathered the storm quite well so far, thanks to Bank Negara keeping a tight rein on their lending activities.

There has not been any run-up in asset prices. Property prices in countries such as Malaysia have remained subdued since 2015 after Bank Negara pulled the brakes on lending. Since 2014, Bursa Malaysia has closed lower every year, except for 2017.

The only exception of rising asset prices is Wall Street that has soared to record highs. Stock prices are hitting all-time highs due to improved earnings growth.

Technology companies such as Apple and Amazon are US$1 trillion companies. The other technology companies such as Facebook and Alphabet are enjoying growing valuations because of earnings growth.

No other stock exchange in the world has such a large concentration of technology companies than the exchanges on Wall Street. All technology companies, even from China, want to list on Wall Street.

Even Alibaba is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and not in Hong Kong.

It has been 11 years since the last recession, but the world’s central banks have resumed their printing of cheap money to keep interest rates low. The European Central Bank has resumed quantitative easing, while the US Federal Reserve is reducing interest rates. In essence, central banks are taking these measures to prevent a slowing economy going into recession.

In the meantime, it has caused fear among people and companies. Companies are holding back on spending, and in fact, cutting down on their debt.

A clear indicator is in the US where companies raised the most amount of corporate debt. Apple and Disney raised US$7bil worth of debt papers to reduce their borrowings.

In Malaysia, corporations have been deleveraging for the past few years in anticipation of a slowdown. Companies are not expanding, as indicated by the declining private-sector gross capital formation.

It is only reasonable for companies and people to save for the upcoming rainy days. Even governments are cautious in spending. For instance, in the upcoming Budget 2020, many are expecting the government to start spending. But there is also a view that the government will adopt a cautious stance as it continues to strengthen its balance sheet and reduce debts.

If nobody spends for fear of a recession, it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Most people are expecting a recession, meaning negative growth. Fear of a recession has translated into a slowdown that the world and Malaysia are experiencing. If this fear continues to perpetuate, a recession would be a self-fulling prophecy.

It is good to be fearful, but being too fearful and conservative will also result in lost opportunity.

As Ang of Phillip Capital puts it, in times when fears of a recession seap in, cash must be held to seize opportunities. Holding cash as an investment is not a wise option.

By M. SHANMUGAM , The views expressed here are solely that of the writer. Source link

 

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KUALA LUMPUR: Asian markets started the week on a weak note amid escalating trade war concerns after the US and China announced plans for additional tariffs against each other.

Locally, the FBM KLCI stayed in negative territory for the whole of yesterday, before paring losses to close 8.8 points or 0.55% lower at 1,600.53 points. Before the closing, the index hovered below 1,595, falling 1.17% to an intraday low of 1,590.51.

Despite the fall, the local index was among the least affected by the regional selldown, compared with other Asian indices. The biggest loser among the regional indices was Japan’s Nikkei 225, falling 2.17% to 20,261.04. This was followed by Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index and the Taiwan Stock Exchange, down 1.91% and 1.74% respectively. India’s Sensex notably closed 2.16% higher.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore’s Straits Times Index was the biggest decliner, down 1.45% at 3,065.33, and the Jakarta Composite index closed 0.66% lower at 6,214.51.

Last Friday, US President Donald Trump announced an additional duty on some US$550 billion worth of targeted Chinese goods, following China’s move to hike trade levies on US$75 billion worth of US goods.

Trump said US tariffs on US$250 billion of Chinese imports will increase from 25% to 30% on Oct 1, while an additional 5% tax on US$300 billion worth of Chinese goods — raising the tariff to 15% from 10% — starts on Sept 1.

The president made it clear that the US was responding to China’s threat of additional tariffs on US$75 billion of goods including soybeans, automobiles and oil.

“This looks like a tit-for-tat [response] and I don’t see an easy resolution to the trade war, as there seems to be no middle ground between the US and China. It is very unsettling for the market because there is no direction from day to day,” said Inter-Pacific Securities Sdn Bhd research head Pong Teng Siew.

However, the tensions eased a bit towards the later part of yesterday, as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said China was willing to resolve the trade dispute through calm negotiations, stating the nation was against the escalation of the conflict.

Trump responded positively to China’s suggestion and, on the sidelines of a summit in France, had hailed Chinese President Xi Jinping as a great leader and welcomed the latter’s desire for calm negotiations.

It remains to be seen how the trade dispute will be resolved, given the constant retaliatory tariffs between the two economic behemoths since early last year.

Several trade talks between the two nations have not brought any solutions to the trade war, still affecting investor sentiments towards global markets. For the KLCI, the trade war remains a major factor affecting analysts’ forecasts.

Kenanga Research said the index’s underlying trend remains bearish but does not discount the possibility of a technical rebound as the KLCI has been in oversold territory for about a month. “Look out for overhead resistance levels at 1,630 and 1,650. If selling pressure continues, the key support levels to keep an eye on are 1,570 and 1,550,” Kenanga Research wrote in a note yesterday. – Source link
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I think it’s necessary to include something Liu once said that also applies here, “The world needs a new America. It needs an America that is free of prejudice and intolerance. It needs an America that understands respect, that matches words with deeds, that understands the principles of benevolence, righteousness, propriety,
wisdom, and faithfulness. The world would be lucky if the new America could become such a country.”

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The past few months have been sad and depressing for those who live in Hong Kong. The safety guaranteed on the streets of Beijing and Xi’an should be available to the people of Hong Kong. China should not be asked to compromise its sovereignty. If Americans want to boycott anyone, they should do so with their politicians who support the
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Many Hongkongers are confusing right from wrong while Western public opinion constantly delivers the ideological energy that the radical protesters need. The West has shed no tears for Iraq, Syria and Ukraine, which had gone through similar hardships. Now, it is turning Hong Kong into the forefront of the struggle with China, and, as usual, they will shed no tears for the city’s misery.

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IF investors ever needed a reminder that not all is right with the equities market, the shock waves the world capital markets, including Bursa Malaysia, had to endure earlier this week are proof enough.

Most stock markets are at the tailend of a 10-year bull run, although the same cannot be said for Bursa Malaysia which has generally has been more bearish than others in the last five years. Going by the current trends, Bursa Malaysia is likely to finish the year lower, which if it happens will be the fourth time in the last five years.

But the leading platform in the world which sets the pace for global flow of capital – the Wall Street – has been hitting new highs although it corrects from time to time largely due to the tweets from President Donald Trump.

Wall Street’s run started in May 2009 and seems to have the strength to carry on for a few more legs, defying conventional logic that economic boom-bust cycles corrects after 10 years. Other stock markets have had good and bad times since 2009 but the US has been consistently on the rise.

The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Nasdaq and S&P 500, which charts the broader market, have all hit news highs. Bursa Malaysia on the other hand has languished between the 1, 600 and 1, 700 levels, with only one year of positive returns since 2014.

There are several reasons for Bursa Malaysia’s poor performance compared with other markets. For instance, the United States slashed tax rates, which spurred earnings of companies and has the best technology companies listed there. It’s not the same elsewhere in the world.

Nevertheless, after 10 years of continued rise in asset prices due to the combination of a low interest rate environment and advancement in technology, the markets are poised for correction. Until earlier this week, nobody had an inkling of an idea where and how the correction will take place.

However, after President’s Trump latest statement that the US would impose 10% tariff on an additional US$300bil worth of exports from China, it clearly underlines that the trade war is here to stay.

If anybody had a view that the trade war would end if President Trump does not retain his position in the US elections next year, they are wrong. Even some Democrats are leaning towards imposing tariff as measure to help the US keep its competitive edge in the world economy.

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A 25% tariff has already been imposed on US$250bil worth of China’s exports to the United States since March this year.

It is bringing in billions to the US coffers with some going towards helping the farmers overcome the woes of the trade war. The person who takes over from Trump is not likely to dismantle the structure.

Any other president will want to get more from China, which is led by the influential President Xi Jinping, who is seen as the most powerful man that rules the second biggest economy in the world after the late chairman Mao Zedong.

China has retaliated by imposing tariffs on US$110bil worth of imports from the US so far including the produce from farms. It has also allowed the yuan to weaken, sparking concerns that the trade war is evolving into a currency war.Latest data from China shows that the exports are still growing and imports dropping in July even though there is a trade war, suggesting that President Xi will not yield to pressure from the US easily.

A new cold war in the form of the trade war has emerged. As a result, it has caused upheavals in the capital markets that should worry investors.

There have been significant shifts in asset prices from bonds to equities and commodities such as oil. Among all asset classes, dramatic movement in bond prices of government debt papers is the first to feel the impact from the trade war.

This is on the back of increasing certainty that the Federal Reserve and other major central banks will reduce interest rates more aggressively to stimulate the sagging economy. It has caused for money to seek safe haven such as US government debt papers.

For instance the yields on the 10-year US debt paper is 1.69% now. It was 1.9% a week ago and 2.06% a month ago. The yields moves inversely with the price of the bonds.

The yields on the five- and two-year government debt papers have also moved by up 18 points in the last one week. Such movements on billions of dollars will have an impact in the months to come.

The trade war has caused a major disruption in the global supply chain, evidence of the economy slowing globally.

If anybody wants any evidence of the disruption in global supply chain, they only need to go to the KLIA cargo complex and see for themselves the number of idle lorries that do not have enough cargo to move about.

In Malaysia’s case, apart from a slowdown in movement of goods around the world, the uncertainties in Hong Kong have exacerbated the situation.

The combined effects of the trade war, China’s economic uncertainties and Hong Kong’s future as Asia’s financial hub will only be felt in the fourth quarter of this year.

Until then, asset prices will continue to adjust to the new norm.

The views expressed here are solely that of the writer. Source link 

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The cost and funding of the Hong Kong violence in CIA innumerable US regime-change, a price on freedom


Protesters in protective gear holding up a symbolic yellow umbrella and an American flag while marching through the Sha Tin District in Hong Kong earlier in the month. Sights such as these are fuelling  speculation about foreign involvement in the ongoing protests. — AP

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There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and likewise, in the pursuit of democracy, there will always be casualties.

ONE of the most avid speculations about the Hong Kong protests is whether the CIA is involved, and this talk is fuelled, no less, by warnings from the Chinese to the US to keep out of Hong Kong’s affairs.

Last week, former HK chief executive Tung Chee-hwa was more ominous, openly accusing the US and Taiwan of orchestrating “well-organised” recent protests.

The first retaliatory strike from China on Taiwan was the ban on solo travellers, involving 47 mainland cities to Taiwan, which will cost the island state US$900mil (RM3.75bil) in tourism dollars by January.

Let’s look at these accusations rationally, though. It’s impossible for the CIA to hire such a massive crowd in Hong Kong.

The anger is real, though, and the spontaneity of the protests speaks for itself.

There has been growing frustration among the people, especially the younger generation, over what they see as the decline in living standards, and many now don’t see a future in the city.

The amendment to the Extradition Law has touched a nerve among HK citizens because many perceive they would not get justice or due legal rights under China’s mainland rule.

Let’s put it this way, the judicial independence in China isn’t ranked highly by international standards, and even Chinese nationals complain about it.

HK citizens are concerned that their city will be like any other mainland Chinese city, where the citizens’ freedom could be compromised, although one wonders how many of these protesters truly believe they would ever get extradited to China in the first place.

The Bill is, essentially, a manifestation of the frustrations that have built up, and its timing allowed for that volcanic eruption of anger.

It’s unlikely the young protesters were aware that HK has, in fact, extradition agreements with 20 countries, including Britain and the United States. From China’s point of view, why can’t there be one with the mainland?

Against this backdrop, with students on summer holidays, the perfect concoction was created, building up a massive protest for an international audience.

The timing couldn’t have been worse for HK chief executive Carrie Lam to push the Bill through – this is the season of protests, coinciding with the anniversaries of the Tiananmen Square incident and British handover of HK to China on July 1, 1997.

By now, it’s clear that Lam is a technocrat who isn’t politically savvy, and her lack of learned leadership during a crisis shows her shortcomings in being the best person to helm HK, even though China continues to back her.

The Bill has been suspended since June 15 until further notice, but not withdrawn. She has said the legislation process was a complete failure and that “the Bill is dead”, but she hasn’t enacted any legislative process to withdraw the proposal either.

So protests will likely continue, but nothing is free, and that includes the business of organising well-planned weekly protests.

Over the past month, the media has been reporting that groups involved in the protests have received significant funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), “a CIA soft-power cut-out that has played a critical role in innumerable US regime-change operations, ” according to writer Alexander Rubinstein.

The report claimed that the NED has four main branches, at least two of which are active in Hong Kong: the Solidarity Center (SC) and National Democratic Institute (NDI).

“The latter has been active in Hong Kong since 1997, and NED funding for Hong Kong-based groups has been consistent, ” Louisa Greve, vice president of programmes for Asia, Middle East and North Africa, was quoted.

While NED funding for groups in Hong Kong goes back to 1994, 1997 was when the British returned the territory to China, it was reported.

The report said in 2018, NED granted US$155, 000 (RM645, 885) to SC and US$200, 000 (RM833, 400) to NDI for work in Hong Kong, and US$90, 000 (RM375, 000) to Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor (HKHRM), which isn’t a branch of NED, but a partner in Hong Kong. Between 1995 and 2013, HKHRM received more than US$1.9mil (RM7.9mil) in funds from the NED.

This isn’t the first time the NED’s name has cropped up either.

During the 2014 Occupy protests, the spectre of NED in the protests and the foreign philosophies it represented also came up.

The NED was set up in 1983 to channel grants for “promoting democracy” and it’s said that it receives US$100mil (RM416mil) annually from the relevant agencies.

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has also been accused of funding the protests. He has taken it a step further by meeting US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington DC to discuss the Bill and the city’s situation.

Lai is the owner of Next Digital, which publishes both the pro-democracy Apple Daily and Next Magazine, among others.

Predictably, the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong issued a statement saying it has lodged a solemn representation at the US Consulate General in Hong Kong to ask the US to stop its “mistaken words and deeds”.

A spokesperson for the local Commissioner’s Office said that it strongly opposed foreign forces interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs.

“The US side clearly knows who Jimmy Lai is, what his stance is, and what his role is in Hong Kong society. Top US government officials have ulterior motives and sent a seriously wrong signal when they queued up to meet such a person at this sensitive time of Hong Kong – we express our strong discontent and opposition, ” it said.

In 2014, the South China Morning Post reported that Lai spent millions funding the Occupy Central protests.

The SCMP reported that Lai’s group offered extensive advice – including propaganda material – to the Occupy Central organisers, whom Lai dismissed in private as “idealist scholars” who “couldn’t make the cut without help”.

The emails were leaked by the same person who sent documents detailing the Next Media chairman’s political donations to various pan-democrats two weeks ago. It isn’t clear how the documents were obtained, though.

One of the exchanges between Lai and his top aide, Mark Simon, indicates that Lai spent some HK$3mil (RM1.6mil) to HK$3.5mil (RM1.8mil) to help the plebiscite. The email did not detail how the money was spent, only mentioning that the costs included “advertisements and billboards”.

In a rebuttal, Lai said that while he had donated large sums of money to politicians in the pro-democracy camp, he had not given a cent to the co-founders of Occupy Central. His newspaper, though, had given the movement discounts for advertisements.

China cannot be faulted for seeing shadows of foreign influence in the protests. It doesn’t help that protesters, pressing for independence, are waving colonial British and US flags, and what began as peaceful protests has now degenerated into riots, a term the demonstrators have also challenged and protested.

There is much irony in the HK protests. The late kung fu legend, Bruce Lee, has become an icon in the protests because of his philosophical advice to “be formless, shapeless, like water, ” in his role as Li Tsung, a martial-arts instructor in Longstreet, a US TV series.

Basically, the protesters should take on the HK police with a new tactic: formless, shapeless protests in scattered parts of the territory, aimed at wearing the authorities down.

But older folks like me would probably remember a better scene in the movie Fist Of Fury, where he kicked and smashed a sign at the gate of Huangpu Park which read, “No dogs and Chinese allowed”. The park in Shanghai was closed to the Chinese between 1890 and 1928.

It has been said, according to some reports, period photographs show a sign listing 10 regulations, the first of which was that “The Gardens are reserved for the Foreign Community”, with the fourth being “Dogs and bicycles are not admitted”. Any way you cut it; the Chinese weren’t allowed in the foreign settlement.

What has happened in HK is that the protests’ demands have grown exponentially, bordering on calls to be independent and free from China. Tragically, it has also become more violent by the day.

In calling for freedom of speech, citizens who disagreed with the protesters have found themselves beaten up, which seems to go against the grain.

When violence committed on the police and those who disagree are embraced or encouraged as part of a democratic process, and the destruction of public properties is accepted as a minor price for freedom, then something has gone badly wrong.

By Wong Chun Wai who began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 35 years in various capacities and roles. He is now editorial and corporate affairs adviser to the group, after having served as group managing director/chief executive officer. On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

chunwai@thestar.com.my

http://www.wongchunwai.com/

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U.S. President Donald Trump. Photo: VCG

Experts tell Trump that China is not the enemy, so who is?

A hundred American academics, diplomats and experts from the military and business communities signed an open letter calling on President Donald Trump to reexamine his policy toward China. The letter was published Wednesday in the Washington Post.

In the letter, titled “China is Not an Enemy,” the signatories express concern over the negative orientation of the Trump administration’s China policy.

“We do not believe Beijing is an economic enemy or an existential national security threat that must be confronted in every sphere,” the experts say in the letter.

The five authors are M. Taylor Fravel, a professor at MIT; J. Stapleton Roy, a former U.S. ambassador to China; Michael D. Swaine of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Susan A. Thornton, the former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs; and Ezra Vogel, a professor at the Harvard University Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies.

The deterioration of the bilateral relationship is not in the interests of the U.S. or the rest of the world, and Trump’s attempt to “decouple China from the global economy” will damage the U.S. global reputation, according to the letter.

“The United States cannot significantly slow China’s rise without damaging itself,” the authors write.

“The fear that Beijing will replace the United States as the global leader is exaggerated,” the letter says. “Most other countries have no interest in such an outcome, and it is not clear that Beijing itself sees this goal as necessary or feasible.”

The key message of the letter is that the U.S. should not make China its enemy, especially in a rash manner, said Li Cheng, director of the Brookings Institution’s John L. Thornton China Center, who signed the letter.

Signatories are representative as they hold different views toward China — some are pro-China and others are more critical, Li said. But they all disagree with the Trump administration’s China policy, Li said.

“I won’t say we are the majority,” Li said. “Maybe we are the minority that can’t change some people’s extreme views, but among those who reexamine the U.S. policy on China, many have started reconsideration.” Additional scholars have endorsed the letter after its publication online, he said.

A better policy orientation for the U.S. would focus on building long-term alliances that support economic and security objectives based on a realistic assessment of China’s ideology, interests, goals and actions, the experts write.

“We believe that the large number of signers of this open letter clearly indicates that there is no single Washington consensus endorsing an overall adversarial stance toward China, as some believe exists,” the letter concludes.

Views toward China vary significantly among different social groups in the U.S. and also inside the government, Li said.

“There is a need for different voices to let China know that there is no consensus on America’s China policy, and there won’t be one for a long time,” Li said.

Most of the signers are older experts who don’t represent the views of younger Americans, some observers said. Although the open letter originally targeted senior scholars with strong academic backgrounds, Li said it’s inappropriate to argue that younger scholars view China in a more adversarial way. A public poll showed that Americans under 29 are actually friendlier toward China, Li said.

Older scholars and officials have a better understanding of China after witnessing the country’s changes over recent decades, but members of younger generations will also know China better as time goes by, Li said.

“A proper discussion of China policy is very important, and it shouldn’t be limited inside the government,” Li said. Although it is unclear whether the letter will influence policy, he said it sends a strong message that “the views toward China between the U.S. government and scholars are different.”

Since last year, the two countries have been locked in a trade war, slapping tit-for-tat tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other’s goods. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump agreed last week at a G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, to resume trade talks. The U.S. also agreed not to impose new tariffs on Chinese imports.

This story was updated with Li’s comments.

By Qing Ying, Ren Qiuyu and Han Wei

Contact reporter Ren Qiuyu (qiuyuren@caixin.com); Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com)

 

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Trump urged to  take ‘wiser’  approach with  Beijing in open letter from China
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Letter to exert positive impact but unlikely to be taken seriously by White House: experts

An open letter to US President Donald Trump signed by scores of Asia specialists including former US diplomats and military officers has revealed that rational voices are emerging to challenge paranoid ideas, Chinese experts noted on Thursday.

China insists all trade war tariffs must be eliminated as part of a trade deal

‘Hong Kong attacks a political act’ – Asean+ | The Star Online

During an interview Thursday, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt still refused to directly criticize the violent protesters who stormed and vandalized the Hong Kong Legislative Council. Instead, he superficially stated that the UK condemns “all violence” and warned China again. He did not elaborate on the “serious consequences” that he previously warned China that it may face, but said the UK is “keeping options open” over China.

Almost all analyses believe Hunt is putting on an air. Nobody believes the UK will send its only aircraft carrier to China’s coast. Nor would anyone believe the UK will punish Beijing at the cost of hurting trade with China. The UK has been dwarfed by China in military and trade. Hunt’s inappropriate statements make many British people nervous: Will Beijing cancel an order from the UK to warn British politicians?

If China-UK relations deteriorate, will expelling Chinese diplomats become a card for London? This was the way that the Theresa May government used to deal with Moscow when a former Russian spy was poisoned in the UK. BBC reporters asked Hunt about the possibility for expelling diplomats. But it seems more like these BBC reporters, who bully politicians for pleasure, were using the unreliable option to make things difficult for Hunt.

Launching a diplomatic war against China leads to nowhere. European countries will not stand by London on the Hong Kong issue. By worsening diplomatic relations with China, the UK will only isolate itself.

What’s important is that Beijing has done nothing wrong on the Hong Kong issue. It is obvious to all that China persists in the “one country, two systems” policy, and Hong Kong’s system is different from the mainland’s. The Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, proposed by Hong Kong regional government, was a small cause of the unrest. It was politicized and magnified by opposition factions. The situation escalated according to the logic under Hong Kong’s system, not that of the mainland. But such storming and vandalizing is not acceptable under Hong Kong’s system or any system worldwide.

Instead of blaming violent protesters, Hunt directed his ire against Beijing, which is based on his selfish interests to win the election. Hunt wants to defeat Boris Johnson. In charge of diplomacy, Hunt believes the Hong Kong issue is a chance that dropped into his and the UK’s lap. But this is not the 19th century when the Opium War broke out. The UK has gone past its prime.

Hunt knew that Beijing would sniff at his threat of “serious consequences.” But he still said it because he needed to play in front of voters. This is political fraud. Hunt obviously believes that the British people can be manipulated like a flock of sheep.

But Hunt’s stunt has no good effect. Many British people are more worried whether Hunt’s words would lead to “serious consequences” from China. Purpose and ability should match in diplomatic strategy, but Hunt is obviously outwardly strong and inwardly weak. Even the British people think his performance is amusing.

In a few short years, one minute the UK calls its relations with China the “Golden Era,” and the next minute it warns China of “serious consequences.” Although these statements are from different administrations and politicians, the UK still shows inconsistency in policy. The country also swung from side to side on Brexit. The UK’s politics have become politicians’ coffers and plots. They are undermining the UK’s image.

Under such circumstances, we should not be too serious when dealing with the UK. Regardless of whether it shows a friendly or an opportunistic gesture, we should remind ourselves this will not be its first or last attitude toward China, and by saying that we mean it will be in a relatively short time, to be specific. – Global Times

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American anti-China Hawks ignited the trade war, are Trump’s advisors


Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

US President-elect Donald Trump appointed Peter Navarro, a strident critic of China, as head of the new National Trade Council on Wednesday. Most of the Trump’s views in his accusation against China during and after the election are influenced by Navarro. Moreover, Trump’s special adviser Carl Icahn and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross also take a hard line on the trade with China. The possibility of a potential trade war between China and the US after Trump takes office has come under heated discussion.

Trump’s Top China Expert Isn’t a China Expert

 

Peter Navarro doesn’t speak Chinese, and has scant in-country experience. Should that matter?

University of California at Irvine Economics Professor Peter Navarro, head of White House National Trade Council nominee for president-elect Donald Trump, arrives in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. A top congressional ally to Trump said Thursday that Republicans will repeal Obamacare, including some funding provisions, quickly while a replacement plan is due in “six to eight months.” Photographer: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool via https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/03/13/peter-navarro-profile-national-trade-council-donald-trump-china-expert

The issue needs to be considered in the backdrop of a major adjustment of the US policies toward China. At present, there is a glaring contrast between the economic prosperity and political stability in China and the economic downturn and political division in the US, which stings the US policy elites who are steadfast defenders of the US hegemony and its role as the world leader. Those elites tend to believe that the increasingly powerful China has not made the changes approved by the US and is trying to upend the international order shaped by the US.

Thus, it has now gradually become an expectation for the incoming US government to discard the long-standing engagement policy and adopt tougher or more confrontational policies toward China instead.

Against this backdrop, the trade topics closely associated with employment and welfare have become more sensitive but quite effective tools for the China hawks to create an unfriendly public opinion against China. The China-US trade disputes are no longer simply economic topics, but have strong political and strategic implications.

The manufacturing industry is not only the foundation for the US economic recovery, but also the key to solving the unemployment problem and guaranteeing social stability. The imbalance of China-US economic and trade relationship is considered by economists represented by Navarro as the critical reason for the weakening US manufacturing industry. They believe that the current close trade ties have boosted China’s rapid development, whereas the hundreds of billions of dollars of US trade deficit with China has led to the current economic woes in the US. They also blame the US manufacturing companies that moved their factories to China for the high domestic unemployment rate.

In other words, the field of trade, which has long been regarded as mutually beneficial, is now considered by advisers of the incoming US government to be detrimental to their country’s interests. The US maintains that a major trade policy adjustment needs to be urgently pushed forward to give China a head-on blow.

Although bilateral trade generally works by following WTO rules, the US policy elites, represented by Navarro, maintain that their country’s serious inherent economic problems are caused by both China, which fails to address bilateral trade problems impartially, and the US government, which neglects the American public’s demands. They keep overstating China’s negative role to the American public, and thus have made full preparation for a big policy change toward China in the coming years.

Given the current policymaking atmosphere in the US as well as Trump’s picks of advisers, the US has a strong desire to make a major confrontational policy adjustment in its trade with China in the future. However, it still remains uncertain if the adjustment will directly lead to a trade war.

The high interdependence of bilateral trade indicates that any form of trade war provoked by the US will ultimately hurt itself. It is probably difficult for the Trump team to figure out how much self-damage their country is able to withstand.

During the election campaign, Trump denounced the greediness of Wall Street magnates and promised to create new jobs, but, ironically, the officials he appointed after winning the election mostly came from the Wall Street.

China’s economic power is no longer as it was before, and its defining power over bilateral relations in trade and all the other aspects is stronger than ever. It is impossible for China to sit back and let the US destroy the mutually beneficial situation in trade. Instead, China will firmly push forward the future bilateral ties under the concept of building a new type of major power relationship.

In contrast to the uncertain US trade policies toward China, China’s policies toward the US are clear and concise: get rid of any barriers and push forward bilateral relations in a stable and mutually beneficial direction. The evolution of China-US relationship has always been a process of moving forward and addressing various conflicts along the way. It is hoped “the China-US trade war” will only be a verbal clash, instead of a clash in real action.

By Li Haidong Source:Global Times Published: 2016/12/25 13:43:39

The author is a professor with the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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US anti-China hawks may yet scupper trade deal  

Right after the G20 summit in Japan, US Senator Marco Rubio made the headlines again by calling for legislation to continue the ban on Huawei, even after US President Donald Trump said he would lift some of the restrictions on US companies doing business with the Chinese tech giant.

Image result for US Senator Marco Rubio an Anti-China Hawk imagesSenator Rubio Prepares To Blast China …
forbes.com

 

Rubio is a salient representative of the US political extreme. Some US politicians appear to take advantage of the split in US society and are using their extreme political views to gain more voters as well as please different political groups. This actually reflects the increasingly prominent malfunction of US politics.
It is an important reason why China is concerned that the US-launched trade war against China will not end in the short term.

We believe there are rational people who know China well at the US government’s decision-making level. Even so, lawmakers like Rubio have gone too far. They are not messing with China but rather wearing down the credibility of US politics.

The US political system is becoming increasingly flawed. Many politicians deliberately act up to firmly oppose anything that would benefit China for the sake of being anti-China. That the political landscape is becoming extreme in the US is providing these politicians with the opportunity to play to their base if they show an open anti-China stance.

Rubio is one such politician. He paints himself as being hostile to China to draw attention. Despite the fact that the trade war and the Huawei ban are harming the interests of the US, Rubio insists on this excessively tough stance toward China because that could spark controversies which could end up favoring him.

This is what Rubio, an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, needs to fulfill his political ambitions. Such narrow-minded thinking has de facto escalated the US-launched trade war against China.

Rubio doesn’t understand China and probably barely knows China’s history. But taking advantage of being anti-China, he can create hot debates and make headlines, and thus gain more assets for his political career.

Even though people who don’t know much about the world’s second-largest economy can be a senator in the US, it is a joke that someone like Rubio can pretend to be a China hand and comment on China’s policies. This is one of the key reasons for the ratcheted-up tensions between China and the US.

The fundamental split in the US political system provides openings for hawkish politicians who have long been hostile toward China. The US is now in the throes of the 2020 presidential campaign, when candidates vie with each other to make outrageous remarks to appeal to their supporters.

This marked increase in radicals in US politics makes it much more difficult for the US government to function normally and for Republicans and Democrats to reach compromises, especially on major issues.

Even though there are signs of China-US trade frictions turning around, as the US political system will not fundamentally change in the short term, China must remain vigilant and prepare for a long-term trade war, in case the hawks gain the upper hand.

By Xu Hailin Source:Global Times Published: 2019/6/30 19:53:39

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