A prominent trait of Trump's foreign affairs was its relationship with China. He blamed China for bypassing trade agreements with the United States: hidden subsidies, theft of intellectual property and undervalued currency among others. There's plenty of accusations. But the Trump administration hid the harsh reality: China's economy outperformed the United States' and, according to the IMF, once assessed by the only analytical measure to compare the extent of various economies –which is the GNP index adjusted for Purchasing Power Parity– it is now much larger.
That China is more powerful economically than the United States has consequences. Among others, the emergence of a new military power that makes the imperial power of the United States very doubtful, at least on a global scale.
It is no wonder that China's economy surpasses that of the United States if its population is at least four times the size of the United States. Biden's purpose of the U.S. economy beating China's economy seems quite ridiculous from this perspective. Or will the United States authorities want Chinese citizens to settle for an income that is less than a quarter of the income of an American citizen? Are the Chinese fourth-class citizens?
The size of the Chinese economy was the reason for Trump's discomfort. He tried to hide this reality during his administration, something like covering the sun with a finger. The Trump administration began accusing the Chinese to damage their reputation: 5G, Huawei, the Communist Party of China, the persecution of dissidents in Hong Kong (an island with half of a percentage point of China's population), the artificial islands that China turned into military bases (in the Sea of China!), the harassment of the Uyghurs, (another half of a percentage point of the Chinese population) whose Islamism western leaders, like modern Quijote’s, must run to protect. How curious! They are the same leaders who believe that Islamists are suspects of attacking the foundations of Western culture, the same leaders who do not hesitate to bomb Islamic countries.
To stop China, Trump turned to the virus, the dark and scary Covid-19. He baptized it as "the Chinese virus" and constantly using that nickname he printed it in the minds of his many followers. Of course, he tried to hide the United States clinical mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic, an unbelievable reality in a country supposedly exposed to a biological attack.
Clearly, China's control over the virus looked suspicious. However, it is not only China that has controlled the virus: South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore also did. All countries, together with China, in which the common denominator seems to be a disciplined population.
Trump's America sought to portray China as "the world's bogeyman" leading the West to commit hara-kiri (one more!) cutting off its trade with the Asian Giant. Like a children's game when the defeated one runs away with the ball or hides it. This is how the game turns out for China and the United States: globalization and free trade are not a ball game that the Chinese can play according to Trump rules.
Is China's magnificent example of economic growth in such a short time, only attributable to the ability of the Chinese to copy? Could China base its giant economy just on copying? It surely helped them, but one has to be very shortsighted to despise Chinese success and not to see the industriousness of its population, its ingenuity, its intellectual capacity, the long Chinese cultural history and its indisputable wisdom. Those are factors that add up to the miracles that opening up to international trade bring, allowing citizens to freely develop their capacity to undertake. And last but not least, China's miracle economy is based on sound economics and outstanding saving rates, over 40% of GNP. According to Google, China's national savings rate averaged 48 percent from 2000 to 2008, compared to the 15 percent of the United States.
China's savings has brought a tremendous investment activity. What a difference with Western economies fully devoted to consumption! Increasing investment for them means more fiscal deficit and as a consequence more public debt or higher taxes (as long as those are feasible options).
Signs of Chinese economic growth are the hordes of Chinese tourists that flock to the capitals of some European countries. A true revolution! Wherever they arrive, they flood everything. Nerve-wracking for the Europeans? The truth is that they have already gotten used to it. They suffered the same avalanche in the early 1960s. With one difference: at that time, it was the illiterate hordes from the United States who travelled to spend their wealth in Europe. Then another avalanche armed with cameras: the Japanese. Now it is the turn of the Chinese who do not have to be different from Americans and Japanese travelers. Nothing new under the sun!
China and other Asian countries play a role as the cause of the United States' headache that so well reflect the "Deplorable Trump's supporters”. But the Chinese are passive grounds of the evils brought about by development in the United States. Basically, companies' migration to China and the current breathtaking digital transformation.
Chinese economic growth has clearly pushed the growth of the world economy in the last twenty years when Western economies were struggling not to fall down due to intense speculation, high debt, low saving rates and economic imbalances.
The Biden's administration plans to compete with China in order to recover its leadership in the world: Too late. Too many years with a feeble economy and without attacking serious economic and social weaknesses. Meanwhile China's standing is extremely solid. A place for western economists to remember the foundations of real wellbeing.
It is painful for the United States to see that the future is no longer theirs. It came to feel like an Exceptional Nation and believed itself to be all-mighty. From now on, the United States will have to live in a world where another society will be far more important. What a tumbling path history takes!
Welcome multilateralism and the wealth that diversity brings!