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QuickHit: The Great Decoupling and the Future of US-China Relations (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of the first ever QuickHit #CageMatch with political-economic advisor Albert Marko and China expert Christopher Balding on the great decoupling of US and China. The second part of this is on the Belt And Road Initiative and the answer that the US may have to the BRI. We also talked about the corporate activities — are the US and China targeting corporates? How does that work and how would that play within the environment of decoupling.

 

For the first part, we’ve covered the US foreign policy, looking at Latin America, Africa, and parts of Asia. We looked at US-China trade and a number of other aspects around the US-China relationship. 

 

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This QuickHit episode was recorded on October 14, 2020.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this QuickHit episode are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any content provided by our guests are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any political party, religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

 

SHOW NOTES

 

TN: Now let’s let’s move along a little bit more into economics and talk about the Belt and Road Initiative, which something that I actually worked on for about a year and a half. There’s been some talk in the last few months about the anglosphere and will the West have an answer to the BRI. Does the US need a response to the BRI as a government initiative and if so, do you think they can do it? That question is from @Sw33tYams.

 

CB: Just as rappers get shown to the VIP room, if you’re a country and you are offering goodies, you’re gonna get shown to the VIP room in whatever country you go to. That doesn’t mean it has to be the Trump and air initiative. We do need to think about and we should absolutely put effort into how can the US provide positive things to countries.

 

Why don’t we set up an office that says, I have a company in China that makes XYZ product and they want to move out of China. We have a database of where to go. I know bankers in Vietnam that we’re like, “hey we’re just getting slammed. Why doesn’t the US have an office of infrastructure for emerging markets like Vietnam to help get migrating Chinese companies, those types of goodies, even in a lot of different forms it could take, are going to open a lot more doors than just saying it’s the right thing to do.

 

AM: I agree. But it’s also gonna need a little bit of help from our partners specifically Australia, the UK plus Japan. Basically five I’s plus Japan. It’s going to need shared cost. Supply chains have to move. It’s going to take a little while. It’s going to take a little bit effort from everybody.

 

TN: So it’s basically a government kind of somewhat directed but not necessarily directly involved. What you’re saying is Americans will take a a little easier hand than the Chinese kind of very direct hand in say
these multilateral or multi-country activities. Is that fair to say?

 

CB: I can give one example I was told about and this is something I’m surprised hasn’t gotten more attention. The Commerce Department apparently has a tariff waiver program where if you say, “look, we have this plant in China. It’s facing tariffs. Here’s our 180-day plan to get to move our production to Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Africa wherever.” The Commerce Department will give you a waiver for, whatever time period if you give them a plan. That’s the kind of stuff that should be more publicized and the US government is taking an active role to partner with business to say, “you take the lead and if you’re doing it, we’ll help you.”

 

TN: Let me throw you the next question, Albert. This is from @Ellis_Greenwood. How long will it take the US to decouple from China? So if we assume what Chris just talked about with some of the say Commerce Department activities, these other things, does the US really wanted to decouple from China fully and if so, how long will it take to get either to that level or to say a desired level that that US companies would want to?

 

AM: A desired level is the right term. We’re not going to fully decouple from China. That’s just absurd. When they’re talking about moving supply chains, I’ve heard all sorts of 15, 20 years to one year and it actually depends on each sector. It’s a lot easier to move a software gaming company rather than a pharmaceutical manufacturing company. It can take anywhere from one year to ten to fifteen years.

 

TN: What do you think about that, Chris?

 

CB: I think that’s generally accurate. A lot of the stuff that China was known for over the years, like let’s say low-wage manufacturing, assembly, that type of stuff… I mean Apple set up, a plant in India, which can make iPhones in about 18 months. As Albert pointed out, people think of decoupling as there’s not going to be trade between the US and China. I think what you’re really seeing is this move to bipolar supply chain worlds especially in tech. So there’s going to be a China-specific manufacturing world for tech stuff and a non-China because, you can already see the US government and other governments and even companies saying, “hey, your tech is not been touched by China.”

 

TN: Frankly, I believe that’s what China has wanted all along is their own Chinese ecosystem and then a rest of world ecosystem so they can control that technology and the messaging over that technology. That’s what they had 20 years ago, and there’s been the things overlapping for the last 10 years and I believe that deep down, they really want a separation of those things.

 

This is @candideXXI, “what will be the political and economic pressures outcomes produced by the ending of Chinese investment and the debt expansionary cycle,” which is an interesting question but maybe going to one or two things. Underlying that question is, is that expected to happen? A lot of people have this question on their brain but I don’t necessarily see that happening in the next three to five years. These things tend to go a lot longer than many people assume.

 

CB: Let’s assume that China went to 0% debt growth right now. Honestly, China would be in flames by the end of the day. It would explode. Xi would be lynched by the end of the day. The number that I saw and it’s a staggering number, is debt to GDP in China this year is going to increase by upwards of 30%. So it’s going to go from 300% to 330% in one year. That’s a staggering number. I don’t see they’re going to keep this going as long as possible. For them to get this under control is going to be at least a 10, 20 year cycle at best. And in all likelihood, they’re headed for North Korean financial system with Japanese debt. That’s the only logical outcome. Because if they were to open up the capital markets, the RMB would drop 50% easy.

 

TN: So what you’re saying is, there’s a possibility that CNY could be a global currency?

 

CB: That’s exactly what I’m saying, yes. Exactly what I’m saying.

 

AM: Yeah I agree with Chris here. China’s well within the Euro Dollar system. They need dollars. They can’t get away from Dollars. They need it for their debt. They multiply it out to issue more Renmimbis out to the emerging markets. They’re not leaving and they’re not getting out of the system.

 

TN: Let’s take it more into the corporate realm as well. When we look at like Huawei and Tiktok and some of the Chinese companies that have a large international presence, given the dynamics at home, if the US continues to cut off these companies and some of their crucial activities overseas, how does that bend back onto China? How dire is it? Is it not a big deal or is it pretty dire not just in terms of acquiring technology but in terms of actually making money and keeping the home markets floating?

 

AM: That’s the name of the game is making money for them. They need dollars from overseas desperately. Without that, their entire financial system implodes. They go out to Africa and then they loan out Renminbis and they expect money paid back in dollars at all times. So without the dollar, they’re just buying time.

 

CB: Especially in the tech sector, these are guys that maybe have been abroad for a fair amount of time. They want to emulate the Googles. They want to be international. They think of themselves as cosmopolitan even if they grew up in the system. And so, even though they might be pro-China, which is different than like pro-CCP, they want to be a part of that global tech scene. To have those limitations on them is a constraint that they don’t necessarily like. But that’s the reality of the system that they find themselves in.

 

TN: So will they change their behaviors to align with the constraints outlined by the US or will they remain true to what the CCP tells them to do and their business will suffer internationally?

 

CB: Business will suffer internationally because the reality is, as a Chinese business, you can’t get away from that. As soon as Jack Ma says I’m gonna obey the SEC and file this type of audit, they get blown up in China.

 

AM: They can walk a tight rope until they absolutely get pressured by the Chinese government and then they have to fall in line. There’s no other choice for them.

 

TN: We’ve seen more Chinese IPOs in the four years of Trump than we saw under the eight years of Obama. First of all, why is that? Are they just trying to cash in and get dollars into their companies or is there some other reason? Is it possible to continue that pace?

 

AM: I think they’re just taking advantage of the market and being able to cash in and cash out as fast as they possibly can. Do I think it’s sustainable? Absolutely not. This market’s overbought and eventually there’ll be a correction and on top of that I think that the US government needs to have some reasonable accounting standards for Chinese companies that refuse to open their books for transparency. It boggles my mind. At this point, why should I just go to China, buy a company and list it on the NASDAQ for some absurd amount of money. There’s nothing saying that I need to open my books. It’s absolutely crazy.

 

CB: This is one of the most frustrating arguments by the China apologists because when you make the same argument that Google, Goldman whoever is not subject to the SEC or US jurisdiction on US financial markets, you make that argument, then I will entertain your argument about Chinese companies. Until then, it’s nonsensical.

 

TN: Okay. So let me just sum this up. China is the biggest US foreign policy issue. China is in an untenable position of having their companies locked down or some of their companies locked down by the US. They have a shortage of dollars. They have unsustainable debt and if the current US policies continue, at least Albert thinks that Chinese leadership is in peril. So, what glass half full view am I not seeing?

 

CB: This is in a way very predictable in the sense that they sit down in November, December and they say, “Okay this is our target for 2021” whatever it is. And because you can see that those numbers are almost so stunningly predictable and what’s amazing is they have a very good idea of what their leakages are going to be. That money that gets leaked out in Macau gaming chips or Bitcoin and all that other good stuff, they know what they have to hit. My favorite thing of all this is that almost nobody knows that they’re already rationing US dollars. Most banks in China have the one-to-one rule that you have to bring in a dollar to send out a dollar. As long as they can continue to balance those books through, it can keep up for a while.

 

AM: I’m at a loss for words almost on that one. For the Chinese, you would hope that they understand how bipolar systems work and understanding the Apple versus Microsoft component as like let the one guy be big and you fill in the gaps and everybody be copacetic. I don’t know if I can buy that for very long. But
that’s my only hope is Xi, if Trump is elected, which I am speculating that he is, comes to this realization and says, “let’s tone down the pressure. Let’s fulfill the Phase One Deal, Phase Two Deal” whatever they want to go into. Make inroads and just ratchet down the tensions.

 

TN: Last question guys. Albert, I know you’ve done a lot of forecasting for the presidential election. What do you think is going to happen? You have some really interesting views and I’d love to hear why and Chris also as he’s talking, it’s your first time to be back here. What are some of your observations and expectations as well.

 

AM: I know we’re seeing all sorts of polling numbers that are just eye-popping and just I cannot believe publishers actually put this out to print. 15 points for Biden. 11 points for Biden.

 

CB: Just today, I actually saw this poll saying Biden up 17.

 

AM: It boggles my mind how these people just either they miss statistics class or just don’t know how to add. But for Biden to be up 17 points, you would have to assume the Democrats come out in some kind of record 80 turnout and on top of that have the republicans, 15 of them either not show up or vote for Biden.

 

TN: But even Reagan’s 84 blowout wasn’t a 17-point win, was it?

 

AM: No. This is what’s boggling to me. I just don’t understand it.

 

We know what California is going to do. We know what New York’s going to do. We just toss those aside. If you look at Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona, those are the states that you really have to look at and in almost every single state, the Republicans have gained hundreds of thousands of new registrations. And even in the polling that’s done out there, there’s a few pieces of data that 96 or 94 of Republicans have an approval of Donald Trump. How do you get to 17 point lead, when 94% of Republicans support Donald Trump. That’s just unbelievable to me. The Economist has been my favorite lately of the 99.9% victory for Joe Biden over Donald Trump.

 

These are just silly numbers people throw out there. Coming out of lockdowns, they’re doing 100 phone polling so they have no opportunity to go out to the public and see who they’re talking to. And study after study has shown that Republican voters have been not just shy vote, but actually spiteful of the pollsters and purposely saying that they’re going to vote for Biden. That’s how you get to these 17 point numbers.

 

CB: I try to stay away from politics as much as possible especially on China and stuff like that because whether it is Trump or Biden, I see what we’re in with China as a 20 to 40-year type of challenge. So at some point, there’s going to be Republicans, at some point there’s going to be Democrats. Just from a social perspective and Tony I think you can identify with this. Man, America’s crazy.

 

TN: Democracy is messy, right?

 

CB: I’m a live and let live kind of guy. So if you’re a Democrat, if you’re a Republican, if you’re a Green or a Libertarian, I don’t really care. We can still sit down and smoke a cigar. And I think the thing that just amazes me is America just seems angry and it seemed really angry for a long time.

 

We can all talk about Trump, but both parties can point to things that the others have done that is unethical, that is abnormal. We need to be better citizens to each other. We need to accept losses that, it’s not going to be our time all the time. The political golden rule is don’t advocate a policy that you don’t want used against you.

 

AM: I attribute the hate that we’re seeing now, the polarization, squarely on the weaponization of social media. Completely. Because we can sit there and put out a viral post of someone, take a phrase taken out of context and making that person look like just a demonic figure and then dox the guy, show him his address and have 15 people show up to the house with pitchforks and and torches. It’s just insane. There’s got to be some kind of accountability on social media by either the government or social media standards themselves.

 

TN: Social media doesn’t have standards, Albert, because I know you’re both active on social media.

 

CB: The way I always think about it is, a country or a political party is like a family barbecue. We’ve all gone to those family barbecues and go, “who are these losers that are at this family barbecue?” And if you aren’t going to your own political party or your own country and going, “dang these are some losers I’m hanging out with,” okay I mean, you’re doing it all wrong.

Categories
QuickHit

QuickHit: The Great Decoupling and the Future of US-China Relations (Part 1)

This is the first ever QuickHit #CageMatch with a returning guest, political-economic advisor Albert Marko, and China expert Christopher Balding with us for the first time. This is Part 1 of a 2-part discussion. Visit this page for the second part.

 

Albert Marko helps a couple of financial firms, members of congress, and a couple governments  to manage and navigate their way through the beltway and the legislative issues and the politics and how the economic, how the federal reserve and all the economic policies filter down. Albert is also the co-founder and COO of Favore Media Group.

 

Christopher Balding spends most of his time on the phone talking to people about the data about China. He is a two-time winner of Lifetime Achievement awards and a Professor at Fulbright University Vietnam.

 

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Follow Tony on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TonyNashNerd

Follow Albert on Twitter: https://twitter.com/amlivemon

Follow Chris on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BaldingsWorld

 

This QuickHit episode was recorded on October 14, 2020.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this QuickHit episode are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any content provided by our guests are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any political party, religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

 

Show Notes

 

TN: We’ve got a bunch of questions off of Twitter and the first one is from @AxeRendale: If you were in charge of U.S. foreign policy. What are the top things you would change from the status quo? They asked about five things. I don’t think we have that much time. So, what are a couple things? Let’s say two things in terms of U.S. foreign policy that you would change. Of course we have the election coming up but regardless of the individual. We’ve seen some status quo upheaval over the past few years but what would you really change not just the top line but the way the U.S. acts?

 

AM: I would immediately start looking at South America and Africa and identifying and eliminating or at least hampering Chinese and Russian interests there, specifically Venezuela would be my number one choice right now. The Chinese and the Russians, they have a field day there. There’s almost no U.S. intervention in there and the same goes for parts of Africa. I know we have troops in Mali and Niger and a couple places to deal with terrorism but just solidifying some of the countries out there like Morocco, Angola and preventing the Chinese from making inroads. I would put make that a priority.

 

CB: So I would agree with Albert in general terms but maybe take it in a slightly different direction. The Trump administration has done a good job shifting the focus to the larger problems and China and taking those policy steps that are well within their grasp.

 

What needs to be the next step, and whether this is under a Trump administration or Biden administration, is the reality is that you can’t handle these issues on the cheap. The Germans and Asian countries are not just going to be persuaded by the moral rightness of confronting China.

 

Just to give you two examples of where you might see something. If the U.S. was to offer even to European countries to fund 5G rollout at like 0% interest loans because that what China is doing. This the way they run the finances is basically giving away the 5G gear. If the U.S. made like 0% interest loans, you could fund that if it was in some type of like a levered development finance corporation structure, where with a couple billion dollars a year honestly, globally. You could do that entire project globally and on the U.S. budget, a couple billion dollars a year is almost couch cushion money.

 

TN: Right, and this is similar to how Japan is competing with China for infrastructure in parts of Asia, right? They’re giving no interest or extreme like 0.3% interest loans for infrastructure, right?

 

CB: Yeah, exactly. Like in Vietnam, where I can speak a little bit more authoritatively, they’re not fans of China. At the same time, they recognize they have to work with China. It’s a very pragmatic approach. At the same time, they we want to give the French certain pieces of the pie, also the Americans. Vietnam is actively trying to balance where their economic investment comes from so that they don’t become too dependent on any one source.

 

TN: Yep, it’s smart.

 

AM: The only issue I have with that is that you’re absolutely correct and that’s exactly what should be done  but it’s depending on the European partners to even come to play ball. Because, within the European Union themselves, there’s competing interests on all sides. And it’s difficult for the United States to try to compete with the Chinese who give 99-year loans for infrastructure in Africa to dictate which European Nation gets a slice of the pie when they’re all conflicting with themselves to begin with. So that’s the only thing I’d have to
say about that.

 

TN: That’s an interesting point. China is very successful in terms of foreign policy by peeling off one member of a block at a time and there’s no better example than the way they peeled off Cambodia from ASEAN in order to break the voting block that’s necessary to get anything through there. They’ve done the same with the E.U. with say Portugal or Greece, right? Do you see the U.S. being able to do that, go and interrupt a block by getting say a single or a couple of allies there? Because I haven’t seen the U.S. do that all that successfully say for 20 years. Do you think we can do that successfully again?

 

AM: I think that we absolutely can be that successful if we actually had the will to do it. The problem is the Chinese are just literally filling in the gaps. The vacuums that the United States have left, and this is something that the United States just needs to get over the dirty word of intervention and just get on with business and solidify U.S. interests abroad.

 

CB: I would actually slightly differ from Albert on this and I see it in a very structural in a very structural way. If you take the E.U. to basically take to move against Chinese interests in Europe, there’s an asymmetry here. The U.S. has to get everybody to agree. China only has to get one to disagree, okay?

 

TN: Why does the U.S. have to get everyone to agree?

 

CB: Because basically, if the E.U. for instance is going to pass a let’s say a regulation blocking Huawei gear, it’s a unanimous vote, okay? That’s the only way it gets through the E.U. is through a unanimous vote. So the U.S. has to get everybody to agree. China only has to get one to disagree.

 

If you look at like the U.N. with the human rights council, we can talk about the U.S. should do this or that with the human rights council. The reality is that China till the end of time is going to have enough votes to put Russia, Venezuela, Libya, etc. on the human rights council because of the the number of countries that there are in the number of countries that they can get to agree with them. So people talk about, “well, it’s a Trump issue.” No. That’s the reality that’s the systemic nature of the international system.

 

AM: And one of the things that the United States has absolutely not done is use the United States Dollar as a weapon to combat that. But that’s a whole different topic and we can get all sidetracked on that one but…

 

TN: Yeah, we can spend a lot of time on that. Here’s a question from @RemaniSrikanth: How much is China policy hinged on who wins the U.S. election? Do you believe that fundamentally the democrats and republicans would have different China policies?

 

CB: After the Russian debacle that they had in the Obama administration and the people that came out of that, I would be surprised if they did like a complete reset, okay? I don’t think democrats really have any real agreement about what they want to do with China. Even within people within the Biden administration or what would supposedly be a Biden administration. You have people that are people that honestly I think would be, if they weren’t democrats, would probably fit well within a Trump administration and you have people that would practically be German in their approach in that there’s no concession. You’ve heard things about well they want to focus on climate change and this 2060 promise is great. We have something to go with here. I don’t think anybody really has a good idea.

 

My own personal suspicion would be more than anything the Trump administration has actually been very deliberate in turning up continuing generally speaking across policy domains and turning up continuing to turn up the pressure slowly, like a pressure cooker. I don’t think you would see that under Biden administration. I don’t think necessarily you would see a rollback of most Trump policies.

 

TN: Albert, do you agree?

 

AM: Yeah, I agree with Chris wholeheartedly. Xi is at a do or die moment with Trump being re-elected. If trump is re-elected and the pressure’s maintained or even raised, I do not think he lasts two or three years in there. As for a Biden presidency, what it would look like? All we have to do is go back to the track record of the Obama presidency and see what they’ve done. They just ignore whatever China does and let them run around the world and do whatever they want. We sat there for two years in 2013 watching China militarize islands while there was absolutely no response. Having Samantha Power back, Valerie Jarrett, Susan Rice doesn’t give me any confidence whatsoever into dealing with dealing with the Chinese.

 

TN: I was in Asia during that time jumping up and down and was told that I was overly aggressive so I share your frustration. Here’s a question from @JamesRoberta7: What does a Xi Jinping and China situation look like if Trump is elected and Pompeo stays at state? What does that look like the first say 24 months of of that type of situation?

 

AM: It really depends on the actions of the Trump administration. Do they ramp up tariffs again? Do they start pressuring them in China? Do they pressure them in Vietnam, in the Philippines? I think they do.

 

The Chinese are going to have to respond to safeguard their own interests. What do they do? Maybe cause a skirmish with the Indians again. Threaten the Taiwanese a little bit more. They can’t really act militarily. They just don’t have the capacity to do that and they’d be completely embarrassed. That’s a whole different argument to itself but like I said, the days are numbered, if Trump is reelected, for Xi. I don’t think the elite families within the Guangdong province would put up with further losses of their wealth.

 

TN: I think that’s something that’s lost on a lot of the American analysts. There is not a monolithic kind of Chinese Communist Party. There are facts within the CCP. There are different power centers. A lot of even the think tankers in America act as if there is this single head at the CCP. He has definitely solidified some power but there are still some very powerful factions. Chris, what do you think about that if there’s a kind of a Trump-Pompeo, that partnership continues, what do you think that looks like for China and the CCP?

 

CB: So, I’m going to slightly diverge from from Albert here in that what we’ve basically seen in the first four years of Trump, especially in the past two years is that Trump is taking a lot of things that are well within the executive purview that he can do. Whether that’s sanctions of different kinds. Although you know in a way the amount of pain that he can cause China within that basket of tools is at this point, it’s increasingly limited. In different ways probably, the biggest thing that he could do is do something that really blocked like IPO or really crimped dollar access.

 

Crimp dollar access is an enormous weapon. But I think the next step is, and you’re actually seeing a lot of groundwork being laid is and you just saw for instance some comments out of India where the U.S. state department is talking about really ramping up its alliance with India. And you’re starting to see a lot of these very foundational type of stuff. So whether it’s increased congressional spending to military things, alliances, different stuff like that, that would be likely where you would see a lot of the focus, especially, legislatively to get authorization to do those types of activities.

 

TN: Okay, that’s a great point as you bring up India to ask this question from @dogthecynic: “How durable do you think the China-Russian alliance is?” And I bring that up because India and Russia traditionally have had a strong alliance post-war. If the U.S. and India continue to get closer at some point, will Russia have to choose between China and India as an ally? Is that even a choice? Let’s start with how strong is that China-Russia alliance? Is it just a resources for weapons type of alliance or is it really a tighter alliance?

 

AM: If you look at it historically, it’s nothing more than cyclical friends with benefits, if you want to call it that. It comes and goes. Their interests are aligned in one area, they conflict on another. Right now, they’re conflicting in Africa quite a lot more than people understand. The Indians, they’ve used Russia as a counter balance to the to the Chinese for decades. It’s quite clear.

 

I don’t think the Chinese and the Russians trust each other. They never will. The Chinese have been encroaching on their borders. Is it strong? No. Can India-U.S. alliance possibly tip it more in their favor? I really don’t think so. I don’t think the Indians are ignorant to the fact that they need Russia as a counterbalance just as much as they need the United States security blanket.

 

CB: The way I would phrase it is that there is what is the honor among thieves. They clearly are frenemies. The Russians know that China is stealing plane designs and engine designs and all this kind of good stuff at the same time, Huawei is working with Russia to hire local hackers and setting up things in Russia to engage in cyber warfare and whatnot because they have a very common enemy. As long as there’s a common enemy for them to focus on and it benefits them to fight that common enemy, I think absolutely that partnership is at least to a plausible degree is going to exist for the sake of the kids, for lack of a better term.

 

TN: Okay, I’ve got some very similar questions from @gabrielfox1 @jschwartz91 and @americacapitalone about Taiwan. So China, Taiwan, U.S. pretty delicate relationships and a lot of the questions are really about the kinetic conflict but also the business aspect of China-Taiwan relations and increasingly Taiwan-U.S. relations with some of the semiconductor activity that the U.S. has undertaken against China. So can you open that up a little bit for us?

 

First of all do you think a China-Taiwan conflict in the next say 24 months is more than say 30% possible? Which it’s just a hedge right? I mean is it realistically possible? That’s kind of a yes or no. But do you think there will be more difficult commercial relationships between China and Taiwan or do you think this is just something that is kind of window dressing and they need each other?

 

AM: Do I think there’s a conflict brewing in the next 24 months? Absolutely not. I don’t think the Chinese have the capabilities. I don’t think they want to be embarrassed furthermore. The Chinese elite, they have money wrapped up in Taiwan. They’re not going to sit there and cut off their their money supply just because Xi wants to prove a point that I don’t believe they can win a war quickly. It would hurt.

 

CB: I will disagree with with Albert here. My understanding of the military capabilities actually align with Albert and what the people I trust have basically said, it’s really going to be 2022, 2023 before they probably have the capabilities necessary.

 

Albert said something very interesting, which I think is worth repeating. They don’t want to be embarrassed. Well let’s look at how China’s behaved in the past year, okay? I don’t think you can project that level of rationality on Xi Jinping. Why the hell are they fighting over some frozen tundra in the Himalayas? It logically makes zero sense, right? I’m not saying that there’s going to be a war. It could be some type of low-level conflict. There’s a lot of different ways that it could be. This doesn’t necessarily mean full-scale invasion
but I would definitely put some type of event conflict distinctly higher.

 

TN: I think it’s unlikely but given my exposure to mid-levels of Chinese ministries they are not the rational, thoughtful, wise organizations that many Americans think and Xi Jinping as you say Chris, why are you fighting over some icy hills in northern India? It’s just stupid, right?

 

So I don’t believe the Chinese government is as thoughtful and wise as many westerners suspect. They make stupid mistakes like everyone else. I’m not saying they’re more stupid than anyone else. I think they’re just as they’re human beings.

 

Now let’s move along a little bit more into economics and talk about the Belt and Road initiative, which something that I actually worked on for about a year and a half. There’s been some talk in the last few months about the anglosphere and does the west have an answer to the BRI? This is really aN eight-year-old question, but my first question is, does the U.S. need a response to the BRI as a government initiative and if so do you think they can do it?

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