About five days ago, Chris Balding tweeted this:
I am going to pound this into the ground because its true: China promoting free trade is fake news
Perhaps, Martin Wolf should have had a word with him before he wrote his piece on Xi Jinping offering lessons to President Trump on the merits of liberal global trade.
To believe that China takes ‘ liberal global trade’ seriously is either seriously ignorant or a serious miscalculation, perhaps, arising out of Mr. Wolf’s recent visit to the China Development Forum.
Commenting on the remarks of Larry Summers that “Trump’s ‘alternative facts’ were costing America the coin of the realm”, Chris Balding wondered how much these people were paid to come and attend such forums in China.
Just to get a sense of the Chinese understanding of the ‘merits of liberal global trade’, Mr. Wolf would do well to read these stories:
(i) China’s trading partners alarmed by food import controls
(ii) Call to tackle China’s soaring aluminium output (“Despite a tentative recovery in prices following a five-year slump, experts warn that China’s pledge has not yet reduced net capacity”)
(iii) China’s Taxes on Imported Cars Feed Trade Tensions With U.S.
(iv) Head of China’s industry ministry says country right to limit market access:
More than 80 percent of members of a U.S. business lobby in China say foreign companies are less welcome than in the past, a survey released in January showed, with most saying they have little confidence in China’s vows to open its markets.
What we see in Mr. Wolf’s article is a problem that is all too familiar. Journalists play plaintiff, judge, jury and executioner when it comes to their pet hates and, in the process, fail the most important hallmark of intellectual credibility and integrity and that is, intellectual consistency and uniform application of yardsticks. They failed to do that when globalisation was at its peak. Now that its adverse consequences are coming home to roost, they are very eloquently warning us of the dangers of reversing globalisation.
Ordinary folks wonder what is so complicated and difficult about rolling back something that did not deliver anything of value to them but only destroyed their economic well-being and their communities. Chinese imports and outsourcing/offshoring of production were visible signs of that globalisation. To be taken seriously is to analyse rigorously and objectively.
It is far too easy to say President Trump has low or no credibility but what about an inward gaze?
Again, let us turn to Chris Balding’s brilliant tweet:
The astounding hypocrisy between those screeching about Trump while apologizing for Beijing is nothing less than demented poetry [Link]
What prompted this tweet?
Reuters calling China’s punitive measures against South Korea for the deployment of THAAD missiles just a ‘chill’: