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The lasting impact of Wuhan coronavirus will be geopolitical

The report findings come as a group of Conservative MPs in the UK have written to the Trade Secretary to say that they plan to amend the Trade Bill currently before Parliament to legally require the Government to reduce strategic dependency on China. The letter — which cites the HJS report — is signed by 21 MPs including David Davis, Iain Duncan Smith, and Owen Paterson.

Click the link, read the report, interesting stuff.

Wuhan coronavirus, in terms of foreign political fallout for the Chinese Communist Party globally, is like Chernobyl was for the Soviet Communist Party, but multiplied by twenty.

28 comments to The lasting impact of Wuhan coronavirus will be geopolitical

  • bob sykes

    What this means is a return to protectionist/mercantilist trade policies. Does a self-proclaimed libertarian blog support this?

    Not being a libertarian, I do.

  • No bob, but then I don’t support the pro-poverty ideas you prefer. I do however support avoiding a dangerous reliance on an erratic totalitarian China for very sensible business reasons.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Sometimes, following libertarian principles leads to illibertarian results.
    Unilaterally free trade with China is a concrete example.

  • Unilaterally free trade with China is a concrete example.

    No, it really isn’t a concrete example of that, but we all see what our meta-context allows us to see.

    There were good business reason to move some things to China, and many shareholders have reaped the benefits. Now business conditions have changed as China’s internal politics have (predictably perhaps) changed, so it now makes good businesses sense to adjust accordingly and move things elsewhere.

  • Itellyounothing

    Nothing about liberty requires you make richer, the people who reduce your own liberty directly or indirectly.

    Lockdown is an illiberal. Communists spying on their own people is illiberal. Exporting a serious virus is not the behaviour of a friendly trading partner.

    That’s just guaranteeing your own slavery in the end.

  • Mr Ecks

    Free trade between the people of the world and China is controlled where it suits the CCP and to the extent and direction it suits the CCP. This is NOT a free market.

    The world needs to be rid of the proven mass evil of the CCP. Free trade cannot–at present –reach that essential goal.

    It is a reasonable move. But if any group of fuckwit MPs –ie ALL of them–think it a way to get the forthcoming big heat off them–they are mistaken.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Communists spying on their own people is illiberal. Exporting a serious virus is not the behaviour of a friendly trading partner. That’s just guaranteeing your own slavery in the end.”

    Would we include this nation in that? Or these ones? Should we block trade with them?

  • Wuhan coronavirus, in terms of foreign political fallout for the Chinese Communist Party globally, is like Chernobyl was for the Soviet Communist Party, but multiplied by twenty.

    I’m hoping for more like factor 200+.

    Firstly, as regards the event itself, Chernobyl caused us no actual observable inconvenience IIRC, just some concern. The virus has caused lots. The Soviet Union’s coverup did not last long and IIRC it was not clear that any specific person outside Russia suffered from it. The argument is straightforward that China’s much longer concealment harmed our ability to deal with it. The Soviet concealment looked like embarrassment. China’s concealment looks like malice.

    Secondly, the Soviet Union was opening up at the time and continued to do so for quite some time. Eventually it ceased to be. It was easy to take a tolerant attitude when it was clear they were going in the right direction, becoming less dangerous. China is as clearly going in a more authoritarian direction, becoming more dangerous.

    However 20 is much better than 1 or 0. The west needed a wake-up call about China.

  • Saying it briefly (I hope not too briefly ;-), are the circumstances not worryingly like those of the tale of the Eloi and the Morlocks.

    Keep safe and best regards

  • Should we block trade with them?

    Who is ‘we’? I have a very senior person from a colossal multinational living next door to me (literally) & he says talk of “limiting exposure” to China has been on the cards for a while (they are there massively), but the current situation is overcoming institutional inertial, meaning it might actually happen. Make of that what you will, but this was not some government initiative they are reacting to.

  • Paul Marks

    I hope you are correct Perry.

    It will not astonish you that I think you are mistaken – that the Communist Party Dictatorship will go from strength to strength, and that the Western establishment (including Big Business) will continue to push this political system (“Social Credit” system and all) in the West.

    But let us hope that I am wrong and you are right.

    It is an empirical question and we will soon see evidence (one way or the other).

    If President Trump wins in November and the Republicans hold the Senate, this will be a major defeat for the People’s Republic of China.

    If the Democrats win then the United States (like the rest of the West) will adopt tyranny – basically on the PRC model (to the cheers of Big Business – as well as the education system and the mainstream media).

    We shall have to see.

  • But let us hope that I am wrong and you are right.

    It is not a case of me or you being right or wrong, I am just repeating what an industry insider is saying.

  • Eric

    I have a very senior person from a colossal multinational living next door to me (literally) & he says talk of “limiting exposure” to China has been on the cards for a while (they are there massively), but the current situation is overcoming institutional inertial, meaning it might actually happen. Make of that what you will, but this was not some government initiative they are reacting to.

    I have a relative working for a big US electronics manufacturer. She says they’ve been moving production out of China for years because Chinese labor is no longer competitive with places like Indonesia and Vietnam. Surprisingly, they moved some very specialized optics manufacturing from China to Switzerland because people with that skill in the Middle Kingdom can write their own ticket, and labor for that tiny niche is actually cheaper in Switzerland.

    The Wu Flu isn’t going to make anything happen that wouldn’t have happened eventually, at least for her company, but those changes are now on the front burner and will probably be completed over the next two years.

  • The Wu Flu isn’t going to make anything happen that wouldn’t have happened eventually, at least for her company, but those changes are now on the front burner and will probably be completed over the next two years.

    Quite so, that is pretty much what my chum was saying. The business realities are changing.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Who is ‘we’? I have a very senior person from a colossal multinational living next door to me (literally) & he says talk of “limiting exposure” to China has been on the cards for a while”

    I wasn’t talking about China. 🙂

    But there is a big difference between limiting exposure to China because they spy on their own people and export the virus to countries unprepared to cope with it, and limiting exposure to China because they are getting prosperous enough and skilled enough now for their people to be able to demand higher wages. The latter is a sign of progress. Businesses seek profit wherever it is to be found. Pecunia non olet.

    China will only be reformed when the ordinary people become prosperous and powerful enough that they can no longer be controlled. Totalitarians can keep control over the poor and powerless indefinitely. But there is a sort of political Kuznets curve – the tendency towards large-scale hierarchical government first rises then falls with increasing wealth per capita. In the long run, the only way to deal with China is to develop them economically. The more they trade with us, the more dependent they are on us, and the more influence we have. The more isolated they are, the less reason they have to listen to our opinion.

    And by taking punitive economic action against China, who do we think we’re hurting? The ordinary Chinese workers in the factories, who have no say over official policy, or the Communist Party officials?

  • djc

    China will only be reformed when the ordinary people become prosperous and powerful enough that they can no longer be controlled. Totalitarians can keep control over the poor and powerless indefinitely.

    So what does that say about Britain and its people in these days of lockdown and NHS worship?

  • Paul Marks

    My apologies for misunderstanding you Perry.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “So what does that say about Britain and its people in these days of lockdown and NHS worship?”

    That they’re complying with lockdown voluntarily, because they agree with it, not because they’re forced or threatened.

    Different people weight the risks to lives and the economy differently. Some people weight lives more, some people the economy. The role of representative democracy is to resolve this disagreement about policy. About 46% of the UK population think the recent relaxation goes too far, about 35% think it’s about right, and 10% think it doesn’t go far enough.

    You’re with the 10%, but most British people disagree with you. They have different values. They prefer a different trade-off point.

    Boris, I think, inclines more towards freeing things up than most of the electorate, and he is therefore pushing things in that direction. But as is proper for politicians he is acutely conscious of the will of the people, and that they value their lives highly. If he was seen to have prioritised the economy over people’s lives, and tens or hundreds of thousands more died, he’d pay a heavy price in popular support. He’s not that stupid. And nor are the British public.

    Democracy is a difficult idea for some people – they support it when it’s a matter of keeping their enemies from imposing their minority beliefs on the rest of society, but they see it as an obstacle when it keeps them from imposing their own minority beliefs on society. “The people are stupid, and easily misled, and so we of the wiser intellectual elite need the power to overrule them, for their own good and for the good of society.” That’s where it always starts.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Wuhan coronavirus

    As an aside, I don’t think it should be referred to as thus, not because its racist or anything, just that a better name is the communist coronavirus, which describes it more elegantly.

  • I tend to use “Chinese Bat Lung” when describing my personal encounter with the virus, but I think Wuhan coronavirus is more ‘correct’ even if not as pleasingly emotive as Communist coronavirus.

  • bobby b

    I still like Kung Flu.

  • Itellyounothing

    Guatemalan problems with the US are for them to solve.

    UK ones with China are ours to solve.

    The technology China developed will be used on us if our civil service get the chance.

    Best we stop giving money to them.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I prefer Xi virus, also for brevity.
    Or, in the US context, Cuomo virus.

  • I have used ChiComCold (IIUC, technically, it comes from the cold family, not the flue family).

  • Snorri Godhi

    IIUC, technically, it comes from the cold family, not the flue family

    I checked the Fount of All Knowledge and it’s close, but no cigar.
    Some colds are caused by viruses of the corona family, but most are caused by the appropriately named rhinoviruses.
    Rhinoviruses, however, are related to coronaviruses because both clades include viruses with single-stranded, positive-sense RNA.
    (Baltimore class IV: (+)ssRNA viruses.)

    By contrast, flu viruses are in Baltimore class V: (-)ssRNA viruses.

    For completeness 🙂 I note that HIV viruses are also single-stranded, positive-sense RNA viruses, but belong to Baltimore class VI because their RNA is reverse-trascripted into DNA once the virus is inside a cell.

  • Jim

    “Some people weight lives more, some people the economy.”

    The economy IS lives, as it consists of all of us people. If the economy nosedives lives are lost/damaged/ruined just as much as people catching CV-19 and dying from it. Being in favour of the economy over the lockdown is not to be in favour of a big pile of dollar bills vs Granny dying, its to be favour of tens of millions not being impoverished, and not dying younger than they would have, and not suffering mental anguish from poverty vs Granny dying. Its not ‘money vs lives’ its ‘lives vs lives’.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Its not ‘money vs lives’ its ‘lives vs lives’.”

    True. And millions of deaths from COVID-19 also has an impact on the economy. Nevertheless, you still have to consider both sides of the trade-off, not just one side.

  • Snorri Godhi

    you still have to consider both sides of the trade-off, not just one side.

    The real problem is that there is uncertainty on both sides of the equation; and on both sides, there is uncertainty about both the number of deaths and the economic impact.

    For instance, Sweden is expected to suffer a severe recession. Would it be more severe if there had been a formal lockdown? if so, how much more severe? We’ll never know for sure.
    Vice versa, we’ll never know for sure how much of a recession countries in lockdown would have suffered w/o lockdown.

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