To understand the China ‘One-Belt / ‘One-World’ economic trade forum it becomes necessary to understand how structurally weak the Chinese economy was created.
People often talk about the ‘strength’ of China’s economic model; and indeed within a specific part of their economy -manufacturing- they do have economic strength. However, the underlying critical architecture of the Chinese economic model is structurally flawed and President Trump with his current economic team understand the weakness better than all international adversaries.
Lets take a stroll and lightly discuss.
China is a central planning economy. Meaning it never was an outcropping of natural economic conditions. China was/is controlled as a communist style central-planning government; As such, it is important to reference the basic structural reality that China’s economy was created from the top down.
This construct of government creation is a key big picture distinction that sets the backdrop to understand how weak the economy really is.
Any nations’ economic model is only as stable (or strong) as the underlying architecture or infrastructure of the actual country.
Think about economic strength and stability this way: If a nation was economically walled off from all other nations, can it survive? …can it sustain itself?
In the big picture – economic strength is an outcome of the ability of a nation, any nation, to support itself first and foremost. If a nations’ economy is dependent on other nations’ for it to inherently survive it is less strong than a nation whose economy is more independent.
You might not realize it, but China is an extremely dependent nation.
When the central planning for the 21st century Chinese Economy was constructed, there were several critical cultural flaws, dynamics exclusive to China, that needed to be overcome in order to build their economic model. It took China several decades to map out a way to economic growth that could overcome the inherent critical flaws.
Critical Flaws To Exploit:
♦Because of the oppressive nature of the Chinese compliant culture, the citizens within China do not innovate or create. The “Compliance Mindset” is part of the intellectual DNA strain of a Chinese citizen.
Broadly speaking, the modern era Chinese are not able to think outside the box per se’ because the reference of all civil activity has been a history of box control by government, and compliance to stay (think) only within the approved box. The lack of intellectual thought mapping needed for innovation is why China relies on intellectual theft of innovation created by others.
American culture specifically is based around freedom of thought and severe disdain of government telling us what to do; THAT freedom is necessary for innovation. That freedom actually creates innovation.
Again, broadly speaking Chinese are better students in American schools and universities because the Chinese are culturally compliant. They work well with academics and established formulas, and within established systems, but they cannot create the formula or system themselves.
♦ The Chinese Planning Authority skipped the economic cornerstone. When China planned out their economic entry, they did so from a top-down perspective. They immediately wanted to be manufacturers of stuff. They saw their worker population as a strategic advantage, but they never put the source origination infrastructure into place in order to supply their manufacturing needs. China has no infrastructure for raw material extraction or exploitation.
China relies on: importing raw material, applying their economic skillset (manufacturing), and then exporting finished goods. This is the basic economic structure of the Chinese economy.
See the flaw?
Cut off the raw material, and the China economy slows, contracts, and if nations react severely enough with export material boycotts the entire Chinese economy implodes.
Insert big flashy sign for: “One-Belt / One-Road” HERE
Again, we reference the earlier point: Economic strength is the ability of a nation to sustain itself. [Think about an economy during conflict or war] China cannot independently sustain itself, therefore China is necessarily vulnerable.
China is dependent on Imports (raw materials) AND Exports (finished goods).
♦The 800lb Panda in the room is that China is arguably the least balanced economy in the modern world. Hence, China has to take extraordinary measures to secure their supply chain. This economic dependency is also why China has recently spent so much on military expansion etc., they must protect their vulnerable interests.
Everything important to the Chinese Economy surrounds their critical need to secure a strong global supply chain of raw material to import, and leveraged trade agreements for export.
China’s economy is deep (manufacturing), but China’s economy is also narrow.
China could have spent the time to create a broad-based economy, but the lack of early 1900’s foresight, in conjunction with their communist top-down totalitarian system and a massive population, led to central government decisions to subvert the bottom-up building-out and take short-cuts. Their population controls only worsened their long term ability to ever broaden their economic model.
It takes a population of young avg-skilled workers to do the hard work of building a raw material infrastructure. Mine workers, dredge builders, roads and railways, bridges and tunnels etc. All of these require young strong bodies. The Chinese cultural/population decisions amid the economic builders precluded this proactive outlook; now they have an aging population and are incapable of doing it.
This is why China has now positioned their economic system as dependent on them being an economic bully. They must retain their supply chain: import raw materials – export finished goods, at all costs.
This inherent economic structure is a weakness China must continually address through policies toward other nations. Hence, “One-Belt / One-Road” is essentially their ‘bully plan’ to ensure their supply chain and long-term economic viability.
This economic structure, and the reality of China as a dependent economic model, also puts China at risk from the effects of global economic contraction.
♦U.S. President Donald Trump and the U.S. economic team fully understand this dynamic and fully understand the inherent needs of China. When you are economically dependent, the ‘bully plan’ only works until you encounter a ‘stronger opponent’. A stronger opponent is an economic opponent with a more broad-based stable economy, that’s US.
President Trump, Commerce Secretary Ross, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer, represent the first broad-based national team of economic negotiators who know how to leverage the inherent Chinese economic vulnerability.