Similar and different – an occasional reflection

As huge economies with large and diverse populations, occupying about the same land area at about the same range of latitudes, China and the US have many similarities.  Similarities extend to many elements of culture and institutions, good and bad.  The similarities are often surprising; the differences confuse us, but may be a source of new perspectives. 

 

Domestic and foreign affairs in 2018 – Xi, CCP, DJT, GOP – Part 5 of 5

 

The Anarchic International Systemdestabilize the world

 Xi and Trump are destabilizing the world, and not only because of the tariff conflict.

As John Mearsheimer reminds us, there is no supra-arbiter of conflict between states.  Realism in international relations suggests that fundamental relations can only be based on domestic interests and an interpretation of what other states might do in their own interest.  Political disagreements with other states - nominally power equals as independent countries – are difficult to address without a hegemonic leading country. There can only be balancing of interests.  And there is no question that the world is looking at a rising China and declining US and wondering about great power conflicts and the Thucydides Trap and how hegemony will play out.

 

Cultural Economy

In the old days, before about 1890, there was no field of economics.  There was only political economy, rightly reflecting the link between institutions and laws and the incentives they created.  As Acemoglu and Robinson pointed out in Why Nations Fail, what we call economics arises from the interplay of culture and institutions, and to think that economics is the same for all is to think poorly.

I want to point out some of the ways in which economic thinking can differ across cultures, and explain some of what we see in development in China, and in foreign countries with Chinese companies. 

Economic issues are necessarily paramount for any national leader.  Right now, both Mr. Xi and Mr. Trump derive their legitimacy from promises to achieve national greatness again, and for both, this fervent hope has much citizen – that is, cultural - support.  For Trump, the political slogan is Make America Great Again; for Xi, Made in China 2025, or perhaps, Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.  

Are you getting hammered from the typhoon?   The constant question from the US in fall of 2015 …

 Hangzhou, Xihu District, Shui Mu Qing Hua residential development.  Reporting from the front.  On the fifth floor.

Liu hé lu, the street right outside the school and our apartment complex, was flooded today. That is the only exit from our development.  Late in the day, there was occasional traffic in each direction in the west bound lanes only; a few of the brave drivers who made the attempt did not stall or get flooded out.  Other major local streets were also flooded, and closed.  There is no other way in or out of our development, and all the other developments to the west of us.  The thousands of us were stranded, at least for the rest of the day. The street floods a couple of time a year anyway, so this was not unexpected. 

Source: Englishsina.com

Source:  chinadaily.com.cn

Similar and different – an occasional reflection

As huge economies with large and diverse populations, occupying about the same land area at about the same range of latitudes, China and the US have many similarities.  Similarities extend to many elements of culture and institutions, good and bad.  The similarities are often surprising; the differences confuse us, but may be a source of new perspectives. 

 

Domestic and foreign affairs in 2018 – Xi, CCP, DJT, GOP – Part 4 of 5

 

Harmony and Trust -  civility, social capital, civil society

I want to discuss how these three features of modern society – civility, social capital, and civil society – are now similar in Mr. Xi’s China under CCP domination and Mr. Trump’s US, under GOP domination.  This is by no means a extended look, although this piece is longer than I intended.

Guo jin min tui is the Chinese phrase that expresses policy cycles over centuries – the state advances, the private retreats.  When the state is strong, the room for private initiative declines.  Both Mr. Xi and Mr. Trump would do well to consider the implications in this aphorism.  Both are putting private ideas and private investment and the future of their societies at risk, despite their proclamations to the contrary.  Lucian Pye told us how that works, more than thirty years ago. 

Similar and different – an occasional reflection

As huge economies with large and diverse populations, occupying about the same land area at about the same range of latitudes, China and the US have many similarities.  Similarities extend to many elements of culture and institutions, good and bad.  The similarities are often surprising; the differences confuse us, but may be a source of new perspectives. 

 

Domestic and foreign affairs in 2018 – Xi, CCP, DJT, GOP – Part 3 of 5

Tariff and Tribute - sic transit gloria

Actions by Xi and Trump seem to exhibit astounding ignorance of how the world works – Xi on the relationship culture that is necessary to get things done in the absence of rule of law, Trump on basic econ that should have been learned before his time at Wharton.   Both are substantial disruptors of prior practices that were never codified, but followed by general agreement among prior generations of thoughtful leaders. 

Similar and different – an occasional reflection

As huge economies with large and diverse populations, occupying about the same land area at about the same range of latitudes, China and the US have many similarities.  Similarities extend to many elements of culture and institutions, good and bad.  The similarities are often surprising; the differences confuse us, but may be a source of new perspectives. 

 

Domestic and foreign affairs in 2018 – Xi, CCP, DJT, GOP – Part 2 of 5

Stability - You need more than smoke and mirrors, bluster and threats

 

Source: https://filmscoreclicktrack.com/the-men-behind-the-curtain/

Xi and Trump both want harmony and stability as they define it - obedience to their wishes.  The stability they seek is personal, and this desire has created havoc in the government. 

News Comments

  • Crash-out

    Crash-out.  Or D-Day - Disaster Day - minus 7

    The original D-Day was salvation for Britain and Europe - even, in its way, for Germany.  This one seems less promising.

    Not much to say anymore.   Cue the violins and watch the China moves.

    Read more ...  
  • Huawei - Taking a Fall, Hoping for a Call

    Huawei - Taking a Fall, Hoping for a Call

     

    Pardon the soccer reference.  But to my mind, that is the Huawei move.  But Huawei has the support of the fans, at least in China, and they are vocal.

    Don Clarke, professor of law at George Washington University, has penned this response to the declaration of the Zhong Lun law firm in Beijing, in support of Huawei as an innocent private company caught in a nasty trade spat.  According to the declaration, no company in China is ever required to comply with demands from the central government to install spyware or backdoors in any communication equipment.   Clarke points out that this is misleading and inaccurate.  Chinese law says nothing about what provincial and local governments might demand from a company, and in any case, law is not a constraint. 

    “There’s a whole variety of pressures that the government can bring to bear on a company or individual, and they are not at all limited to criminal prosecution Clarke says.  “China is a Leninist state that does not recognize any limits to government power.”

    Read more ...  
  • What Chinese are talking about ... fake news

     
    What Chinese are talking about ... real fake news

    You know that China is increasing pressure on every state it can bully.  The bullying is easiest when the victim state has a substantial share of its GDP connected to China, whether as exports or as Chinese FDI coming in.  Now come fake news stories published in China, quoting New Zealand politicians approving of Chinese policies on the Belt and Road initiative.  New Zealand is in a tough spot.  Read more ...  

Resources

Economics Blogs

Party News

Australian National University ANU and related

History, Language and Culture Basics

Contemporary Economics, Governance, and Law

Economics and Cultural History - Interpretation

Work on contemporary China, academics and journalists but in the popular media

Work on contemporary China, mostly in the popular media

Philosophy, Daoist and Confucian Studies

Political Reference Documents