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Enter the dragon on the road to a trade war (asiatimes.com)
48 points by tomohawk 49 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 16 comments

This article reminds me of the mini-trade war between Uruguay and Brazil in the 1990s (I was very young so I don't remember exactly when it was). Brazil decided to close the land border for 2 weeks. In the meantime, Uruguay's dairy exports sat on the border waiting... The products expired, and the government had to bail out the milk cooperative.

They still had a free-trade agreement.

Agreements don't mean anything except in the US, Canada, parts of the European Union, Japan, Singapore, Australia, and a couple of other countries.

Non-tariff barriers are way pretty effective in slowing trade:

US could easily block any food imports until pests are no longer an issue in Chinese food supply chain. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/08/voracious-pest-threatens-chi...

US could easily block any products from factories that haven't passed US safety inspections. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-pharmaceuticals-ch...

> US could easily block ...

But does the US even have enough inspectors and inspections, enough bureaucrats, enough reliable data about all those factories and farms and goods? The fact is that the US doesn't even know what's being imported.

parts of the European Union (?)

This is new, any explanation why parts of?

I would say the developed countries (before China). China is the first where ethic is not a virtue... unfortunately.

This story is crazy. They also forgot to mention that the captain, Zhan Qixiong, was supposedly drunk[1]. To add more ridiculousness to it.

[1] https://books.google.nl/books?id=tymWDwAAQBAJ&printsec=front...

ah, that was my assumption because it seems such an obvious explanation of trying to knock out another vessel with your own. It does remove a bit of the "china invaded japan" feeling.

The comment section on the linked 2010 Chinese trawler ramming into the Japanese Coast Guard boat video is quite entertaining, nothing like international disputes on YouTube (some of the brave ones are even claiming the coast guard was the one who purposefully turned first!):


I love these long form stories that mix relevant history with informed analysis. Instead of poorly masked politicized version of some current event presented as news, which gets exhausting after a while.

I need to remind myself to read more of this type of stuff and there's plenty around.

The US was already in a trade war with China by the time the US decided to act.

China is learning ways of US.

calling these things a trade "war" is, IMHO, not all that useful. it doesn't help us much to understand the phenomenon. in a true war, people are actively killing other people, and violently destroying infrastructure and capturing geographical territory. many many lives are lost quickly.

IMHO, we might better call it a tax hike, a new regulatory regime, new trade restrictions, a rebalancing of domestic priorities, an attempt by government to increase or reduce a trade deficit, or something else. and we may well decide it's foolish and bad and stupid. but it's not really a war in the true sense.

It's called a trade war because historically people were actively killing other people, starting with the Anglo-Dutch wars in the 17th and 18th centuries.

We've now largely abandoned the practice of actively killing over trade, but the nomenclature remains by precedent, and is understood by all.

+1 Thanks for the informative historical comparison. I appreciate it. Interesting. I do have a bit of trouble drawing parallels though.

I mean, the US is not requiring, say, that goods imported to US ports be exclusively carried by US ships, as the English did. The US is not taking possession of any of the many Chinese owned port facilities which currently operate in a large number of US cities. The US is not demanding that only US merchant ships be allowed to carry cargo across certain regions of the world's oceans. And, China has not, for instance, sailed up the Potomac and stolen any US vessels.

Most of this is playing out in terms of taxes and tariffs. It is almost totally bureaucratic and regulatory in nature.

It's using whatever means to apply pressure to a foreign government in order to make them capitulate on a trade matter. In the old days it was done with guns, then later with overt rules set forth by dominant parties, and now via internal policy decisions that affect outside parties. It's simply applying the same pressure by more subtle means as time goes on. China is the only one so far taking it to its logical conclusion: giving the outward appearance of doing everything properly while secretly discriminating against and sabotaging your opponent. Western democracies do this internally, but not to such a degree internationally (yet).

And in fact they may not do it ever, because such tactics require an opaque bureaucratic system and large-scale centralized control that Western-style countries simply don't have.

Are you totally sure we've abandoned killing people over trade? The US operations in the middle east look suspiciously like killing people for economic reasons.

For economic reasons, yes. For trade reasons, no. America isn't crying foul and sending in the tanks over disagreements with Middle Eastern trade practices.

An increase in transaction costs.


War sells clicks. Pretty soon we'll need a new term to denote "armed conflict with extreme violence, destruction, and mortality between military forces."

I recommend "police action"

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