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America and China should kiss and make up Neither Biden nor Xi can afford a messy divorce

Biden and Xi in 2012 (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Biden and Xi in 2012 (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)


November 15, 2023   4 mins

If Presidents Xi and Biden have one thing in common, it’s that both desperately need a historic win. In the 23 years since Bill Clinton welcomed China into the World Trade Organization, the aura of the two nations’ relationship has shifted from hopeful to confrontational. Skirmishes once took place outside of the public view: in cyber-attacks, satellite warfare, the cutting of subsea internet cables, and submarines playing cat-and-mouse games. But when Russia invaded Ukraine and threatened to deploy nuclear weapons, something changed.

Even China was rattled. President Xi made it clear that nuclear war was not an option. Then Hamas triggered the real possibility of a widespread ground war across the Middle East. As Biden and Xi meet in San Francisco today, everyone wants a way out.

For Xi, such geopolitical chaos is an existential risk. China is falling apart. The $18 trillion economy has tanked. The collapse of Evergrande, the nation’s property giant, exposed a simple truth. It wasn’t just one huge company that had gone bust. It symbolised the loss of a dream: the Chinese no longer believe that property is a safe investment.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, foreign direct investment into China turned negative for the first time, killing any hope of rising export sales. The Belt and Road Initiative was supposed to alleviate this, bringing valuable raw materials — food, energy and data — back to China. It should have become a revenue generator, but it has turned into a system that bleeds cash. The poor emerging market nations it targeted often had to borrow money from China to cover the cost of building its physical infrastructure — and now, thanks to rising inflation and the global slowdown, they cannot pay back those loans.

All this helps explain why Xi, who is convinced the only way forward is to return to an export-led strategy, visited China’s Central Bank (PBOC) a few weeks ago. It was shocking to see the nation’s leader deigning to meet lowly technocrats. Xi is unhappy with how they are portraying China; no doubt he demanded that they make the numbers prettier, even though the world lost faith in the veracity of China’s numbers a long time ago. In the same vein, the arrest in September of a former PBOC boss on suspicion of corruption may have been an attempt to project control, but it hasn’t worked. Xi’s internal opponents are muttering, and the Communist Party wants to get back to making money. They certainly don’t want to waste China’s already declining youth demographics on a senseless war with the US, the world’s most formidable military power. Taiwan can wait.

Biden, meanwhile, has his own problems. Both Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr are breathing down his neck in the polls. Only 14% of Americans think that Biden has improved their standard of living. Threatening China won’t change this. Nonetheless, in recent months, he has engaged in a serious show of force by deploying aircraft carrier groups to the Pacific and the Middle East, and by revealing frightening new technologies such as the new nuclear gravity bomb. The message to China, Iran and Russia is to back off; Biden is ready to escalate.

In reality, however, the public appetite for spending money on foreign wars dropped even further once Israel stole the spotlight. It is now almost impossible for Biden to justify further funds for Ukraine, especially with President Zelenskyy refusing to hold elections, a move which killed any idea that he was fighting for democracy.

Nor can Israel expect unconditional US support. The prospect of conflict across the Middle East is splitting Jewish and young votes, both of which are critical for Biden’s re-election chances. Since warfare is expensive as well as inflationary, a serious and historic geopolitical rapprochement would be far less costly. Now could be the moment that both the US and China agree to play nice for the sake of the world.

Such a deal might require Xi to burn both Moscow and Tehran, but they have already served their purpose. Their bullying changed the American perception of risk and brought Biden to the negotiating table with China. Putin may not be losing in Ukraine, but he faces increasing opposition at home. His position is precarious: Russia needs China, but China doesn’t need Russia. The same goes for Iran. Washington is more valuable to Beijing than Moscow and Tehran combined.

Xi knows that global harmony would necessitate an armistice in Ukraine and for China and Russia to stop their support of Hamas and Hezbollah. In return, Biden understands that this will require an end to America’s hawkish rhetoric. Already, the seeds of this shift are being sown: when, in another highly unusual move, Xi summoned California Governor Gavin Newsom to Beijing last month, Newsom lay the groundwork for the reconciliation by saying “divorce is not an option”. Given that Newsom is Biden’s preferred successor, this change of tone was very important. China has already said it is “ready to improve ties with the US at all levels”, and has even offered to negotiate a deal on nuclear weapons.

All of which suggests that both sides know the other cannot afford a messy divorce. The White House can’t raise or cut taxes, and Beijing can’t stimulate its economy either. It’s a stalemate.

Could this be why former prime minister David Cameron has agreed to serve as the Foreign Minister of the United Kingdom? If a US-China deal is in motion, it constitutes a rare opportunity to shape and craft a new story for the world economy and a new phase of superpower relations. Would the US task the British to do the work necessary to construct this potential new order? It’s not inconceivable, especially given the White House is distracted by its own domestic issues.

The benefits of such a “kiss-and-make-up” photo-op would certainly be widespread. It would generate a rally in the markets and a huge sense of relief among the citizens of the world. The “make-up” part wouldn’t even need to be that friendly. The US and China could continue to fight against each other invisibly: underwater, in space, in cyberspace and with spygames. But, as long as these battles were fought out of sight, things could get better. A cold war always beats a hot war — and kicking today’s problems into the future seems like a fine solution for now. In a world where everyone is preparing for the worst, a note of optimism wouldn’t go amiss.


Harald Malmgren is a geopolitical strategist, negotiator and former aide to Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford. Dr. Pippa Malmgren was an economic advisor to President George W. Bush and has been a manufacturer of award-winning drones and autonomous robotics.


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Tom K
Tom K
6 months ago

This article is unbelievably naive. In this telling any friction is down to America’s ‘hawkish rhetoric’. David Cameron is seen not as a dumb appeaser on the wrong side of history but as some sort of bridge-builder. Utterly ludicrous.
Xi is preparing for war, this is clear in all his statements, in the record stockpiling of food and energy resources his country has been engaging in, in his extreme belligerence over Taiwan and latterly overy some rocks near the Philippines that China claims based on some dodgy old maps it dug up from centuries ago.
We should continue to disengage and not be fooled. Xi’s economy is collapsing, let it happen, it’s a direct consequence of the country’s authoritarianism system. It should be a warning to all (including deluded CCP members in China) that the successful ‘China Model’ was all smoke and mirrors enabled by Western finance and know-how.
Meanwhile let’s move to safer countries for our manufacturing – it’s the only thing China was ever good for anyway but we don’t need it any more. Let Communism collapse (again) but afterwards let’s be a bit smarter about how we deal with the fallout.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  Tom K

Agreed let it descend into warlordism as it traditionally does. Its history of ‘butchery’ even exceeds that of the late, but not lamented Soviet Union.
It won’t be missed, and perhaps something better will rise from the ashes, as both the Japanese and Vietnamese have proved.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
6 months ago

Indeed. China’s entire history is a revolving door. Periods of vicious civil war and competition continue until a decisive winner emerges, conquers the rest, and unifies China under a single banner for a while until it eventually collapses under the weight of internal disagreements and regional rivalries. Let the wheel turn and move on.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
6 months ago
Reply to  Tom K

Thanks for writing what I was thinking.
Why “should” the US makeup with the CCP? To help Biden and the Democrats apparently.
The premise that allowing China to join the WTO would make China more democratic and less threatening was dangerously naive too.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
6 months ago
Reply to  Tom K

Quite agree. The US/EU must reduce dependency on Chinese products in hopes for fair trade.

James S.
James S.
6 months ago
Reply to  Tom K

It’s not naive, it’s the same globalist blathering that got the West into bed with a Chinese regime that engages in genocide, slave labor, surveillance, and weaponizing viruses. I say a pox on Xi’s house, especially given that most of the Fentanyl that’s coming over our porous southern border (thank you very little, Biden) originates in you guessed it , CHINA.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
6 months ago

How are we to take these writers seriously when they cite Gavin Newsom as a successor to the current puppet occasionally turning up here and there to babble incoherently? The guy who ruined San Francisco and went on to destroy the rest of the California?! That Gavin Newsom?
Given the disasters of the Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Bush administrations, I suggest you stick to manufacturing your award-winning drones and stay the h*ll away from advising anyone on anything.

Naren Savani
Naren Savani
6 months ago

Thank you one sensible voice in this thread

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
6 months ago

Two thanks you’s! Also, China in the WTO has been a disaster for local manufacturing in Europe and US, they stiffed-armed the world about finding the root cause of the “pandemic”, robbed us blind of design intensive intellectual property (including military technology) etc etc etc.

– (remember, the US and Europe have strong laws to protect workers and the environment which makes manufacturing more costly than in most other places, so shipping that job to a communist country that avoids those laws and is cheaper for the international finance crowd to make billions at the expense of everyone else, is essentially outsourcing externalities to the great polluter who kills people that threaten their power, is not progress).

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
6 months ago

This article is terrible. It’s basically the wishful thinking of globalists thinking they can somehow magically snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Biden isn’t their man, though. He showed his cards when he backed the CHIPS act and doubled down on the China tech sanctions. He’s pursuing an economic nationalist strategy as much as Trump was, but with a far more military flavor. I’m convinced the military industrial complex are the ones pulling his strings and probably always have been. The globalists would have preferred Bloomberg in 2020. He’s the only one who unequivocally promised to return to free trade orthodoxy. Buttigieg would have been better for them as well. They’ve lost on more than one front.
The Newsom fascination is another globalist pipe dream. That they still think he’s viable is further evidence of their disconnect from basic political realities and the changes that have happened over the past ten years. They are losing everywhere. They are losing to right, far-right, and populist parties in basically every free country. They have lost the Republican party to Trump and populism. When the disgruntled centrists, war hawks, and neocons bolted to the Democratic party, the globalists then lost influence there. Basically the entirety of the old ‘uniparty’ is trying to squeeze all themselves under the umbrella of one of the parties, with the result being an increasingly dysfunctional coalition of too many competing interests and ideologies. Their bold move in 2020 to defeat Trump was to set up an inoffensive figurehead known for being one of the most changeable, waffling, finger in the wind politicians of the past century, an old man who appeals to our sense of nostalgia for better days.
The writing is on the wall for anyone who would bother to read it. This author evidently hasn’t. Whether that’s a result of foolish ignorance or denial, I can’t say, but I’d bet on the latter.

Last edited 6 months ago by Steve Jolly
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

One quibble: Biden didn’t do anything. He is a carapace. No one who runs the world can be named. By design. You know that, as do I. The question is, what are we prepared to DO?

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
6 months ago

Your quibble is quite correct. I probably should have said that Biden revealed who is pulling his strings rather than ‘showed his cards’. It’s pretty obvious to me the present administration is run through the Pentagon first and whoever else afterwards.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
6 months ago

Not being an economist I can’t comment on the numbers but this article seems to be suggesting that the last 8 or 10 years have been some sort of geo-political nightmare – a dream sequence in a TV show – but the hero wakes up at the end much to our relief and life will go back to normal.
Is that even possible? China may have economic issues but they have used Belt and Road to plant their flag in parts of the world where Western economic hegemony was once the natural way of things. As it stands China is positioning itself to lead the world in manufacturing Green tech and control the supply of resources necessary to do that. They are also on good terms (or at least not on bad terms) with Russia, whose Ukrainian folly, we were told by experts, made its economic collapse all but a certainty.
More importantly, can the West go back to the days prior to what David Starkey called the Tyranny of the Know Betters? Can we rid ourselves of top-down governance – the so-called “elites”? These are the people that caused Brexit and Trump and then in true anti-democratic fashion claimed the deplorables had got it wrong but not to worry: “We can fix this”.
China’s Covid policies may have been a disaster but the West didn’t survive unscathed either. Here in Canada, the government couldn’t print money fast enough. The economic hangover has been brutal yet the Liberals declared that this was an opportunity. The New Green Deal. The Great Reset. Net Zero. The combination has been a disaster. Young adults can’t afford a place to live and the food banks are overwhelmed yet the WEF-inspired Liberals present themselves as best-positioned to guide Canada through these “challenges”.
The UK is looking worse if that’s possible yet the Conservatives bring back Cameron? The Democrats and Republicans are equally beset by internecine hair-pulling and eye-gouging yet Trump is the frontrunning GOP nominee and the authors of this piece suggest Newsome – lead architect of the California disaster – as a suitable DNC candidate?
How can Kiss and Make Up be a solution when it doesn’t even acknowledge the problem(s)?

James Knight
James Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

Agree with the Newsom explanation. That man and his policies have driven the once most prosperous state into a mass exodus of people.
Everyone from the state admits its simply not livable anymore for the middle class.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
6 months ago
Reply to  James Knight

But the magnates and maggots of the left are living high on the hog.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
6 months ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

The Belt and Road program ignored the inevitability of Third World incompetence and corruption, particularly in Africa. To judge from Western experience, a lot of that money and maybe most will end up in in the pockets of corrupt politicians or down the toilet in some other form. The infrastructure that does get built will rapidly fall apart from sheer shoddiness or lack of maintenance.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
6 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

You aren’t wrong about the Third World. Strictly according to sound investment principles pouring money into these places seems foolish but China likes to play the long game. Many of these backwaters are sitting on valuable resource deposits and staking claim first means the West will find it difficult or impossible to get in. China also doesn’t have to worry about any social justice or human rights niceties and have no qualms about greasing the necessary palms.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
6 months ago

A well written and optimistic piece. Let us hope Malmgren is right. 

Unfortunately, the argument that economic “divorce is an impossibility” was also widely pushed c.1910 about an earlier rivalry between Germany and Britain most notably in Norman Angell’s The Great Illusion. He was not wrong about the interpenetration of the two economies but it did not prevent war. National pride can trump economic calculation.

At its most simplified, the avoidance of a clash may depend – after a period of rising tension and a second Cold War – on a deal

1/ America accepting that its unipolar moment is over and that it will in future be at most primus inter pares.

2/ China abandoning its poorly hidden ambitions since 2012 to replace America as global overlord.

3/ Global issues being managed by a small group of roughly equal “great powers” – on similar logic to the Congress system that ran the Concert of Europe 1815-1914 – perhaps centred on the US, China, Europe and India.

Is this peaceful scenario possible? Maybe. There are are also other relatively benign scenarios which avoid war. But the possibility of an accidental or regional clash escalating into a global conflict must remain as likely. It is good to know, however, that elements from the traditional US establishment are thinking about the issue and that Xi appears to have retreated a little from his most aggressive ambitions. Seemingly.

Last edited 6 months ago by Alex Carnegie
Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

National pride may have trumped economic calculation at one time, but those for whom economic calculation is all, now run the world.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
6 months ago

I understand where you are coming from but do not think this applies currently to China which is experiencing an intensely nationalistic phase – not least because of the emphasis on the “century of humiliation” by the educational system since 1990.

Even in America, there was a decisive shift in policy in 2018 when the “economic nationalists” defeated the economic and financial establishment which was very globalist, pro free trade in general and with China in particular. The key point was when Trump overruled Gary Cohn (ex Goldman Sachs) and backed Peter Navarro (anti China). Biden has continued with Trump’s approach. The globalist / financial establishment does not always win.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Not to mention the fact that the US military industrial complex is fully on board with this. As powerful as the globalist/financial establishment was and still is, they cannot fight the populists on one side and the MIC on the other, especially as the interests of the latter two groups increasingly converge on a broadly economic nationalist platform.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Fair point. Without going through all the labyrinthine financial flows that drive much of US politics, I have heard it argued that one of Deng’s masterstrokes was to buy a lot of 737s thus enlisting Boeing, which had a lot of clout, to his cause and that the Chinese creation of a domestic aircraft industry alienated Boeing, which was, at a minimum, symbolic of the changes that reduced Congressional support in Washington for “Chimerica”.

Last edited 6 months ago by Alex Carnegie
Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Deng Xiaoping was a pragmatic, brilliant political mind who genuinely worked for the betterment of the Chinese nation and people. With such a capable man in charge, it was easy for America and others to overlook the communism, the crackdowns, and the lack of freedom. Deng’s successors largely continued down the successful path he laid for them, to the benefit of the nation and its people.

It all changed when Xi came to power. He is the author of much of the world’s present troubles. Like Hitler, he is a dictator with a profound anger based on historical grievance and a sense of racial/cultural superiority. He is in such a position that he may not give us any option but to choose between the same bad options we faced in 1936. Give him some of what he wants and hope he doesn’t ask for more down the road, or risk provoking a war nobody really wants. I hope I’m wrong and that he’s more reasonable than that, but nothing he has done since taking power shows him to be anything but a dangerous tyrant bent on power.

Tom K
Tom K
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

I share your skepticism. This article is the equivalent of the Little Pinks being ordered to stop criticising America, and the feeble CCP propaganda being dug up about the WW2 ‘Flying Tigers’.
Word has gone out that both sides need a temporary truce, and this is it.
It’s notable that no-one is reporting the parallel political deveopments in Taiwan, as the Blue (China friendly KMT) and White (centrist) parties are agreeing to combine forces against the pro-Taiwan Green party currently in power, with Chinese help and a big push from former Taiwanese (KMT) president Ma Ying Jeou, freshly back from a meeting with his political masters in Beijing.
Hopefully the Taiwanese electorate won’t fall for it, but the extent of bought and paid for CCP-friendly media influence there suggests it’ll be an uphill struggle.

Last edited 6 months ago by Tom K
Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

I would hope we can avoid outright warfare. I like your three conditions. I think the first will eventually happen. The US public is tired of ‘forever wars’ police actions, and proxy conflicts. The possibility of another Iraq or Afghanistan is remote. One of Trump’s major selling points continues to be that he kept us out of wars. As someone who dislikes the man, I have to concede that’s a point in his favor. The second, of course, depends entirely on Xi Jinping since he made himself dictator for life and successfully purged all opposition. I can’t say he’s given anyone much reason to trust his better angels to this juncture. One hopes he doesn’t go Hitler on us, but we can’t rule it out. The US might even abandon Taiwan if the US can make some headway in domestic chip manufacturing, but much depends on the mood of our other allies. America can afford to give up on Taiwan, but not our other Asian allies, specifically Japan. If they demanded a military response, the US would have to do something or risk losing all influence in Asia.
I like your concert of great powers logic, though I’m not sure a unified Europe is sustainable without the globalist structure underpinning it. That’s the endgame though, IMHO, though hopefully without the pointless war at the end. The first domino that has to fall is the defeat of globalism in the US. If Trump or RFK Jr. defeats Biden in 2024, it’s pretty much game over for the globalists, and the world will see it as such.

starkbreath
starkbreath
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

China abandoning its ambitions? Not going to happen, thinking it will just give them more time.

Last edited 6 months ago by starkbreath
Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
6 months ago

This is just categorically wrong on a number of levels. This author is unbelievably ignorant of American politics, particularly how our political rhetoric reflects public opinion. The reason we have politicians loudly rattling their sabers in the direction of China is that it’s politically beneficial to do so, and one summit in San Francisco isn’t going to change a decade of political momentum swinging in the opposite direction. The one thing that both parties and the American public largely agree on is the threat posed by China in military, economic, and geopolitical terms. China has been openly blamed for conspiring with Wall Street to replace unionized, well paid American workers with cheap Chinese labor, and this was well before COVID. Public opinion on China was already souring on China long before the pandemic. This is part of the reason Trump won in 2016 and Sanders almost knocked off Clinton in the primaries that same year, and China’s behavior since then has hardened this into a new political reality.
Further, 2024 is a presidential election year, so anything Biden does now is going to have a huge impact on the race, and ‘soft on China’ promises to hurt the Democrats everywhere except the coastal areas that they were never going to lose anyway. In America, geography matters as much as if not more than raw popularity so it would hurt the Democrats far more than even a public opinion poll might suggest and China is deeply unpopular in middle America. When both parties run ads accusing the other of being ‘soft on China’, the writing is on the wall.
Also, where has this author been the past eight years? He mentions the popularity of Trump and RFK Jr. as reasons for detente with China, but that makes no sense. Trump started the trade war and the tech sanctions that the Biden administration has doubled down on. Both parties and the military industrial complex have already hitched their wagon to this train. The CHIPS act was passed with overwhelming support from everybody including most voters engaged enough to know what it was. RFK Jr.’s foreign policy toward China is not well-defined, though he did accuse both China, and the US, of developing race based biological warfare weapons. Based on my limited understanding of genetics and how difficult it is to map genetics to our concept of ‘race’, I doubt this is remotely possible, but if it is possible, I wouldn’t be shocked if either government was pursuing it. I also wouldn’t be shocked if neither government believed a race based bio-weapon was possible but both sides were spending money studying the possibility simply because they believed the other side was. Such things happened regularly during the first cold war. Broadly speaking, he’s a populist who favors working class voters and largely draws from Sanders/Trump voters. Whatever remains of American support for free trade with China comes from big business and finance, and RFK Jr. is no friend of theirs. He has also been unequivocal in his support for Israel and harshly condemned antisemitism. He’s focused on domestic policy, and probably wouldn’t do much to change the status quo except as part of a broader economic plan.
Economic nationalism is going to be a thing and neither Biden nor this author can do anything to stop it. I’m sure it will cost a great deal and I’m sure free trade purists and ivory tower economists will remind us of it at every possible opportunity, but things aren’t going back to the way they were in 2015. It’s far too late for that. It’s no accident that this summit is happening in California, the one state where the old attitudes toward China still prevail. It’s where a lot of the big tech firms that benefited from past policy are located and where all those Chinese ships dropped off their goods. It’s no coincidence that Gavin Newsom is making direct appeals to Chairman Xi. Still, anybody running against him in a primary or a general election is sure to remind the voters of that at every possible opportunity.
I would presume this author is basically a globalist and things have been going quite badly for them recently. It’s natural in the jaws of defeat to look for any glimmer of hope, but it’s fantasy. Nothing will come of this meeting but the usual empty rhetoric because none of the conditions upon which current hostilities are based is going to change because of this meeting. China isn’t going to stop manipulating its currency, stealing technology, or relinquish their claims on Taiwan. They are going to continue to pursue the economic nationalism that finally forced the US to retaliate. They will continually play the poverty/colonialism card to justify unequal emissions standards in the climate change discussions. The US public isn’t going to suddenly change their minds about China because a doddering old man had brunch with a tyrant. The Pentagon isn’t going to stop worrying about maintaining technological and military superiority. The CHIPS act is not going to be repealed. The conditions are what they are, and they all point to a deepening economic and political conflict. We can and should all hope to avoid outright war, but such things are sometimes inevitable, as we have seen. Hoping against hope that Biden emerges triumphantly hand in hand with Xi Jinping and announces the end of Cold War 2.0 is wishful thinking of the highest order.

Last edited 6 months ago by Steve Jolly
Rick Frazier
Rick Frazier
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

“Nothing will come of this meeting but the usual empty rhetoric because none of the conditions upon which current hostilities are based is going to change because of this meeting.“

This seems so obvious to me that I was surprised it hadn’t been said before reading your comment. The reasons you list after making that quoted statement are, in my opinion, realistically solid.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
6 months ago

China steals Intellectual Property. They call it ‘sharing technology’. Being faithful Communists, they believe that your stuff belongs to them. Like the man said, “All your data are belong to us!”

Peter B
Peter B
6 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

I think it’s a little more complex than that.
I don’t like the Chinese state attitude to IP either, but its understandable. We have to demonstrate that our way is better (as I believe) and in their interests to adopt.
Firstly, it’s a different culture and history and their legal system would have developed differently based on different assumptions that don’t align with ours. Since China was never fully colonised, they never had to accept our way of doing things here (which frankly isn’t perfect for IP and patents – though I’ve not seen any better alternatives – we just need to reform our system). It’s a much less individualistic culture than ours, so perhaps not surprising that IP protection is considered less important.
Things like patents and IP are a balance between the rights of inventors and the desire to share the benefits of the technologies they develop more widely. That’s why they have a finite lifetime.
Like so many international agreements and institutions (many of them dating from the end of WWII), the Western patent and IP regime needs some reform to prevent its current abuse by large companies. It may not be a good enough model today that we can expect countries like China to want to follow it.
Secondly, Western countries have a history of IP theft and industrial espionage – our hands are not clean here. Certainly not the USA.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Dude – stealing is stealing under the WTO governing principles. Your advice merely means that they had no business in the WTO.

Peter B
Peter B
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

I think you’re missing my point (and it’s not really advice). WTO rules change over time. And all countries break WTO rules from time to time.
I do think the Chinese behave worse (quite a lot worse) than the West measured against what I would consider reasonable standards on IP protection. But let’s not pretend that we run a perfect system. Or even always follow it ourselves.

starkbreath
starkbreath
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

‘Demonstrate that our way is better’, you can’t be serious. I seem to remember hearing this same twaddle back in the early ’90’s. Governments don’t want a ‘better’ way, what they always want is more and more power, and Communists, since they have more power at the onset, even more so.

John Tyler
John Tyler
6 months ago

Sure, it’s always a good idea to kiss and make up with a country that will happily destroy your own. Should Biden also whisper in Xi’s ear (while they kiss) “No worries! Of course you can invade Taiwan; why would we care just because it’s a bastion of freedom and democracy?”

Philip Burrell
Philip Burrell
6 months ago

“It is now almost impossible for Biden to justify further funds for Ukraine, especially with President Zelenskyy refusing to hold elections, a move which killed any idea that he was fighting for democracy.”
A bit of a cheap jibe there. Were we not similarly fighting for democracy and indeed the very existence of our country from 1939-1945? A general election was due in 1940 but was postponed until after the war had ended.

David Barnett
David Barnett
6 months ago

What’s a few Uighurs between friends?

Stuart Bennett
Stuart Bennett
6 months ago

The first note of hope I’ve imbibed in a while. That was nice. If China would get back to business and the US back to its global responsibilities that would make all the difference. A true piece of historical magic would be if all the Arab countries still pressed ahead with the Abraham Accords. Wouldn’t that be something.

James Knight
James Knight
6 months ago

The issue is China’s instability makes regimes more willing to take risks. Ex – Falkands War