Louis-Vincent Gave: the truth about China’s reopening
The country has abandoned its signature lockdown policy
In the final months of 2022, China lurched suddenly from a policy of Zero Covid to a rapid re-opening of its economy. At the time, Western media went into overdrive, arguing that the end of restrictions in China had resulted in a bloodbath, with hospitals and crematoriums overflowing. Many predicted a million or more would die from Covid in China following the policy relaxation. But how did these claims match up to reality?
The Beijing government does not have a reputation for transparency when it comes to sharing the country’s infection and death data, so Western media had to get creative in their search for evidence. The New York Times started counting the obituaries of academics; the Washington Post relied on satellite images of crematorium car parks and phone calls with busy receptionists.
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A few months on and the story of China’s return to normality remains shrouded in mystery. Is their economy finally bouncing back? How many really died in the infection surge following the end of Zero Covid? And what does the future have in store for China?
Louis-Vincent Gave is the co-founder of Gavekal, a financial and market research group. Gave has a particular focus on China, and he spoke to UnHerd from Hong Kong to share his expertise in a far-reaching conversation that touched on China’s economy as well as the prospect of war with Taiwan.
Gave does not, in fact, dismiss the Western media’s guesswork. It is possible that the papers predicting a million or more dead as a result of China’s extrication from Zero Covid policies weren’t entirely off the mark. But the analyst argues that the enormity of China’s population should not be overlooked.
“It is possible that maybe half a million or a million people will end up dying from Covid in China, but we also have to realise it’s a sample size of 1.2 billion people. The reality is, if we look at the experience of pretty much any country out there, Covid was never the big killer that was sold to us in the first place.”
The Chinese government was long wedded to the idea of defeating Covid-19, so that a full-blown eradication was the only circumstance under which freedom would be returned to the Chinese. The government’s U-turn was entirely down to the protests, Gave argues. As soon as 50,000 protesters were out on the streets “they folded like a deck of cards”.
Interestingly, Gave adds that protests are not as uncommon in China as the West might think:
Gave declares that the Chinese economy is certainly bouncing back, and predicts it will carry the world with it: “In 2009, when everybody was looking at their shoes saying we’re facing a lost decade, it’s going to be a new normal, of low growth, China’s growth accelerated and led the whole world out of what looked like a massive depression. And we had a little bit of that in 2016. And I think, to be honest, we’re going to see it again.”
On the topic of Taiwan, Gave offers yet more positive predictions. He argues that an invasion of Taiwan will never happen for a number of reasons, above all topographical ones: “Taiwan is a natural fortress”. A hundred miles of sea stand between it and China, and it has mountains reaching 12,000 feet and only three beaches to choose from. “Are you going to try to do this with an army, a navy and an air force that is completely untested? No, there’s no way.”
In fact the prospect of any military action in China seems very unlikely to our guest. Two decades of the one-child policy has instilled in the Chinese a particularly strong aversion to war: “When you have one child, you don’t send them to war. No way. And so that’s one of the particularities of Chinese society that make a military action, in my mind, very unlikely.”
Gave’s analysis is missing a big piece. Doing business with China has always been a risk/reward equation. The risks of doing business with nations who have authoritarian ruling structures (and are therefore by definition capricious) have always been known about, it’s just that some politico types ended up buying their own rose-tinted propaganda, and it eventually cost them. (Like the Germans who put more and more of their neck on the line for Putin over the years, and were then surprised when he took an axe to it.)
China’s big advantage over the last three decades has been products made to acceptable enough standards, while costing a lot less. Imagine a western corporate, deciding on some tech infrastructure between say Huawei or Nortel or Cisco. Well, you would buy Huawei only if it’s very considerably cheaper, because you don’t know if the company will be around in three years time, if Pres Xi got out the wrong side of bed one morning and happened to take a dislike to the company chairman (I would say chairperson, but this is China we are taking about). But if China is now going to be forced into paying a huge amount more for say, tech talent, or raw materials, or energy costs, then their comparative advantage is shot to pieces. It is possible I suppose that the CCP would underwrite subsidising companies so they can sell at well below cost – this is of course predatory pricing but China has had a history of this type of thing in the past. However, the global inflationary landscape is now very different from even three years ago, and China’s own input costs will have risen hugely. I don’t believe even China could live with lossmaking undercutting for long in the current climate.
I would like to add the Dutch government to the list of authoritarian and capricious regimes people should avoid doing business with.
I mean, waffles, ok, but why?
Engaging in a massive land grab by forcing private citizens to convert their secondary properties into social housing. Hardly any of this is reaching the international press, and local media is dressing it up as reparations for ‘housing injustice’ and ‘spatial inequality’. Basically it’s forcing people to sell their properties to government-owned corporations.
I wasn’t aware of the issue so I’ll take a look.
What about the land grab from the farmers?
Yes, there’s that too. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the Dutch government is following the WEF-directive: “You will own nothing and you will be happy.”
Despite its much-lauded tolerant attitude, the Netherlands is only tolerant in so far as you don’t threaten the political narrative. Sure, take drugs, go to prostitutes, be gay etc. just don’t disrupt the balance of power.
The Netherlands is pretty much run by the royal family (loyal WEF members) who use the Dutch government and its progressive tax structures to ensure that no rivals become powerful enough to challenge their rule.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that the WEF has been set up to preserve the old structures of rulership by obscuring them behind so-called progressive values. The only purpose of progressive causes is to weaken democracy by destroying or subverting the pesky middle-classes.
He ends his talk with the amazing words: ”China Stopping Being Stupid Is Great News” (referencing ending of lockdowns)
Is China that stupid? Really?
Covid-19 was Never a health issue, Not anywhere; purely political. So a Million dead in 1.3 billion? what is that 0.077 death rate, so maybe not quite as bad as a severe cold.
If anyone thought China Lockdown was about Health they are sheep – OR – and this is the bad part, there is some bad thing about catching the original strain, or Alpha or Delta in later issues – Or getting a mRNA vax – like having had it is a time bomb which will be triggered by some later event. (Which means it is some really weird bio-weapon). And by China locking down they did not have to give their people the mRNA vax…..haha
The weird conspiracy science guys on fringe net say the vax genetic weapon (mRNA shot) is a two part weapon. It is, say, the lock – then later another virus gets out and it and the mRNA vax forced in response to it, is the key in the lock – and so all those vax sheep will snuff it after getting their new mRNA vax, given a little time so it does not scare anyone off…. remember – it is Not a vaccine, but a Genetic Therapy.
PS this guy saying 50,000 people protesting on the street and Xi folded like a paper…Ha NO. 100% more likely he got 50,000 to get on the street so he had an excuse to end the lockdown because it was time – this gave him a reason to end the lockdown other than just admitting that lockdown had been merely a fake, and just politics, all along.
Do not believe his ‘China was stupid‘ words.
Whenever I move my cursor over the video a link appears labelled “Covid 19. Get the latest information from the CDC”. Am I the only person seeing this link? Is this done by Unherd or by youtube in an attempt to counter what it might view as borderline covid disinformation in the interview?
Not seeing it here in Stockholm.
And part II
China and energy: China could Never invade Taiwan for the simple reason is all its energy goes through the straits if Malacca, and just sitting back there and sinking the Super Tankers would cause not only economic wreckage, but very quickly a Chinese famine. Remember how Germany ALMOST won WWII – ‘The Battle of the North Atlantic’
U-boats almost starved Britian and stopped USA from moving its military to Britain. It got down to almost, almost working. And that was with the entire Atlantic, and the U-boats having to use binoculars to find the allied freighters! USA Starved Japan with submarines sinking its supply freighters. Stopped it completely as it had no resources. China has a huge gap in resources – has almost ALL its goods come through a tiny corridor – it can be starved so easily.
Take Russia – cannot be starved, has all kinds of resources. China? Completely dependent on endless ships. Till now – now it can get them by land, from Russia.
SO That is the Russia/China thing. That proved Biden is out to wreck the world order with his INSANE proxy war against Russia – not only has he destroyed Ukraine by using them for his chess board in the proxy war, but he has driven Russia into being China’s friend and Larder – grains, cooling oil, gas, oil, metals…..
Biden and his mini-me Boris have to be Davos stooges, out to destroy the world for ‘The Great Reset’ (Eat Your Bugs!)- no other reason can exist for their warmongering in this situation.
Finally – no, EU is not to prosper when China opens. Not off Qatari and American LNG. That ship sailed – they were hanging on from one reasin- Nordstream. Cheap and reliable gas for their industry. That ended – their industry is over. BASF is dismantling its huge German Factory and moving it to Louisiana USA for reliable and cheap gas. The rest will fallow. This is Biden’s gift to Europe, expensive energy. (ever wonder who blew up Nordstream)
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