The old phrase “you
can never go home again” can be applied to the recent growing separation
between the U.S. and China.
There is no
doubt, however, that China is tied into the world economy and there is no
A quick look at China courtesy of a satellite
shows a country obliterated by pollution, driven by clogged roads and factories
puffing away, which prove that the business engine is back and goods are
going somewhere as we approach the Christmas rush.
China has ended “One Country, Two Systems” in Hong Kong, a 2020
reality check is in order.
While business awaits, the mass
of goods flows unabated, but as lines between the U.S. and China harden,
the way forward in trade remains cloudy.
How To Do Business
Looking away from the facts while engaging and playing nice
with China is over for the U.S. and some countries. So now it’s
about how we do business between the world and China in a way that will
appease both sides.
Assume that pro-engagement has to be the way to move ahead
with free movement of capital, labor, goods, and services.
How do we appease both western and eastern agendas?
The United States' recently announced moves to restrict China’s
engagement in U.S. universities and student exchange coupled with a growing
list of trade tariffs stifle the idea that by exposing a large swath of
smart, upwardly mobile Chinese people to the value proposition of a western
education and free trade, we accelerate change in thinking.
The universities and professors who are reaping the benefits
of tuitions and mobile teaching assignments are the money, but should
that be the only criteria?
I guess the point here is that there is a new reality at work,
and in the U.S. at least (minus the mixed messages from politicians and
the media during a furious presidential campaign that thankfully will
be over November 3 and maybe even a vaccine for COVID-19), this long strange
journey of 2020 will finally appear in the rearview mirror.
“Engagement with China is no longer at any cost. Now
it’s about reframing into what type of engagement we should have
moving ahead,” said Fulbright Professor Christopher Balding.
Looking Back & Ahead
It is now 75 years since February 1945 and the historic Yalta
Conference between Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Joseph
Stalin. The historic meeting took place in an old Imperial Russian hotel
that served as German officer barracks in WW II.
According to reports, the Livadia Palace venue was a wreck,
with furniture scrounged from hotels in Moscow and toilets that did not
work, causing top diplomats and generals to queue up in the mornings to
wash up and brush their teeth.
History has not been too kind to the Yalta conference, which
has been characterized as the week when the superpowers met and divided
Europe into two blocks.
To some, even today the word “Yalta” is a synonym
But recently some smart people including historian David Reynolds
have come around to the thinking that WW II divided Europe, not the conference
Looking a bit deeper into Yalta with 75 years of hindsight,
what is generally agreed upon is that the meeting did serve as an attempt
to approach how you deal with a regime that you dislike but have to live
That is as much a challenge in a world that has seen the rise
of China, Xi Jinping, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as it was
in the days of Joseph Stalin.
As we think of Yalta and China, we might heed the words once
spoken by the English historian and lawyer F.W. Maitland:
“We must remember that events in the past were once
in the future.”