US Senate vs. China
June 9, 2021 12:01 AM   Subscribe

U.S. Senate approves sprawling $250 billion bill to curtail China’s economic and military ambitions.. (WaPo) as Joe Biden shows ‘more continuity than expected’ from Donald Trump policy on China. (SCMP)

This is part of an American bipartisan strategy to deal with China. U.S. President Joe Biden’s “intentionally targeted” revamp of Donald Trump’s order to ban investments in certain Chinese companies allows him to maintain a tough line on China in a way that still provides room for dialogue between the world’s biggest economies. (Bloomberg)
posted by - (62 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are the we gonna continue shitting on US electronics manufacturing by putting tariffs on importing components, but not on importing finished devices? US trade policy is so idiotic.
posted by ryanrs at 12:57 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


ryanrs: "US trade policy is so idiotic."

To be fair, most "trade policy" is idiotic; it's usually the result of boneheads trying to fix one problem without understanding the big picture & resulting in neverending unintended consequences (for which the fix is usually thought to be more trade policy)
posted by chavenet at 1:17 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


On the one hand, investing in science and technology is good. On the other hand, this is such bizarre framing:
“I have watched China take advantage of us in ways legal and illegal over the years,” Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), the lead author of the bill, said during an interview before its passage. “The number one thing China was doing to take advantage of us … was investing heavily in research and science.
I don't think improving your own abilities is what "taking advantage" of someone means.

But on the third hand, maybe it's time for a new definition! Maybe the Senate can be convinced to vote for infrastructure on the basis that having functional roads and bridges and other things is taking advantage of China. China has universal healthcare; let's take advantage of them by having even more universal healthcare. I'm suddenly imagining a "the best revenge is a life well lived" foreign policy where instead of attacking each other countries just try to "take advantage" of each other by investing in their own excellence. Sort of Cold War-style except without all the missiles and human rights abuses, which are clearly besides the point.
posted by trig at 1:42 AM on June 9 [66 favorites]


Current US politics preclude such long-term investments. There is no policy continuity from one administration to the next. You'd be a fool to let your business be guided by an american president's words.
posted by ryanrs at 2:00 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


I don't think improving your own abilities is what "taking advantage" of someone means.

In this mindset the deal was that America would do the hard work of having ideas and in return China would make everything. If China starts having ideas of its own then that's like a contract violation, the worst kind of betrayal!
posted by Pyry at 3:18 AM on June 9 [15 favorites]


Priorities, I guess.

the health of the empire is a priority

the health of the people and the society they live in - not so much
posted by pyramid termite at 3:52 AM on June 9 [7 favorites]


Perhaps Biden should have taken advantage of the bipartisan willingness on this issue and attached provisions for US high-speed rail manufacturing capabilities to the bill (after all, we can't let the godless commies beat us there).
posted by acb at 3:59 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


"we can have MORE FREEDOM votes than CHINA if you PASS HR1" /s
posted by lalochezia at 4:03 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I’m kind of in favor of more efforts to curtail the CCP’s control over China but I don’t know much about the bill or the pros/cons.

Thanks for sharing these links. I would actually find a discussion of what’s good / bad about this approach without too much /s really helpful.
posted by The Ted at 4:05 AM on June 9 [9 favorites]


Don't worry. Soon you will have always been at war with China.
posted by dazed_one at 4:45 AM on June 9 [13 favorites]


I would actually find a discussion of what’s good / bad about this approach without too much /s really helpful.

Here, here. This issue is not impertinent to Americans; far from it.

I don't have a romantic, 'Great Game' view of history, but my understanding is that empires benefit from 2nd order effects of their power projection. Additionally, you can see ugly cultural fallout from the erosion of that 'feeling' of power (cough, WW2, cough).

Granted, the domestic failures this spring are disappointing, if not predictable. But we are a super power in a heavily interdependent global network. We can't just focus on getting our house in order and take a 'you do you' approach.

I'm not defending this bill or what seems to be a post-Obama consensus of stick instead of carrot. But it's an evolving situation with real stakes.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 4:51 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


Mod note: One deleted. Let's stay focused on the topic of this post rather than turning the thread into an All The Ways Dems Suck post.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:09 AM on June 9 [17 favorites]


I’m kind of in favor of more efforts to curtail the CCP’s control over China but I don’t know much about the bill or the pros/cons.


What's the deal with people shortening "Communist Party of China" to CCP anyway? Does it give them Cold War tingles because it reminds them of СССР?
posted by Space Coyote at 5:09 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


I think it is just the standard now? Saves 21 keystrokes, and we all know what we are talking about, so... For me personally I do not make any special connection to USSR or the Cold War.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:30 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


Current US politics preclude such long-term investments. There is no policy continuity from one administration to the next. You'd be a fool to let your business be guided by an american president's words.

Since January 2016, this has been my biggest argument. There's no reason for anyone, nation, corporation or citizen to ever trust the worst of the US now. Once precedence and reason were branded "bad" there's nothing to rely on anymore.
posted by DigDoug at 5:48 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


I agree that economic sanctions are not going to work to change Chinese policies or endear most Chinese folks to the US. However, that Reason article is ridiculous non-journalism and I wouldn’t use it as the basis of any argument about American decline.
posted by q*ben at 6:16 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


What's the deal with people shortening "Communist Party of China" to CCP anyway?
NBD TBH. CCP is PAP (Part And Parcel) of the US' new CFP (China Foreign Policy) so tow the party line, you LONGFORM! (Length-Oriented Naming Guru with a Fear Of Reduced Monikers). SMH
posted by Hardcore Poser at 6:26 AM on June 9 [10 favorites]


NBD TBH

Thanks for getting me to finally look up WTH "SMH" means.
posted by Slothrup at 6:28 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Thanks for sharing these links. I would actually find a discussion of what’s good / bad about this approach without too much /s really helpful.

To be honest it seems like kind of a giant hodgepodge of approaches, with funding for really specific research project and funding for more general research alongside things like calling for sanctions, allowing tariffs to be suspended, doing a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics (i.e. political leaders won't attend), banning shark fin sales and opening yet another covid-origins investigation. Probably one of the reasons this was able to pass in such a broad bipartisan way is that it seems to have made room for everybody's pet issues and can be sold effectively to both the anti-China crowd and the pro-investing in American tech capabilities crowd. So it looks like a mix of bad and good things, and given that I'm so unused to feeling good about even a part of what a Republican-heavy Senate passes, and that the anti-China stuff doesn't seem like an escalation of what's already been happening, I'm letting myself feel cautiously optimistic about the investment part. I wasn't entirely kidding before: this is being written about as a big anti-China move but seems to primarily focus on internal investment, and as far as responses go that seems like a pretty good direction and would that we took it more often.

But this still has to go through the House, which isn't entirely enthusiastic, so there isn't actually anything final yet.
posted by trig at 6:33 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


word. hk isn't a party right now, either.
posted by j_curiouser at 6:34 AM on June 9


NBD TBH. CCP is PAP (Part And Parcel) of the US' new CFP (China Foreign Policy) so tow the party line, you LONGFORM! (Length-Oriented Naming Guru with a Fear Of Reduced Monikers). SMH

Well played, sir. Or ma'am. Or oh...you.

.
posted by lon_star at 6:40 AM on June 9


Current US politics preclude such long-term investments. There is no policy continuity from one administration to the next. You'd be a fool to let your business be guided by an american president's words.

Between the Senate's intentional constipation and the sugar overload of unfettered money suppressing the national immune system and causing virulent partisan infections across the weakened body politic, I think this is getting more true every election.

Most very sick people can only put principal focus on managing their illness and everything else winds up being dragged around behind it.

.
posted by lon_star at 6:45 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


The US's interstate highway system was built under Eisenhower using the excuse it was needed for defense. In fact the real name of the system is the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. Ditto the internet, space program, etc etc.

If China's the excuse we need to rebuild our infrastructure then, fine.
posted by mono blanco at 6:51 AM on June 9 [11 favorites]


Mod note: Several comments deleted. This should go without saying but, don't throw in clickbait racist anti-affirmative-action headlines from other contexts.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:51 AM on June 9 [10 favorites]


Bipartisan support huh? Have we talked to the republicans about the Fuck China Infrastructure and Voting Rights bill yet?
posted by adept256 at 7:19 AM on June 9 [6 favorites]


Thanks for getting me to finally look up WTH "SMH" means.

Me too, but I'm confused. What is the relation between this thread and the Sydney Morning Herald?
posted by DreamerFi at 7:34 AM on June 9 [9 favorites]


So many hamsters.
posted by biogeo at 7:49 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


There's no reason for anyone, nation, corporation or citizen to ever trust the worst of the US now.

This is probably the biggest stumbling block to an effective counter-China strategy for the US, if it really wants to pursue one. Trump demonstrated to even our allies that we are not reliable. Not that there have never been reasons before him for our allies to think that, but at least the pretense was carefully maintained. Now how does an ally, or any country, know that the next President won't just tear up any deal they make and even begin openly attacking them?

This is bad because the most effective strategy is pretty obvious: build an anti-China network/alliance in Asia to isolate them as much as possible. China itself has made doing this easy because it's currently fairly clumsy at wielding its growing power. Its managed to generate friction and anger in many of its neighbors such as India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, etc. This is exactly where diplomacy is the perfect tool for the US to use, but that tool has been badly damaged.
posted by star gentle uterus at 8:14 AM on June 9 [11 favorites]


What's the deal with people shortening "Communist Party of China" to CCP anyway?

People still refer to the Republicans as the "GOP" despite there being nothing grand about them any more.

(Yeah, it's easier to to type, but it's still incorrect. "Hot" is easier to type than "cold" but that doesn't mean it's hot in Antarctica.
posted by Gelatin at 8:19 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


"If China's the excuse we need to rebuild our infrastructure then, fine."

ok... but this narrative also obscures the real reasons about why public investment and a coherent industrial policy were repudiated in the first place for so long.

China, of course, is not the origin of the problem. Far from it. China has become a problem because western (and in particular, USians) industrialists moved A LOT of work-intensive production over there. For decades. And this created some big disequilibrium that now is biting back.

China, and Chinese workers, have been exploited (and they are still exploited) by the same people that just now started to realize that moving ALL the production to China would have had big redistributional, financial and finally, political consequences.

Trump saw far on this. Democrats are following the trend. Both following a new liberal consensus. Before both parties were in agreement about going to China. American political debate has not much debate in the first place: money talks, puppets dance.

This new narrative (“we need investment bcs china bad!1!!”) instead of dealing with the origin of the problem, it is going the jingoistic way - painting China as the problem itself. And this is infuriating.
posted by - at 8:21 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


Even if it's for the wrong reason diversification in general a good policy, having insanely expensive chip plants scattered all over the world is a general defensed against local outages due to climate, war or other localized issues. But is it actually farsighted?

What are we going to do locally (continental USA) with all those shiny new tiny tiny chips? No, really, to be useful they need to be inserted on tiny boards and assembled into quite small packages. Lets see a raise of hands here of any Mifite eager to get a job at an iphone assembly factory? Know any republicans looking for that kind of work?

Build the chips, ship'em to China or Indonesia. Hmmm....

(oops, almost hit post before.... robots robots robots)
posted by sammyo at 8:21 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


this is such bizarre framing

It seems pretty obviously designed to get some people to see investment in research as "patriotic" in an era where many voters believe that "we have to get tough" on whatever/whoever in order to solve problems. I mean, I think it's an utterly inane and pathetic sentiment, but it's not aimed at me: it's aimed at a subset of swing voters in marginal seats.

I mean, in my ideal world, the US Senate would have a charismatic, brilliant, daring leader who could set a tone and agenda and take the swing voters with them. But, in this world, it has Chuck Schumer. So yeah.
posted by howfar at 8:23 AM on June 9


> that doesn't mean it's hot in Antarctica.

give it a few more years
posted by glonous keming at 8:28 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


I saw a Tiktok this morning that pointed out that now we've seen that there will be bipartisan support for any bill claiming to shore us up against the outside enemy of China, we're going to see this tactic used again and again in an effort to get things done. I fear this for many reasons, the inevitable racist propaganda and fallout from it most of all.
posted by DSime at 8:29 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


In my defence, to me the CPC is the Conservative Party of Canada, e.g. the overt white supremacists (as opposed to the covert ones in the LPC - Liberal Party of Canada).
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:30 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


NBD TBH

Thanks for getting me to finally look up WTH "SMH" means


The Sidney Morning Herald appreciates your interest!
posted by Naberius at 8:31 AM on June 9


Meanwhile it's not all knee-jerk, follow-Trump anti-China policy: "Biden revokes Trump orders targeting TikTok and WeChat."
posted by PhineasGage at 8:31 AM on June 9


This is bad because the most effective strategy is pretty obvious: build an anti-China network/alliance in Asia to isolate them as much as possible.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), or Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, was a proposed trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States signed on 4 February 2016. After the newly elected US president Donald Trump withdrew the US signature from TPP in January 2017,[5] the agreement could not be ratified as required and did not enter into force.
Obama and partners did set up a trading bloc against China. It was awful in a lot of ways, but it was a particularly sweet deal for America, without which the partnership really has no force to it.

My theory is that it made life difficult for capitalists wishing to exploit cheap Chinese labor. So it was sharpied away.

I was talking to a maga person around that time and they had the notion that the TPP was for giving the CCP relaxing foot rubs while they eat the American middle class. I had to show them that wiki article to point out that China wasn't in the partnership. He thought China was in the TPP, because that was the lie that was being spread in the maga bubble.
posted by adept256 at 8:36 AM on June 9 [13 favorites]


Meanwhile it's not all knee-jerk, follow-Trump anti-China policy: "Biden revokes Trump orders targeting TikTok and WeChat."

Remember when he wanted to ban tiktok? Not because of their sinister data collection or obeisance to the CCP, but because k-pop fans used it in a campaign to troll him. It was this time last year, the sick fucker wanted to hold a rally on Juneteenth in Tulsa (JFC you had a white supremacist president!). It was his first rally since the beginning of the pandemic, and despite the insane risk, it was predicted to be HUUUUGE. They even set up a stage outside the venue so the overflow crowd could watch.

Then no-one came. The venue had a capacity of 20000, and 6000 actually showed. Rows and rows and rows of empty, empty, empty seats. What went wrong? Tens of thousands had registered for the event, where were they? On TikTok, listening to k-pop and laughing about how they trolled Trump's dumb rally.

The tiktok ban was never about punishing China. That was the post-hoc justification. It was all about him and his wounded pride. It's always about him.
posted by adept256 at 9:09 AM on June 9 [9 favorites]


‘more continuity than expected

Getting real tired of this
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:34 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Does it give them Cold War tingles because it reminds them of СССР?

Wait til they find out how you pronounce “CCCP!”
posted by atoxyl at 9:51 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile it's not all knee-jerk, follow-Trump anti-China policy: "Biden revokes Trump orders targeting TikTok and WeChat."

To be fair, it makes a lot of sense to drop a court case you're going to absolutely fucking lose. I don't think that means as much as you think it does, in terms of "not continuing Trump policy."

Whereas: The Obama administration chose NOT to prosecute Julian Assange because it would risk creating an environment where any journalist could potentially be prosecuted for leaking government secrets. The Biden administration is continuing the Trump administrations extradition case against Assange. Biden literally rejected his own previous administrations decision, just because the wheels are already in motion. Are they going to arrest Chelsea Manning again, too? They're certainly not dropping the fines from when she was being held for refusing to testify at Assange's Grand Jury.

They will continue any policies from the Trump era that had chances at being "successful."

Which literally anyone with a fucking brain who has been paying the fuck attention could have told you was going to happen.
posted by deadaluspark at 9:57 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


Wait til they find out how you pronounce “CCCP!”

You finally made me look it up.
posted by Bee'sWing at 10:20 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


This seems to be mostly more NSF money, which seems OK. I'm not sure what sort of assurances we have the computer chip money is going to build factories instead of being stuffed into pockets (and quoting a lobbyist makes me more suspicious this is just a brazen corporate handout).

However, I want things like a functional Postal Service before we talk about two moon landers. Congress only seems capable of handouts: "infrastructure week" has been a punchline for 4 years, and was stymied far before that. We're not much of a superpower if we can't even keep the lights on.
posted by netowl at 10:33 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Can we classify all people in the US as "fighters of the economic battle against China" and give everyone TRICARE (medical) benefits?
posted by meowzilla at 10:39 AM on June 9 [8 favorites]


Trump’s trade policy was ineffective but very popular. China is displacing the United States as the dominant economic powerhouse and there is little its leaders can do about it. The UK and USSR ended WW2 at technology parity with the US. The US had a bigger population and a bigger, more integrated economy. The UK tried a non-adversarial strategy with the US and hoped to build a relationship with Western Europe to balance American dominance. The USSR took an adversarial strategy and used a network of satellites and influence in non-aligned states to counter the US. Neither strategy was particularly successful. The soviets went bankrupt trying to fight the Cold War. The UK’s strategy didn’t let it preserve the Empire and it couldn’t maintain the economic union with Europe. Both strategies failed to let the USSR and UK maintain their formerly leading role in the world.

Today the US finds itself in the same place as UK and USSR at the end of WW2. The prospects for America staying in the same position it’s enjoyed for the last 100 years are dim. American and Chinese leaders know this. The myth of American exceptionalism will fuck up our politics just as the myths of Communist and British exceptionslism did to the USSR and UK.

And don’t put your hopes in some Chinese collapse. Soviets and British hope unrest related to civil rights and other issues would ultimately cause a collapse of the US. While those problems persist and may yet cause our ultimate collapse they didn’t save the UK and USSR from their destiny.
posted by interogative mood at 11:09 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


can see ugly cultural fallout from the erosion of that 'feeling' of power (cough, WW2, cough).
--Reasonably Everything Happens

Yes, it is very distressing to see a feedback loop of China's seemingly increasing feeling of isolation, and as a result, it is increasing its self-isolation and international aggressive and warlike stance, which in-turn leads to more isolation, etc. Where and when will this end?

Here's an example of what this can lead to:

China State Media Says Country Must Prepare for Nuclear War With U.S. After Biden Asks for COVID Probe
posted by eye of newt at 11:24 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I want to talk about the computer chip thing. From the wapo article linked in the post.

The proposal commits billions of dollars in federal funds across a wide array of research areas. It pours more than $50 billion in immediate funding into U.S. businesses that manufacture the sort of ultrasmall, in-demand computer chips that power consumer and military devices, which many companies source from China.

These are not the Intel or AMD or M1 chips that power your computers. These are the chips in your wi-fi lightbulb. Or your dishwasher.

There's a long story, I'll try to be concise. China has invested $29 billion in research to reduce their reliance on foreign tech by making their own x86 chip. They bought a company called VIA, with all their IP and most importantly their license to make x86 chips. They blew the dust off their old chip designs and gave them to TSMC (not a Chinese company) to manufacture on a 16nm node.

I'm swerving towards jargonland, basically they took a 20yo design and and built it with 5yo technology. The results are a functional x86 chip, which is the most charitable thing you can say about it. From the benchmarks I've seen, and some of the driver support (none? hahaha none!), it would struggle with windows 10, but it would work within limits. There are many limits though.

So, no, they don't have the capability to surpass Intel and AMD. They're not making better chips, they're making more simple chips. Single purpose ICs that can be mass produced at a large scale for pennies. They have capacity, not capability.

If you want to spend $50 billion in meeting that capacity, cool, but that's not exactly r&d. I hope you do actually, it bothers me that Huawei puts backdoors into their chips at the command of their master.

I've heard a joke that if you go into the research and development wing of a Chinese phone company they have a department for Apple and a department for Samsung, essentially their r&d effort is entirely reverse engineering. I'm not owning this joke, I think it's stupid, it's not funny. I mention it because I think it's true that they really want to learn how to do what others are doing, and they're not above cheating.
posted by adept256 at 11:34 AM on June 9 [8 favorites]


China … bought a company called VIA

They did? All I can find out about VIA (a Taiwanese company) is that Zhaoxin is a partnership, of which they're 20%. VIA weren't completely terrible (I was a dedicated mini-ITX user back in the early 2000s), and their Padlock chipset had some above-average crypto for the time.

For the average American punter, the initial effect of a trade embargo will be a complete shutout of Ali Express and cheap knock-off stuff. China's subsidized mailing is up for review in the next few months at the Postal Union, and they're unlikely to get that deal extended.

As a Canadian, I wish both China and the USA could shit or get off the pot regarding Meng Wanzhou. Canada's been brought into a trade war as a tiny proxy, and it would be nice if we could extricate ourselves before becoming Cambodia II.
posted by scruss at 1:31 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


If China's the excuse we need to rebuild our infrastructure then, fine.

This right here is the soundest statement of a dying empire possible.

Note that the goal is to rebuild the existing infrastructure.

America can't even maintain its past never mind build for the future. Instead we hope to address a hundred years of neglect and try and resurface some roads and patch some crumbling bridges. Meanwhile Asia and Europe are building super high speed trains.

What's the deal with people shortening "Communist Party of China" to CCP anyway?

It's the acronym the APB (American Politburo of Billionaires) would prefer you use.
posted by srboisvert at 1:40 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


China is displacing the United States as the dominant economic powerhouse and there is little its leaders can do about it.

I've felt this way for a long time, and voted for Democrats more capable of accepting this and managing a soft landing vs. Republicans who (though actual or feigned ignorance) deny it and gin up Cold War 2.

Shortly after George W. Bush took office the US was outraged when a Chinese fighter plane collided with an American spy plane inside Chinese airspace.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:41 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Wait til they find out how you pronounce “CCCP!”

One of my junior high school teachers, a vast and imposing man who bore an uncanny resemblance to an enormous frog, proclaimed that CCCP stood for Central Committee Communist Party.
posted by doctornemo at 3:05 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


more continuity than expected

I've been tracking this since the 1990s, the possibility of a major US-China Cold-unto-Hot War. On the US side, a lot of military, military-industrial, and foreign policy folks have been beating the drum for it. The War on Terror shunted them aside, but after Bush(2) they came back and have campaigned steadily for their strategic model. Things heated up since Obama assembled the TPP coalition against Beijing.

(You can read the recent thriller 2034, co-authored by an admiral, to get a sense of the argument. It's like those British invasion narratives in the decades around 1900. Arthur Conan Doyle's "Danger! Being the Log of Captain John Sirius" is a good example.)

My field is academia, and we're gradually being roped into this. There's been a rising tide of opposing or shutting down campus-hosted Confucius Institutes, opposition to deals with Chinese enterprises, and federal investigations and prosecutions of Chinese academics working with American institutions. I suspect many researchers and universities welcome the new Senate bill, seeing a serious boost to some fields.
posted by doctornemo at 3:13 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


As far as the Postal Union rate review goes, China is way ahead of that.

The majority of my AliExpress packages (and I get at least a hundred a year) are mailed to me from within my country (Canada), having been trans-shipped by third-party air freight in large containers.

In fact, the system is so smart that I have received single parcels mailed in Missisauga that contain within them multiple items from different sellers in China.

All of this is transparent to me. Bonus: shit arrives faster.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:22 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I have a small open-source project, I manufacture in China and ship from there - the whole cheap postal rate from China thing is essentially dead at the moment largely because it essentially existed based on arbitrage of empty space in air-mail shipping containers leaving various Asian airports (I always sort of imagined it as a person with a big cheap-rate-package hose who would top off containers just before they went on to planes) - because of covid there just aren't a lot of planes flying out of Asia and as a result their air-mail containers are full.

Instead I'm charging my customers extra for shipping using a different service - not the full rate, just the difference between the rate I used to pay for 'free-shipping' and what I'm currently paying

I too get Ali Express stuff from a local transshipment place here in NZ, I suspect they actually do some warehousing there.

As a non-American who does business in China this whole mess feels a bit like being around elephants mating
posted by mbo at 3:31 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


feels like the ~300 comments in the origin of COVID-19 thread could be dragged into this discussion

if we're talking about manufactured heightening of tensions
posted by elkevelvet at 3:45 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]



My theory is that it made life difficult for capitalists wishing to exploit cheap Chinese labor. So it was sharpied away.

I was talking to a maga person around that time and they had the notion that the TPP was for giving the CCP relaxing foot rubs while they eat the American middle class. I had to show them that wiki article to point out that China wasn't in the partnership. He thought China was in the TPP, because that was the lie that was being spread in the maga bubble.


The TPP thing used to get under my skin because it was far from those greedy capitalists who were against it. It seems the majority opinion here was that it was pure evil, because reasons, before anything about it had even been hashed out.

Being suspicious of trade is a pretty traditional, and regrettable, fit for the left. TPP was no exception.
posted by 2N2222 at 3:55 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


So ... what happened to the actual literal ongoing genocide that China was supposed to be committing?
posted by moorooka at 4:04 PM on June 9


From a NZ point of view a lot of the bad stuff in the original TPP came from the US (lots of IP related stuff) and was dumped when the US dropped out, it made it a lot more palatable.

One other interesting thing is APEC which NZ and China (and lots of other Asian/Pacific countries) are members of but the US is only an associate member of (ie not full member, not bound by the treaties) - Trump kept threatening to leave, but the US wasn't really a member, it was an empty threat for US consumption. I carry an APEC business card, it's essentially a business travel visa, I can visit China/Russia/Chile/Vietnam/Japan/Mexico/... almost 20 countries simply by presenting the card at the border .... but not the US (I can however use it to go through the 'crew' line at SFO).
posted by mbo at 4:18 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


How about Taiwan. Interesting, the U.S. is listed as a member, I remember GW in Vietnam. The success of ASEAN led to APEC which is really just big countries joining an already successful organization under a different name.
posted by clavdivs at 6:49 PM on June 9


Vox and others aren't fans.


But most importantly, the $100 billion was effectively cut down: The Senate rolled NSF’s existing funding into the $100 billion, cutting the amount of actual new funding by about half, with a 30 percent boost for the agency. The new technology directorate was cut to $29 billion. And the remaining funds were shifted to Energy Department labs, pushed by senators with such labs in their states.

Meanwhile, only a small fraction of the new funding that is left over would go to research and development. The bulk would instead go to miscellaneous programs, such as scholarships and STEM education efforts.


At this point I think the biggest threat to US national security going forward is continuing the fiction that the US Congress, especially the Senate, is capable as a governing body of managing a large, modern, industrialized country.

To be fair, most "trade policy" is idiotic; it's usually the result of boneheads trying to fix one problem without understanding the big picture & resulting in neverending unintended consequences (for which the fix is usually thought to be more trade policy)

I think corruption, or to be more charitable, misaligned incentives are more to blame for poor trade policy than stupidity. Trade deals, as with many government programs, reflect the balance of competing interests funding US legislatures along with interrelated pressures to protect important economic interests amongst their constituencies (e.g. tariffs, ag subsidies). As a result, they hardly end up platonic laws plucked from an economics textbook by dispassionate philosophers working in the best interest of the Republic.

As for proposed "Cold War" with China, it seems to me a combination of three factors: (1) national defence is one of the few areas of legitimate government action upon which Republican and Democrats agree, (2) many legislatures' views were formed during the Cold War, so they default to a mental framework of national economic competition despite that model's possible inapplicability to a modern globally interconnected economy, and (3) powerful institutions like the military, defence contractors, and their associated research apparatus still exist and benefit from such a framework.

To me it all seems somewhat silly. I can't help but wonder how internet anti-China patriots would react if their supply of consumer electronics were suddenly cut off or were suddenly to become prohibitively expensive. Like it or not, western economies since the 90's are built on cheap consumers goods, especially consumer electronics, manufactured in East Asia, particularly China. Take that away, and you are left with rising healthcare, housing, and education costs, as well as declining infrastructure, longer workings hours, and lower real wages.

If only the US could decide to compete with other countries on the quality of life it provides its citizens. But, as the article outlines above, the US Senate can't even meet the goals it sets out to achieve.

Soviets and British hope unrest related to civil rights and other issues would ultimately cause a collapse of the US. While those problems persist and may yet cause our ultimate collapse they didn’t save the UK and USSR from their destiny.

They might have needed just needed to wait 60 to 70 years (glances nervously at filibuster, Republican voter suppression efforts, and Republican attempts to undermine and delegitimize election results).
posted by eagles123 at 7:14 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Taiwan is a member of APEC as "Chinese Taipei" (but then so is "Hong Kong" as a separate country)
posted by mbo at 8:52 PM on June 9


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