By SUN Xi and Herta Monica Montesino Cucos
“The China-US relationship can never be too good or too bad” or so believed Deng Xiaoping, the chief architect of modern China. Today, however, there are new views according to which the China-US relationship will never return to how it was in the past, and that it cannot avoid the “Thucydides trap.” It is arguable whether China and the United States have started a “new Cold War,” but the trade and technology war is clearly already going on.
“For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived, and dishonest—but the myth— persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” John F. Kennedy, Yale University Commencement Address June 11, 1962
Another amazing week. As politics got murkier however, markets surged higher. In terms of what will be remembered decades from now, the event that shocked nearly everyone was the abrupt ending of the US-North Korea Summit. As the next set of leadership-level meetings loom this month, surely the Chinese must be reevaluating their strategy vis-à-vis President Donald Trump. What these negotiations have in common is that in both cases the US is asking Kim Jun-un and Xi Jinping for structural changes that for different reasons each might have trouble delivering.
The US government shutdown is over, but the question of how a wall between the US and Mexico will be funded is unresolved. The threat, or lack of a threat posed by immigrants at the southern border, is a litmus test for US politicians. AMLO, Mexico’s new leader, could achieve what no one has before in terms of eliminating violence and corruption, or he could make things much, much worse and turn his country into the next Venezuela.
As the crisis in Venezuela has deepened over the past week, a mysterious transformation has occurred. What started out as U.S. diplomatic support for the new, constitutionally legitimate government of Juan Guaidó has come to be treated in the international media as a possible U.S. military intervention.
The biggest economic conference of the season, the World Economic Forum, has just wrapped up in Davos. Most of the sessions are now available as they happen, and with the snow piled high here in Chicago, watching them online almost seemed like being there. I’ve included links to some of the best discussions and interviews you might enjoy on this even colder weekend.
President Xi will not attend the World Economic Forum’s bash in Davos this year. Two years ago, Xi presented his globalist views as the counterpart to the newly elected President Trump’s populist/protectionist rhetoric. This year, China will be represented by Vice President Wang QiShan, who is expected to face a tougher crowd. In the past year, President Xi and the Chinese leadership have faced new challenges despite an unprecedented consolidation of power since the end of the Maoist era.
Predicting the future is notoriously difficult, but that doesn’t stop the flurry of prognostications every January. We’ve gathered a selection of 2019 forecasts, including some predicting low probability events, because just imagining the unlikely can reveal horizons sometimes obstructed by conventional wisdom.
Like previous “year ahead” reviews I have published on EconVue, this is not intended as a prediction of how events will necessarily unfold in real life. Instead, as always my intent is above all to consider the main risks to the stability to the international political and economic environment in various regions of the world that I am relatively familiar with.