Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Will Gold Price Breakout? 3 Things to Watch… - Jordan_Roy_Byrne
2.China Invades Saudi Oil Realm: PetroDollar Kill - Jim_Willie_CB
3.Bitcoin Price Trend Forecast, Paypal FUD Fake Cryptocurrency Warning - Nadeem_Walayat
4.The Stock Market Trend is Your Friend ’til the Very End - Rambus_Chartology
5.This Isn’t Your Grandfather’s (1960s) Inflation Scare - F_F_Wiley
6.GDX Gold Mining Stocks Fundamentals - Zeal_LLC
7.US Housing Real Estate Market and Banking Pressures Are Building - Chris_Vermeulen
8.Return of Stock Market Volatility Amidst Political Chaos and Uncertain Economy - Buildadv
9.Can Bitcoin Price Rally Continue After Paypal Fake FUD Attack? - Nadeem_Walayat
10.Warning Economic Implosion on the Horizon - Chris_Vermeulen
Last 7 days
Fox in the Henhouse: Why Interest Rates Are Rising - 23rd Apr 18
Stocks and Bonds, This is Not a Market - 23rd Apr 18
Happy Anniversary Silver Investors! - 23rd Apr 18
The Hottest Commodity Play In 2018 - 23rd Apr 18
Stock Market Correction Turns Consolidation - 23rd Apr 18
Silver Squeeze, Gold Fails & GDX Breadth - 23rd Apr 18
US Economy Is Cooked, the Growth Cycle has Peaked - 23rd Apr 18
Inflation, With a Shelf Life - 23rd Apr 18 - Gary_Tanashian
Stock Market Predictive Modeling Is Calling For A Continued Rally - 22nd Apr 18
SWEATCOIN - Get PAID to WALK! Incentive to Burn Fat and Lose Weight - Review - 22nd Apr 18
Sheffield Local Elections 2018 Forecast Results - 22nd Apr 18
How Long Does it take for a 10%+ Stock Market Correction to Make New Highs - 21st Apr 18
Sheffield Ruling Labour Party Could Lose 10 Council Seats at May Local Elections - 21st Apr 18
Crude Oil Price Trend Forecast - Saudi Arabia $80 ARAMCO Stock IPO Target - 21st Apr 18
Gold Price Nearing Bull Market Breakout, Stocks to Follow - 20th Apr 18
What’s Bitcoin Really Worth? - 20th Apr 18
Stock Market May "Let Go" - 20th Apr 18
Overwhelming Evidence Against Near Stock Market Grand Supercycle Top - 20th Apr 18
Crude Oil Price Trend Forecast - Saudi's Want $100 for ARAMCO Stock IPO - 20th Apr 18
The Incredible Silver Trade – What You Need to Know - 20th Apr 18
Is War "Hell" for the Stock Market? - 19th Apr 18
Palladium Bullion Surges 17% In 9 Days On Russian Supply Concerns - 19th Apr 18
Breadth Study Suggests that Stock Market Bottom is Already In - 19th Apr 18
Allegory Regarding Investment Decisions Made On Basis Of Government’s Income Statement, Balance Sheet - 19th Apr 18
Gold – A Unique Repeat of the 2007 and How to Profit - 19th Apr 18
Abbeydale Park Rise Cherry Tree's in Blossom - Sheffield Street Tree Protests - 19th Apr 18
The Stock Market “Turn of the Month Effect” Exists in 11 of 11 Countries - 18th Apr 18
Winter is Coming - Coming Storms Will Bring Out the Best and Worst in Humanity - 18th Apr 18
What Does it Take to Create Living Wage Jobs? - 18th Apr 18
Gold and Silver Buy Signals - 18th Apr 18
WINTER IS COMING - The Ongoing Fourth Turning Crisis Part2 - 18th Apr 18
A Stock Market Rally on Low Volume is NOT Bearish - 17th Apr 18
Three Gold Charts, One Big Gold Stocks Opportunity - 17th Apr 18
Crude Oil Price As Bullish as it Seems? - 17th Apr 18
A Good Time to Buy Facebook? - 17th Apr 18
THE Financial Crisis Acronym of 2008 is Sounding Another Alarm - 16th Apr 18
Bombs, Missiles and War – What to Expect Next from the Stock Market - 16th Apr 18
Global Debt Bubble Hits New All Time High – One Quadrillion Reasons To Buy Gold - 16th Apr 18
Will Bitcoin Ever Recover? - 16th Apr 18
Stock Market Futures Bounce, But Stopped at Trendline - 16th Apr 18
How To Profit As Oil Prices Explode - 16th Apr 18
Junior Mining Stocks are Close to Breaking Downtrend - 16th Apr 18
Look Inside a Caravan at UK Holiday Park for Summer 2018 - Hoseasons Cayton Bay Sea Side - 16th Apr 18
Stock Market More Weakness? How Much? - 15th Apr 18
Time for the Gold Bulls to Show their Mettle - 15th Apr 18
Trading Markets Amid Sound of Wars - 15th Apr 18
Sugar Commodity Buying Levels Analysis - 14th Apr 18
The Oil Trade May Be Coming Alive - 14th Apr 18

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Trading Lessons

3 Graphics That Explain US-China Relations

Politics / China US Conflict Apr 07, 2017 - 06:29 PM GMT

By: John_Mauldin

Politics

BY GEORGE FRIEDMAN : US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are meeting now at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Most meetings between world leaders are relatively unimportant.

This meeting is an exception, not because of whatever agreements or statements will emerge, but because of what it reveals about the current needs of the political administration of the world’s two largest economies.


The issue of unfair Chinese trade practices was a recurrent theme in Trump’s campaign, and Trump needs to show his base that he can deliver on some of his promises.

Xi wants to avoid straining US-China relations because he needs stability at home ahead of the Communist Party’s National Congress at the end of the year.

While the US and China do not see eye to eye on many issues, they share a need for stability in the broad relationship right now.

The three graphics below represent some of the fundamentals of this relationship.

China Relies on Exports to the US

The story for China is simple. China achieved 30 years of rapid economic growth primarily by relying on exports. The US is the largest market for China’s exports.

As the chart below shows, almost 20% of all Chinese exports went to the United States in 2015 (the last year for which this data is available).

China has reached the limits of this export-led growth and is attempting to focus more on internal consumption without drastically reducing growth, which could put jobs and, by extension, social stability at risk.

To pull this off, Xi has asserted increasingly direct control over China’s political administration, economic policies, and the People’s Liberation Army.

This year’s National Congress will be one of the key moments in Xi’s consolidation of control. Most of Xi’s political challengers have been neutralized, but Xi still must strike a delicate balance.

He cannot afford to appear weak at either the domestic or international level. He also, however, cannot afford a full-scale trade conflict with the United States. If the US significantly restricts Chinese access to the US market, the effects on China’s economy would be drastic.

This is the “trump card” lurking behind these talks: China is in no position to play hardball with the US right now.

It should be noted that disagreements over trade between these two countries are not new. The administration of former President Barack Obama was less abrasive with China than Trump’s administration, but Obama still adopted measures to protect the US market.

For example, Obama erected tariffs on Chinese tires entering the US, which severely harmed China’s tire industry.

The US Depends on China’s Cheap Imports

We have written in-depth about why the US-China trade relationship favors the US. That, however, does not mean the US can simply do whatever it wants. More than one-fifth of all US imports came from China in 2015.

The chart below breaks down those imports by product type and compares China’s share in US imports with China’s share in global exports.

China relies on exports to the US, but a similar case could be made that the US is addicted to cheap imports from China.

This is why all the talk of a trade war has been overblown from the start. Many have noted that Trump has not labeled China a currency manipulator, as he promised to do during the campaign. The US could weather a US-China trade war better than China could, but that does not mean that the US would come out unscathed.

If such an economic conflict did take place, the effects would be disproportionately felt by the very class of voters that put Trump in office.

Some feared that Trump would start either a trade war or a real war with China. He has moved away from both these scenarios because they aren’t in the interests of the US or the administration. He needs to show that he can deliver wins in the US-China relationship when it comes to trade, North Korea, and the South China Sea.  

Trump is already tweeting a big game about how difficult these meetings will be, and on a certain level he is right. But both sides have an interest in coming to a mutual understanding that both Trump and Xi can use to strengthen their positions at home.

US-China relations in 2017 have much more to do with domestic constraints in both countries than with open conflict between the two.

Never Forget Geography

We often return to the below map because it is highly relevant to any discussion of US-China relations.

China is surrounded by US allies and small island chains that the US Navy could use to put China in a de facto cage if a military conflict ever arises.

This map also emphasizes North Korea’s importance in negotiations between China and the US. China uses North Korea to gain leverage over the US because it can claim, with some validity, to be the country with the most influence in North Korea.

The US is concerned about North Korea because of the recent actions by Kim Jong Un’s administration. This plays into China’s hands—it can offer to cooperate on the North Korea issue in exchange for US concessions on some of the points laid out above. 

The map above also shows China’s geographic challenges in trying to assert itself in its own backyard against the United States. China’s best move right now is to try to destabilize US allies in the region, preferably by increasing China’s influence at the same time.

China is trying this to varying degrees with countries like the Philippines and Myanmar. But so far, it has had limited success partly because China lacks sufficient military power to challenge the US and its allies in the region.

Conclusion

Xi and Trump’s meeting at Mar-a-Lago will be a useful barometer in determining how US-China relations will develop over the year. If the above analysis is correct, those relations, at least in 2017, should be significantly more cooperative than most expect.

The US and China have differences but also share some broader interests. As we move further into the Trump administration’s time in office, that may change—especially if Xi is successful at consolidating his rule while bringing a semblance of stability to China’s economy.

But that is a big if. For now, keeping these basic strategic realities in mind helps make sense of what’s at stake this week in geopolitics.

Grab George Friedman's Exclusive eBook, The World Explained in Maps

The World Explained in Maps reveals the panorama of geopolitical landscapes influencing today's governments and global financial systems. Don't miss this chance to prepare for the year ahead with the straight facts about every major country’s and region's current geopolitical climate. You won't find political rhetoric or media hype here.

The World Explained in Maps is an essential guide for every investor as 2017 takes shape. Get your copy now—free!

John Mauldin Archive

© 2005-2018 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules