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Trade Wars

An overt trade war has commenced. President Trump has fired the starting gun, setting in motion an election promise, part of his Make America Great Again undertaking. It is a blow squarely aimed against China, costing China some trade perhaps, but basically a loser’s last roll of the dice.

The back story appears to be far deeper than some relatively minor tariffs on steel and aluminium would suggest. It comes after a prolonged period of shadow-boxing between America in the blue corner and Russia and China in the red. To pursue the boxing analogy, China and Russia have been soaking up America’s punches on the basis America would simply tire herself out. It has been a replay of Muhammed Ali’s dope-on-a-rope strategy in the rumble-in-the-jungle, with America cast as George Foreman.

However, in the last few days, China and Russia seem to have lost patience with America. Instead of patiently letting America gently decline through her own errors, the Asian superpowers are accelerating their own agendas regardless. Russia is ignoring the West’s humanitarian pleas by stepping up her plans to end the Syrian mission. She announced a new hypersonic ballistic missile, a naked threat to further American military interference. And, it appears, she is still bumping off old spies in Britain, not giving a hoot for the diplomatic consequences.

The diplomatic dance round North Korea also seems to be coming to an end. The solution there is becoming obvious: North Korea will give up her aggressive stance against America, after some face-saving negotiations perhaps, in return for China’s protection. It can hardly end any other way.

We do not know the real reason China and Russia appear to have changed their generally patient approach to American aggression. Perhaps it was inevitable that at some stage the internal politics in President Trump’s administration would lead to this conclusion. Perhaps it’s a twist in the financial war, with China’s oil and commodity suppliers pushing for of greater yuan liquidity in financial markets. China has finally agreed to this by setting a date for the new yuan-denominated oil futures contract to start trading. Anyway, the inevitable has happened: President Trump has finally decided to impose trade restrictions on China, and the Asian powers are accelerating their imperial plans.

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