China Financial Markets

A Chinese man on Wednesday plays a game on his mobile phone as he monitors stock prices at a brokerage in Beijing. Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher Thursday after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested a costly tariff war with China could be resolved soon.

Long-term diplomatic relationships and trade continuity are a couple goals of most civilized countries. All was well and in close-to-perfect order until President Trump upset the trade relationship basket with his ill-conceived and reckless trade war. Due to Trump’s authoritarian populist challenge to democratic principles, a documented economic crisis now exists throughout the world.

Educated citizens worldwide know Trump’s pre-presidential business record clearly showed he’s not a long-term strategist. Trump’s six business bankruptcies were due to short-term thinking and poor execution, and past actions are the best predictor of future behavior. China, Russia and India are now hell-bent on taking advantage of Trump’s induced economic trade failure and are racing to be the world powers before a more trustworthy and long-term strategic thinking president comes into office.

Since the Ukraine crisis of 2014 and Trump’s 2016 presidential election, Russia has snuggled up to pro-China rhetoric, kicking American and European Union interests to the sideline. Russia acknowledges Trump’s isolationism-related trade war has caused America’s 189 allies to purposely shift their relationships away from United States toward China.

Russia recognizes China’s $1.3 trillion Belt and Road Initiative (circa 2013), which reaches out to 60 countries — that accounts for two-thirds of the world’s population — is a sphere of influence they want to be a partner with since their economy needs help. At the 2017 Valdai Discussion Club meeting of foreign policy minds, Russia’s leaders admitted China knew how to create economic growth better than themselves.

Russian leaders read the same history books we do and know two full-blown protectionist-based trade wars some 80 and 100 years ago were a contributing factor to two world wars. Not knowing what countries would be aligned should Trump’s tariff sanctions evolve into World War III, China may be the devil Russia knows and America, under Trump’s erratic flip-flopping-policy-by-Twitter behavior, is the devil they do not know or want to be associated with.

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Most knowledgeable Americans know China is as obsessed with overturning the heretofore American-led global order as is Russia. Enter a third partner, India. India is also upset with Trump’s tariffs on Indian goods and has been weaning itself away from the United States.

If China, Russia and India teamed up the impact would be considerable and dramatically threaten America’s diplomatic excellence and international trade relationships we’ve developed over the past 70 years. With China dominating the South China Sea, its Belt and Road Initiative and Made-In-China-2025 strategic plan, 13 seas and three oceans residing on Russia’s shores and India patrolling the Strait of Malacca, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean, the tripartite countries could easily control the world’s import-export distribution and supply-chain system.

The three countries joining hands is not a breaking news story. At the annual Group of 20 Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping specifically called on Russia’s Vladimir Putin and India’s Narendra Modi to “take on global responsibility to safeguard the fundamental and long-term interests ... promote a more multi-polar world and the democratization of international relationships,” meaning less dependence on a U.S.-led world order.

Leaders of the tripartite countries cheered when Trump withdrew from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, scolded NATO, the United Nations and World Trade Organization and berated leaders from Mexico, Canada and the European Union’s 28 countries. Evidence is replete Jinping, Putin and Modi are seizing the opportunity to fill the trade vacuum by aggressively extending their dominion with America’s heretofore 189 allies and trading partners.

To remain the strongest country in the world, we must acknowledge Trump’s June 15, 2018, short-sighted tariff sanction actions and witless knowledge of trade war history has damaged our domestic and international economic prowess. America’s global leadership status is in great peril.

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Steve Corbin is an emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect those of the University of Northern Iowa.


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