An Instagram post gets an unexpected boost Tick-Tock catches in the algorithm sometimes that’s all it takes to launch someone in to internet Fame.
But then what this blew up is a new podcast documentary that reveals how social media stardom is made, it’s a different kind of Fame.
That’s not always as glamorous as it looks from Spotify and the ringer podcast Network, I will list the Perez neck.
You can listen to this blew up on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
Today’s episode is about China’s turn toward authoritarianism and the prospects that an invasion of Taiwan could kick off World War 3.
If you don’t know a lot about China, if you are interested in or astonished from afar by its covid 0 policy or by it’s alarming saber-rattling toward Taiwan or its relationship with Russia.
Or its animosity toward its biggest Tech Founders or the possible collapse of its economic Growth story or even by the awkward relationship between the Chinese Communist party and Tick Tock the most important social media app in America.
If you’re interested in all this stuff, but you kind of don’t know where to begin.
You can’t see the full picture.
Then you and I are in the same boat, I am not a China expert at all, but I’m fascinated by all of this and I’m alarmed by all of this.
I am alarmed by the new direction of the country’s politics.
And by the character of its leader Asian pain.
Today, today’s guest is an expert in all things China.
His name is Bill, Bishop Bill writes, the incredibly popular cynicism newsletter.
He has a new podcast out called sharp China and he had been writing about and talking about China for years.
And in this episode, we discussed my biggest fears and questions.
What is happening to the Chinese economy?
Is you Jinping a tyrant?
And if he chooses to invade Taiwan is that World War 3?
I’m Derrick Thompson.
This is plain English.
Bill Bishop, welcome to the podcast.
Thanks for having me.
I’d like to start with you.
Personally, tell me how long you’ve been researching China, learning about China and writing about China.
So I guess I have to disclose my age, huh?
I actually started, studying Chinese in college in 1986.
I went to Middlebury he and I first went to Beijing in 1989, in the spring on a junior year.
Second semester abroad arrived in January left in late June, and was there during the sort of protest and Crackdown in Tiananmen Square.
Then I went to Taiwan for a year 1990 91 that I worked in Beijing from late 91 to midnight III.
Came back to you as for grad school ended up going out to Silicon Valley to But it was how to date a business in China joint venture that blew up.
But at that company, we founded what became marketwatch.com.
So, for a while, I did nothing related to China, I was it Mark watch.com.
We took it public in 1999, sold it to Dow Jones in and a 2004, early 2005, and about that time.
I moved to Beijing to try and do an online gaming startup with a friend of mine.
And then I end up living in Beijing for 10 years, move back here to DC and 2015.
So we have a couple things that line up there.
I was born in 1986, I was in China in 2005.
My dad was obsessed with China when I was younger, and we went the year after my freshman year, we went to Beijing to Xian.
We went all the way up to kashgar in sinkiang and urumqi all the way out in the west where you cannot go frankly, as a Westerner anymore.
In fact, it for a lot of people, you can’t go as, as a Chinese person either.
And so I do, I’m not an expert in China, disappointing, my dad.
But I am just utterly fascinated by what’s happening in that country right now and the geopolitical implications of this incredible moment that we’re seeing.
So tell me as someone who has been looking at China for three, four decades.
There’s a lot of media heat around the fact that we are entering a new era in history in China.
What do you think is different about this moment in history from everything that you’ve seen in the past.
Well, the new era is actually what she Jinping in the Communist Party cause it themselves.
What’s really different I think is, you know, China is is Rich and powerful, and it has a leader who just in the last few weeks has broken.
What we’re assuming to be these Norms around political leadership in China, and is now on his third term, as the General Secretary of the Communist party.
So I think that, you know, we’re from outside of China, We’re seeing a China that they talk about how China stood up China got rich.
And now, China is getting strong.
And so part of this era and this is what the Chinese the the she peeing in the Communist Party, what they say.
And so we’re in very much the getting strong phase.
And so we’re seeing a China that really for the for the first time in a couple centuries.
But really in many ways forever, is truly a actor in every Dimension really everywhere.
And so it’s a real adjustment for everybody to figure out how to absorb and adjust and deal with that.
It’s interesting to think the China Sea that geopolitical power has never been larger than this in the multi thousand year, history of the country of the nation of the people.
I want to talk about how G represents a departure from history specifically.
So in October as you said, China’s leaders use and ping, secured is Groundbreaking third term.
What should Americans?
Who aren’t consistently following the China headlines?
What should they know about G?
That makes him different from his predecessors in China?
Well, you know, to see there is there is a lot of continuity with his predecessors but the real I think divergences are that he is, he’s a sort of second generation son.
One of the early leaders.
So he’s really more of a man on a mission.
He really does believe that he is the guy to deliver what they call the great Rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
And he’s also been able through various Maneuvers campaigns imaginations to become the most powerful leader, or now it looks like in China since Mi is the one who died in 1976.
And so he now coming out of the 20th party Congress.
It concluded at the end of October, he really is unchallenged as the leader of the country.
And so, you know, that can mean that if he makes good policies, things could happen, and that could be positive.
But it also means that, you know, when someone has so much individual power, the potential for policy errors, both domestically and globally are pretty significant or pretty, or pretty elevated.
So let’s talk about the GI genda and I think one place we can, Art is with zero covid.
China is to my mind the only country in the world maybe the only major country in the world that is still pursuing a policy of trying to zero out covid spread while at the same time rejecting the MRNA vaccines that were produced in the west help us explain why is G doing this so so when China when covid first hit, you know try to lock down Wuhan for many Weeks and basically, for pretty soon period of time after that there was life was almost normal in China.
They closed the borders effectively, but life inside China was fairly normal.
You know, people Mass, do you have to check the these, you have an app where you have to sort of scan, your code and get tested on a regular basis.
You know, the, the the even through Delta, they were okay.
Omicron has really messed things up, but for the first couple years after the, after the outbreak, it will hon, you know, it.
Is that it was a massive victory for Tata, they avoided Mass death, they avoided Mass sickness, they avoided Mass economic dislocations, except at the beginning, the first few weeks, a couple months after, after the initial outbreak.
And but, so there’s, there’s a lot of popular support for what they’ve done and they’ve done a very good job.
I mean, in many ways, you know, they have a powerful propaganda apparatus.
But at the same time, the propagator writes itself, where they’re talking about how other countries especially the US and in the west mishandled covid-19.
And in terms of misinformation vaccinations Mass death Etc.
What happened though?
Was so there was a almost two year period where things were going reasonably.
Well, there were some occasional lockdowns of cities but there really wasn’t it really didn’t get bad in terms of things, maybe this Dynamic zero covered policy is caught up.
Super messed-up way around the locks down in Shanghai in april-may where you lock down, you know, one of the most Cosmopolitan cities in the world.
Possibly people, cause the huge, huge problems, food insecurity.
Some people did starve to death or Fair number of suicides Etc.
And so, you know, the problem China faces though is, you know, even even with, if they had to take it in the MRNA vaccines, you know, they don’t as we’ve learned unfortunately it’ll perk they don’t prevent the spread the transmission, right.
They do they do have a lot of efficacy in reducing severe illness and death.
The Chinese vaccines are also relatively good at reducing severe illness.
The strange thing though is even though China, you know, can be a very coercive, the government can be very coercive, the vaccination efforts were surprisingly, soft touch and so there’s a significant group of elderly who are unvaccinated and so it really is likely that if they were to just basically say okay we’re done where you’ll let it.
Rip that they would have a pretty massive outbreak at a lot of deaths.
Among the senior populations.
I mean, the the sort of the closest analog is probably Hong Kong where they had really a lot of elderly people die.
And if, on a per capita basis about what happened in China, it would be probably in the hundreds of thousands and that would obviously be a humanitarian disaster and economic disaster, but it would also be a huge political problem for Xi Jinping.
The leadership, because they staked a huge amount of legitimacy on putting human life.
First, what they say protecting the people in comparison with the with the sort of crumbling Western systems.
And so it’s, this is, this has become this fight against Cobra.
This Dynamic zero covid has become a part of the our system is better than their system propaganda.
And so if they end up having to pull back and they have similar scenes of massive mess illness Mass death that destroys that propaganda bit and it and the other problem, two is China as rich and Powerful it is.
And now is its Health infrastructure is still not great.
And so it could very quickly become overwhelmed and what they, you know, one of their problems is they have no natural immunity to the Virus in the in the country because they’ve actually had so few cases officially.
I think they say they have a less than a million cases.
The data is probably not completely accurate, maybe it’s an order of magnitude, more of gotten sick but it’s not like half the country’s gotten covid at some point, right?
And so, they just don’t have the natural immunity.
That’s a, we have here in the US.
I want to go back to something.
You said you said that China in part pursued, this policy of zero covid to protect people, but their policy, as practiced in Shanghai.
He led to people starving to death and led to suicides which I have to imagine if the same thing happened in the US, it would be an absolute National Scandal.
I mean people would rise up and say these lockdowns in.
What’s the equivalent of New York City are causing people to starve in Manhattan in Brooklyn, they’re throwing themselves off of roofs are killing themselves.
What was the national response?
To the news that people in Shanghai were starving during these lockdowns.
Well, you know, the media is pretty well controlled and so it wasn’t a national conversation.
A lot of this was not known or not known at the time.
A lot of anger in Shanghai.
A lot of disappointment, you know, expectations that the Shanghai government especially was always seen as the most competent in China, and it turned out to be incompetent.
At least when it came to handling covid.
But you know, I think I think the answer that is pretty mixed.
There are other, you know, not everyone was sympathetic because Shanghai is sometimes seen as arrogant and it was sort of like, okay, they get with some other places have gotten, which is unfortunate.
But in general it was it was I think a sort of broader especially in Shanghai where you have again a lot of you know, lot of middle-class people upper middle class People people who really bought into the way that the China has been developing.
It was pretty shocking for a lot of people to see how quickly whatever rights they thought they had.
Could just be taken away in pursuit of this Dynamic zero covid.
Now, China has a very good.
What they call stability maintenance system, effectively, various various bits of security services that are focused on preventing things like Mass protests.
Things like, you know, significant, what they call public opinion incidents, where sort of stuff goes right on line gets me really pissed off.
Off and so, you know, they people the cost of anything like protests or you know are high and so it’s very far from the bad experience in Shanghai and people being upset and some people being food insecure and you know, some people actually starving and committing suicide to any sort of a mass protest.
I mean, that’s just, it’s a, it’s still, it’s still not there yet in terms of how upset people are.
Because again, for the most part at least up until March, most people, This even though there was it was inconvenient, the fact remains that, it’s still had a better outcome for most people than and say living here in the u.s. at least, that’s how its viewed because of the way, partially reality, partially the propaganda.
So, covid 0 represents one aspect of the extraordinary.
Crackdown, that’s been a part of G’s agenda.
Another aspect of that, absolute power has been what’s happened in China’s Tech Community last year, my friend, the writer Noah Smith wrote.
This piece that went everywhere called Boat.
Why is China smashing?
Its tech industry and quote and he pointed out that the Chinese government seems to be cracking down on consumer tech companies.
They’ve called video games spiritual opium, but at the same time they’re pairing that strategy of smashing their consumer-facing internet software companies with a strategy that seems to elevate a national industrial policy.
Like, for example, subsidizing the manufacturing of semiconductors, how do you You make sense of China’s Tech policy right now where they seem to be smashing some things while elevating others.
So I think there is an element of a push to redirect Capital towards sort of more tangibly productive things that fit into sort of the broader strategic goals of the of the Communist party around things.
Like semiconductor is what they call sort of chokepoint Technologies which are the sort of key hard core technology that The US has a bit of it has a Stranglehold on and at this and in some cases is actually doing the choking around China.
I think a little bit too simplistic to sort of say that the crackdowns were solely based on that, you know, you look at a general move or last few years in the CTP era to rein in some of the private entrepreneurs to sort of inject the party everywhere and to check the sort of The Growing Power of some of The bigger private entrepreneurs, the jab, the Crackdown on Ali, pay and Jack ma can use pause and say who those two people are.
Jack ma founded Alibaba, one point, I think was the richest man in China.
He was, he was, he had launched the company launched the sort of a kind of like, PayPal but called Ali pay, but then it became really a platform for all sorts of loan products, lending products and they were going to go public might have been the biggest IPO ever.
I think if you’re one of the biggest IPOs ever, and this was probably two years.
Go and right before I was about to go public the government, Crackdown and Jack mod sort of disappeared from public view for a while.
The company’s never recovered Ali.
Baba’s never really recovered.
But the point the point there was, is there was, I think a combination of factors that were, it wasn’t so obvious at all.
It’s about, we need to redeploy this Capital the chips, for example, you know, there was a clipping of The wings of a very sort of popular private entrepreneur.
There was also the fact that Ali pay was the, it’s the way it’s lending platform work.
It was actually transmitting.
A huge amount of risk into the financial system and they were skimming off the profits and the company itself wasn’t taking on the risk, but they were basically passing it throughout the system.
And in, I think really magnifying some of the financial risks in the Chinese economy.
But but the the net result was a very chilling message to a lot of private entrepreneurs.
There were the Crackdown on what they call these platform companies.
Ali Baba being one other ones like made Swan which sort of does you know food delivery and a whole bunch of other stuff and it was a broadly speaking.
It was a combination of there’s for example there’s one of the things that got really hot for a while.
Was these some like Community grocery sis sites?
Where you would basically you get together with a group of your neighbors and you could buy a bunch of groceries cheap and get them delivered and they were undercutting In local stores and all these businesses were losing money.
They were subsidized by hundreds of millions or billions of venture capital money.
And it was, it was basically just pissing money away to excuse my French and, and I think the government said this is bad for everybody.
We’re exploiting workers to explain the different delivery.
People you’re destroying local businesses.
You know, this is not a productive use of capital.
And so again, it is not a free market economy.
And so it was part of the we need to redirect this Capital into more productive uses while at the same time.
Sort of constricting, some of the private entrepreneurs, making sure that they’re sort of Towing, the line a little better.
The net result I think has been has been quite chilling and it is symptomatic.
I think of a broader shift in China Under Siege in peeing.
Away from Cana, the Go-Go capitalism like activities to a much more controlled regulated set of activities that are have much more From the Communist party, that’s a great answer.
So it’s not just about industrial policies saying, we want fewer consumer tech companies and we want more no fighting and share it if you want but it’s how it’s multi-dimensional.
Yeah, I mean talk to the chilling effect, this has or might have on the next generation of entrepreneurs, like I don’t want to, I don’t want to do that.
The simplistic American thing, where I just apply everything that’s happening in China and say what if that happened here?
But I just can’t imagine that any country in the world.
World doing this to a generation of respected.
Entrepreneurs wouldn’t have some chilling effect on either foreign direct investment or Global entrepreneurs wanting to move from some country into a China and America a UK.
I mean, what are the downstream effects on the technicality of China piece?
Or if you’re, if you’re doing investing around for biotech or semiconductors, this is the kind of a golden era.
All right, because a lot there’s a lot of policy support a lot of money.
A lot of startups and too many, the most of will probably blow up, but but, but if you’re starting another ride sharing or another like group buying thing, then you just forget about it, right?
And, you know, that it’s not necessarily bad right, there are too many of those things, right?
I mean, you know, who needs another?
Go pasta, Cisco, puff right, blow up, all that money.
The in terms of the global sort of its age, See because it has had a it’s one of the things that has I think has been has a significant impact on the valuations of the Chinese firms that were listed overseas.
Who are, you know down pretty significantly the last two years, not solely because this, obviously the markets down to, but it had definitely had an impact.
It has had an impact on a lot of Global Investors views of sort of the the invest ability of Chinese in Chinese startups.
It is also, you know, it’s interesting on the one hand, Hand Xi Jinping and they’ve started a new effort to really attract Global Talent for key sectors of the economy, you know, specifically around biotech around hard harder technology.
But at the same time, I think a lot of these things are also chilling.
So so that maybe they don’t want the digital, nobody shows up in Beijing or Shanghai to do another consumer internet startup.
But if you’re somebody who wants to go there and do a chip startup, as long as the US government, now doesn’t block From doing that, you’re probably going to be welcome.
Everybody talked about the relationship, this to coupling between the US and China, just a second.
I want to make sure that we hit the economic downturn because it would be one thing if China was pursuing this policy.
When its annual GDP growth rate was 8, 9 10 percent.
As it was 15 years ago or if there was no problem in the real estate industry.
But instead, the real estate boom is over and China’s, growth has crashed too.
I don’t even know low single digits.
Maybe the entire country is in a recession.
Why don’t you give me a temperature?
Check on how you see the state of the Chinese economy right now.
Do you believe that they are in a recession?
I think you just say the economy is probably the worst since I’ve been an adult.
You know there just is.
A lot of the easy money has been made.
A lot of the easy growth has happened.
They have been on a long term.
It’s a multi-year attempt to reduce Financial risks in the economy which which involves Not necessarily fully deleveraging but slowing down the growth of Leverage and you know the biggest problem or the one of the biggest problems is the real estate market which which at its height was probably real estate and its various related Industries was like a fifth or so of the Chinese economy.
I think that you know, you’ve got Global headwinds.
You’ve got that image 0 covid and so it’s a it’s a very very difficult time and you know, they’ve talked for years about making certain reforms Arms.
There was a lot of excitement in 2013 where Adam at one of the sort of annual meetings of the Communist Party Central Committee.
They put out this big that this big reform document that got people really excited because it looked like it’d be listed out a whole bunch of really important reforms that people have been arguing.
They should do for years.
And on the economic stuff they didn’t do that much, right?
And so and so they really feels like they lost.
They had a window.
They didn’t do it.
They decided to Take a different approach a much more State should have an approach much.
You know, what looks to be more inefficient approach and so it’s it’s it’s a difficult period with at this point.
Not a lot of reason to see that the economy is going to sort of have any sort of structural improvements in the near term.
You know what other things are dealing with is a pretty significant unemployment rate among like recent College grads people in their He’s, you know, and that in part is from some of these crackdowns.
We talked early about these Tech crackdowns, you know, they see there’s a very there’s a booming tutoring industry, right?
Where huge pressure, you have kids, you know, you go to school and then you spent hours a day doing extra tutoring, right?
Because it’s all focused on the the various exams for like the best Middle School, the best high school and then college that really determine your future in a lot of ways.
And so families were kids kids were like killing themselves too.
To do this.
Tutoring families were spending huge amounts of money to get a leg up and she’s paying decided that this was bad for a lot of reasons, including that it was leading people to not want to have more children because the burdens were too high.
And so basically over the course of a month, just destroy the entire industry and put hundreds of thousands of people out of work and what we’re pretty good white collar jobs.
The last element that I want to talk about, in terms of the economy is what seems to be an emerging decoupling between the US and China.
Apple recently announced that they are looking to shift production out of China into other countries like Vietnam.
Clearly, the last six months of policymaking from the White House and Democrats like the chips act represents to me a sort of new interest and research.
During the manufacturing of chips and becoming less dependent on.
As you call them choke point Technologies.
The right now are manufactured in places like China.
How serious do you think this economic decoupling is right now?
I mean, I think it’s, it’s it’s pretty serious.
The, you know, really it started really in the Trump Administration with the the trade actions.
It’s very hard to couple in a lot of ways you know, the and I think that At that, not all the data, reflect the decisions that some of the big corporations are making in terms of where they’re putting their new Investments or how, you know, not many are pulling out of China but they’re sort of redirecting or building building sort of redundant Supply chains outside of China.
But China is a huge Market.
It’s a very hard to decouple from China and it’s also a produces a whole bunch of stuff that Americans like to buy cheaply and so it but in general, I think from a structural perspective, The trend is towards more of the coupling fold, the coupling would be incredibly economically painful for both sides.
All in technology, you know these recent export controls around, semiconductor sort of bits of the semiconductor sort of chain are definitely a more aggressive or a broader move by the US government to Decouple at the sort of more advanced and from the, from the from China and, you know, apples a great example, though, Apple throughout the Trump Administration throughout the trade, the trade battles over that period.
Apple really didn’t seem that worried.
They did a lot of work with Chinese government.
They did a lot of work with the US government.
They really felt like they could sort of navigate and not really be impacted by the tariffs.
What my understanding is, what has really freaked Apple out was the Shylock Out.
And now they have the jungle like that, right?
Where they basically messed up Christmas for Apple, right?
Because they’re going to can’t produce this.
Many of the top-end iPhones as they as they have demand for for Christmas.
And so I think they you know, Tim Cook built his career in been tops has written about this a lot.
Including I think this week, I mean really built his career on building the supply chains in China.
And and and now I think my view is they, you know, they waited too long.
It’s really hard to do.
Do that Reliance on China?
And even though for example, they’re pushing production into Vietnam for some things or pushy production to the India, you know that the Chinese companies who are their suppliers, go with them.
So they’re still relying on the Chinese supply chain there, just the Chinese companies, the suppliers still get their stuff made in China, right?
So, they’re still vulnerability, even though they’re putting together, India or putting together in Vietnam, when I add all this up, it seems like the bear case.
For China is not very difficult to make the real estate industry is in deep trouble.
Their consumer tech industry is in trouble.
They’re covid. 0 policies shuts down, metros the size of 1020 million, people, who knows when I’m acronis incredibly unpredictable.
That level of unpredictability is absolute Kryptonite to multinational corporations who do not want to be surprised by the global Supply chains.
And so as result companies, like, Are pulling out of China and trying to rebalance toward places like Vietnam.
And you have this entire country which is essentially under the thumb of one man.
And one man is always going to be more unpredictable than a slow-moving system.
I mean that seems to me like a pretty clear bear case.
What is the bull case for China over the next decade one is if everyone has perished, you know, if everyone thinks it’s not, it’s because, you know, we’ve been through the sort of various versions of these China collapse idea for 20-plus years, right?
And in generally making the bet that it’s going to collapse has been a poor decision.
I do feel like this time like I said earlier this is the worst economy that I’ve known as an adult.
I do think that there are a lot more risks.
There’s a lot more geopolitical risk.
The the bull case would be, you know it depends on what kind of investor you are depends on who you are.
I think if you’re in Asia or you’re Chinese, Esther, you know, big swaths of China are still still in need of a lot of development and all sorts of different sectors.
And, you know, there’s still a lot of lot of policies around.
You know, renewable energy Evie’s.
A lot of lot of policies around various parts, various bits of Biotech semiconductors hard, tech, defense, military, industrial establishment.
So, there are a lot of places where people are going to make a lot of money.
By making the right bets.
Over the next five to ten years.
I think it may not be the case that Americans can Purdue that you said you were worried about geopolitical risk.
So we should finally talk about Taiwan Ben Rhodes, the former speechwriter and Deputy National Security advisor to Barack Obama.
Just published a long essay in the Atlantic entitled.
Taiwan prepares to be invaded and I want to read an excerpt of that article to you and get your reaction quote fate.
Has placed Taiwan and Ukraine in similar positions, both have giant neighbors, who once ruled them.
As Imperial possessions, both have undergone Democratic Transformations and have thus become an ideological danger to the autocrats, who covet their territory, just as Putin has made the Erasure of Ukraine sovereignty Central to his political Project G has vowed to unify China and Taiwan by force if necessary.
And quote, Bill, How concerned are you about?
The potential for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
Well, I’ll be just to be clear on that bit for Ben Rhodes.
I mean, she’s policies towards water and our first I want to knock different than his predecessors in the sense that, you know, this Altima lie.
The view is always at all.
Typically they would Taiwan would be would be become part of or quote returned as they would say, or liberated to become part of the part of the PRC.
No, I mean, I think that, you know, when the US and China Um, sort of rebuilt relations of the 70s they created this kind of Ruble Rube Goldberg, sort of a framework to deal with the issue of Taiwan.
That that was very ambiguous ambiguous, could be interpreted differently by each side.
It worked for several decades as long as no one poke too closely at it.
It worked also because taina was relatively weak.
Didn’t actually have or was it approaching the actual capabilities to resolve this issue by force, if needed.
And there was the belief in Beijing that over time, they could work with the Taiwan authorities to achieve, some sort of a political solution.
The political solution solution appears to be dead because of the rise of Taiwanese identity.
The what happened in Hong Kong over the last couple of years, the rise of Xi Jinping various factors.
There’s there’s almost no support now inside Taiwan for any sort of an accommodation with the PRC, make sure it’s really important to to stop here.
And have you explain a little bit about what’s happened to Hong Kong over the last few years because it really is core.
I think to the fears in Taiwan of China.
Well I was just that’s idea that there could be some sort of a one country two systems approach where you Be one country, but Hong Kong.
You can have a different system for 50 years, and then, oh, Taiwan we can work something out.
We have a different system and after the protests, and the Crackdown, and these various new laws and just a bunch of different things that that Beijing has done in Hong Kong the idea of two systems.
Now is really no one, no one, it’s not attractive.
Say if you’re a democracy to then go into that kind of a to system, right?
It’s really increasing looks like one country one system and so The the the result from the changes in Hong Kong.
Again we’re just a further blow to any sort of realistic hope or realistic belief.
I should say because not everyone hopes for this.
But realistic belief that there was any sort of a feasible political solution to the issue of Taiwan and the PRC.
And so now the status quo that we’ve had for 40 plus years is unraveling All right, and it’s unraveling a lot of different ways which is what concerns me the most.
Like, if you’re going at 10% a year internally, you don’t have to expand externally.
It’s enough work just to keep everything going inside.
When you’re coupled is China, was coupled with the US by trade, you’re working together as trade Partners to grow that trade on an annual basis, when you’re dealing with a leader, like, who, who respects tradition and doesn’t seek a sort of groundbreaking third term.
There is a kind of sort of traditional predictability there.
But all of that is unraveling on top of evidence that China’s becoming more threatening to Taiwan.
So, just in the last 36 months, Chinese officials have continued to claim that the entirety of the Taiwan Strait belongs to China Chinese warplanes regularly, violate taiwan’s, air defense identification Zone during the military exercises, conducted after policies, visit to Taiwan China, shot missiles over Taiwan and circled it with Worships the kind of maneuver that might have hinted at a future blockade.
I mean, when I put all that together, it makes me pretty concerned because China, invading Taiwan is an sort of an unfathomable to me.
I don’t know what the US does in response to it.
I mean, the people that you talk to how worried are they about this being, you know, a a possibility, a probability.
It certainly seems more possible.
It did just a few years ago and people are increasingly worried.
And again, because it is not, it’s hard, it’s hard to see how the status quo prevails.
And so if that goes away, then what’s what’s next?
I mean, you can’t, I want is not Ukraine.
Taiwan military has a lot of problems Taiwan politically has not shown the will to fix the military and build it up in the way that say the ukrainians did after. 2014 that may be changing but it’s pretty slow.
It is unlikely.
If there were some sort of real crisis military crisis that you know, the we would not the US should not expect any of the European countries to support it.
I mean, Japan is, is quite concerned and quite freaked out because Taiwan is very close to Japan and it would be a big problem for them.
If Taiwan were actually were controlled by the by the PRC.
But it’s a, it’s an unthinkable, be a disaster, it would be, you know, you’ll be you’ll be having your fancy iPhone will have to last several years because there won’t be any chip manufacturing for the Next Generation for quite some time, right?
It because Taiwan dominates the semiconductor industry as well tsmc.
And and say more about that, you know, I mean, they make, they make the most of their ships in the world in Taiwan and so So it’s a no it’s a really scary, it’s very scary and you know it’s interesting here in d.c. there has been a real cycling up of this talk about how you know both from the US government and therefore people are from people outside.
The government parts of the DC, sort of foreign policy World about how, you know, she the Chinese side is accelerated, its timeline.
You know, the risk is the risk is, you know, something happening.
Very, you know, the next couple of years is significant.
I think that There’s no question.
The risk is increased.
It is a You know, you look at sort of the way the PRC is hardening its system from various ways over the last couple years.
They do seem like they’re preparing for a much more contentious friction filled potentially conflict filled relationship with the u.s.
So they are trying to, you know, they, you know, one of the lessons from what happened with Ukraine is well here are the different sanctions packages that the US and other countries imposed on Russia so that it’s for them, it’s an exercise to see what they Would do how they would impact the Chinese economy and how they can Harden, their Harden themselves to minimize the impact of similar sanctions, if something were that were to occur over Taiwan.
But, you know, you do hope that Rationality prevails because there’s no winners.
If they if there’s any sort of a conflict over Taiwan, it’s disaster for everybody.
You mentioned to be disaster for Taiwan.
It’d be a disaster for in a different way.
IPhone owners, your anyone wanting to update their iPhone due to taiwan’s dominance of the chip industry, give me one other spillover, effect of China taking Taiwan.
I just all of this is such an unfathomable to me, I don’t know.
This part of the world at all.
So it’s very difficult for me to even begin to war games.
We look at the what happened.
Look at the, the relationship, the US, Russia relationship.
That’s what the US China relationship would be, but it would be much more dislocating because there’s so much more in her linkages between the US and China.
But if this were to happen, you know, there’s there’s no way from sort of in the US domestic politics that any side of the aisle could be basically go.
Okay, we’ll figure it out and we’ll sort of figure out a go back to business, as usual.
It would be, it would be just like the way.
Things are with thanks and rush and attempt to globally.
This country except I did not watch more team.
Biggest GDP in the world, it’s number two.
But it would be much more much more damaging to the global economy.
Be damaged in the US economy.
It would be.
Again if this is there are it’s a disaster, right?
We have to figure out how this does not come to pass.
And you know, the problem is that I think people have been sleepwalking for too long.
And in some ways, it feels Like it’s were few years too late to try and address this issue and so the risks are like I said, earlier the risk of definitely increased.
I’m not in the camp that, you know, it’s going to happen in the next year or, you know, next couple years.
But I’m also not going to say it’s impossible.
Last question and try to make it a hard question.
But you know, you are widely read by people that are incredibly influential and have the power to make decisions in Washington, d.c. that could potentially at the margins affect the odds.
Of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
What do you tell policymakers, who reach out to you to say?
What can we do here?
Like we don’t Control G, we don’t control China but maybe our policies can help make this catastrophic outcome a little bit less likely.
So what can we do?
Well, you know, I think there are bits that the by Administration, you know, they get, they should get a lot of credit there.
They are doing more with our allies, but allies are not enough.
I think, you know, it’s Frustrating.
Because one of the one of the ways to sort of get sort of keep working with allies and again allies is not a Panacea but it will help.
Especially in Asia, is trade policy in the US?
Has no trade policy, the u.s. system.
It’s impossible for the u.s. to have a coherent trade policy because of domestic politics in terms of sort of you know one of the key things is I think being clear-eyed about the Sierra and she’s goals and aspirations and having a much More realistic view of trauma of what she wants, and what the party wants.
And also, like I said, sort of stop sleepwalking and recognize that what we see in Ukraine could definitely reoccur in Taiwan, you know, around t-shirt white.
I wanna particular, you know, the hard part right, is, it’s an easy rhetorical Target here in d.c., you know, people can get up, make a speech, talk tough on Taiwan.
It’s really important that the US government US Congress that they push Taiwan to take their defense much more.
Seriously because Taiwan itself has been sleepwalking for quite some time around its own defense.
And one of the risks is Taiwan Taiwan is very skilled at working public appeal working sort of Opinion in d.c. policy circles.
And one of the things I worry about is sort of the focus on the sort of Shifting opinion.
In those circles is disconnected from the reality of Taiwan and its ability to defend itself.
Because at the end of the day, if there is some sort of Crisis one taiwan’s, really far away, and would be really hard to resupply to, as we learn with Ukraine, we’re Putin, basically threatened, the use of nukes if If anyone intervened.
China’s nuclear power to so why wouldn’t the same equation holds, right?
And so again it is a, you know, and I think this is one of the reasons why the US the by Administration secretary blinken are becoming much more vocal about Taiwan as they’re trying to sort of rally like-minded countries to, at least, be much more focused on the increasing risks around Taiwan.
But at the end of the day, realistically, it’s a hundred or so miles from the mainland.
You know, it’s a very difficult.
Thing for the u.s. to help defend against if the pla wanted to take Taiwan, it’s also very difficult for the pla to take, but it’s, I don’t know.
I mean it’s, this is one of those questions where there are no good answers.
The best answer is, can we figure out how to just keep pretending for another few decades that this will somehow get resolved peacefully?
Eventually, which is what basically, the formula was starting in the 70s?
I mean, it’s a terrible answer.
No, it might just be that The menu is just full of terrible answers.
And that’s why I wanted to walk us through all the things that are happening under.
She’s rain because what scares me the most is the level of chaos, a level of unpredictability, not where you want to be, when there’s a possible, you know, war in Southeast.
Asia, emerging, Bill, Bishop, I really, really appreciate your help in helping us understand all of this.
Thank you very much.
Thank you for listening.
Plain English is produced by Devon manzi.
If you like the show, please go to Apple podcast or Spotify.
Give us a five star rating.
Leave a review and don’t forget to check out our Tick-Tock at plain English underscore.
Plain English underscore on tick-tock.