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Japanese business sentiment turns against China

Japanese business sentiment turns against China
Japanese business sentiment turns against China


Once a big fan of Chinese operations and a major source of Chinese investment, the Japanese business community has turned away. As Beijing struggles to get its economy back on track and is grappling with American and increasingly European hostility, this Japanese shift is unwelcome to say the least. This imposes an even tougher economic and financial challenge on President Xi Jinping and his associates in Beijing.

In taking this turn, Japanese companies have joined most other developed countries. Businesses in the United States and, to a lesser extent, the European Union (EU) have already lost confidence in China's former reputation for reliability. Supply chain disruptions during the pandemic, and then in the years that followed under the quarantines and lockdowns imposed by Beijing's zero-Covid policy, convinced many that the best option was to diversify supply outside of China, mainly to other Asian countries and, as far as the United States is concerned, to Latin America as well. These efforts not only cost China a source of economic dynamism and hiring, but also the investment flows on which the economy's growth trajectory depended.

As if this loss of business confidence was not enough, Western governments have also turned against China. Washington has become openly hostile. Biden, despite reflexively reversing everything Donald Trump had done, nevertheless maintained the tariffs on Chinese imports that Trump had put in place in 2018 and 2019. Biden has even expanded them, recently raising tariffs customs duties on electric vehicle (EV) parts manufactured in China. , and batteries, as well as solar panels, wind turbines, medical equipment, steel, aluminum and computer chips. The EU has not gone that far, but in response to what it describes as dumping of electric vehicles into its markets, it has also threatened to impose tariffs.

The Tokyo government has kept a low profile when it comes to tariffs or other anti-trade measures. However, he has shown his distrust of China in other ways. Because a few years ago, Beijing tried to punish Tokyo for its refusal to cede to China over disputed islands in the East China Sea, Beijing halted shipments of rare earth elements, Tokyo conducted a effort to put the world's developed economies in the best position. called on the G7 countries of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States to find and develop rare earth deposits outside China. But it is not the Japanese government that has been the most skeptical of China. It's a Japanese affair.

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A vast survey conducted by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry shows that a growing portion of its members see China's economic situation deteriorating for the rest of this year and beyond. And the change of opinion was sudden. As recently as last January, only about 39 percent of its members viewed China as economically weakening. That's not a small number, but it pales in comparison to more than half of those who expressed this opinion in the last poll in March-April. Nearly a quarter of respondents said they would reduce investment flows into China, and another quarter of respondents said they would not invest in China. Only 16% of respondents planned to increase their investments.

China, of course, has economic and financial problems more serious than the pessimism of the Japanese business community or even the hostility of Western governments. The country remains facing a real estate crisis of gigantic proportions, so large in fact that the government's recent trillion-yuan vacant home purchase program is falling short of needs. Chinese consumers have lost confidence in the future and are reluctant to spend, while private companies in China have reduced investment and hiring. It would help if Japan were favorably disposed towards Chinese trade and investment. The fact that this is not the case makes the hill Beijing must climb to return to prosperity even steeper, rockier and taller.




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