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Beware of the spread of ‘Chinese syndrome’ in the wake of COVID-19




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Out of consideration for China, the World Health Organization (WHO) refused to allow Taiwan to participate as an observer in its annual meeting. It reminds me of “Stockholm syndrome”.

When hostages are held by terrorists, they experience feelings of gratitude towards the perpetrators for providing them with food and permission to use the toilet, and gradually develop a positive attitude towards them.

It was China that sparked the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan, which plunged the world into a major recession as it spread. Today, the Xi Jinping administration is providing developing countries with COVID-19 vaccines made in China and investing in their infrastructure.

The vaccine made in China has not been well received by the Chinese people, who fear side effects. In fact, the government has had to give gifts of cooking oil to those who get vaccinated.

RELATED: China uses pandemic to impose political agenda, says Taiwanese foreign minister

Yet for countries terrified of the spread of COVID-19, vaccines are like long-awaited rain in a crippling drought. Struggling with the recession and a shortage of foreign exchange, developing countries are turning to China for the construction of bridges and highways. Many developing countries have “thanked” China, and the WHO has therefore come to respond to China’s calls for tenders.

Taiwan’s participation as an observer is clear international justice given the praise Taiwan has received for keeping COVID-19 at bay. In this world battered by COVID-19, it is not Stockholm syndrome, but the “China syndrome” that we are facing.

Marion Koopmans, right, and Peter Ben Embarek, center, of the WHO team bid farewell to their Chinese counterpart Liang Wannian, left, after a joint WHO-China study into the origins of COVID-19 ( AP Photo / Ng Han Guan, File)

Xi Jinpings’ grand scheme

Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and President of the People’s Republic of China, has no qualms about expanding dependence on China across the world as part of his hegemonic strategy to defeat the other great powers.

According to an issue of the CCP’s theory newspaper “Qiushi” published last November, on April 10, 2020 in a speech at an internal party meeting, Xi said, “We must strengthen the world’s dependence on it. of our supply chain to form a strong counterattack and deterrent against foreign countries trying to cut our supply.

When it comes to the raw materials needed to make masks and other medical products, high-tech parts and batteries for electric vehicles (EVs), it’s as if China says it will supply them when the countries are. obedient and grateful. But if they are not obedient, exports will be restricted.

The time for Xi’s grand edict came just as the spread of COVID-19 was slowing in China and the pandemic was on track to wreak havoc around the world. I was horrified by the extent of his future shenanigans.

Yet many countries are playing Xi’s game.

The leader of the free world, the United States, is becoming increasingly dependent on China again. The United States’ trade deficit with China has started to increase again since the start of the Biden administration, increasing by 46% in the period January-March 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. This is due to the increased imports of digital products and other goods from China.

After regaining influence in the White House under the Biden administration, the big financial firms of Wall Street gained a foothold in Hong Kong, the international financial market where the Xi administration has tightened its political control, to develop business. securities with China and gain ground in Shanghai.

It’s no wonder that no matter how much the Biden administration advocates the international “encirclement” of China, its policies lack power and effectiveness.

The Japanese case of China syndrome

As for our country, Japan may have been suffering from China Syndrome for some time.

Despite the Xi administration’s destruction of autonomy in Hong Kong and the elimination of pro-democracy forces, and its relentless crackdown on human rights in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the Japanese National Diet has failed. refrained from taking concrete measures. He did not even pass a resolution of condemnation. Pro-Chinese factions occupy the majority of the ruling party, and the majority of opposition parties do not have the nerve to criticize China.

Our soft political stance towards China has its own economic context. The graph shows the changes in Japan’s and China’s nominal gross domestic product (GDP) and Japan’s foreign credit. Japan’s GDP is also shown in dollars for comparison with China.

Japan’s GDP did not suddenly start to decline in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether expressed in yen or dollars, Japan’s GDP has stabilized or declined since the late 1990s.

As I have pointed out repeatedly in this column and elsewhere, the main culprit is chronic deflation, which depresses domestic demand.

In contrast, China’s dollar-denominated GDP has grown rapidly, reaching three times the size of Japan in 2020, and widening the gap even further. With domestic demand plummeting, Japanese companies are becoming increasingly dependent on China.

Japan’s foreign credit follows a similar trajectory to that of Chinese GDP. It can be described as surplus funds that are not used at the national level.

These are mainly foreign direct investment and investment in securities, and one of the main destinations for direct investment is China.

Much of the investment in securities invigorates major international financial markets like New York and drives down dollar interest rates. Here, China could issue foreign bonds and use them to finance domestic investments and the expansion of its interests in the “One Belt, One Road” project, a huge economic zone destined to take over the world.

The China Syndrome is no stranger to the economic vacuum in Japan.


(Find access to the Sankei Shimbun report in Japanese on this link.)

Author: Hideo Tamura, Senior Editor

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