Signs that China is feeling the pressure

The big news from China is that there were no Chinese incursions into Japanese waters around the Senkaku Islands in December:

You can tell from that chart when President Xi was promoted to running China.  It was the sudden rush of Chinese incursions, driven by Xi's nasty and aggressive stance to China's neighbors.  Last December was the first zero count since his election.  The decision to have no incursions may have been his, or it might reflect turmoil within the regime.  The drum beat of war in Asia has stopped for the moment.

The rapid contraction in Chinese manufacturing late last year may be related to the sudden end to provocations.  To put the significance of that plummet into context, let's examine what happened to death rates in the United States for white males, age 50-54, over the last couple of decades.

That is figure 5, of deaths per 100,000 for the age group 50 to 54, from a paper by Case and Deaton in 2017 entitled "Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century."  What happened about the year 2001 was that the death rate among white non-Hispanics in the United States started climbing, and has more than doubled.  That was also the year that China was allowed to become a member of the World Trade Organization, so Chinese-made goods would be subject to a lower tariff rate.  U.S. jobs went to China; the newly unemployed started killing themselves through alcoholism, opioid abuse, and suicide, thus the trend of the red line in the graph above.

Once manufacturing operations shifted, then there was a certain stickiness.  But Trump's tariffs have caused companies to shift again.  From this article:

No one wants to risk paying tariffs and no one wants to be in a situation where a critical component can be banned and force an entire product's re-design.  The risks are just too high and Trump's next moves are seen as too unpredictable.  While no one is happy about impairing fixed infrastructure or dealing with the chaos of rapidly re-making a whole supply chain, Trump has taken a multi-year process and accelerated it into a few quarters.  Dozens of companies spoke of going from 50-70% "at-risk to China," to no China exposure in 6 months.  That's stunning rate of change.  Once it is in motion, it won't be reversed – no matter what agreement Trump can reach with Xi.  I'm not smart enough to figure out all the second order effects of this change – however, I know who loses badly.  There's a reason that China's manufacturing economy is collapsing.

Trump's tariffs won't bring the dead back to life, and the jobs leaving China might go to India, Vietnam, and the like, but at least those countries don't want to kill us.  And the stronger they are, the better they will be in coping with Chinese aggression.  But the job of curtailing Chinese aggression has only started.

The big news from China is that there were no Chinese incursions into Japanese waters around the Senkaku Islands in December:

You can tell from that chart when President Xi was promoted to running China.  It was the sudden rush of Chinese incursions, driven by Xi's nasty and aggressive stance to China's neighbors.  Last December was the first zero count since his election.  The decision to have no incursions may have been his, or it might reflect turmoil within the regime.  The drum beat of war in Asia has stopped for the moment.

The rapid contraction in Chinese manufacturing late last year may be related to the sudden end to provocations.  To put the significance of that plummet into context, let's examine what happened to death rates in the United States for white males, age 50-54, over the last couple of decades.

That is figure 5, of deaths per 100,000 for the age group 50 to 54, from a paper by Case and Deaton in 2017 entitled "Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century."  What happened about the year 2001 was that the death rate among white non-Hispanics in the United States started climbing, and has more than doubled.  That was also the year that China was allowed to become a member of the World Trade Organization, so Chinese-made goods would be subject to a lower tariff rate.  U.S. jobs went to China; the newly unemployed started killing themselves through alcoholism, opioid abuse, and suicide, thus the trend of the red line in the graph above.

Once manufacturing operations shifted, then there was a certain stickiness.  But Trump's tariffs have caused companies to shift again.  From this article:

No one wants to risk paying tariffs and no one wants to be in a situation where a critical component can be banned and force an entire product's re-design.  The risks are just too high and Trump's next moves are seen as too unpredictable.  While no one is happy about impairing fixed infrastructure or dealing with the chaos of rapidly re-making a whole supply chain, Trump has taken a multi-year process and accelerated it into a few quarters.  Dozens of companies spoke of going from 50-70% "at-risk to China," to no China exposure in 6 months.  That's stunning rate of change.  Once it is in motion, it won't be reversed – no matter what agreement Trump can reach with Xi.  I'm not smart enough to figure out all the second order effects of this change – however, I know who loses badly.  There's a reason that China's manufacturing economy is collapsing.

Trump's tariffs won't bring the dead back to life, and the jobs leaving China might go to India, Vietnam, and the like, but at least those countries don't want to kill us.  And the stronger they are, the better they will be in coping with Chinese aggression.  But the job of curtailing Chinese aggression has only started.