a reply to: CriticalStinker
China's cheap goods are like a drug, and we're addicted. If we split we go through withdrawals and detox. It would be rough.
It's worse than that. There is a serious chess game at play here, which I think very few actually understand.
First of all, one needs to understand the countries involved. Russia is recovering from (an oligarchy disguised as) communism. It started under
Reagan, when he finally demanded the wall come down and it did. The Russian people were tired of communism, tired of the constant persecution, and
wanted something better. The USA promised that something better, capitalism, and Russia went for it. But instead of getting prosperity, they got
foreigners taking advantage of the damaged economy. The businesses that went in did so either unaware or apathetic of the plight most Russians were in
financially. They took what they could and promptly left.
The Russia discovered oil.
The Chinese have a culture that is vastly different from Western culture... just try to read directions translated form Chinese sometime. Even
translated, they make no sense: "Please to insert into slot B tab A. Tab A not to bend, as will stop application of warranty. Thank you for assistance
of us." That's because the Chinese simply think different than we do. To them, honor and family are paramount even above personal life. The old
stereotype of a Chinese man with a fake smile plastered across his face comes from this... in their culture, to not smile at someone is to dishonor
them, and dishonor is a perfectly valid excuse for violent retaliation.
The Chinese also have a work ethic rooted in this sense of honor that makes their workers much more anxious to work than we are. We work to make
money; they work because it honors them and their family, and the money paid them is there to not dishonor the employers. That is the major reason
sweatshops can exist on such a widespread basis... to complain is to dishonor oneself and one's family name.
Now add in the rare materials like cesium and iridium that China has in great quantities. These are essential components of every high-tech device
there is, from the smartphones to airplane navigation systems to exploratory spacecraft to medical technology, even down to the computer I am typing
this on. Almost everything we use day-to-day contains materials found primarily in Asia. China does not export these materials; instead they export
the goods made from them. That means they have a lock on their economic advantage, as long as other deposits are not found.
This has spurred their economic growth over the last few decades, and their goal now is to indeed become the biggest economic player on the global
stage. But despite their mineral wealth, they lack one critical thing their economy desperately needs... energy. They have coal deposits, but they
need oil. Russia found oil. So now there is a financial conduit that siphons money from China to Russia.
Where does that money come from? Us. Europe. Any developed country that has a market for high-tech 'toys.' China is the only country around with
enough rare mineral resources to supply the demand (South Korea and Japan have some resources, but not as much). Due to the policy to not allow
exports, these materials are cheap inside China whereas the rest of the world trades in them and the price becomes much higher... we use them for
research, which then has to be produced in China.
The issue right now is that Russia is still bringing their oil business up to speed... it takes a lot of money to do that. Russia has enough oil for
China, but it can't get that oil out of the ground and into tanks fast enough. Every year they sell oil to China, however, increases their capacity.
And they are partnered with Iran... that was the reason they invaded Georgia a while back... Georgia was needed to get pipelines connecting the two
countries. It's also the reason for the problems in Syria... Iran wants a pipeline to the Mediterranean so they will have an alternate shipping route
than the Persian Gulf, and Assad is good with this. Since that pipeline will be carrying Russian oil as well, so is Putin.
They are also building pipelines to Eastern Europe... which is why Trump was so upset over Germany's energy purchases from Russia. China of course is
happy about all this, because the faster Russia expands, the faster they can get oil into China. China still sees the West as foes, and the West has
the developed oil market. Take look at a map of southeast Asia sometime... look at the supply route from the Persian Gulf (as in Kuwait) to the
nearest Chinese real estate. The Himalayas separate China from the Middle East on land, and a sea route must go through the Malaysia/Indonesia area,
which is friendly to the United States. In case of a conflict, their Middle Eastern oil supply could be shut down. A Russian supply could not.
Incidentally, North Korea is also sitting on some rare mineral deposits... which is a good reason for China to not want Western influence in the
region. They do not want the market outside China saturated, because high prices there give them the advantage.
In the meantime, while China has been working toward a multi-generational goal of economic superiority, we have been working on short-term goals to
make as much money as possible as fast as possible and to hell with the future. That has been our mistake, and China has used that mistake to their
total advantage. Thanks to our shortsightedness in that respect, there is now an economic flow that is going to be difficult to stop, if it is even
possible to do so: money flows from the West to China and into Russia to be used to improve their infrastructure, and oil flows back to China, is used
to create technological products, and those go back to the West. Russia gets the export money they need to prosper as we promised and failed to
deliver, China gets money to expand their manufacturing base to increase their economic stranglehold on the globe, and we get to pay for it all.