Friday, September 17, 2021

"The most terrifying map in the world"


That's what Sovereign Man calls this depiction of international trade flows.  It looks at how much trade the world did with the USA or with China, the first map reflecting the year 2000, the second twenty years later.  Click the image for a larger view.

If there ever was a time when you could see a trend solidly in motion, now is it.

That the Western, previously civilized world is in decline has been known to anyone with an ounce of curiosity and little analysis of data points.

There's more at the link, mainly concerned with technology companies and progress in both nations.  The meat of the article, as far as I'm concerned, is the map above.

The real issue is the geopolitical reality these maps display.  In 2000, the USA could use its dominant position in trade and international commerce to exert influence, even pressure, on other nations.  If they did not act as the USA wished them to act, commercial pressures could be applied to help change their minds.

Today, that's no longer the case.  Any attempt to exercise such pressure on the part of this country can and will be countered by China exerting greater pressure, through its dominance of international trade, or simply by bribing other nations with loans, grants and other favorable gestures.  Chinese loans often carry a sting in the tail, too:  if the recipient nation fails to keep up the payments, China will specify certain national infrastructure that it gets to take over in lieu of payment.  That's how Sri Lanka lost control of its port of Hambantota;  how Djibouti ceded control of much of its harbor to China;  how Montenegro is currently facing having to give state-owned land to China in payment for its "highway to nowhere";  and is the underlying reason why Tajikistan ceded land to China along their disputed border.

A great deal of China's investments in support of its so-called "Belt and Road Initiative" are more or less bribes to those in power in the nations concerned.  Their people may not derive much - if any - benefit from them, but the rulers will get money in their pockets, and China will hold the whip hand over their economies from then onward.  China has proved ruthless in advancing its interests in that way.  However, one can't really criticize them for that - the USA did exactly the same thing when it held the economic upper hand.  It did so for over a century, including treating China itself like a poor relation and forcing concessions from it in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  China has never forgotten the stigma of the "Century of Humiliation" and the "Unequal Treaties".  Its relations with other countries are probably motivated as much by revenge for those slights as by economic considerations.

If ever there was proof of the old saying that "what goes around, comes around", it's there.  China is basically out to dominate - and, if possible, humiliate - any nation that won't dance to its tune.  That includes the United States.  The map above shows that, on balance, China is doing just that.  Its commercial and industrial influence now exceeds that of the USA on the world scene.

The worst thing of all, from an American perspective, is that our business leaders - our oligarchs, for want of a better word - deliberately worked towards this.  They're the ones who moved manufacturing offshore, seeking greater profits by making goods in markets with lower wage and transport costs.  They built the factories that China is using today to extend its influence, basically handing to the Chinese the commercial hegemony they now exploit.  America is now left holding the short stick, because we no longer have the industrial and commercial might that was the foundation for our influence abroad.  We handed that to China on a plate, and the Chinese have taken full advantage.  Don't blame them for that, either - we would have done exactly the same thing if our positions were reversed.

So, when you look at the problems we're currently encountering with a very screwed-up supply chain, consider them in the light of that map.  That's why we're experiencing them - because three-quarters of our supply chain is out of our control, and very much in China's control.  To paraphrase President Obama, "we built that".  It's our fault, on a national scale, for allowing our barons of commerce and industry to sell our economic prosperity out from under us for a mess of pottage.  However, you'll never get our politicians to admit that, or accept any responsibility for it.  Being the finest politicians money can buy, many of them were long since bought by Chinese "contributions".  There's plenty of evidence of that;  I'll leave you to look it up for yourselves.



IamDevo said...

But wait until the dust settles (if it ever does) from the recent collapse of China Evergrande. It's Lehman Brothers and the mortgage/derivative meltdown all over again. TheZman is all over it. Read and grimace.

Michael said...

Schadenfreude (/ ˈ ʃ ɑː d ən f r ɔɪ d ə /; German: [ˈʃaːdn̩ˌfʁɔʏ̯də] (); lit. 'harm-joy') is the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another..

Like the US Smoldering House of Financial Cards is doing well eh? What's a few MOAR 3.5 Trillion Dollars of fake money between idiots eh?

Given the troubles our Just In Time Systems are having from China doing Fairly WELL, what DO you expect we will be "Enjoying" when their systems are faltering-failing?

I suspect Great Depression 2.0. For the historically illiterate the "Great Depression" wasn't just a American thing. Japan needed oil and the US said no, Germany needed to steal by conquest to break the Versailles Treaties death hold on them and Europe resisted. The Great Depression 1.0 affected the Whole World and was generally resolved by A World War 2.

The USA came out in the Catbird seat with an industry and farming untouched by war. Then we sold ourselves down the river to the Chinese "Cheaper Labor and MOAR Profits with Just In Time "Efficiencies" and the BEST Politicians Chinese Money could buy.

I suspect that WW3 will be light on Nukes, heavy on Biowarfare and Cyberwarfare. The results on us civilians will be the same, suffering, starvation and death.

The "Winners" of a Great Depression are those that retain their humanity (spiritual health), their families in safe shelter, healthy and well fed. Everything else is mostly artificial "Wealth".

Steve S said...

The graph looks like slightly less than half a cycle. As you said, what goes around comes around. I expect over a longer timeframe the graph will continue to oscillate.

heresolong said...

Maybe 2020, when the whole United States was locked down and neither producing nor buying anything isn't a good year to choose for comparisons.

Sam said...

I voted for this man even though I knew he might turn out as unprepared for the office as Jimmy Carter. Bush and Clinton had both already agreed to sell out the US to the big bankers. I don't think even Perot (and certainly not me) knew exactly how extreme the plan was to take us down.

Giant Sucking Sound - Ross Perot 1992 Presidential Debate (Youtube, 2.34 minutes)

Paul said...

China is Pushing something called 996. Nine hours a day and six days a week. That is how they are driving there people. Some are starting to balk at it and counter with 995 but that still sounds like a lot.

Gerry said...

If you look at the same graph in through the 1940's till 70's you would see the US did the same thing to the EU. We invested heavily in infrastructure in foreign countries to get raw materials for US factories. The USA as well created humanitarian programs to keep locals happy.

Someone made the switch to selling F-16's instead of tractors to 3rd world countries. They sold licences for technology instead of selling the final product. Then we moved manufacturing offshore and became a service economy which left the door open for the ChiComs.

Beans said...

That's really nice and all, but what happens when China's government turns inward again like it JUST DID as the government is now attacking companies that trade too much with the outside world and is actively attacking anyone who acts too 'western,' like that 'Jack' guy from Alibaba.

On top of that, at least two of the major 'corporations' in communist China have failed and are falling, and their failure is precipitating a domino effect upon all the other big 'corporations.' First it was a company that built a lot of buildings in China, a lot of the half-assed poorly assembled and now vacant buildings where they used bamboo fibers and rubber steel instead of good rebar (and we wonder why the 3 Rivers Dam is failing?) The other one that just failed/is failing right now is the major insurance company for everyone else.

China is in the end-stage of being the big economic giant. They blew up, took over everything and are now copulated and starting to slide down into total chaos.

All those little people that thought they were making money? It's going to make the worldwide depression of the late 1920's look positively weak.

And what's the first thing a totalitarian government does when things turn to economic poo? Yep, there's a 'short victorious war' coming on.

China can't feed their people from internal forces. Their fishing fleets are being attacked world-wide. Their old people outnumber their young people and it's just getting worse. They've managed to do to themselves what Ronald Reagan did to the Soviet Union.

STxAR said...

I read these type articles, then watch China Observer and the like on YT. China is in a strange place. They are milking their own people for everything they can take, while delivering tofu-dreg projects. Major issues with their housing / construction bubble. Lots of issues to understand then collate. They are like us: the wrong move will start an avalanche... Or a black swan will start a stampede....

I think they are as hollow as the rest of the world is. More and more, I see the balkanization of almost every country as a distinct possibility.

Stefan said...

The Chinese have this one child policy, and they hate girls, so now they have few women and lots of hormoned armed materialist atheists, and we have trannys and sensitivity and diversity. The Bible describes 200 million soldiers coming from the east, the Land of Sinim. Ooops...

Quartz said...

Trade - the basis of capitalism - is not a zero sum game. It is possible - indeed the expected result - that both parties profit. And with 5x the population you would expect China to have a 5x larger share of international trade.

But where the USA owns China is the rule of law and tall poppies. look at how Jack Ma has disappeared. Look at the repercussions of ARM’s China subsidiary going rogue.

DeplorableGranny said...

I voted for him as well. The media did everything to make him look like an idiot and it worked. I argued with liberals then that they were falling for propaganda. His accent was not a sign of intelligence, his business accomplishments were. He would have made a great President as a business man just like President Trump did.