Reset for US-China relations
Two recent developments presage a forthcoming regime change in Washington - a change that needs no help from the National Endowment of Democracy, whose mandate to incite change of governments does not include the US, in any event.
The surprise arrest of Steve Bannon last week could signify the loosening of another cotter pin in the Donald Trump machine. Bannon, former campaign strategist and intimate adviser for Trump, has been charged with embezzlement and money-laundering. If convicted, he will become the latest to join President Trump's inner circle of crooks.
Will Bannon squeal?
US federal prosecutors charged Bannon and three others with skimming millions from a fund raised to build a private version of the border wall facing Mexico. If convicted, Bannon could be in for 10 to 20 years in the slammer. According to one version of their relationship, Trump is estranged from Bannon for not sharing a "license fee" for stealing his idea of the wall and for taking the limelight away from The Donald. Trump called the private wall project "showboating." Thus Bannon may not be able to count on a presidential pardon to get out of jail.
His other option is to sing vigorously to the federal prosecutors in exchange for a lighter prison sentence. By telling them all he knows about the nefarious shenanigans of Trump and his inner circle of crooks, the wheels of the Trump campaign could be coming off even before the November election.
The other major development is the formal nomination of Joe Biden as the presidential candidate for the opposition Democratic Party. His acceptance speech was forceful, forward-thinking and hard-hitting. He showed none of the signs of a doddering old man that Trump likes to attribute to him.
Instead, Biden spoke about what he would do as president to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control, put the economy on sound footing, face climate change as opportunities for new high-paying jobs, and continue to fight for racial justice. Not once in his 25minute address did he brag about himself. The difference between him and Trump, to use Biden's words, is the difference between light and dark.
As the incoming president, Biden will face the daunting task of undoing the damage wreaked by four years of corrupt and incompetent misrule.
Despite the stock market hitting new highs, the US economy is in terrible shape. Unemployment is at a record high and small businesses are being forced to close at unprecedented rates.
Biden will need China To restore the economy, the Biden administration will need to work with every part of the global economy, especially with China. China is the second-largest economy and the first to recover from Covid-19. The Chinese and US economies are closely intertwined. China's recovery will have a pullthrough effect for the recovery of the American economy.
Provided, of course, that Biden can undo Trump's zero-sum confrontation with China, a confrontation that never made sense from its inception. Imposing import duties on Chinese goods was supposed to penalize Chinese manufacturers. Instead, it's the American consumer who is penalized by having to pay more for products imported from China.
The net impact is to raise the cost of living for all Americans.
Increasing the cost of production for China was supposed to encourage the relocation of manufacturing back to the US. Since labor-intensive, low-value manufacturing shifted to Asia decades earlier, the Trump tariffs simply forced the offshoring manufacturer to look for other low-cost countries, such as Vietnam and Bangladesh.
American workers continue to be among the world's highest paid, and those expecting offshore production to move back are naive or suffering from serious delusion.
The Trump administration waged the trade war as if China was not supposed to retaliate, but China most certainly did. Consequently, American farmers are paying the price for losing access to their largest market. After two years of reduced sales and income, some have gone bankrupt and others are wondering how to survive another planting season.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pushed China to the brink of war based on three doubtful if not wildly off-base premises.