Xi’s overly-ambitious goals triggered US-China trade war, by Katsuji Nakazawa

China’s ambitious economic and trade rhetoric may have hurt it…badly. From Katsuji Nakazawa at asia.nikkei.com:

Soon, all 1.4 billion Chinese will be feeling the pinch of Donald Trump’s presidency an ocean away.

They will look at their dining table and notice their favorite dishes — Chinese-style deep fried chicken, firecracker chicken and twice-cooked pork — are all cooked with lots of oil, much of which is pressed from the seeds of American or Brazilian soybeans.

Similarly, many of China’s pigs and chickens are raised on imported soybean meal, the residue left after oil extraction.

Doubanjiang, the chili-bean paste that determines the splendor of Chinese cuisine, also cannot be made without soybeans. Of the above mentioned dishes, cabbage is about the only ingredient the country can fully provide for itself.

President Trump last week imposed 25% punitive import tariffs on Chinese products, citing violations of intellectual property rights. Chinese President Xi Jinping responded immediately, slapping 25% retaliatory import tariffs on American products, including soybeans.

As a result of the soybean levy, the cost of food in China will jump, dealing a serious blow to Chinese farmers and eaters.

The dish on the right is called laziji and is popular among ordinary Chinese. But it and other Chinese staples will cost more due to China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products. (Photo by Katsuji Nakazawa)

To be sure, discontent might also grow in U.S. agricultural states, where farmers are already having difficulty selling soybeans and other produce to China. Trump could end up losing support from those in the agriculture sector.

The big question is why the game of chicken actually broke out. Xi may have nobody but himself to blame.

Since the days of Deng Xiaoping, China had maintained a less-assertive foreign policy, portraying itself as a “developing country.” Deng’s guidance was to keep a cool head, hide one’s claws, bide time and never try to take the lead.

After coming to power as the Chinese Communist Party’s general secretary in the autumn of 2012, Xi ditched that policy and started to talk of the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” He labeled it as the Chinese dream.

To continue reading: Xi’s overly-ambitious goals triggered US-China trade war

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