12 Comments

While there are always global events shaping national economies, I don't see any signs yet that climate change is being sufficiently factored into economic growth outlooks... by anyone, frankly. China's climate policy is awful, and that's going to severely impact its agriculture, infrastructure, and healthcare.

It's remotely possible this turning inward is the country's leadership recognizing that, and trying to get ahead of the tumultuous decades coming at us all like a freight train.

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Here's a scary thought: what if China's leadership has come to the same conclusion? The time to "act", to gamble on securing objectives at their present peak strength would be now, or soon; i.e., at the first sign of US weakness.

For example, if DJT or VR win in 2024...

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Good for the US? Not at all! We have enough to deal with as-is without an incredibly significant and well-armed global power undergoing regime stress. The options Beijing might exercise to “change the narrative,” reassure its citizens that all is well, or alter its circumstances include many unpleasant possibilities.

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While I was reading the foreign affairs article I started fantasizing about an AI that starts as an advisor to Xi and then gradually takes over all of China. It is aided by the central control of media and a surveillance state that allows it to operate secretly as it gradually takes over the levers of power. It might be easier than in the west where (maybe) someone would sound the alarm. Also, I imagine an AI would be really good at administering surveillance.

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Maybe China has hit its peak. Maybe it hasn't. It's really hard to predict the future when you're in the middle of events.

America's rapid growth following the Civil War appeared to come to a crashing halt during the Panic of 1873 and afterwards. The railroad industry collapsed; bank failures abounded; incomes and employment fell sharply. With what result? Well, within 20 years, the US had passed Great Britain as the greatest manufacturer in the world and was well on its way to becoming the dominant economy in the world.

Obviously, the situations are different. The US population doubled between 1870 and 1900 primarily because of robust immigration, while China's is falling. The PRC puts a heavy hand in guiding the economy, whereas the Gilded Age was one of unbridled laissez-faire. So we don't know what will happen to China. But just because it's beset with collapses and scandals and is falling into a recession tells us no more about its future course than the 1873 Panic told us of America's future.

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I agree that China was in the middle of a political transition under Deng and Hu. The ascension of Xi, I believe, was totally unforeseen, moving the government further right. Up to that point, China had agglomerated quite a bit of exotic technology. Although they have yet to militarized it, I would be concerned that the Chinese military is the next target, for those very reasons. In preparation, Starlink is now represented over Japan.

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Reviewing the contextual, historical models of inflection points of great change in world history, we can retrieve some useful mental models(as you call it) that will focus our attention on whats going on here with China.

Insights:

- Recent History : China, and all malevolent 21st Century Communist Nations have used a propaganda-machine to achieve their aristocracies self-serving goals; inthe words of ABRAHAM LINCOLN addressing the question of the purpose of a government, I very roughly paraphrase–a government’s very existence should depend upon how well it improves possibilities for The Peoples’ future prosperity and that of their progeny, provides for the indigent, provides opportunities for Peace & Safety(presumably provide for Civil Laws & Enforcement), improves Educational opportunities, Human Health, the dignity of all citizens, and prepares a National Defense for all threats—foreign & domestic. Etc, etc, ....

- Xi Jinping only supports such ideals to the extent that it amplifies & secures his Centralized Power—domestic & foreign. The Chinese government, based upon Lincoln(and the implied US founder’s intended model) hypothetically should not exist. It was hoped that with Globalization 40 years ago that China would become more capitalist, and see its was to some form of decentralized Western-type power structure, but this did not occur. The central Chinese leaders in the CCP, in the most recent decades held on to the multi-millennium Sino traditions which continue to conflict in salient ways with Western Rule. After-all, there was no formal contractional Sino-Western agreement in the 60’s/70’s between Nixon/Kissinger and Zhou Enlai & Mao Zedong—just a show of friendship and possible alignment of goals.

- In a quick conclusion, this is not the end of China. For several prominent dynasties & in the millennia even before Christ, these dynasties have tempered the values & practices that they applied for living successful in those worlds long, long ago. Somethings never change for man behaviorally, but looking forward, other things MUST change if a people is to adapt and survive in the future world. In this way, a justifiable government, initiated by those that it has been tasked to shepherd into the future looks more & more like the ‘intent’ that was encapsulated in the US Constitution.

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