What do we do with China? What is the right course?
We are at a crossroads with our policy, that is if we have a policy.
Right now our presumption is the Chinese are guilty of a host of crimes against us. The most obvious is what did they tell us about the virus that does come from China. Did they tell us that it could be caught by an infected person who was asymptomatic, something that caused us not to bother to wear masks? Maybe they didn't know?
It sure seems like they didn't because our policy, as articulated by Dr. Anthony Fauci, was not to wear them because they didn't matter. Was that because someone told us from the WHO, which seems to be pretty much in league with China, or because the Chinese didn't want to tell us? We don't know the answers.
When we finally found out that our front line professionals needed the so-called good masks, the ones that keep the disease out, the Chinese had pretty much taken our own supply. Was that because they bought them all up ahead of when the U.S. government commandeered them? Or was it because our government didn't understand how and where they were made and didn't order them in time and we had to go buy them back, chiefly by individuals spending money to get them at ridiculous prices?
They have also not let our doctors in to find out more about the disease including that it is NOT a respiratory disease but one that attacks the whole circulatory system, something that would have saved countless lives. It has been a totally suboptimal experience dealing with them.
At the same time they have gone out of their way to not fulfill their end of the trade bargain while they continue to use our capital markets to fund companies that may or may not be bogus. Who knows? I got pressured by U.S. bankers when I questioned the bona fides of an outfit called Luckin that was later revealed as a fraud. I didn't bend. But I am sure some did. The U.S. banks have become useful idiots for scam-like Chinese companies looking to raise money here because they pay hefty fees. Both parties agree, but where is the legislation?.
Finally, I have surveyed all the major cyber security companies to find out who the actors are trying to steal our secrets, both financial and scientific, and it's the Chinese. They want to take the data we have to make a vaccine against the coronavirus so they can be first.
When you put all this together with their malicious treatment of Hong Kong activists, it paints a pretty negative picture, one that would seem to encourage a total shutdown of the country from any commerce with us.
But, then again, with 20% unemployment, and a bad need for any market to sell things, let alone the largest market, the question becomes can we put the rhetoric, let alone the ban, on hold? Can we see if they put orders in, buy planes, buy semiconductors, buy our consumer goods until we are back on our feet?
Quite frankly, I am not sure. We can't tell. Our policy is to tweet nasty things, not exactly the Marshall Plan or the Monroe Doctrine. I think if we had a policy, one that was not divide and don't conquer but unite because it is one of the few things Republicans and Democrats agree on, the Chinese might be inclined to become better actors. If not, we have to further hobble ourselves and delay our recovery.
It's a tough issue. But the one thing we know for certain, is that angry tweets does not a policy make, so who knows what getting tough on China is. That's why the Chinese seem to be on the verge of getting away with another IPO, this one called Playtika, which, while Israeli based is owned by Chinese investors. Another, called Dada Nexus, an on-line grocer, is waiting in the wings.
How about holding these up? How about letting the Chinese show we mean business.
Or are we just going to face another divisive, diverting tweet storm? After what the Chinese have done to us, don't we deserve at least a heightened scrutiny and delay of these offerings? What's the plan? It's anybody's guess, which is really, in the end, what matters.