Given all that had gone on before, it seemed like nothing more than a sadly normal weekend in Hong Kong: tear gas, protesters surging to make various existentialist statements, police trying to beat down the challenge to their authority – more tear gas and more tears.

From all around the world, sympathy and concern. Ordinarily internationally clueless TV news programmes in America lead time and again with the troubles of Hong Kong. Why are so many people unhappy? Is their unhappiness all Beijing’s fault? Are the protesters of noble heart or are they spoiled-rotten millennial mercenaries? Can’t they all get along?

And why in Marx’s or God’s holy name is the China-US relationship suddenly so fractured? Inside the Washington-New York “swamp-way”, common sense has lost currency; in the dramaturgy of American foreign policy, China slides into centre stage as prime geopolitical suspect by appearing to fill the void left with the passing of the former “evil empire”.

These days, the Beltway (or, for the lack of a more apt term, the “swamp-way”) establishment offers the China syndrome analysis to those who talk up the military challenge. Former Defence Department and Rand Corporation think tank stand-outs such as Michael Pillsbury (The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower) are now the automatic go-to canonical commentators.

“Think of Pillsbury as our time’s Paul Revere,” proposes Gordon G. Chang, jaunty author of The Coming Collapse of China (2001). Or think of guys like Chang and Pillsbury as no more than restless enablers of an unnerving run of China hysteria.

Hysterical seems rather too calm a word to depict President Donald Trump’s China trade-imbalance attack – the product of a mind that, at its best, is a very blunt object. Continually upping the tariff ante is no way to lower bilateral temperatures. A year ago, I wrote that this “primitive, aggressive and idiotic trade policy” would produce two losers, not one winner. The current conception of a smart China policy holds that America cannot win unless China loses.

But if the Chinese economy is a major slice of the global economy, how much can anyone gain when it contracts? We know that when the huge American economy caught a cold, the rest of the world got the flu. Why would something like that not happen were China, now nearly as huge, to feel under the weather?

In fact, rather than pushing China further down, would it not be in the global interest to keep it on its feet? Trump’s tariff attack on China parallels for dumb audacity former president George W. Bush’s Iraq attack of 2003 – the evil policy initiative of strong-mind/weak-wisdom advisers who either did not really know what they were talking about or did not care, so eager were they to make their mark on history.

Our confused president needs to run the other way from these advisers before they blow up the world economy like the Bush crowd blew up Iraq

Now another Republican Party president is receiving similarly poisonous counsel from economic advisers who may know economics but don’t know their China from their Arabia. Our confused president needs to run the other way from these advisers before they blow up the world economy like the Bush crowd blew up Iraq.

To be sure, China will never fit warmly into the category of a close US ally (then again, who really is these days besides Australia?); but it need not be cast into the stereotypical oriental role of the feral “other”.

Read it here first, fellow Americans: it’s not in the game plan for the Chinese to strafe Hawaiian beaches someday. Competition from the Chinese will be economic. America, rooted in a culture of competition, simply needs to compete with vigour to retain viability, not cower behind ideological shibboleths.

Donald J. Trump

· 23 Aug 2019
Our Country has lost, stupidly, Trillions of Dollars with China over many years. They have stolen our Intellectual Property at a rate of Hundreds of Billions of Dollars a year, & they want to continue. I won’t let that happen! We don’t need China and, frankly, would be far….

Donald J. Trump

….better off without them. The vast amounts of money made and stolen by China from the United States, year after year, for decades, will and must STOP. Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing..

My recent book on China offered the title, Yo-Yo Diplomacy. The idea: the China-US relationship has been prone to jerky ups and downs like a child’s yo-yo. The title’s implicit premise is not at all fatalistic: it is that what goes down, after all, must come up. But is that right?

Over lunch in Los Angeles last month, Chinese diplomats, who’d read the book (in English), quipped that it looked to them as if the yo-yo string might be broken – and staying on the down slope was the new normal. No more up in our yo-yo relationship?

If that is the case, that the yo-yo hypothesis is unduly optimistic, then be prepared for a world recession, or worse; and for unrelentingly pathetic progress on climate control; and for non-cooperation in many urgent international sectors due to the down-pull of narrow nationalistic politics.

In 1651, an English pessimist determined that mankind was inherently limited in its ability to make wise choices and behave civilly. This was Thomas Hobbes, his book was Leviathan, and his depressing pitch was that, without a strong political hand, life would become “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”.

That is precisely where this world, with all its nuclear weaponry and incapacity to get a grip on big problems, may well be heading, unless China and the US can get a firm grip on their relationship.

China calls Trump’s trade war escalation a ‘strategic mistake’.

Trump and Xi Jinping have to rise above their conflicting principles and ideologies and change the trajectory by winding back on this idiotic tariff crisis. Working together, they could “leviathan” some big world issues in a planet-improving way.

I would have to admit that not many in the US expect much of their president; so, from this perspective, it is Xi’s moment to make the first move. A cooling of the Hong Kong crisis could nudge the terrifying swoon of the Sino-US relationship upwards. For starters, let the chief executive step down and the students go back to their books and their labs.