2023 will either be a year of a worldwide boom or of a chaotic descent toward recession, depending on who you ask, as reported by Forbes.
Of course, the issue is that each side can credibly argue its position. These schizophrenic viewpoints do, however, share one thing in common: China.
Most likely, you believe in the myth of the post-zero-Covid reopening boom if you believe that global growth is set to soar higher. If recession anxieties cloud your judgement, you undoubtedly think that a Covid-infection catastrophe will destroy Asia’s largest economy and the world’s markets.
Somewhere in the middle? Then you might be among those who are concerned that the increasing mainland demand will cause global inflation to soar and asset values to crash, creating a vicious cycle that no one wants.
It would be beneficial if Chinese Communist Party chief Xi Jinping enjoyed communicating. Without a doubt, it is not. The absurdly low Covid death rates in China serve as a reminder that even the most well-connected investors and geopolitical wags don’t fully understand the world’s most populous country.
It’s difficult to remember the last time one guy had such control over the future course of the whole world economy. Even while Jerome Powell, the head of the Federal Reserve, cut a huge figure in 2022, neither he nor Joe Biden, the president of the United States, nor Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, possibly possessed the influence over world affairs that Xi will have in the upcoming year.
Markets can only hope that Xi and his advisors are as wise and powerful as they want their citizens to think they are. They will recognise and understand how much the world is watching if they are indeed that intelligent. They will seize this opportunity to enhance China’s standing as a dependable global force. They’ll also use it to portray China as more than just a shareholder in international affairs.
Talking to us is the best place to begin. A quick reopening should be balanced with minimising risks to public health, therefore Xi and his senior surrogates should go on the interview circuit to explain their strategies.
They should discuss how China intends to make sure that the current stimulus measures won’t result in new asset bubbles, more risk-taking by real estate developers, or skyrocketing global inflation.
Biden’s trade policies
At a time when Biden is tightening the screws on mainland IT businesses, Xi ought to be outlining his plans for international trade. That also applies to Biden. Xi must be missing Donald Trump’s White House after recent actions to restrict Chinese companies access to the production of sophisticated computer chips.
Beijing did not enjoy Trump’s trade battle. However, because of how disorganised and chaotic it was, Xi’s crew found it simple to lessen the blow. As a result, it is possible that Xi’s economy suffered less from Trump’s tariffs than the US allies Japan and South Korea.
More like a scalpel than a wrecking ball, as Biden’s trade policies are. And he wants to cause even more harm in the future industries that Xi wants to rule: semiconductors, supercomputing, AI, electric vehicles, self-driving technologies, guided weapons systems, you name it.
There have been indications that Xi and Biden may come to some sort of understanding over the course of the following five years. The potential of delistings was reduced by a significant concession made in December regarding granting accounting watchdogs access to the accounts of Chinese companies doing business in the United States.
However, the Republicans who are now in charge of the House of Representatives are preparing numerous inquiries into China Inc. The government of Xi Jinping is preparing for congressional hearings on a variety of topics, including the theft of intellectual property by mainland businesses, financial transparency, Chinese social media platforms, and the origins of Covid-19.
In fact, the one and only point of agreement between Republicans and Democrats in 2023 are that it is past time for China to be given political attention in Washington.
Xi would also be wise to communicate with her Asian neighbours more.
The fact that Xi’s inner circle is controlling the belligerent “wolf warrior” diplomats is encouraging. Beijing’s decision this week to take action against Japan and Korea in retaliation for restricting flights and demanding Covid tests upon arrival serves as a stark reminder that Xi’s China isn’t yet ready for the spotlight on a global scale.
Even the World Health Organization is criticising China for having insufficient information on infections as Xi opens his borders with incredible speed. Team Xi would be better served to straighten up and internalise the reasons why China has a trust issue with Covid-inflection concerns.
The same might be said of President Xi’s economic goals for the coming year. Investors currently have no choice but to make their way through the year that lies ahead.
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