There were various interesting developments this week, including data showing that EU China-related M&A deals were down 63% in 2020 due to increased security screening and restrictions, and it was reported that China has started dramatically limiting the amount of public information available on shipping movements—15 million ships were recorded as being in Chinese waters per day in October and only one million in November. It’s all part of the gradual drifting apart that is taking place between China and the West. But speaking of drifting, there was also an interesting situation involving a piece of South China Sea real estate called Second Thomas Shoal, about 300 km west of the Philippine island of Palawan. It is occupied by a Philippine government team, and a supply boat heading for the shoal was turned back by water cannon from a Chinese vessel—China claims the whole of the SCS. So the US State Department issued a statement on Nov 19 saying: “The United States stands with our Philippine allies in upholding the rules-based international maritime order and reaffirms that an armed attack on Philippine public vessels in the South China Sea would invoke US mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 US Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.” The Philippines sent the resupply ship again and it was not obstructed reaching Second Thomas Shoal.
Meanwhile, virus outbreaks continue to pop up in various places, including Shanghai, and the outlook for exports in Q4—a key support for economic buoyancy over the past year—is not good. But how does zero tolerance for COVID and closed borders impact on the economy in the end? And how slow does the economy have to get before there would be some sort of consequences? We doubt if even the shadow knows.
Have a great weekend.