China is the world’s biggest trading nation thanks to a stellar 2013. That’s official, really official, like Chinese government statistics official and there has never been any reason to doubt them, right? Especially not inscrutable and never-twisted import and export figures. Definitely not.
Some Americans are inconsolable at the loss of the title. Others contemptuously roar back that USA!™ leads the world in things like super-complex financial products that posses the power to derail the global economy. Unfortunately even there China may soon take over thanks to the fast-growing shadow banking sector, which grew even fatter last year and hit a new high.
This appetite for risk extends to the Chinese government, which is investing in a US-based fund started by former executives of bankrupt currency management firm FX Concepts. Not that we’re suggesting they did anything wrong.
But can’t Xi and Li learn from the US disaster lesson? Surely they know better than to invest in financial products that even those selling them don’t fully understand. Well, they have a plan for that. If anything goes wrong they will bury all losses, and evidence, deep underground. Not in China though, as what with urbanization, desertification and a massive 9% decrease in wetlands in just a decade there isn’t much space left to dig a big hole. No, the powers in Beijing have sanctioned a bid for the giant Las Bambas copper mine in Peru.
With such dastardly schemes abounding it is hardly a surprise that Chinese companies now top the list for reviews by the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States, which probes unwelcome foreigners landing on American shores. Firms from the UK were previously the most investigated. Still, Chinese nationalists will no doubt herald it as another chart-topping achievement.