The news here in China, momentous and significant though it might be, boys and girls, just cannot compete with the United States in this period. The course and fate of the Trump administration has huge implications for China, but don’t ask us or any commentators worth their salt for confident predictions. The sense of unreality out of Washington grows day by day and the evidence that Putin has had Trump in his pocket since well before the election becomes ever stronger. From the perspective of Russia and China, this is probably, on balance, a long dreamed-of opportunity, but meanwhile, the US institutions, including law courts, intelligence community, media and military, all seem to be operating pretty effectively. Our guess remains that the US system is strong enough to transcend the Trump moment. But how it plays out and over what timescale – just … don’t … know.
In terms of what is happening in China, if you can drag yourself away from the Trump train wreck for a few seconds, it has been a pretty positive start to the year economically. But given that the 19th Party Congress is coming in October, this is hardly a surprise. Nailing all leadership positions down with the right people is just overwhelmingly their top priority, regardless of Hong Kong legal considerations. Beyond that, capital flight is probably one of the key issues for Those in Command, with the evidence indicating a speed-up in outward bound cash in the second half of last year. Then there is the dilemma of the property market for Them – to either suppress or to exacerbate the bubble – which is a choice between two abnormalities. And as to the likely trajectory of trade war and South China Sea confrontations? See above: who the hell knows. Enjoy the weekend – if you dare!