Davos is on, and this year it is Trump who is the main speaker, as opposed to Xi last year. Much has changed in the past year, and most of it to the benefit of Beijing. The FT’s excellent columnist Martin Wolf has an article about how sick Western democratic capitalism is, and it’s certainly going through a rough patch. The CCP sees this, quite rightly, as the time to press forward with its view – that the international order should not inhibit China in any way. The entire global system built after WW2 is currently under question.
Someone in Washington last week said the China shouldn’t have been admitted to WTO in 2001. Bit late now, but the basic issues then were the same as now, although the balance has shifted in many ways. The answer, surely, is reciprocity and global acceptance of common standards. Such a goal, however imperfectly implemented, has generally served the world, and China, well since 1945. But “universal values” is one of the phrases unapproved for classroom discussion. While the international system gives every appearance of being sick, it also has the advantages of transparency and flexibility.
Let’s first see what Trump says at Davos. One comment yesterday from him was that he was not opposed to TPP in some form. A year late, but that would be a start. Those “universal values,” whatever they are, still stand a chance. Keep warm, sisters and brothers.