I suspect that Graeme Maxton’s article at the South China Morning Post will cause many pundits’ heads to explode, particularly these paragraphs:
America has played its Trump hand very well. What China has achieved socially and economically over the past 40 years is remarkable by any standard. From being a poor agriculture-based country at the end of the Cultural Revolution, it has become the second-largest economy in the world. It has transformed its infrastructure by building a network of roads, high-speed railways, ports and airports.
It has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty – more than any country in human history, and in barely a generation. It has constructed vast new cities, attracted trillions of dollars of inward investment and spread its influence across the world, most recently through the Belt and Road Initiative.
While it is easy to imagine that some on Capitol Hill have seen what is coming for a decade or more, it will be hard for people in China, especially among the country’s leadership, to accept that this path to glory is coming to an end. Yet China has been fooling itself, its hopes stoked by enthusiastic foreign investors, the rhetoric of local academics and the dreams of its own people.
but I think this passage is more important:
It is the trade war that has laid China’s weaknesses open for all to see. It is now clear that Huawei, China’s big hope in hi-tech, along with ZTE and several other IT firms, are not much of a force to reckon with. Without US hardware, operating licences and software, these firms have been beached.
They are at least 10 years behind technologically and cannot develop the skills needed to survive in anything like their current form. A link to Russia does not solve this problem. Two countries without cutting-edge technology does not add up to much.
It is the same in defence, the auto industry, aviation and many other sectors. Despite decades of effort and lots of state planning, China lacks the depth of engineering skills, patents and technology needed to manufacture globally competitive high-end products. Dismantling a flight management system, a car braking system or a smartphone and reproducing the parts does not make it possible to build them from scratch.
I think he overstates the case. What I think is true is that all that was necessary to lay “China’s weaknesses open for all to see” was anything other than lying supine which is what we’ve been doing for nearly 30 years. The same is true on our southern border and with respect to NATO. All we have really needed to do hold the various countries to their treaty obligation (or targets, depending on the diction). I have never understood why we have not been willing to do that.