We welcomed for this evening a special guest: Steven Chuang, a native of Taiwan.

We discussed our 4th topic “U.S. – China Trade Rivalry” but we did not reach a conclusion about our future policy options other than to agree that China will continue to flood our markets and that we will continue to buy Chinese products.

We started the discussion with a synopsis of the trade history: Multipolar power structure in the early 20th century (France, Germany, Great Brittain, Japan, Italy, Russia, and the U.S.), to bipolar after the end of WWII (U.S. and Soviet Union), to a unipolar structure between 1991 and 2001 (U.S.), and possibly to tripolar structure after 2001 (China, USA, and Russia) although there was some discussion that Russia did not belong in the superpower category due to its current status after 2 years of war with Ukraine. At least we all agreed that China is one.

Then we discussed the inflated trade imbalance between the U.S. and Russia siting the iPhone example, i.e. China gets full credit for the sale even though their profit share is only 2% as compared to the U.S.’s 75%.

As for the meaningful trade threats, the participants took a quick poll in teams of 2. Here are the results:

Biggest China Threats to the U.S.Highest

#1

#2#3#4Lowest #5
1Espionage (Government, Business, Economic)9 votes1 vote1 vote1 vote1 vote
2Dominance of Rate Earth Metals15321
3Critical infrastructure reliance on China22511
4Copyright & Intellectual Property violations43321
5Counterintelligence42202
6Farm & Manufacturing subsidies03512
7Low cost exports & import duties03721
8Military Power / Unifying Taiwan81012
9Nuclear Power / Russia Alliance?31512
10Human Rights Abuses22323
11Write-in: Cultural Warfare1

While the results of the poll were tallied, our guest, Steven Chuang was asked to clarify the current relationship with China, the new anti-China president of Taiwan from the DPP (Democratic Progressive Party), and the % of Taiwanese who prefer not to be unified with China.

Steven offered a brief history of Taiwan: After the Chinese civil war, Chiang Kai-Shek led the KMT (Kuomintang) and his troop retreated to Taiwan in 1949. The party governed the island until 2000.  The new Taiwanese party, DPP, won the election of President in 2000 after many years of struggle under Chiang’s martial law.  With the DPP governing, the atmosphere of Taiwan independence started to boom, especially, when people experienced more freedom of speech and open media policy.

President Tsai Ing-wen, a DPP member, was elected President in 2016.  She initialed that Taiwan should be more open to the world, instead of being tied up with China in business, political, education, or culture. China became more concerned and stated that Taiwan can have its own living style and army, but has to be under the guidance of China. However, all of these promises became “un-sellable” to the Taiwanese after the Hong Kong democracy attacks in 2017.  Hong Kong was promised to maintain “the same” lifestyle and its own governance for 50 years in 1997.  But Chairman Xi overturned the promises in 2017.  Thus, more Taiwanese realized that the Chinese government was not trustworthy, and, as a result, geared towards independent thinking.  The poll in Taiwan in 2023 showed more than 50% of the Taiwanese think they are Taiwanese, not Chinese. and more than 80% of the young generation does not want to be Chinese.

The result of the new Taiwan President election in January 2024 showed that even under China’s heavy threats and influence via cyber or bribing before the election, the majority of Taiwanese still elected a DPP candidate as the new President.

In response to the above poll results, the discussion was directed towards the two perceived biggest threats, Espionage and military power. Both became China’s strategic objectives after Xi Jinping took office in 2013. The long-term cost to the American economy and national security is estimated to run into the billions of dollars for commercial and technological espionage, including theft of personal information, and political coercion. Militarily, Xi has signaled that the unification with Taiwan will happen by the year 2027 even if a war with the U.S. and its allies ensues.

A 2023 Survey by the Association of the United states Army (2,500 respondents) indicated that 75% of Americans worry about China surpassing the U.S. as the world’s top superpower in the next 10 years.

With this said, the report card between China and the U.S. clearly favors the U.S. long term. This includes the Geostrategic location, the Geographic richness, and the population trend. The group feels confident that even with the significant economic ties and global hegemonic rivalry, the U.S. will remain the superpower for years to come.