© 2018 by Robert Person.  The views expressed on this website are my own and do not represent the official policy of the U.S. Army, Department of Defense, or U.S. Government.

Mar 25

Defying Allies, Italy Signs On to New Silk Road With China (NYT)

0 comments

 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/23/world/europe/italy-china-xi-silk-road.html

 

The world is continuing to witness the negative side effects of President Trump’s short-sided “America First” National Security Strategy. From pulling out of the Transpacific Partnership to publicly criticizing the very multi-lateral institutions—including the United Nations, NAFTA, and the WTO—that have held the world in check for decades, President Trump has created a void in world leadership that China is stepping into. Most recently, Italy has mirrored Trump with an “Italy first” by officially joining China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy stated that the agreement will “build a better relationship” between China and Italy. It is no surprise that Luigi Di Maio, extreme populist and leader of the Five Star Movement, strongly supported the deal and pushed for increased China-Italy cooperation.

 

While Jason Horowitz’s NYT article “Defying Allies, Italy Signs On to New Silk Road With China” presents concerns for China to use Italy as a Trojan horse to infiltrate Europe, my bigger concern is the message this sets for the developing countries of the world that lack the robust and stable economy of Italy and strong, developed powers. As the world has witnessed in sub-Saharan Africa and South America, Chinese multinational corporations (MNCs) do not often “play by the rules” and create dependence on Chinese goods. As Chinese MNCs continue to expand into these countries, they coerce the government into Chinese terms that destroy the host nation's economy in the long run and destroy local business. To those developing countries with China either already inside or at their doorstep, Italy ignoring warnings of its European and American allies and joining China’s Silk Road signals that these developing countries can trust China. If the leaders of the free world are doing it, why shouldn’t they? President Trump and the greater United States should see Italy’s decision not as a random act, but as a logical step down a stairwell with a frightening end.

New Posts
  • In his article for Foreign Affairs David Cohen talks about the Trump administration's policy towards sanctions. He talks about how the conditional sanctions the Trump administrations has placed on Iran and now Venezuela will be ineffective because the changes the administration is trying to coerce will essentially mean regime change for the two nations. Cohen goes on to state that these will be ultimately ineffective because the relative cost of the sanctions is lower than the cost of losing power. This means that the leaders of Iran and Venezuela are more willing to bear the pain of the sanctions than lose the regime. This goes along with the lesson we had on sanctions in a couple of ways. First we learned that sanctions are used either as a method of deterrence or coercion. This means that the sanctions inflict financial and economic pain to make the target of the sanctions take or not take an action. These sanctions are meant to cause political changes that will in essence mean a change of regime which is why they will fail. They are effective in causing pain; however, there is not enough sanctions in the world to make it worth losing power. Article link: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2019-04-29/sanctions-cant-spark-regime-change
  • https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/09/us/politics/china-trade-tariffs.html Just before a scheduled round of trade negotiations began on Friday, President Trump announced that he was still going to levy additional tariffs on Chinese imports valued at approximately $250 billion. President Trump claimed that these tariffs would bring billions of dollars back to US manufacturers, but the main focus seems to be inflicting pain on China, as opposed to bringing prosperity to the US. China and the US have not been able to reach an agreement that would minimize or end outright the "trade war" between the two, which stems from the Trump Administration's belief that China is not doing all it can to protect American investments and intellectual property in China, as well as the belief that a large trade deficit with China is inherently bad. The Trump Administration's use of tariffs as a negotiating tool is inelegant, but effective. Unilateral tariffs immediately affect the Chinese export industry, whose products become less competitive in US markets. While this inflicts pain on Chinese exports, whose largest market is the US, it also affects US consumers, who have to pay higher costs for consumer goods. Additionally, because China retaliates with target tariffs (on politically-relevant goods like Kentucky Bourbon and soybeans from the Heartland), US exporters are equally hurt by the trade war. The only immediate winner is the US, who collects revenue from the applied tariffs; however, long-term, US domestic industry should improve, as they will become more competitive when Chinese imports are more expensive. Slowly, we are starting to see this happen: Dan DiMicco, the chairman of a lobby group "Coalition for a Prosperous America," explained that American manufacturing is already experiencing gains in their domestic market shares.
  • https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/may/8/feds-release-168k-illegal-immigrant-family-members/ In Stephen Dinan's article in the Washington Times, he explains the unforeseen immigration due to illegal border crossings. ICE border patrol has released 168,000 illegal immigrant family members this fiscal year, and the number is expected to increase as the border situation increases in volatility (Dinan). Dinan reports that 87% of families in this new pilot program skip their court hearings, and with an ill-equipted government to track them down judges deport them in absentia (Dinan). Dinan argues that this increase in illegal immigration in family units is caused by a 2015 court ruling that stated parents who travel with children must be released in 20 days. Since this is too little time try them in court, the families are set free (Dinan). This article is very relevant to this block in IPE as it highlights a crucial phase that the world is going through. As policies towards free and open borders begin to gain more and more traction, we can expect the number of border crossings into the country to continue. As we talked in class, this may actually be a good thing for the economy, as low skill labor is substituted due to a higher rate of college attenuation and graduation. Dinan says that most migrants interviewed are not criminals, they are just seeking jobs, and know that if they bring children they will find asylum in the US (Dinan). One of the unintended consequences is that some of these migrants are being used to smuggle drugs and weapons into the country, and in some extreme cases, children are being sold to impersonate children of felons migrants of south american countries to gain access with ease. As globalization brings countries closer together and as the trend for free an open borders continues incentivizing cheap labor, it will be interesting to see the effects of these policies 10-15 years in time.