The Hudson-CCG symposium, hosted by and held at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. on September 26 this year, released a report: Past, Present, Future, and Policy Options. The report predicts three possible outcomes of the U.S.-China trade dispute and concludes that all will be won by China.
Center for China and Globalization (CCG)
So, what is the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), the co-sponsor of this symposium?
It’s a Beijing-based premier Chinese independent think tank of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It has its own researchers and overseas representatives.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) think tank research was used by the American conservative think tank, the Hudson Institute, who published the report and came to the conclusion that China comes out on top in all outcomes of the U.S.-China trade war.
A quote from the Hudson think tank says: “There are only three possible outcomes, and all the three are won by China.”
Critics believe that the superficial conclusion made using the CCP’s think tank evaluation is incorrect and misleading, criticizing the Hudson Institute for quoting it in a way that makes it seem valid, when it’s inner purpose may very well just be CCP propaganda.
Some believe the assessment was intended to mislead the CCP’s own policy makers.
Possible misinterpretation of facts
Some analysts claim the CCP think tank used its own report to influence the Hudson Institute’s evaluation of how things are going in the U.S.-China trade war and sent the conclusion to the decision-making officials.
These officials in return felt very pleased, seeing that the report was published by a well-known American conservative think tank and concluded: “China will win anyway.” When the current U.S. President, Donald Trump, took office more than a year ago, Jin Yinan gave a speech on January 20 to a full house of Chinese officials saying that it is difficult for the American society to tolerate an 80-year-old bold President, and it would not last long.
From the tone of voice, it becomes apparent that Wall Street and a seeming majority of Ivy League schools, Silicon Valley businesses, as well as the American elite, don’t seem to favor U.S. President Donald Trump all too much. According to a New York Times Commentary, “Trump placed the U.S. on a precipice”. So, Jin said: “Isn’t that a good thing? He did not place China on a precipice, but has placed the U.S. on a precipice.”
Those not so fond of Trump’s political attitude argue that many of the current U.S. president’s decisions seem bold and short-sighted. Withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is just one example.
Chinese analysts applaud Trump’s withdrawal from the TPP because it creates an opportunity and benefits for China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative.
Jin Yinan’s Trump analysis
An important mosaic piece in the overall player draft in this trade war is Major General Jin Yinan of the People’s Liberation Army. Jin is also a security strategy expert in China whose writings have been recommended to be read by provincial and ministerial officials following China’s Secretary General of the CCP’s, Xi Jinping’s, recommendation.
Xi was briefed about Jin Yinan’s analysis of Trump more than a year ago and then compared it with the actual facts of the past year. It is no wonder that Jin Yinan’s big words and The New York Times’ smear of Trump’s policy caused U.S.-China relations to become more challenging for China.
The power of think tanks to influence the decisions of rulers and politicians is receiving widespread scrutiny.
The elephant in the room is the question of how reliable think tank assessments actually are.
One example is the case of the think tank used to advise Chinese Communist Party officials like Xi Jinping. There is much reason to believe that many of the conclusions it makes are geared primarily toward validating Chinese propaganda guidelines rather than critically approaching geopolitical questions in the hope of resolving them.
In short, some experts on the matter are saying that the CCG think tank gave an analysis and report ending in a conclusion more in favor with what the Party ideology would like the outcome to be, rather than the geopolitical reality of things.
The growing need for more ideologically independent think tanks
To better understand this assumption, one must consider the CCG against the backdrop of the educational background of its Chinese intellectual members, who were raised and educated in a Communist Party culture. Under these circumstances, it would not be too far-fetched to assume that the worldview these intellectuals have is strongly based on, or at the very least heavily influenced by, Communist Party culture.
These think tank intellectuals of the CCP had been educated with the Party culture since childhood and they began to form their worldview based on that Party culture as well. Their perception of the outside world is different from that of people outside the Party culture. Therefore, when they advise the higher levels, they often cannot interpret the signs of an imminent crisis.
However, due to the nature of the Party-led mentality, even if the think tank experts could recognize the signs of a creeping crisis, they would not dare speak out in fear of falling under scrutiny and being accused by their peers and other officials of being infiltrated by socialism. They may even lose their jobs. Under these circumstances, who would dare to light the spark?
‘One Belt, One Road’: A thorn in the side of U.S. trade
Former President Obama’s greatest effort to create a cornerstone of his administration’s legacy in Asia was the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement geared at offsetting China’s rapid growth.
Since Trump took office, he sought an alliance with many countries, aiming at blocking the “One Belt, One Road” project that China and its partners are highly anticipating.
During this U.S.-China trade war, the Chinese stock market has plummeted, resulting in large amounts of foreign capital being withdrawn from China. For example, Japanese companies who entered China in the past year have already moved 60 percent of their investments out of China. Critics believe the slump China may be facing is partially due to the “hard work” done by their think tanks.
Currently, the Chinese think tank CCG is apparently suggesting that China replace the United States with Africa within the next five years as its main export destination for China-made products. Could this also be the reason why China is investing so much money into developing countries and helping them create infrastructures that will, later on, create a need for a steady supply of services and goods from China?
Translation by Chua BC