While Seinfeld was inventing scenarios, we are living in a Bizarro World. Consider the following from a recent speech:
“We must remain committed to developing free trade and investment.”And, to put it more poetically:
No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war,”
“Pursuing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room,” he said. “Wind and rain may be kept outside, but so is light and air.”That person, the champion of free trade and openness? China's president, Xi Jinping.
Yes, China's president "positioned himself as a defender of globalization and free trade." Xi also said:
Countries, he said, “should view their own interests in their broader context and refrain from pursuing their own interests at the expense of others.”Up is down, left is right.
But, that alone does not make this a Bizarro World, unless the previously staunch defenders of free trade have also flipped, right? They have.
The GOP's standard-bearer, the president-elect, campaigned on the very ideas of protectionism and putting America first. Remember? The Republican Party has been merrily going along with this bizarro approach. Imagine that! The Republicans have lost faith in the market! The same Republicans who complain that Democrats are socialists. The same Republicans who cheered on the criticisms that Obama is a communist. Welcome to the bizarro world, in which now the president of a "communist" country is the defender of free trade and openness, while the leader of the "free world" wants to tax imports and close the borders!
Chinese trade experts with government ties have already hinted that if the Trump administration imposes barriers to Chinese goods, they are ready to retaliate through steps like switching aircraft contracts from Boeing to Airbus, diverting food import contracts to rival countries like Brazil and possibly making it more difficult for Apple to sell iPhones in China.
Head-spinning? Get used to it; after all, the demagogue has not even been sworn in yet!
As Global Times, a nationalistic Chinese newspaper controlled by the Communist Party, put it in an editorial this month: “There are flowers in front of the China Commerce Ministry gate, but sticks as well, hidden behind the door. Both are waiting for the Americans.”