Scott Morrison joined US President Donald Trump at the weekend in subtly changing the economic conversation with respect to China. Not so long ago it was largely a one-sided debate about what we — especially the US — needed to do to adjust to China’s rise.
Not so in Washington. The Prime Minister backed Trump’s insistence on a comprehensive deal with China that would address serious issues such as intellectual property theft and illegitimate subsidies to state-owned-enterprises. Morrison encouraged China to take every opportunity to resolve its economic disputes with the US, suggesting that Chinese intransigence is a big part of the problem. This change in emphasis from America as the provocateur to China as the true disrupter is helpful. It is also justified and overdue.
The genius in Beijing’s manipulation of grand narrative is that it conditions other countries to accept Chinese policies no matter how unsettling they might be. One of the most effective conceptions promulgated by China is that it is fundamentally undeterrable once it has made up its mind.