Consumer Power – Post Covid-19

Angus Long N

OW THAT we are beginning to look at easing the lock-down, reignite the economy and re-open the schools, it

hopefully won’t be too long before we can see the back of the coronavirus pandemic and get back to life before Covid-19. I suspect too, we will have a long period of

reflection on how we reacted, enquiries and analysis of what we got right and wrong. All with a view to being in a better, more informed, position to address any future pandemics. There has been much talk about the involvement

and behaviour of China and how the world should react. China is almost unique in the world. On the one hand, it is a communist regime with scant regard for human rights and open democracy. It has a large percentage of its population living in poverty and often rides roughshod over its neighbours. On the other hand, it is the world’s second largest economy and predicted to become the largest within a decade. It is China’s economic and military might that makes it very hard for the international community to address any issues it may have with it. While it is relatively easy for the United Nations (UN) to instigate the likes of trade embargoes to put pressure on countries such as North Korea, Iran or Zimbabwe, such options are not really feasible against China. Given China has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, nuclear weapons, and the world’s third largest military, the idea of armed intervention is highly unlikely. Nevertheless, there is much international


discontent, particularly in the West, over China’s seemingly clandestine handing of the coronavirus and how it appears to have taken advantage of the economic collapse in the wake the Covid-19 pandemic. Then we have news that the Chinese government has just implemented a sweeping new security law on Hong Kong that many are concerned could threaten the specific freedoms afforded to the people of the colony that were part of the deal struck when Hong Kong was handed back to China from British control in 1997. Not surprisingly, President Trump has been

typically outspoken of his anger and displeasure over China and quick to threaten all sorts of economic retaliation. While our own leaders and those in Europe and Australia may not follow Trump’s public rhetoric, they probably share his displeasure and desire to act. However, the reality is there is actually very little

national governments or even the UN can realistically do. Yes, the UK Government could cancel the 5G contract with Huawei as part of a public show of international brinkmanship. It may score a few political points at home but it’s hardly going to have President Xi Jinping quaking in his boots because China is simply too big an economic powerhouse to be intimidated that way. Let’s not forget either, China currently manufactures much of the essential goods and components we rely on, so we are just as likely to suffer, if not more so, from any trade war. Particularly in the short term. The pandemic lockdown illustrated just how reliant we are on China.

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