Trade war economics, with Andy Rothman


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On this week’s podcast, Kaiser and Jeremy speak with Andy Rothman, an investment strategist at Matthews Asia, to get his take on recent developments in the U.S.-China trade war. Andy lived in China for over 20 years, and was previously the chief China strategist for the brokerage and investment group CLSA after a long career in the U.S. Foreign Service.

What to listen for on this week’s Sinica Podcast:

14:09: Andy comments on the protracted detentions of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig: “They need to treat the two Canadians as they would like Chinese to be treated in Canada and the United States. That’s not happening and it’s sending the wrong message, and it’s further politicizing what should be a technical issue. So, I’m hoping we’re going to see some progress on this, but certainly I don’t see any signs in that direction at the moment.”

He also says a voice of reason could come from an unlikely place: “I would also like to see Huawei, as a company, speak out against this kind of retaliation.” In addition, he notes that he has mentioned this to individuals at the company, but “they did not have any response.”

36:54: Andy chimes in on the issue of engagement versus decoupling: “I think the engagement option for dealing with China versus decoupling and containment gets a bad rap. I think it’s really important for us to look back over the last 40 years of engagement and recognize that it has worked pretty well. Both for Americans and Chinese citizens, and that should be important for us, too.”

He continues, diving into the numbers: “On the trade side, we’ve gotten fantastic access. China was an irrelevant player on the global economy up until 20 years ago. Now it’s our number one trading partner. Since China joined the WTO, U.S. exports are up to China about 500 percent, whereas they’re only up about 100 percent to the rest of the world. Prior to the tariff dispute, agricultural exports to China were up over 1,000 percent, and it was our biggest market.”


Jeremy: The Secrets of the Hopewell Box: Stolen Elections, Southern Politics, and a City’s Coming of Age, by James D. Squires.

Andy: The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America, by Margaret O’Mara.

Kaiser: American Factory, by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, available on Netflix. Kaiser’s review of the documentary can be found on our website here.

This podcast was edited and produced by Kaiser Kuo and Jason MacRonald.