China exports about half a trillion worth of products to the US annually and purchases about 165 billion. China’s manufacturing industry is totally dependent on the US, and so the primary job of the Chinese president has been to keep the US presidents under control and don’t get into a fistfight with his best customer.
He did it with Bush, he did it with Obama, but he is not able to do it with Trump.
The Chinese president has a really bad run of late. His relationship with the US went south, the protests in Hong-Kong erupted with no end in sight, economy stopped growing and the corona virus started in their own Wuhan.
Talk about a bad year!
Adding to it – the US may delist certain Chinese companies from American stock markets unless they allow the auditors to look at their books, as it is the case with other listed companies. Obviously that’s a problem - Alibaba’s Jack Ma was quick to step down and let his successor handle the mess.
With the virus story, it’s clear that the Healthcare system failed us, which is the reason why president Trump cut the funding to WHO (the specific reasons why are documented in a 12 page US government report).
The Healthcare profession was not geared to deal with a pandemic like this.
Should they have been? Well, hell yes, especially after similar scares like this before – SARS in 2002 – 2004 and HIV before that.
The world powers reacted to the virus problem in the way they do best: the US president invoked war powers, which he can do without the consent from congress, because this is what the US is good at – war. Except this time the enemy is not visible.
Russia went into denial, and China rolled out the propaganda machine boasting how they are the greatest country there is. In Europe the Schengen zone collapsed, borders went up and every EU country makes their own decisions now.
This is the end of EU as we know it – it makes sense as a trading block, but not as a political entity, simply because the countries interests differ significantly.
There is a clear trend of people trusting less and less in the mass media coverage of the pandemic. In the UK, a recent Reuters Institute polling found out that only 28% of the people trust consistently in what the media are reporting. The trust in BBC news dropped 20% since 2018 alone.
The problem is, that the media will report some expert’s opinion and once they are broadcasted, there is no going back, like you can’t put tooth paste back inside the tube. Then the politicians have to act on the hype.
Experts know their area, but very little of the next area over, meaning that they don’t have a good understanding of consequences of what they are saying. This is what differentiates them from politicians, a definitely more sophisticated breed.
A politician has to comprehend a spectrum, not just an isolated field. He or she also has different objectives – you need to keep people’s confidence, energy and engagement high, and to achieve this you have to lie sometimes.
Unthinkable for an expert, but - they started the corona virus mess and it is now up to the politicians to clean it up.
As for the title of this essay, dog days refer to the Dog Star, Sirius, and its position in the heavens. In Homer’s Iliad, it’s referring to Sirius as Orion’s dog rising, and it describes the star as being associated with war and disaster.
Not a war for us this time, I think, but a long way to recovery.
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler