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Echoes from history in China’s latest trade trouble

First published: Prospect 03/09/2018

The Monument to the People’s Heroes in Tiananmen Square records several revolutionary events in China’s recent history, starting with the Burning of Opium in Humen. It was on the banks of the Pearl River Delta in 1839 that China seized and destroyed 1,000 tonnes of opium from British merchants, triggering the First Opium War and the start of what the Chinese call their “century of humiliation” by foreigners. It is a reminder that for China, trade and openness to the outside world have been historically both an agent of progress and a cause of profound instability.

This dichotomy is newly relevant given the challenges facing Xi Jinping’s China, especially as President Trump prepares to widen the trade war in which probably half, and perhaps all bilateral trade between the two countries will be affected. Read on….