Maybe it’s just coincidence. Random noise. Sound and fury signifying nothing.
I hope so. But I fear not.
Yesterday the director of Beijing’s National Development and Reform Commission’s price supervision bureau told the state-run China Daily that its investigators had found evidence that a U.S. carmaker has been telling its dealers to fix prices since 2014. Accusations like this can end in sizable fines and other penalties.
You think that it’s just a coincidence that this charge comes after President-elect Donald Trump has ramped up his rhetoric about branding China a currency manipulator and slapping tariffs or taxes on imported goods? Or after Trump accepted what now seems to have been a carefully orchestrated phone call with the leader of Taiwan in violation of the U.S./China understanding on a One China policy. Or after Trump’s nominees for security advisors have said that China is a bigger risk than Russia?
It would be more likely to be a coincidence if China hadn’t just flown a nuclear-capable bomber over a disputed part of the South China Sea or it China hadn’t just violated a promise not to militarize the islands it has built in that waterway by deploying land to air and land to sea missiles in positions to defend the airfields it has built on those artificial islands.
The Development and Reform Commission has so far refused to name the U.S. automaker that is the target of investigations, although a reasonable guess would point to either General Motors or Ford. Chinese customers bought more than a third of the cars that GM sold last year, China Daily pointed out.