Cooperation between the United States and China has seen (much) better days. 30 years ago, when low-cost factories in Shenzhen and Guangdong flooded Walmart stores, helping Americans control their inflation, everything was bliss.
As China got tired of the role of junior partner of its western partners and started to create its own technologies and, with them, started to compete with US brands, the broth turned.
For nearly ten years, Americans have been trying to kick the ladder by which the Chinese are trying to ascend to the club of developed nations.
The pack of evils is not small. Restrictions on the actions of Huawei and ZTE to sell their 5G technologies, threats against Chinese apps that become very popular — in the case of TikTok — , a ban on US companies from collaborating with Chinese partners and pressure on European and Asian allies (such as Japan and Korea) to that do not sell cutting-edge technologies to Chinese buyers.
The anti-China game started by Obama, exacerbated by Trump and which remains intact in the Biden administration, has met with surprising resistance from… American allies.
Paradoxically, the group that most pressures the US government and congressmen to go easy on China are US companies. And it is not difficult to understand their reasons.
This week, Chinese consultancy TF Securities announced that pre-bookings for the brand-new iPhone 14 models have reached an all-time high in the country. That is, there is more demand today for the new iPhones than there was, in 2021, for the then brand new version 13 of Apple’s smartphone.
More than that: according to the consultancy, 85% of the reservations made at Apple Stores in Beijing and Shanghai are for the Pro models, the most common of the brand.
The case of iPhones is iconic.
With an American economy that is not expected to grow more than 2% this year and with rich markets — like Europe and Japan — suffering from rickety rates of expansion, what magic can Apple executives do to deliver — even more — profit? to the company’s shareholders?
It will certainly not be increasing its sales in countries like Brazil. After all, who here has R$15,000 to spend on Apple’s top-of-the-line version? A tiny elite, perhaps.
In China, however, despite the relatively difficult moment of the local economy, household consumption is strongly resilient.
There, you can buy not only the new iPhones, but thousands of Tesla cars and mountains of Nvidia chips — at least those whose exports have not (yet) been officially banned.
The strength of the Chinese economy makes these large American corporations fund lobbies every year — a legal practice in the United States — to pressure local politicians to go easy on the Chinese.
Eventually, to win the vote, many deputies — of all ideological persuasions — publicly criticize China, but in private they know that part of the strength of American capitalism and corporations depends on sales to the Chinese market.
At least to this day, the former American junior partner has been able to disappoint his Western counterparts as much as he wanted. At the end of the day, when renminbi notes jingle in Chinese stores of Apple, Tesla and the like, the American establishment prefers to leave the squabbles with the rising Chinese power aside. After all, money has no ideology.