Why the Meng Wanzhou saga may not be the last of its kind
- The misguided anger and recklessness Donald Trump hijacked is still simmering in the US and elsewhere, including China – albeit for different reasons
- China’s development momentum and the US abuse of state power are a highly combustible mix, and that fundamental has not changed
Euphemistically, Meng’s extradition case was trumped up in an evidentiary vacuum. Realistically, it was gangsterism initiated by a vain, insecure bully who happened to be occupying the White House.
This kind of misguided anger that Trump hijacked is contagious, and is simmering in other corners of the world, albeit for different reasons. In the West, it is hardly distinguishable from the disbelief that China, under a different governing model, could succeed in manufacturing, technology, poverty alleviation and pandemic control.
In China, it wells up from another disbelief: when Chinese, through hard work, seek to build a better life, why does the West then turn around and say they are a threat?
Recklessness also exists in abundance in China, but more in a commercial and financial sense – it is based on hunger as well as anger. China was in the past a nation of peasants, and the fear of being poor remains in its psyche.
Many successful entrepreneurs in China are referred to as “peasant executives”, whether in contempt or as a term of endearment. That innate fear of poverty sometimes drives them into risk-taking and disorderly expansion.
In that zeal for success, nothing is ever enough for these entrepreneurs. Building and expanding are their modus operandi. The sheer scale of China’s domestic market is both a blessing and a curse.
It gives them a vast platform to grow and profit from, but it also instils an unhealthy worship of market share, often grabbed through monopolistic means.
China’s recent regulatory tightening is a recognition of this recklessness and a “whole of society” effort to rein it in. It’s about time. China’s development momentum and the US abuse of state power are an unfortunate, highly combustible mix. That fundamental has not changed. The Meng Wanzhou saga may not be the last of its kind.
Dabing Li worked in China, the US and Hong Kong as a textile salesman, a trade official, banker, consultant and entrepreneur. Now retired, he resides in Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong