World leaders from US to China are increasingly at logger heads to find level playing fields to settle trade issues & the resultant political fall-outs. Accusations are flying back and forth, even looking for scapegoats, for what is a vital issue for humans from the very beginning – living beyond the means! Once that good old virtue is discarded, we lose the moral equilibrium, be it individual, society or country. With easy credit, even running into trillion dollars between countries, the situation becomes unsustainable, with both lender & borrower accusing each other! There would be no winners, and the tight bear-hug is slowly unraveling!
Free trade gave China the leg-up to play their part in the world arena. A monolithic society, top-down decision making, massive & cheap work-force working their way out of poverty in the shortest time possible, were what the doctor ordered to get the country realize the true potential that was locked-up for decades. India also has en English educated work force, hungry for a better life & the opening-up of trade & services sectors gave both countries the crucial breaks to unleash their pent-up energies. The manufacturing flowed into China, even termed as the world factory; such is their ability to scale-up to meet the demands from everywhere.
Obviously, the basic equations that stood have been distorted with these onslaughts, with accusations that it has become no more a level playing field with China, especially, accused of running-up enormous trade surpluses with America by keeping their currency under-valued. China has maintained that they cannot jack-up their currency to please others, which would destabilize the country.
Frankly, emotions are clouding the issues. Individuals have to take charge over their lives, mainly by living within their means. Even if easy credit is available, repayments have to be made & the income should allow meeting them in future; otherwise, we are living on borrowed time, at the mercy of the lender, who can pull the plug anytime! Similarly, countries cannot take the easy way out with cheap goods from foreign shores, running-up trade deficits; now, if currency is revalued, the imports also would become dearer to the customer, and without alternative sources, even at home! Again, we have to place value systems higher than costs; we should not live on credit however easy they come by! The assets that we buy at throw-away prices would become liabilities in no time!
Trying to balance trade by exporting more is raping mother earth of even more finite resources, leading to mindless consumerism and hastening our end! Free trade has its limits, as China arm-twisted Japan in their recent row, by delaying the rare earth mineral exports, for which they have a major monopoly! Japan turned wimpy & China is rejoicing the one-upmanship; a clear change of power shifts!
The sane solution to prevent these unnecessary accusations flying back & forth would be moderation in consumption, make do with less, and tapping renewable resources; all-out efforts by one and all to make the switch. The cooperation & the resources invested in R & D will not stress our finite resources, including the human soul! The liabilities would be limited, but the assets will accrue to all. A true holistic approach applied to solve the issues without trying to score points. The US is supposed to have all the needed resources to meet their energy requirements from home and with clean energy, mostly. Once the focus shifts to a more positive & cooperative approach, with even poorer countries getting the fall-out benefits, the stress factors will disappear than being re-visited by them at increasing frequency, as at present! The solutions are within us, and why should countries try to find scapegoats, like some individuals do, to cover-up their faults!