The United States is becoming a better place to do business while the climate for entrepreneurs in China is getting worse. President Donald Trump enjoys an historic opportunity to persuade Asia’s job creators to relocate, while an old-school communist thug in Beijing is all but inviting his most innovative citizens to think of America first.
The Trump marketing effort could begin very soon. Lingling Wei and Jacob Schlesinger report in the Journal:
The U.S. is reaching out to China for a new round of trade talks, in an effort to give Beijing another opportunity to address trade issues before the Trump administration implements additional tariffs on Chinese imports, according to people briefed on the matter…
The U.S. side has proposed having discussions in the coming weeks and has asked the Chinese to dispatch a ministerial-level delegation. The proposed meeting might take place in Washington or Beijing, the people said.
The U.S. should insist on Beijing. While there, U.S. officials will have to spend hours meeting with Chinese officials on the off chance they’re willing to stop mistreating American companies. But the U.S. team should also look for every opportunity to meet with people outside of the regime. Our diplomats should make the case to China’s best and brightest that they’d be better off in America.
This column noted on Monday that the retirement announcement from China’s biggest business star comes at a time of increasing Communist Party control over that nation’s commerce. Jack Ma’s decision to step down as executive chairman of Alibaba at the relatively young age of 54 may simply reflect a desire to pursue philanthropy.
But the same day he announced his departure from the Alibaba executive team the South China Morning Post, coincidentally owned by Alibaba, reported on the latest government intervention in the marketplace. “China’s games industry at a turning point amid regulatory crackdown,” noted the headline. The Morning Post reported:
China’s latest gaming crackdown comes amid a broader campaign to clean up “inappropriate” online content, which has forced some of the country’s hottest tech start-ups to shut down seemingly harmless services such as joke and comics apps. The clean up highlights a key risk of doing business within China’s opaque regulatory system, where internet companies that thrive do so because the ruling Communist Party allows them to.
Now the Party’s crackdown is taking a heavy toll on the gaming industry, which suffered its slowest revenue growth in at least a decade in the first half.
the world’s top grossing games publisher, has seen US$271 billion wiped off its market value since its shares hit a record high in January.
Industry players and analysts are trying to figure out how bad it could get, and if Beijing’s tighter controls over gaming mark a turning point for the industry.
How bad could it get? Pondering that question while considering the history of China’s communist dictatorship hardly yields cause for optimism. The fact that current strongman Xi Jinping now serves as dictator-for-life—just as Mao Zedong once did—also doesn’t inspire confidence. Despite the prosperity of recent decades the regime is still violently opposed to embracing the civil liberties enjoyed in many developed countries. This week the Associated Press reports:
China’s government is ratcheting up a crackdown on Christian congregations in Beijing and several provinces, destroying crosses, burning bibles, shutting churches and ordering followers to sign papers renouncing their faith, according to pastors and a group that monitors religion in China.
The campaign corresponds with a drive to “Sinicize” religion by demanding loyalty to the officially atheist Communist Party and eliminating any challenge to its power over people’s lives.
Bob Fu of the U.S.-based group China Aid said over the weekend that the closure of churches in central Henan province and a prominent house church in Beijing in recent weeks represents a “significant escalation” of the crackdown.
“The international community should be alarmed and outraged for this blatant violation of freedom of religion and belief,” he wrote in an email.
And why would the business community want to live in such a place? Last year at a conference in Detroit, Jack Ma said, “I don’t want to die in my office. I want to die on the beach.” Why not Palm Beach?
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(Teresa Vozzo helps compile Best of the Web. Thanks to Jackie Harty, Monty Krieger, Michael Mottola and Richard Helfrich.)
Mr. Freeman is the co-author of “Borrowed Time,” now available from HarperBusiness.