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Q&A: 'Rural poor' vs. 'big city elite' could lead to international game of chicken

ASU professor says factors that led to Brexit, Trump election at play in China.
Q&A: Rise of nationalism in world's largest economies could be damaging for all.
January 25, 2017

Thunderbird professor Mary Teagarden says factors at play in U.S. and Western Europe also could shape policy in China

The Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump have fueled a discussion over the rise of nationalism in Western Europe and the U.S., but an ASU professor of global strategy says similar factors are also at play in China.

Mary Teagarden, of the Thunderbird School of Global Management — a unit of the Arizona State University Knowledge Enterprise — shows how a dramatic oversimplification best makes the point: It’s the rural poor vs. the big city elite.

Teagarden explains how it could lead to a game of chicken involving the world’s largest economies — to the detriment of all involved.

Question: President Trump already has removed the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Do we know yet what his China policy will be?

Answer: We don’t know for certain, but as a candidate, Donald Trump was quite vocal about America’s relationship with China on economic matters like trade and currency.

He vowed to impose a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods coming into the U.S. and said he would label China a currency manipulator.

Q: How might China react if Trump followed through on those campaign promises?

A: Again, we don’t know for certain. Many people argue that China would retaliate.

There are examples of exactly that kind of retaliation from China, as in 2009 when President Obama imposed a 35 percent ‘safeguard’ tariff on Chinese tires and China responded by imposing antidumping duties of between 43 percent and 106 percent on American poultry.

There is even more frightening historical precedent: In 1930, after the U.S. Smoot Hawley Act doubled tariffs on some 20,000 imports, America’s trading partners responded in kind. The result was a 67 percent drop in U.S. exports and a deeper, longer Great Depression.

On the other hand, people argue that trade with America has benefited China too much for China to retaliate in any very significant way — responding with across-the-board tariffs of their own, for example, rather than targeted tariffs as they’ve done in the past.

It is true that China has benefited significantly from trade with the U.S. As just one example, Foxconn, the company that assembles most of Apple’s iPhones and iPads, is China’s largest private employer. Hundreds of millions of Chinese people have migrated from the countryside into the cities to work in factories like Foxconn’s. Most of those workers are not residents of the cities, but live there temporarily to work. Large-scale unemployment among these workers could cause massive social unrest — truly the stuff of nightmares for the Communist Party.

It is important to remember that few pundits thought Donald Trump would be elected — just as many think that China “would never!” clamp down on trade. But the same nationalistic forces that propelled President Trump to victory are at work in China.

The power dynamics in China are tenuous, and even though the pro-globalism “big city elite” reigns today, they might not tomorrow. Military leaders, more aligned with the nationalistic “rural poor,” are pushing back hard against President Xi Jinping and his “big city elite” crowd.

Q: What does it mean for China that Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the TPP?

A: Left out of the TPP, China has been pursuing its own multinational trade deals.

For example, the One Belt One Road (OBOR) would create a free trade zone throughout Asia, the Middle East, Western Africa and Eastern Europe.

Without the benefit of TPP to balance the scales for the U.S., OBOR will give those emerging markets considerable global advantage. We could end up watching from the sidelines as they pass us by.

Q: What advice do you have for companies doing business in China?

A: If I were a global executive looking to take my company to China right now, I would be very cautious with my investment there.

We’re in a fragile time, where the tide could turn very quickly.

For the companies that already have significant investment in China, I’d think seriously about where I could move activity if the business environment in China turned against me.

In both cases, I’d be looking for non-Chinese intermediaries to mitigate the risk of sourcing from China.

Dr. Teagarden’s remarks here are part of a series of insights on the future of internationalism by Thunderbird faculty and students. For more, check out The Future of Internationalism Post-2016.

Communications coordinator , ASU Media Relations

480-965-9212

 
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11,500 ASU freshmen set to receive training in art of civil communications.
Sun Devil Civility plans to expand from incoming freshmen to other groups.
January 27, 2017

University initiative aims to promote communication skills, finding common ground through peer-to-peer training

In a time of heated rhetoric and fraying decorum, Arizona State University is planning to train incoming freshmen in the art of civility.

Nearly 11,500 new students will take a three-hour workshop called “The Art of Inclusive Communication” next fall, with the hope that they begin their college careers with the skills to find common ground with one another.  

The Office of Student and Cultural Engagement has been piloting a workshop with students, faculty and staff for more than a year and has hired 32 student facilitators, who will train 1,400 students this spring, according to Mark Sanders, senior coordinator of the office, which is part of Educational Outreach and Student Services at ASU.

“The underlying goal is to celebrate and recognize differences and to get people to learn from each other and advance the idea of inclusion and access — all of those great things the ASU charterThe ASU charter: ASU is a comprehensive public university that is measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed; advancing research and discovery of public value; and assuring fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health our the communities it serves. is about,” he said.

Emily Kwon said she learned how to talk through emotionally charged conversations at the workshop.

“The art of communication is an undervalued art. People need to realize that the way you say it really does matter,” she said. “Especially with recent events, opinions are heated and people won’t listen to each other because of the high-impact emotions.

“So we learned that people have different opinions, and that’s OK. And it’s important to discuss it in a productive manner and how to move on,” said Kwon, a senior majoring in biological sciences.

The peer-to-peer training will be key in working with the incoming freshmen next fall.

“It’s not about ‘let’s come in and preach at you about civility,’ ” Sanders said. “They’ll talk about identity and unconscious bias, and students say, ‘I never thought about it that way before.’ And freshmen have the attitude of, ‘OK, teach me some cool things.’ ” 

Besides practical skills for managing conflict, workshop participants learn about their own values and communication style.

The idea for encouraging civility started about two years ago, when leaders at ASU noticed some issues on campus and decided to partner with the National Center for Conflict ResolutionNCRC was founded in 1983 by the University of San Diego Law Center and the San Diego County Bar Association., a San Diego-based nonprofit organization.

“We had free speech visitors coming in and yelling at people, and people were not responding in the best way,” Sanders said of the confrontations that occurred between proselytizers and students.

The National Center for Conflict Resolution partners with other universities, but ASU’s university-wide initiative is unique. First-time freshmen at the Tempe, Polytechnic, Downtown Phoenix and West campuses will get the training within the first eight weeks of the fall semester. Eventually, other groups will get the opportunity, including transfer, graduate, international and online students.

The Student and Cultural Engagement office offers other workshops that promote communication and respect, including “Navigating the Rainbow of Inclusion,” “Interfaith Identities: Learning and Conversation,” “Different Faces, Same Spaces: Diversifying Cross-Cultural Dialogue and Interactions” and “Global Allies Training.”

All of that will be gathered under one umbrella called Sun Devil Civility.

“The hope is that this serves as the basic platform, and it launches from there,” he said. “How do you engage with your peers? How do you move forward in the cycle of life at ASU? And what can you do to create civility and a sense of community in the citizenry of ASU, Arizona, the U.S. and the globe?”

Fasha Johari, the president of ASU’s Coalition of International Students, is a Muslim student from Malaysia. She said the tips she learned in the workshop have helped her with some uncomfortable situations.

“It’s helped me to not engage with people who want to provoke,” she said. “They want that kind of reaction so they can say, ‘This person is aggressive.’ ”

A senior majoring in biological sciences, Johari said ASU has improved in the four years she has been here.

“I really think ASU is moving forward to include all of us. They really help a lot in terms of making this a second home for us.”

Sanders said the goal of Sun Devil Civility is that students can complete several of the workshops and acquire a certificate in civility training.

“I have this vivid image that 20 years from now, these students will be our senators and representatives who say, ‘In college I learned how to have a conversation with you.’ And, ‘We disagree, but we can make this about the global good.’ ”

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now

480-727-4503