Considering the importance which China has taken on over the last several decades, I thought it might be appropriate to start a conversation on the subject.
We hear much about China through the 24/7 news cycle, but there is much we don't hear and much of what we hear is very superficial.
Having long-standing contacts in Asia, I often hear things which our news media never reports or reports in a way which shows they have little background on the subject. I will give an example.
While speaking to a Chinese friend yesterday, I was told that there is a new swine flu outbreak in China. While it is apparently called the African Swine Flu, the disease apparently came from imported Russian pigs. My friend told me that this has become very serious and that one can view videos showing a huge number of dead pigs lying on and around rounds in farm country.
As you may know, pork is by a long way, the most eaten meat in China. I believe there are something like 400 million pigs being raised in China for the food industry. As the flu spreads, this industry will be exposed to greater risk. Since it is a flu, there is no cure and apparently this strain is very deadly. It would seem that the time is approaching that the only way to stop this disease will be to start slaughtering and burying the pigs still left. If anyone knows farmers, particularly Chinese farmers, then one will know that this action will be very difficult to impose and will be very unpopular. Force will have to be used.
If this is required, then that will mean that there will be a shortage of pork for Chinese tables. Giving the timing of things, with Chinese New Year coming on February 5th, this will mean that there will be no pork available for the most important holiday in the year. My friend says that if this happens there will be big trouble for the government. And for those of you who appreciate irony, the upcoming year on the Chinese calendar will be The Year of the Pig.
The reader might ask, "Why re you going into this detail?" This reason is that it seems that this whole problem has arisen in response to Trump's China tariff policy. As my friend explained, China has been importing a huge amount of pork and pigs from the USA for years. In response to Trump's new tariffs, the Chinese government cut off imports of pork from the USA and switched its buying to other countries, where disease control is less strict than in the USA. One of these countries is Russia, which would appear to be the origin (DNA testing matches Russian stock) of the Swine Flu presently afflicting China.
According to my friend there are now fears that this disease will spread across S.E. Asia, where millions of overseas Chinese live.
I hope this story demonstrates, in a small way, the amazing complexity of economics, and how the rule of unintended consequences should be taught in every school across the world.