The purpose of a state-run media is for message and narrative control. China has been arguably the most adept propaganda machine controlling the thoughts of its people for decades. If they can turn the Tiananmen Square Massacre into a debunked myth to their people, they can get them to think whatever they want.
It’s for this reason that a recent flurry of editorials and commentaries from Chinese media bodes well for the United States.
China’s state-run media outlets sounded a confident tone in Monday editorials and warned that U.S. trade pressure against the country would not only strain bilateral relations between the two nations but could negatively affect the American economy and wider global markets.
Those reactions followed the latest round of mutual tariffs targeting U.S. and Chinese goods taking effect Monday, escalating trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
The course of their messaging is very telling. It has the undertones of warning rather than riling. This tells us something very significant. The Chinese government believes hardships are going to come from the trade war and there’s nothing they can do to stop it.
China has been an economically aggressive nation for more than a decade. They handle situations similar to this by telling their people to ramp up. That’s not the message this time. Now they’re essentially telling their people to hole up, meaning they believe they have a long and destructive fight ahead of them.
They are at a tremendous disadvantage. Though they have become the most powerful consumer nation in the world by sheer numbers, a majority of their consumption is domestic. They rely heavily on trade, especially with the United States. Anything that disrupts American dollars from flowing into their economy has a very good chance of slowing it or even reversing it.
If trade dwindles, so too will domestic consumption slow. That can be catastrophic if a nation is not prepared. Judging by the narrative being pushed by state-run media, they are not prepared. If they had been, the message would have been very different. They would have told the people to take the fight to America. Instead, they are playing the victim card and telling their people to buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
There’s only one question that needs to be answered to determine how this wall all go. Tariffs generally hurt both sides in the modern world economy. Will China buckle before they, the United States, and the rest of the world feels the real pain? Or will they push it all the way to the brink?
The narrative they’re pushing means they’re prepared to give in to pressure from the United States before letting it all collapse around them.