China Prepares for Decoupling

Recent Chinese actions on the financial front make it appear stage two of the Great Bifurcation is incoming, and it looks as if it’s going to be on a scale much larger than most observers of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict were prepared to believe.

The Chinese government reportedly held an internal conference with officials from foreign and local banks as the nation seeks to protect overseas assets from US sanctions over potential military tensions in Taiwan. The meeting between officials from China’s Central Bank and Finance Ministry, as well as executives from foreign and domestic lenders, was held on April 22, FT reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the discussion.

“If China attacks Taiwan, decoupling of the Chinese and western economies will be far more severe than [decoupling with] Russia, because China’s economic footprint touches every part of the world,” one of the people briefed on the meeting told the media.

Chinese officials are reportedly worried that penalties similar to those imposed on Russia over the military operation in Ukraine could be introduced against China in the event of a regional military conflict or other crisis.

China summons banks over sanctions fears, 1 May 2022

I very much doubt that the Chinese officials are worried in the slightest. They have clearly intended the break with the neo-liberal financial system for at least a decade, it’s only the preferred timing that is unknown. For me, the only serious question here is whether the Chinese will wait for the neo-liberal financial order to make a partial break in reaction to something, as per the article, or whether they prefer to make a preemptive break themselves. The evidence of prior Chinese behavior, including the erection of the Great Firewall of China, tends to indicate the latter, especially since their ability to choose the timing of the decoupling would permit the Chinese to create maximum disruption in the West while minimizing the disruption to the East.

Furthermore, the delicacy of the Russians in pursuing the moral and rhetorical high ground has gone mostly unrewarded, so there isn’t much tangible benefit to the Chinese in being able to proclaim that they are being further victimized by the imperialist colonial forces. A preemptive move would not only be materially beneficial, but would also be a powerful psychological blow to a Western elite that perceives itself to be dictating reality by calling all the shots.