Let me pose two questions.
First question: what keeps Trump awake at night? You know the answer: his greatest fear is losing his base—the one quarter to one third of the country who still say they support him. Because he sure as hell isn’t going to expand his base. And if his base is either pissed off at him, or perceives itself to be harmed by him, then just stick a fork in him, ‘cause he’s done. And he knows it.
Now for the second question: What about Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission? What keeps him awake at night?
Is Xi deathly afraid that the people who would be most directly affected by rising soybean prices—namely, the Chinese pig farmers who depend on American soybean meal—will vote against him in the next election?
No, ladies and germs, that is not President Xi’s fear. Because elections don’t much matter in China. Because he controls the levers of power. Because he has great influence, if not outright control, over what his people hear.
So, is Xi free of any fears and concerns? Enquiring Minds Want to Know.
No, he is not. What scares Xi shitless is that he and his posse might lose face—the phrase came from China, see headline above—in some kind of foreign confrontation. Because if they lose face, it won’t be the pig farmers who turn against them. It will be pretty much everybody in China, because pretty much everybody in China remembers their country’s century of humiliation by foreigners. And pretty much everybody would turn on an elite that permitted another national humiliation. And all hell would break loose.
So when Trump stages one of his penis measuring exercises, the Chinese leadership cannot back down. Backing down would literally be suicidal.
Nor can they work out a reasonable compromise in private, and then live with it. They cannot do that because Trump would immediately tweet that his dick has been demonstrated to be three inches longer than Xi’s. And the Chinese leadership would lose face. And major political instability in China might result.
So what will happen? Trump has put himself in a position where there will either be an all-out trade war, or where he has to back down. Bigly.