Things aren’t looking great for Beijing. 

Weeks of military posturing and a range of indirect-to-direct military threats against Taiwan following United States Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei were meant to remind the world who’s boss. It would seem…not China. 

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced yesterday (the video below was recorded yesterday, so please forgive any anachronous turns of phrases) that the US government would be halting sales of airframes and related technology to Beijing for the foreseeable future, as a direct response to Chinese agitation. While the Chinese have responded with some economic measures of their own, it is worth noting that there is precious little in the way of meaningful replacements for what they were seeking to buy from Boeing. This follows previous US de facto bans on high-end silicon chip technology (including manufacturing tech and equipment) making their way to China. (Two points to mention during upcoming holidays if there’s a lull in conversation: for all the folks in your life who are committed to a view that China is poised to take over the world–they are utterly dependent on the US for a whole host of critical technologies and inputs into their supply chains, not to mention the facilitation of their global trade networks. And that the Biden administration has struggled to put as much effort into anything as it has into making Donald Trump’s dream of using US trade policy to cudgel China into reality, tweets and all.)

Expect the Europeans to follow the Americans’ lead. 

It’s not entirely doom and gloom for the Chinese, though. At a summit earlier this week Russian president Vladimir Putin signaled he was ready to cave to a number of long-standing Chinese demands as the Ukraine war continues to go oh so very badly for Moscow. With little end in sight for European and American sanctions against the Russian economy, China is in the catbird seat with regard to Russia. We’ll see how long they’ll be able to use that to their advantage, however, and their broader strategic position continues to look grim…

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