But these Chinamen are smart. Funny smart. Even sneaky smart with a sense of humour. I will now tell you why.
Nowadays, when the average European person gets properly offended and starts crying for revolution, demanding justice and calling for the manning of the barricades, what is it they really do?
That’s right, they complain about it on Facebook and Twitter. What is it they do once they have done that? They might “like” and retweet other people who have whined and complained about the same subject on Facebook and Twitter. If they are particularly revolutionary, they might even write a sarcastic or vitriolic comment about it on Facebook or Twitter. What do they do then? They go and watch telly and forget about it. This is how it works, except for one group of Europeans. Anyone fancy a guess? Anyone?
Did you get it? The correct answer is farmers.
You do not mess with European farmers. They still partake in the long lost art of people power and protest. They have tractors and shotguns and don’t like city folk. Whenever someone threatens their subsidies, they don’t go on to Facebook or Twitter, they jump in their leather interior John Deere tractors paid for with subsidies taken from your pocket and ride en masse on the capital city and the seat of government. Since cities are a little overwhelming to the average farmer, they tend to get a bit antsy and agitated in a concrete jungle, they park their tractors wherever they like, which is in the middle of every major junction and thus bring the whole nation to a standstill.
If there’s one thing farmers still know how to do it is protest in a way we take notice. Now imagine that those descending on your dearly loved home city are wine farmers tanked up on their own product, topped up with an appropriate sense of injustice? You would be looking at utter bedlam.
This is why the Chinese are smart. They have done the diplomatic trade war equivalent of a shot across the bow. They’ve targeted a non-critical and not very large industry who, when suitably motivated, can have a huge effect on society and send a very strong message.
It’s a signal to the Europeans that if they don’t behave. They’ll have gridlock bought on by some very angry (and probably drunk) farmers, which will be broadcast all across the world on every major news network (see video below).
If I were a betting man, I’d say the Chinese will win this one.