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The US-China Trade War Could Be Disastrous For The World Economy

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For a long time, U.S. President Donald Trump has accused China of  ‘unfair trade practices’ for not opening their markets to U.S. companies. He also accused China of theft of intellectual property rights. Fulfilling the electoral mandate, initially, the Trump administration slapped trade tariffs of 25% on nearly $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. The Chinese swiftly retaliated by imposing tariffs on nearly 545 U.S. products worth $34 Billion including agricultural commodities such as soybeans, aircraft carrier parts etc. In a public statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry condemned  U.S. action as “unilateral and causing disruptions in the global trading order thereby hampering global economic recovery”.

In 2015, during the run-up to the presidency, Donald Trump had alleged China of taking advantage of the global trading system and creating an asymmetric trade balance with the United States. To woo the popular base and restore manufacturing jobs and counter the cheap Chinese imports, Trump pledged to impose as high as 45% tariffs on Chinese goods. The United States with its automation and tech innovation has moved from a manufacturing economy to a more service-dominated and automated economy, which resulted in a change in the nature of jobs and decline of manufacturing jobs. China, on the other hand, with its cheap labour, large-scale manufacturing and rapid export growth has largely dominated the global trade with its cheap imports in more than 120 countries.

Trump’s rudimentary argument was to correct the inequalities in the trading system, and hence, he resorted to tariffs. If imposing tariffs was that easy then why don’t other countries resort to tariffs in order to save their domestic companies? Well, the idea has been tried in the past by European countries between the 16th to 18th century in the form of mercantilism. At this time, countries used tariffs to counter imports from other trading partners and maintain sufficient forex reserves and national economic policies to reduce the trade deficit and current account deficit. However, this had grave consequences, leading to rivalries among nations owing to an eagerness to secure markets in the form of imperialism. Therefore, Trump’s heuristics don’t yield the desired results. Consequently, it raises serious questions of “rule-based global order” and “hegemonic bullionism”.

Potential consequences

Trump shot the first bullet and anticipated to secure a trade deal with China and showcase it as a victory for his next election campaign. What Trump largely does not understand is the possible escalation of threat from China would cause irreversible damage to global trade. It would reduce the trust in trading partners thereby hampering the multilateral institutions. The United States has always had a half-hearted approach in promising multilateralism to secure its interest internationally. China, which has made a transition to integrate its economy with the global supply chain has indeed benefited China and the U.S. alike.

The near possibility of China overtaking the United States in the near future has caused real apprehension among all. Trump’s allegations on China stems out of the domestic fear of China’s rise and the questions on the American monopoly and influence in the international order.

Trump has largely played to a set of audience in America who wish to see America as a winner. The tariff threat would in no way hamper China’s ascendancy as a global power. However, it would delay the rise to some considerable extent.

China is a major exporter to the United States with goods of around $500 billion. Trump imposing a tariff and China retaliating would leave a trade deficit of $375 billion. Even more serious concerns arise from economic analysts who say that China is holding nearly $1.2 trillion of the U.S. public debt. And with an ever-increasing dollar accumulation, this will be a leverage in the future in influencing the United States fiscal policy and interest rates. This also threatens the financial sovereignty of the US. In the age of globalisation, China is making optimum use of the competitive advantage.

With huge export-led growth, China has conquered the world markets, disrupting the existing supply chains and creating its own. Belt and road initiatives signal the new wave of China’s global ascendency in securing its interest abroad. This has future implications from the new kind of challenges from the United States and dealing with it is obviously a herculean task for Chinese policymakers. An interesting observation can be drawn from the recent trade fight between China and the United States. In its retaliation, China has “strategically targeted” the U.S. exports by imposing tariffs on soybean farmers in the states of Iowa, Ohio, Nebraska and Indiana who voted for Trump in the 2016 elections. China in a way has started to influence the domestic politics of the U.S. and this is to continue in the near future.

Unwilling to resolve

Both the sides, for now, are reluctant to engage in serious negotiations and are playing rhetoric to cause more tremors in the market. Trump has threatened to impose another round of tariffs worth $200 billion, while Chinese have referred the issue to WTO for amicable resolution of the dispute. IMF warns of the danger of a possible recession with the ongoing trade fight. Any possible solution should truly recognise the problem of “the inner contradictions of the global capitalist system”  which has mostly worked in favour of developed countries.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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