Reporting rivalries both big and small has always been fundamental for our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry, so he looks on with fascination as the biggest one of all plays out – between the USA and China, with the recent news that the ‘people’s republic’ is now to restrict sales of two key elements in making computer chips.
In today’s Bank Holiday read he examines how this global contest could affect everybody.
Previously Phil has described how he was helped to break into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and made clear that the ‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.
He has also explored how poorly paid most journalism is when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC Cymru Wales (BBC CW) TV Current Affairs series, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off.
Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge of ‘history’ is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.
They seem to have no bearing on our daily lives, but EVERYONE should be worried!
Rivalries can be tiny (like two small gangs fighting out a turf war over who controls a certain territory), or massive (like the one we are seeing at the moment – the huge trade war between China and the USA).
The tiny ones can have terrible repercussions, as innocent people are caught in the crossfire, and the large ones could drive prices sky high for ordinary consumers, or if they escalate then heaven knows what may happen!
This basic truth has been rammed home for me by watching the latest round of the trade war in high-tech electronic goods between China and the USA.
This may sound boring, but it’s actually VERY IMPORTANT!
It has just been announced that from this month, China will restrict exports of Gallium and Germanium, two critical elements for making semiconductor chips.
They get incorporated into countless devices such as smartphones, laptops, solar panels and medical equipment, as well as defence applications.
As China dominates the supply of both elements this is crucial, because exporters will now need special licences to get them out of the country.
The move has the potential to harm a range of western tech manufacturers that use these elements to make their products, and is reportedly in response to western restrictions of equipment vital for making semiconductor devices.
The main restriction has been last year’s US CHIPS and Science Act, which curtailed exports of high-end microchips and technology to China, potentially affecting Beijing’s capacity for high-performance computing in areas such as defence.
After being lent on by America, other nations such as Japan and the Netherlands have also imposed limitations.
On the one hand it is essential to stand up to nations (and people) who don’t play by the rules (it is well known that China rips off patented ideas), on the other, as well as forcing up prices for ordinary people, it is all too easy for these things to spiral out of control.
It is, therefore, a high-risk strategy for President Joe Biden, and the USA.
The backdrop to all this economic chest-thumping from China is that its economy is in BIG trouble, and this could make things even more volatile, because a wounded animal often lashes out.
The economy grew last year at an annualised rate of just 3.2 per cent, whereas it is believed that America’s could be expanding at almost six per cent.
House prices in China have collapsed, and property development companies have gone to the wall. Consumer spending and business investment are in free-fall.
It is noticeable, therefore, that America is trying to cool things down a bit.
There have been high-level diplomatic contacts, with the Secretary of State Anthony Blinken meeting Xi Jinping in June, and the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, visiting Beijing for talks.
So while the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin (which has now been confirmed) is sensational, don’t forget what’s happening between the USA and China.
The effects could be JUST as long-lasting!
The memories of Phil’s extraordinary decades long award-winning career in journalism (which often involved reporting on long-running conflicts) as he was gripped by the rare neurological disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A Good Story’. Order it now.
Another book, though, has not been published, because it was to have included names.
Tomorrow – in a change to the advertised programme – why leading policy-makers and figures in the property world have condemned consideration of a rent freeze, and controversial moves to tax second-home owners, by the Welsh Government (WG).