Will economic pressures weaken the West’s alliance?

This morning’s retail sales update isn’t pretty. Sales volumes fell by 1.4 per cent last month, following a 0.5 per cent drop in February (revised, and worse, than the original estimate of 0.3 per cent). The biggest fall came in non-store retail shopping: almost an 8 per cent month-on-month fall. However, the Office for National Statistics points out that overall sales volumes are still roughly 20 per cent higher now than they were pre-pandemic. But the recent drop indicates that the cost-of-living crisis is already worsening, as inflation – now at 7 per cent – is taking its toll on real incomes and is already prompting changes in consumer behaviour.

Putin must look at the West and laugh

Whatever the West’s response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty, the crisis demonstrates the limitations of western politics and policy across the board. If Vladimir Putin understands any demographic better than the Russian people, it is the governing class of the West: that Harvard-Oxbridge-Sciences Po axis of toweringly smug and practically interchangeable global-liberals who weep for international norms they weren’t prepared to defend. Their ideas and their sanctions are tired because they are civilisationally tired. Putin knows this, but none of the rival ideologies aiming to replace liberalism have anything better to offer. The failure of the global-liberals comes on many fronts but two of the most significant have been

The China challenge has no precedent

The US has never been more worried by the rise of China than it is today. In my Times column today, I mention a new book by Joe Biden’s China director on the National Security Council which sets out why ‘China now poses a challenge unlike any the US has ever faced’. Rush Doshi notes that American hegemony has been based, in considerable part, on its economic might. In the second world war, Germany and Japan combined did not reach 60 per cent of US GDP. Throughout the Cold War, the Soviet Union failed to hit this mark. Yet, China passed it seven years ago. The book sets out how China is attempting

How China is stoking racial tensions in the West

Footage of a brutal late March attack on a 65-year-old Asian American woman in Manhattan drew widespread outrage on social media. It also made for a productive afternoon for Zhao Lijian. From his Beijing office, the Chinese government spokesman retweeted 20 posts and shared the video 12 times on his official Twitter account. ‘We can’t help but wonder, who will be the next victim? When will it all end?’ he asked his almost 900,000 followers. Zhao isn’t the only one who’s been busy. In the wake of the Atlanta spa shootings on March 16, Chinese state media used Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to stoke a narrative of American racism and