Last week, while documenting rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, I noted that China is making some effort to demonstrate that coronavirus recrimination notwithstanding, the "phase one" trade deal between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping isn't totally dead.
China recently bought a half-dozen cargoes of soybeans, for example. They also bought lots of corn and ordered some 40,200 metric tons of American meat, the largest such order in seven months, according to the USDA.
One potential issue with China's purchases of US meat is that, currently, the headlines stateside are full of scary-sounding predictions about shortages of beef and pork. Some of those headlines include quotes from executives at large meat companies, including Smithfield Foods CEO Ken Sullivan who, early last month, framed the situation as life or death.
"We have a stark choice as a nation: we are either going to produce food or not, even in the face of COVID-19", he wrote, in a response to calls for the company to temporarily shutter a key pork processing plant in Sioux Falls after an outbreak.
As I dryly pointed out at the time, Smithfield is owned by a Chinese conglomerate. The Virginia-based pork produc
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