This is what happens when a country refuses to give in to bullying:

In November 2020, accompanying its import bans, China produced a list of 14 grievances and demanded that Australia “correct” its behaviour.

Mr Morrison ignored the demand, and took China to the WTO over its barley and wine bans. Yet now China has relented. This was consistent with Mr Xi’s broader charm offensive in Bali. And no doubt the advent of Mr Albanese, a less abrasive prime minister, provided cover for the climbdown. At bottom, though, Australia’s refusal to bend meant the Chinese approach was just not working. It is a lesson, says Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s prime minister from 2015 to 2018, universally applicable to victims of bullying: “Stand your ground.”

If all countries responded in this way, the world would see less bullying.  Unfortunately, not all countries are willing to stand their ground.

The US government recently gave in to bullying from Russia, which essentially kidnapped a US basketball player and held her hostage as a bargaining chip in negotiations to free a convicted arms dealer.  It is tempting to view this prisoner swap as a “humanitarian” gesture, but just the opposite is true.  The fact that Russia’s tactics were successful insures that more people will be used this way in the future.  In the long run, there will be more hostages taken as a result of the US government decision to give in to the Russian demands.

This is a perfect example of what economists call the “time inconsistency problem”.  Actions that seem beneficial in the short run may end up being very costly in the long run.