Quit bashing Beijing — China’s rise is good for America

Blaming the rising power for our troubles is dangerous and just plain dumb: The U.S. needs a strong China

Topics: US-China relations, 2012 Presidential Debates, 2012 Elections, Foreign policy, China, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, US Foreign Policy,

Quit bashing Beijing -- China's rise is good for America (Credit: AP/Tony Dejak/J Pat Carter/Salon)

In tonight’s presidential debate on foreign policy, we’ll likely hear plenty of China bashing from both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney: Expect an earful about trade “cheating” and “currency manipulation,” and about how the candidates will “get tough” on the rising superpower.

The routine scapegoating of China — which no less a figure than Henry Kissinger, the architect of U.S. rapprochement with Beijing in the 1970s, has called “extremely deplorable” — is targeted at vulnerable people who have suffered deeply from the effects of the economic recession.

It is easier for both campaigns to shift blame to foreigners than to remind voters that the global financial crisis began on Wall Street, not in Beijing.  Or to point out that  trade with China – America’s third-largest export market – has helped pull the United States out of the global financial crisis.

Demagogic attacks by both campaigns on China are particularly dangerous since they play into often unspoken but prevalent anti-Asian racial prejudices in various parts of the United States.  American leaders should try to overcome the sad history of anti-Asian prejudice, not exploit it for political gain.

Perhaps the only consolation one can take in this season of China bashing is that it may finally force a badly needed national debate on U.S. policy toward China.

With respect to national security, the Obama administration benignly describes its large-scale military buildup in the Pacific as a “strategic pivot” to Asia or “rebalancing” U.S. forces.  Both terms are euphemisms that mask the reality of current policy.  We are now implementing an aggressive containment strategy that stimulates China’s military modernization and its own preparations for war.

Increased tensions with China could have a number of dire outcomes.  They could lead to serious military conflict over Taiwan’s political status, over whether Japan or China holds sovereignty to several uninhabitable islands in the East China Sea, or over the ownership of small islands and energy resources in the South China Sea.  In a worst case, those conflicts could escalate, by accident or design, to a nuclear exchange.

You Might Also Like

Not satisfied with the pace of the Obama administration’s buildup in Asia, Gov. Romney calls for an even stronger U.S. presence in the Pacific to threaten China more severely with America’s military might.

On economic issues, both campaigns play to voters who believe that China’s rise is occurring at America’s expense.  Just the opposite is true.  China’s rise strengthens America’s economy and future prosperity.

Between 2000 and 2011, U.S. exports to China increased by about 640 percent, from $16 billion to $104 billion.  Exports to China grew seven times faster than U.S. exports to all countries in the world except Canada and Mexico, and supported thousands of high-quality American jobs.

Yet both campaigns are striving to outdo each other in demonizing China on trade issues.  Gov. Romney promises to declare China a “currency manipulator” and unilaterally impose punitive tariffs on Beijing.  Those tariffs would violate America’s solemn legal obligations to the World Trade Organization, recklessly risk a trade war,  and contradict July’s assessment by the International Monetary Fund that China’s currency is only “moderately undervalued.”

The Obama administration attacks China for “illegal subsidies” to expand auto exports while simultaneously taking credit for the bailout of the U.S. auto industry – a huge subsidy – that has left American taxpayers on the hook for $25 billion.

Both campaigns ignore the fact that increased American military pressure on China strengthens the Chinese Communist Party.  China’s leaders use the “U.S. threat” to justify draconian security measures at home to repress human rights and democracy.

As former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky has cogently explained, the “most dependable weapon” available to an authoritarian regime is an external security threat that can unify the people and legitimize internal political repression.

Clearly, we need a national debate about U.S. China policy to prevent doing permanent damage to American interests in Asia.  We need to rethink our current policy to avoid a new Cold War and to benefit economically from China’s rise so as to strengthen America’s security and prosperity.

The best way to overcome the “China threat” and advance U.S. interests in the region is by achieving a stable peace with China through the resolution of outstanding security and economic conflicts between the two countries.

We should keep in mind the profound words of President Bill Clinton:

“Some Americans believe we should try to isolate and contain China because of its undemocratic system and human rights violations, and in order to retard its capacity to become America’s next great enemy … [This] would not make the world safer.  It would make it more dangerous.  It would undermine rather than strengthen our efforts to foster stability in Asia … It would hinder not help the cause of democracy and human rights in China … It would cut off, not open up, one of the world’s most important markets.  It would encourage the Chinese to turn inward and to act in opposition to our interests and values.”

Donald Gross is a former White House and State Department official. His new book, The China Fallacy: How the U.S. Can Benefit from China’s Rise and Avoid Another Cold War, will be published by Bloomsbury on October 25. See www.donaldgross.net.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>