9 June 2021
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
The US Senate embarked on a bipartisan journey that has all the hallmarks of a Cold-War mentality by passing a bill to boost US competitiveness against China. The idea that China is a threat to the US is not wrong. However, the approach to addressing that threat is open for debate. That China needs to be contained like the old Soviet Union while its internal contradictions force it to change is preposterous. The US and China are the world's largest trading partners, not adversaries without ties as the US and USSR were. Yet that is the lens through which the Senate is viewing the relationship. It is inevitable that this strategy will fail because it is based on a false premise.
This journal is second to none in its dislike for the Chinese Communist Party. It is a self-perpetuating confidence racket that has abandoned whatever ideals it might have had when founded in favor of staying in power. President Xi is simply another dictator ruining his nation's future in order to stay the top dog. If the communist values of old returned, he would be one of the first put against the wall for counter-revolutionary activity.
The US is concerned, rightly, about the way the future looks. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said "Do we want that image [of the future] to be a democratic image? Or do we want it to be an authoritarian image like President Xi would like to impose on the world? Either we can concede the mantle of global leadership to our adversaries or we can pave the way for another generation of American leadership."
The Republican who negotiated much of this with Mr. Schumer is Indiana's Todd Young. He said, "When future generations of Americans cast their gaze toward new frontiers, will they see a red flag planted on those new frontiers that is not our own? Today, we answer unequivocally, 'No.' Today we declare our intention to win this century, and those that follow it as well."
That said, the US and China are so closely intertwined economically that the Cold War approach will fail. The two nations have too many ways in which to respond to hostile actions between them. The US and China have to find a different model that allows for the US-crafted world order to accommodate a rising China. If they do not, there is a genuine risk of hostilities by proxy if not directly.
The US has legitimate issues with the way China operates. The theft of American intellectual property by Chinese nationals is a major loss to the US. The fact that any company wishing to do business in China must have a local partner with a 50% + 1 shares also harms US interests. The need to address these and other issues is overwhelming.
The challenge is to find a way to protect American interests while allowing China to take on a greater role in the global system. That is not being soft on China, but rather, it is an acknowledgment that China is a great power that has recovered from its earlier weaknesses. China will either enroll in the current global system as a more powerful player, or it will create its own rival system. The instability the latter would cause would be a threat not only to the global system but also to US interests around the world. As LBJ said of Herbert Hoover (whom he hated), "I'd rather have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in."
The bill still needs to get through the House, and there is little chance it will pass without amendment. That would probably mean a conference committee between the two chambers, and it would mean a further chance to alter the legislation. So long as the US government tries to graft a Cold War model onto the US-China relationship, the alterations are going to be irrelevant at best and counter-productive at worst.
© Copyright 2021 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.