In Monday's meeting
between top U.S. and Chinese officials – touted as an unprecedented inaugural
– the U.S., as usual when facing China across the negotiating table, is at a
At this very moment, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill is pounding
his head against a wall after another round of negotiations with the North Koreans
in which nothing much happened. The representatives of the other four nations
involved in the talks presumably nodded and coughed in sympathy and then headed
back home. This recurring theme with the North Koreans will most likely come
up with the Chinese, seen by the U.S. as the (potentially) most influential
member of the delegation whose mission it is to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.
As with many other issues on today's agenda, the U.S. is in the unfortunate
and frankly humiliating position of having to ask China to do things that China
doesn't necessarily have to do. In fact, it is this position and its repercussions
in U.S. domestic politics that led President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao
to propose these high-level meetings in the first place.
China's recent evaluation of the RMB and rather silent acquiescence to U.S.
politicizing of the UNOCAL affair are signs that China realizes its negotiating
advantage on most fronts vis-à-vis the U.S. and can therefore make concessions
that may placate without giving away any real advantages. The RMB dropped a
"dramatic" 2 percent to 8.11 to the dollar, inviting warnings of hot
money from financial experts around the globe; hot money that is obvious as
such to the Chinese and therefore can be dealt with accordingly, unlike the
funds that brought down the Asian Tigers in 1997. And the UNOCAL issue was and
still is a PR coup for China – one of the least transparent economies in the
world – as economists and pundits throughout the West rushed to defend free
trade and admonish U.S. protectionism.
Basically, U.S. diplomacy is so ludicrously crude and glaringly self-serving
that a nation such as China, barely 20 years on the international stage, can
run circles around the Bush administration and gather allies throughout the
world – Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Russia, and most importantly
Europe while America sees itself increasingly isolated and its currency beleaguered
The U.S. government seems to know nothing of the various revolutions taking
place in China these days. Intellectual, social, economic, sexual… China is
not a Communist nation. Stop treating it as such. The Party is the biggest gangster
in town and they happen to pick red as their color and "communist"
as their name. The private sector knows this and is making big money off of
U.S. policy in Asia seems to be run from the Pentagon. Asian economies are
given access to American markets in exchange for vows against terrorism, military
bases, and empty words concerning human rights and democracy. The inevitable
trade deficit created by a consumption-based economy and bloated military spending
to make good on those agreements to build fortified consulates and airstrips
makes steel workers and tobacco growers petition their senators, who in turn
holler about Red China stealing our jobs. So what does the Bush administration
do? Gather everybody around and convince them to pressure China on the currency
What the U.S. government really needs to do is take the Crusade out of every
foreign policy decision it makes. There is no Crusade, fellas, the war is over.
A unipolar world is not in the cards. "Containing" China is not in
Forget about those freaks in North Korea. Let Japan and China deal with their
own problems. Let Taiwan and China deal with their own problems. These obligations
to our "friends" are killing us.
Turn your attention inward and find solutions in the U.S. for those steelworkers
who find themselves on the wrong page of a financial report. Currency manipulation
will not work in the long term, and even a fool like me knows it.
Next time a Chinese company wants to buy something in the U.S., do as the Chinese
do and squeeze every last dime out of them.
If this relationship is as complex as the Bush administration admits it to
be, then a softer, wiser, and more strategic approach is needed: selling arms
to what 90 percent of the planet deems a breakaway republic is neither soft
nor wise. And what strategic aim does this fulfill? Power in Asia? If this is
the case, why is ASEAN asking how high
every time China hollers jump?
I suppose it is too much to hope for, America suddenly getting wise to the
fact that soap-box rantings about human rights, terrorism, and unfair trade
practices aren't getting any love from China or anyone else in the world.
Release our diplomats from the yoke of the misguided dream of a World in America's
Image and allow them to do what they do best: negotiate a good deal.