Getting Tough or a New Era of Partnership? (2)

17:36, March 26, 2010      

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American policymakers' goals, policies and agenda, with China have to change because America and China's relationship changed on September 16, 2008 when the financial and economic crises that grew out of American financial innovation exploded. When Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Paulson informed Congress and the world of the seriousness and global impact of the crises, it began a new era in America's relationship with China. America's conventional agenda of confronting and seeking the support of China was always self-defeating. In the new era of financial and economic crises it now is a profound, unnecessary and reckless danger to all nations. Having had imprudent economic policies, America desperately needs prudent new economic, foreign and defense policies. But will American policymakers adopt new or reiterate conventional policies? The genius and "better angels" of the American people and their new president makes new policies possible. They are essential for America's continued success.

Today American policymakers feel that they can harm and destabilize China, but that China must help and stabilize America. The illusion is that in a new era of partnership it is fine to ignore America's economic catastrophe and continue old policies that harm China's core interests, such as trying to force China to change what enables it to successfully manage its economy, selling further weapons to Taiwan, encouraging unrest and calling for regime change in China. American diplomats say, "To put our relationship on a more stable and mature footing, we have to delink our differences on bilateral issues from our cooperation on global issues." The illusion is that America can "get tough" and threaten and then force sudden and destabilizing changes in the rate of exchange of China's currency and "in due time solutions to the exchange rate it will be solved to the satisfaction of both parties." The reality is that to put America and China's relationship on a "more stable and mature footing," American and Chinese policymakers have to link, align and synchronize America and China's goals, policies and cooperation on bilateral issues and on global issues. American policymakers have the illusions that China's fulsome help in a new era of partnership does not require new American policies; and that China's policymakers cooperation on global issues does not require American policymakers' cooperation with China on bilateral issues.

America is the most advanced of 192 nations. The Chinese admire it in so many ways. But, Chinese policymakers can only help create global stability to the degree that American policymakers use America's economic and military authority with moral authority that is charismatic rather than insulting, injurious and indifferent to China's wellbeing. In the post September 16, 2008 era a "New School of America-China Relations" is needed. It was summarized in A White Paper for the Presidents of America and China and created by the America-China Partnership Book Series announced in Foreign Affairs September/October 2009. Fortunately as long as China continues to implement Deng Xiaoping's policies and to the degree that America reciprocates them, America and China's economic and national security can be aligned. Unfortunately America's political dynamics are not making that alignment and America's economic stability and success possible yet. Tomorrow the goals, policies and illusions of American policymakers' that today prevent them from successfully collaborating with China's policymakers must change.

Why is such an impossible thing essential for restoring the American people's economic and national security? It is traumatically obvious to China and other nations that the world's leading economic and military superpower's current policies have damaged America and all other nations economic and national security. Nonetheless President Obama has said that, "The United States must persistently press China on human rights even when doing so might jeopardize joint efforts in other areas. There are going to be times where China bristles at any mention of human rights issues. There are going to be times where that may affect our strategic partnership, but overtime we think that we could see progress. Encouraging China to become a responsible nation, not only internally but also internationally will be central to the 21st century." American policymakers recognize "that is not always going to be easy," but they feel they are implementing a "balanced approach" with Chinese policymakers "by seeking strategic partnerships on some issues" "while still being honest with them about areas in which we've got profound differences" such as freedom of religion and protection of minorities where China "is not reflecting the human rights approaches that we all think are universal." What could be wrong with that? Why aren't such American moral wisdom, altruism and courage universally admired and welcomed by the Chinese?

American current policies towards China seek results that American policymakers perceive as win-win for America's economic and military hegemony. However, to be accepted and implemented by China, American policies have to be win-win for America and China. In May 2009 David Shambaugh of the Brookings Institute summed up America's China policies, "President Barack Obama seeks to alter the modalities of strategic dialogue to pursue a broader strategic agenda in order to seek solutions to the global financial and security crises, climate change, and holdover issues from the Bush administration such as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran non-proliferation, value of the yuan, trade deficit, intellectual property rights and human rights. One challenge for the new administration will be to prioritize the issues on the agenda, although all of them must be pursued simultaneously." Such an agenda will not work well after the explosion of America's financial and economic crises and the resulting damage to America's influence and to all nations.

It is not safe to base America's policies toward China on the illusion that the American and Chinese civilizations can collaborate more on global issues while they clash more on bilateral issues. Today how can American policymakers realistically hope to convince the Chinese that Americans know what economic, military or moral policies are on the wrong side of history? The future determines that. American policies have made a nearly unsolvable mess of Americans' economic and national security. But American policymakers have the illusion that they have the duty and right to tell and when necessary, as in the case of the value of China's Yuan, to force China to be a "responsible nation."
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