This piece just in from Bret Stephens in The New York Times. I agree with the overall “tenor” of his argument – and certainly with his justified condemnation of the Chinese Dictatorship and its people! (Notice that Stephens wisely does not distinguish between the two!) I opine that what Stephens is suggesting is that we do not destroy “China” but that we “re-dimension” it, as Italians would say. I agree. But surely one first approach – this may take some time – is ultimately to break up the Chinese Empire! Stevens has not seen this aspect, this angle of the Chinese question – I wish he had. In any case, the piece is valuable because – as the photo that heads it depicting the “Emperor” Xi descending (as against “ascending”) a set of stairs clearly indicates – Stephens unlike other moronic pundits can wisely see that the Chinese Empire is going to the dogs, and will soon be consigned to the rubbish-heap of history. – Which is not to say, of course, that we relent and give this monster any chance to trouble our sleep any longer and any further than it can. Cheers.
Since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, China has behaved in increasingly nefarious ways. Domestically, it has shifted from one-party to one-man rule and become a surveillance state that locks up innocent people by the hundreds of thousands in concentration camps. Abroad, , , , , , , , and . The goal of “,” the party’s new official dogma, isn’t stakeholdership. It is dominance: “Why question the Communist Party,” , “when the alternative is chaos and corruption?”
China also poses an underappreciated danger. By many measures, it has already peaked. Its economy ; its ; its ; its ; and its most successful citizens . Rising powers can bide their time. Declining ones — at least authoritarian ones — tend to take their chances. As China’s economic prospects dim, its taste for foreign adventures will grow. Taiwan should worry and re-arm.
So what should the outlines of a wise China policy be?
China can’t be defeated. It’s dangerous to provoke and too unscrupulous to appease. But it can be countered, undermined, and enticed — a type of containment with off-ramps.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, the free-trade deal negotiated by the Obama administration, might have served as a core piece of the strategy by deepening U.S. economic ties across the region. But Trump withdrew from it in his first week of office.
Deepening military cooperation with our allies in Asia should serve as another piece of the strategy. But Trump ended large joint exercises with South Korea, has on military ties with Japan and has yet to make major .
Denouncing China’s human-rights abuses and championing civil rights and religious liberty would counter Xi’s efforts to entrench a cult-of-personality regime. But Trump has been silent on the subject, and his administration intended to punish Chinese officials for their mass incarceration of Chinese Muslims.
Worst, Trump is obsessed by our trade deficit with China, which has led to his tariffs. But tariffs are a tax on U.S. consumers, and the wrong tool to deal with China’s routine theft of intellectual property. Trump is falling down here, too, by the entities or individuals doing the stealing.
The goal of the next administration should be to reverse each of these errors. As for off-ramps, it would also help if U.S. policymakers resisted the temptation to think of China as our next great enemy. As the Canadian scholar Michael Ignatieff (in a different context), there’s a difference between adversaries and enemies — between those whose designs “you want to defeat” and those whose very existence “you have to destroy.”
China is now an adversary of the United States. A wise U.S. policy should treat it as one. But it should also do everything possible to keep it from becoming an enemy. Generous accommodations in trade negotiations would help: The last thing the U.S. or the world needs is a wrecked Chinese economy or a humiliated Chinese public.
How do we gradually deflect and deflate the ambitions of an immense rival power, without quite bursting them? That will be America’s central geopolitical challenge for years to come.