How The U.S. And China Are Fighting For Global Power

In his trade conflict with China,
President Trump has made big demands and big claims that his tariffs on
Chinese imports will force Beijing to give in. I think we will make a deal with
China. I really think they want to. I think they sort of have to. The reality is more complicated.
President Xi Jinping has leverage too. Available data about the Chinese
economy shows plenty of trouble. Stocks on the Shanghai Composite Index
declined 25% last year. China reported 2018 growth of 6.6%. The slowest in
30 years. The question is why? Nick Lardy an expert at the
Peterson Institute for International Economics says the biggest factor is Beijing’s
own internal economic policies. Trump’s tariffs he says have made China’s
economy only slightly worse. But the tariffs have also hurt America’s
economy. Wall Street has grown jittery, U.S. growth is slowing, and unlike
Xi Jinping whose term is unlimited Trump faces voters next year. All
those factors would seem to point toward the two largest economies making a
modest compromise. Just like the deal Trump made with Canada and Mexico
to revise NAFTA Called U.S.M.C.A. Sort of just works. Trade specialists say
Xi won’t eliminate his signature Made in China 2025 program or wipe
out Beijing’s huge trade surplus in two years as Trump has demanded. But
Beijing might agree to bring down that surplus by purchasing more U.S. goods
and open new markets to American exporters. If Trump portrays that as
a White House victory Beijing won’t mind because in some ways Trump’s
America First policy has been helping China. By exiting the Trans-Pacific
Partnership and roiling U.S. allies Trump has opened the door for a
larger Chinese role in global trade. I think the Chinese were ecstatic that
the United States pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership And that is an element of the
Trump that they’re very, very pleased with and they are taking advantage of
it. They want to create a regional economic trading system that revolves around
China and not one in which the U.S. is involved
much less a major player By diminishing other international
commitments he enlarges China’s opportunity for expanded influence through
its Belt and Road Initiative of overseas investment It’s planned as
one of the largest and most comprehensive development projects
in human history. They are relentlessly seeking control of
ports and raw materials flows all over Africa. I mean it is such a
nakedly neocolonial strategy. And by downplaying human rights Trump has relieved a
non-economic source of American pressure on the authoritarian Chinese regime. Just
as President Trump predicts big economic benefits from a China
trade deal, his aides insist the administration is upholding American influence
in other ways. A White House spokesman questioned the idea
that Trump has downplayed human rights at all and noted that
the administration is pursuing economic, security and governance cooperation with
countries in the Indo-Pacific region without TPP. In addition to trade
Vice President Pence said recently that cooperation includes infrastructure
projects better than the “unsustainable poor quality” kind in
China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Know that the United States offers a better option. We don’t drown
our partners in a sea of debt. We don’t coerce or compromise your
independence. The United States deals openly and fairly. We do not offer
a constricting belt or a one way road. When you partner with us we
partner with you. And we all prosper Even if the Trump administration can
reach a bilateral trade deal with China experts like Larry Diamond
worry that Beijing’s broader effort to expand its global power may work at
the expense of America and the Western world. I really cannot imagine a
more realistic scenario for the future shape of the world not inevitable
but plausible that is more frightening than having an unreconstructed
and increasingly neo-totalitarian, Orwellian Chinese Communist Party state being
the dominant and hegemonic superpower in the world. The alternative to
that has got to be a comprehensive strategy lead by the world’s democracies
to project our own values of freedom, democracy, personal autonomy and
innovation, freedom of ideas and information and to counter the Chinese narrative.

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