Posts Tagged by Thomas Friedman

Opinion | China and America Are Heading Toward Divorce – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

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“. . . .  But both sides are not equally to blame. The Xi era in U.S.-China relations, which began in 2012, has led the relationship steadily downhill. China went too far on a broad range of issues.

Start with business. For many years U.S. companies thought they had enough market share inside China that they would tolerate the stealing of intellectual property and other trade abuses China engaged in. But in the last decade, China started to overreach, and the American Chamber of Commerce in China began to complain louder and louder. Gradually, many in the U.S. business community, which was a key buffer in the relationship, began to endorse Donald Trump’s hard-line approach (although they don’t like paying tariffs).

Since Xi took power and made himself effectively president for life and tightened the Communist Party’s control over all matters, U.S. journalists working in China have had their access sharply curtailed; China has become more aggressive in projecting its power into the South China Sea; it’s become more fixated on subsidizing its high-tech start-ups to dominate key industries by 2025; it is imposing a new national security law to curtail longstanding freedoms in Hong Kong; it’s stepped up its bullying of Taiwan, taken a very aggressive approach toward India and intensified its internment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang; it’s jailed two innocent Canadians to swap for a detained Chinese businesswoman; and it even hammered countries that dared to ask for an independent inquiry into how the coronavirus emerged in Wuhan.

After Australia’s prime minister called for such an investigation in April, China’s ambassador to Australia brazenly threatened economic retaliation, and a few weeks later China cut off beef and barley imports from Australian companies, citing bogus health and trade violations.

That is the kind of crude bullying that has helped to strip China of virtually every ally it had in Washington — allies for a policy that basically said, “We have different systems, but let’s build bridges with China where possible, engage where it is mutually beneficial and draw redlines where necessary.”

That balanced policy approach always had to contain serious tensions, ugliness and disagreements on issues — but in the end it delivered enough mutual benefit to be sustained for 40 years. That balance is now off as far as many Americans are concerned. I am one of them.

As Orville Schell, one of the most sensible advocates of this balanced approach, wrote in an essay a few weeks ago on TheWireChina.com: “Today, as the U.S. faces its most adversarial state with the People’s Republic of China in years, the always fragile policy framework of engagement feels like a burnt-out case. … A recent Pew poll shows that only 26 percent of Americans view China favorably, the lowest percentage since its surveys began in 2005.”

But if China has increasingly overreached, America has increasingly underperformed.

It is not just that China reportedly has fewer than 5,000 Covid-19 deaths and America has over 120,000 — and the virus started there. It is not just that it takes about 22 hours on Amtrak to go from New York to Chicago, while it takes 4.5 hours to take the bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai, slightly farther apart. It’s not just that the pandemic has accelerated China’s transformation to a cashless, digital society.

It’s that we have reduced investments in the true sources of our strength — infrastructure, education, government-funded scientific research, immigration and the right rules to incentivize productive investment and prevent excessive risk-taking. And we have stopped leveraging our greatest advantage over China — that we have allies who share our values and China only has customers who fear its wrath.

If we got together with our allies, we could collectively influence China to accept new rules on trade and Covid-19 and a range of other issues. But Trump refused to do so, making everything a bilateral deal or a fight with Xi. So now China is offering sweetheart deals to U.S. and other foreign companies to come into or stay in China, and its market is now so big, few companies can resist.

Summing up the relationship today, McGregor, of APCO Worldwide, noted: “I don’t know if the Chinese are taking America seriously anymore. They are happy to just let us keep damaging ourselves. We have to wake up and grow up” — and get our own act and allies together. China respects one thing only: leverage. Today, we have too little and China has too much.

Source: Opinion | China and America Are Heading Toward Divorce – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Foreign Affairs and U.S.ForeignPolicy

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Opinion | China and Trump- Listen Up! – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“HONG KONG — I’ve been in Tokyo and Hong Kong this week, and if I were to distill what echoed in all my conversations, it would sound something like this:

From Chinese business and government types, some real anxiety — “Can you please tell me what is President Trump’s bottom line in this trade war? Is this about rebalancing trade or containing China’s rise?” — combined with some real bravado — “You realize that you Americans are too late? We’re too big to be pushed around anymore. You should have done this a decade ago.”

From the Japanese it was gratitude — “Thank God for Donald Trump. Finally we have a U.S. president who understands what a threat China is!” — combined with real anxiety — “Please, please be careful. Don’t go too far with Beijing and break the global trading system.”

And from a smart European consultant it was bewilderment — “Boy did the Chinese have a failure of intelligence. They had no clue just how much both Democrats and Republicans, and Europeans, all want to see Trump hammer China in these trade talks. But please, please don’t start a cold war with China that will force us to choose sides.”

And from me to both my Chinese and Japanese interlocutors: I’m glad Trump is confronting China on its market access barriers. Those are the real issue — not the bilateral trade imbalance. This is long overdue. But trade is not a zero-sum game. China can thrive and rise, and we can, too, at the same time. That’s what’s been happening for the past 40 years. But we’d be even better off if China offered the kind of easy access to its market for U.S. manufacturers that it enjoys in America. It’s time to recalibrate U.S.-China economic ties before it really is too late.”

 

Thank you Thomas Friedman. Here is a comment I support.

Edward
Philadelphia
Times Pick

In this situation it seems time to cut off access rather than beg for it over and over. If the US and the EU both installed a policy that all policies regarding access are a mirror of the country in question, then the ball is moved into China’s court. Open up and keep access to those markets or stay closed and stay home. Back that up with huge trade and military agreement with the rest of Asia.

Source: Opinion | China and Trump, Listen Up! – The New York Times

Posted in: Thomas Friedman, Trade and Trade Policy

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Opinion | Trump to China: ‘I Own You.’ Guess Again. – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

Shopping in China

“Early in the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” a Chinese-Singaporean father admonishes his young kids to finish their dinner, saying, “Think of all the starving children in America.” I’m sure that everyone of my generation in the theater laughed at that joke. After all, we’d all been raised on the line: “Finish your dinner. Think of all the starving children in China.”

That little line contained within it many messages: The first, which any regular traveler to China’s biggest urban areas can tell you, is that rich China today — its luxury homes, cars, restaurants and hotels — is really rich, rich like most Americans can’t imagine.

The second is that this moment was destined to be a test of who will set the key rules of the global order in the 21st century: the world’s long-dominant economic and military superpower, America, or its rising rival, China. And this test is playing out with a blossoming full-scale trade war.

What does such a test of wills sound like? It sounds like a senior Chinese official telling me at a seminar at Tsinghua University in April that it’s just “too late” for America to tell China what to do anymore on issues like trade, because China is now too big and powerful. And it sounds like President Trump, in effect, telling China: “Says who? Show me what you got, baby!” Or as Trump actually tweeted last week: “We are under no pressure to make a deal with China, they are under pressure to make a deal with us. … If we meet, we meet.” “

Source: Opinion | Trump to China: ‘I Own You.’ Guess Again. – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Foreign Affairs and U.S.ForeignPolicy

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