[International Herald Tribune, France]



Global Times, People's Republic of China

U.S.-Centric View Insufficient for Closer Sino-American Ties


Are American policy makers listening to the sound of their own voices to the detriment of better relations with China and the world? Columnist Rong Xiaoqing of China's state-run Global Times dismisses U.S. complaints about Chinese trade, intellectual and foreign policies, arguing that if President Obama manages to put himself in China's shoes during President Hu's visit, a successful great leap forward is possible.


January 19, 2011


By Rong Xiaoqing*


People's Republic of China - Global Times - Original Article (English)

Presidents Obama and Hu at the official welcoming ceremony on the White House lawn, January 19.  

BBC NEWS VIDEO: President Obama asserts he hasn't shied away from the issue of human rights during meetings with China President Hu, Jan. 18, 00:01:19RealVideo

The U.S. government has been making a fair amount of noise about Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington.


Almost every day this past week, there has been a briefing from a member of the Obama Administration giving the American view of many China policies, including those on the yuan, market access, protection of intellectual property, and foreign policy.


In some quarters the barrage of comments from the likes Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, might even be considered a bit rude ahead of the arrival of a leading guest. But to be fair, they were probably aimed more at a domestic audience than at influencing or upsetting China.


But when you live in the United States, it's quite easy to swallow a very U.S.-centric view of the world. That's until you pinch yourself and start to dissect it intellectually. The United States is a great country and has so many things going for it - but you have to understand that its government and a majority of its citizens always put U.S. interests first.


Think through some of the American complaints about Sino-U.S. relations.


First of all, let's take the big U.S. trade deficit with China. Watch Americans shop at any Wal-Mart or Target superstore and you'll see people rolling carts full of Chinese-made goods toward their cars. Using China as a manufacturing center has been critical to allowing Americans to retain a reasonable standard of living. This is something the Chinese people should feel proud of.


I'm not sure any of us want to imagine how bad the financial crisis would have been for America's middle class and poor without cheap Chinese goods.


These products are almost all being imported by U.S. retailers which, compared to the alternatives, like China's low-cost production and quality. It would be most interesting to see how people in the U.S. feel the day the yuan significantly appreciates and suddenly all those electronics and clothing cost more.


I'm not sure Bangladesh or Vietnam will ever be able to replace the industrial machine China has created in the past 30 years.


Next are complaints about a supposed American lack of access to Chinese markets. Some of this is self-inflicted. After all, the U.S. has very strict policies that prevent high-tech, military and other companies from selling high value goods to China. The concern is that China will acquire access to sensitive technology that could be used by its military.



Of course, U.S. companies in China do sometimes have cause for complaint. China's economy hasn't developed the same legal and intellectual property protections that exist in the U.S. But there have been improvements.


And Chinese companies, too, have concerns when it comes to access to the American market. Opposition in the U.S. Congress and government prevented the China National Offshore Oil Corporation from purchasing U.S. oil producer Unocal in 2005.


When Chinese telecom company Huawei wanted to be a junior partner in an acquisition of U.S. telecom equipment firm 3Com in 2008, it was blocked by Washington. Again, it was supposed to be a question of the security implications for the United States.


Finally, take the fuss during the recent visit to Beijing of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates over the unveiling of a Chinese stealth fighter. Is it so unreasonable for China to want to protect its borders and sea routes? After all, China still spends only a fraction of what the U.S. military does.


Of course, all of this is taking place against a backdrop that has China as the biggest foreign lender to the U.S. For years, China has been funding American spending by buying U.S. bonds.


President Obama is a very intelligent man, and I do believe he'll be able to see the world from a Chinese as well as an American perspective. If he does, I think the already very deep business relationship between the two countries has the potential of becoming so much more.


Just think of combining America's amazing success in areas like high technology and pharmaceutical development with China's strides in bringing millions of people out of poverty and educating engineering graduates. This is the kind of combination that could resolve an issue like climate change.


When you start thinking along these lines, it's quite easy to imagine that this summit could go a lot better than many have feared.


*Rong Xiaoqing is a New York-based journalist: rong_xiaoqing@ hotmail.com


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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US January 19, 4:47pm]


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