Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sino - American relations - Enjoy while they're still comparatively cosy

(Still cash enough for a few rifles!)
The Washington Post writes on Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the US:

"While they recognize they are a growing international force, I believe the Chinese of today are pretty absorbed with their domestic development," Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick, the administration's point person on China, told a small group of reporters last week. "Will the China of 10 to 15 years from now have a similar view? I can't say."
China's foreign policy has traditionally stressed maintaining the status quo. But in recent months, administration officials have begun to emphasize to the Chinese that with greater economic power comes greater international responsibility. Zoellick, in a major speech last September, said that though the United States had once tried to rein in the Soviet Union, it now wanted to draw out China and integrate it into the international system.
China, Zoellick said, should become a "responsible stakeholder," willing to tackle broad international concerns as any great power would.

What is actually meant by this American sweet-talking to the Chinese? "Responsible stakeholder" means that the US wants China to back up the US in its efforts to counteract Iranian og Korean nuclear programmes, and support the US in other arenas as well. With these great expectations to the Chinese, one may wonder why Hu is not given the full, toplevel reception in the US? It is quite unusual that a state visit at this level starts in the Western US, and the Chinese president opens the ball by having a meeting with a private businessman (Bill Gates). Hu has perpaps more to talk with Bill about than with George: Let's get down to business, for Christ's sake!! Anyway, it is unusual and a protocol of international diplomacy that is tantamount to giving the Chinese president a snub. He is not even invited to a full galla dinner at the White House, but only to a lunch.

What is going on here? It is obvious that Bush wants to show some muscle to the American public: Look at me leading the Chinese leader down the garden path to the exit behind the Rose Garden! And then the visit was even postponed. It was supposed to have taken place in September, but the Americans used the Katrina disaster as an excuse for postponing it.

The international situation is too serious for this kind of playing around the Bush (Ha, Ha!!). If I were Hu, I think I would have stayed at home. But this is not the Chinese line. The chinese are experts at quiet, efficient and pragmatic diplomacy. And they share a lot of common interests with the Americans that they'll not risk for bravouda diplomacy, primarily the economic interests: The 200 bn. $ surplus in the foreign trade with the US. The Chinese are using the US trade as an engine for economic development and expansion/modernization of the Chinese economy.

The Americans are playing the role of the generous Uncle Sam with the unlimited purse strings that the printing of the common international currency, the dollar, gives. The country is the surprisingly liquid central banker of the world with their deficit financing of the costly war in Iraq, and their deficit financing of much else. Jubii!!, The world is awash in cash. May the party last for a very long time!! It's good for the balance of payments of the prudent nations and for all the home owners in Western countries, who are sitting on piles of cash when equities in their houses increase!

The Chinese know how to exploit the American profligacy, - and the continued acceptance of the dollar as international currency (for how long it lasts!?) to their own advantage. For the time being they finance the American trade deficit by buying American treasury bonds and other assets that the Americans are not too fond of. Even though they were not allowed to take over the American oil company Unocal in July 2005 (so much for unlimited economic freedom!), the Chinese pc maker Lenovo could buy the IBM pc division - after pc's had become cheap standard mass industrialised goods that weren't worth much anyway. But never mind, the Chinese know how to appreciate industrial production niches and turn them around to their own needs and advantages.

The Chinese won't show their muscle as a coming superpower until they're strong enough. And they're are afraid of being pressured by the Americans in the Taiwan issue. Furthermore, Hu Jintao may want to strengthen his position in the Chinese Communist party leadership by being a statesman on the international scene, shaking hands with the dangerous Texan cowboy in Washington. But it may backfire, when the comrades in Beijing see how he has actually been snubbed.


Blogger Sophia said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Sophia said...

Le Monde reports in his today's evening edition many points of divergence between the two countries:
The devaluation of the Yuan
On Taiwan, president Jintao's decalrations after the meeting gave a sense of inflexibility:
"Taïwan constitue une portion inaliénable du territoire chinois. Nous allons continuer à faire tous les efforts et à prendre toutes les initiatives, en toute sincérité, pour atteindre l'objectif d'une réunification pacifique des deux côtés du détroit de Taïwan". "Nous ne laisserons jamais personne permettre à Taïwan de faire sécession par rapport à la Chine, de quelque manière que ce soit".

11:13 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Duck said...

The US can pressure China on Iran by using Taiwan, where the Chinese are quite sensitive. On the other hand China is buying quite a lot of oil from Iran, so the question is if it'll go in for a more flexible attitude on Iran in the Security Council?

11:38 AM  
Blogger Sophia said...

Cosmic Duck
I don't think the US is in a position to pressure China on anything. By the end of day, Chinese will get what they want.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Duck said...

According to recent news, Hu has promised to do more about the trade imbalance. But perhaps it turns out to be only promises.

9:56 PM  

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