More debate on China, this time from Tom Manning, a senior partner with Bain, a global consulting firm, and a long-time resident of Hong Kong.
He is worth quoting at length here:
In all these matters, the U.S. tendency has been to flip-flop between treating China as friend and foe. Our actions defy coherent categorization. Do we treat China as a full partner? Rarely. Do we treat China as a competitor? Sometimes. Are we confident about how to act? Almost never. Not much of a policy. The U.S. has been lucky that more crises, economic or political, have not materialized while it has been occupied with Iraq.
Recently, Washington demonstrated resolve by avoiding pressures to erect trade barriers against China. But the lack of a long-term strategy virtually guarantees that some future decision will fall the other way.
The U.S. needs to figure out how its relationship with China can develop greater stability, trust and partnership. No future administration will succeed without a well-conceived game plan.
It’s time to transcend the paranoia of the past and establish a forward-looking view of how China can contribute to the global economy and political landscape.
China’s rise in global stature will occur with or without a supportive America. So it behooves the United States to be involved in whatever manner possible.
The next administration should take three steps to fill this policy void:
The United States should develop a bold, long-term vision for the U.S.-China relationship. It should articulate goals of cooperation and partnership and move decisively away from the stale policies of isolation, containment and mere engagement. The United States should revise its foreign policy in Asia to incorporate China’s leadership role. Already feeling that influence, Asian nations are reshaping their economic and foreign policies to address the reality of a regional superpower. The United States must do the same. China’s assistance in addressing the North Korea issue provides validation for this policy update. Future regional economic difficulties or terror attacks could raise the need even more.
The United States should clarify recent policy with regard to pre-emptive action, which undermines the development of collaboration with other nations and lowers respect for America.
This policy revision does not mean abdicating the U.S. right to protection, defense or security. By regaining respect as a nation that places the common good above its own interests, however, we can earn much-needed trust from the Chinese, render our intentions less suspect and make our impact more meaningful. The United States and China can have a far better impact on the world by working together rather than apart.
Hmm. This leaves me somewhat perturbed. How should US policy proceed for the incoming Presidency?