June 05, 2013

China Qingdao Port Container Terminal

China Qingdao Port Container Terminal

Source: Shutterstock

Consider what we have done for China. We granted her Most Favored Nation trade status, brought her into the World Trade Organization, threw open the world’s largest market to Chinese goods, encouraged U.S. companies to site plants there and allowed China to run trillions of dollars in trade surpluses at our expense.

In 2012, China’s trade surplus with the United States was over $300 billion, largest in history between any two nations.

What has China done with the wealth accumulated from those trade surpluses with the United States? How has she shown her gratitude?

She has used that wealth to lock up resources in Third World countries, build a world-class military, confront America’s friends in neighboring seas, engage in cyber-espionage, and thieve our national and corporate secrets. Is this the behavior of friends or partners?

And if the Chinese airily dismiss our protests, who can blame them?

For years they have engaged in cyber-espionage. They know we know it, and they have seen us back off calling them out. For years we have threatened to charge them with currency manipulation, and for years we have backed off.

If they have concluded we are more fearful of a confrontation than they, are they wrong? Other than fear or cowardice, what other explanation is there for our failure to stand up to China, when its behavior has been so egregious and insulting?

Does America fear facing down China because a political and economic collision with Beijing would entail an admission by the United States that our vision of a world of democratic nations all engaged in peaceful free trade under a rules-based regime was a willful act of self-delusion?

What China is about is as old as the history of man. She is a rising ethno-national state doing what such powers have always done: put their own interests ahead of all others, suppress ethnic minorities like Tibetans and Uighurs, and crush religious dissenters like Christians and Falun Gong.

There is no New World Order. Never was. The old demons—chauvinism and ethno-nationalism—are not ancient history. They are not extinct. They are with us forever. And America is not going to be able to deny reality much longer or put off facing up to what China is all about.

Given her current size and disposition, one day soon we are going to have to stop feeding the tiger. And start sanctioning it.


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