An Adult Conversation On China
October 19, 2012
Governor Romney and President Obama owe the American people a better explanation of what their China policy will be moving forward and how it will help create opportunities and jobs here at home.
The level of debate on this vital issue is reminiscent of a grade school fight. “He started it”. “Did not” “Did to!” It is childish and does nothing to address the concerns of the American voters and may harm our long-term relationship with China and start a trade war that would hurt workers in both our countries.
It is clear politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, use China as a boogieman to mine for votes.
Are there problems with our relationship with China? Absolutely.
Our national leaders should stand up for both free and fair trade, human rights, and enact sensible policies to help address currency manipulation and theft of our intellectual property.
Romney talks tough on China, as all presidential challengers always do, declaring he will brand China a currency manipulator on day one of his presidency. Most thoughtful experts believe this would only stiffen the Chinese resolve and likely would lead to a trade war where no one wins.
Obama, mocks Romney’s “tough talk” and calls him the “Outsourcer in Chief” for shipping jobs to China while leading Bain Capital.
At The State Level
At the state level, Governor Snyder has put a sensible China policy in play. Snyder is seeking ways to increase Michigan exports to China and knowing the Chinese plan to invest over one trillion dollars around the globe is positioning Michigan as a good place to invest.
While the past administration played “Peking Duck,” never once traveling to China, Snyder has traveled there twice in his first two years in office to develop the necessary guanxi (relationships) to tap the 21st century mother lode of economic opportunity.
This strategy will help grow jobs in the Mitten State.
At the national level we need an adult debate on China.
Ignoring or alienating one-fifth of all humanity with a rapidly expanding economy and military is not a smart policy. We need less talk of division and subtraction and more focus on how our relationship with China can add value and multiple jobs here at home.
Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State and architect of America’s China policy has been sharply critical of both Governor Romney and President Obama on their appealing to American suspicions about China. He said both were using “extremely deplorable language.”
Kissinger has endorsed Romney but opposes his stand on China, saying virtually all China experts oppose it.
As we witnessed in the 2006 governor race between Dick DeVos and Jenifer Granholm, playing the China card for votes may be good politics but it will not do anything to get our country working again.
As the 21st century unfolds, there will be no more important relationship than US and China. All major global issues will intersect at the corner of Beijing and Washington D.C. How this relationship is managed will impact not only the people of America and China –but all of humanity.
The final debate is on foreign policy. Perhaps President Obama and Governor Romney will enlighten us on their China policy and stop the scare tactics in search of votes.
We need a leader that understands that what happens in China does not stay in China and will assure China’s continual rise does not come at our demise.
Let that debate begin.
Tom Watkins has an eclectic career in both the public and private sectors. He served the citizens of Michigan as state superintendent of schools and director of the department of mental health. He has held leadership positions in higher education, business and behavioral health. Watkins has a interest and passion in all things China and has written hundreds of article on the value of this most important bilateral relationship in the world today.