opinion | Who benefits from the confrontation with China?

There are also signs that China’s leaders are divided in supporting a more confrontational stance. It falls to the United States to reassure those who might be open to reassurance. America and China grapple with many of the same challenges: how to ensure what President Xi Jinping has called “common prosperity” in times of income inequality; how to rein in the worst excesses of capitalism without losing one’s vital creative powers; how to care for an aging population and young people who want more out of life than work; how to slow the pace of climate change and manage its disruptive effects, including mass migration.

At the core of America’s China strategy, building stronger ties with our allies, is sound policy. Over time, the United States should seek greater alignment of its economic interests with other national goals. The President’s budget proposal, released Thursday, reiterates some of Mr. Blinken’s speech last year and proposes multibillion-dollar foreign aid and investments to support US allies in the Indo-Pacific region. “We’re trying to make sure we can beat them globally when it comes to hearts and minds,” said Shalanda Young, the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

But the United States should not retreat from forums where it has long engaged China.

For example, the World Trade Organization operates an appellate court created to decide trade disputes. However, the court has been inactive for over two years since the most recently appointed judges completed their terms of office. New judges cannot be installed without the support of the United States, and the Biden administration has declined to provide that support. The United States has also withdrawn from the WTO’s committees that write trade rules, according to Henry Gao, a professor at Singapore Management University and an expert on the organization. In November 2021, when Mr. Xi proposed using the WTO as a forum to set rules for state-owned enterprises, a key American goal, the United States did not show much interest, Mr. Gao said in an interview.

This is a mistake. The building of a rules-based international order, in which America played the leading role, was one of the major achievements of the 20th century. It cannot be preserved unless the United States continues to participate in these institutions.

The Biden administration’s continuation of Trump-era trade restrictions and the introduction of a host of new restrictions is also a dubious strategy. Limiting competition is likely to bring some near-term benefits, but America’s economic growth over the past several decades has been driven primarily by increased productivity in sectors exposed to world trade. The competition has been both painful and beneficial. The value of the federal government’s large investments in infrastructure, research, and technical education is greatly diminished by policies that limit the size of the market for American goods or protect American businesses from healthy foreign competition.

The confrontational turn also makes it more difficult for the United States and China to work together on addressing climate change and other issues where national interests could plausibly align.

Much of the shift in China policy has been justified as necessary for national defence. National security considerations may provide legitimate justification for restricting some types of trade with China. But it can also provide a legitimizing vocabulary for protectionist measures that are not in American interests. In the long run, the best guarantee of American security has always been American prosperity and commitment to the rest of the world.

This also applies to China.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/11/opinion/china-us-relationship.html opinion | Who benefits from the confrontation with China?


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