Can America Trust China as an Economic Partner?
China is huge. The country accounts for nearly a fifth of the world’s population. China is paranoid. They are an active part of the world government and economy only because they have to be. If it were possible to keep themselves as closed off as a country like North Korea, they would. They simply do not have everything they need to make that happen… yet.
These are the two biggest challenges with the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) that is currently being discussed. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) supports the concept, saying that strengthening US-China economic ties will benefit both countries and the rest of the world with them. The fact that it’s supported by the CFR is scary enough, but the facts behind what is being discussed are even more frightening for the United States in particular and the world in general.
China is huge. When they get the economic chops to be able to be the dominant force in every way in the world – militarily, economically, and politically – they will be able to make mandates much in the way that the United States has done until very recently.
China is paranoid. When they have the power, they will not wield it in a way that is intended to “keep the peace” and expand prosperity the way that some (used to be most, but now it’s just some) of the United States’ policies and influences have affected the world. They will use it to dominate, plain and simple. This isn’t because they are evil or selfish. They have many good motivations. Unfortunately, they are paranoid and self-protection will be the top priority.
Former Utah Governor, Trade Representative, and GOP nomination candidate Jon Huntsman is pushing a US-China BIT as hard as he can. He believes that the future is in economic ties between the countries that would allow both to profit dramatically. The challenge is that they have all of the people. We had the money, but much of our money is technically now they’re money through debt. They only need our consumers and infrastructure. Once they are able to build their own consumers (something that is happening more and more every day) and solidify their own infrastructure, they will be the ones in control.
China would benefit greatly from a BIT. The US would only have short-term benefits, but those tables would turn quickly.
According to the CFR:
Aside from the mutual economic benefits, Huntsman says BIT negotiations—which he thinks could take anywhere from five to ten years—would help counterbalance other bilateral challenges, such as Taiwan or cybersecurity. “There’s always something going on in the U.S.-China relationship that causes stresses and strains. My biggest challenge as ambassador was making sure there were enough offsetting collaborative issues that can keep us from being completely confrontational. And that’s where something like the bilateral investment treaty really goes a long way in keeping us at the table, working productively toward something that’s more aspirational. My big gripe today about the U.S.-China relationship is we don’t have enough in the way of aspirational work; we don’t have enough in the way of big picture, visionary undertakings that keep us out of trouble.”
Read More: CFR