The Wool Shorn
from the Nations of the World
Cannot Keep America Warm
By He Lin
Translated By Dagny Dukach
24 December 2012
Edited by Rachel Smith
China - Huanqiu - Original Article (Chinese)
The media would have us believe that Sino-American relations have recently become extremely calm. According to the logic that no news is good news, this might indeed be a good thing. There are two reasons why the media no longer holds that every American must be exterminated. The first aspect, I believe, is that both nations have for a time been preoccupied with their own internal political agendas, too busy to attend to each other. The other aspect lies in China’s ideological leaders’ and the general public’s long-time lack of shock at American politicians’ meaningless sound bites during the over-stimulating disease that is the presidential election. Nerves have toughened, immunities have strengthened and the U.S. has grown weary.
Now, the 23rd U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) is about to be held. To a certain extent, this comes at a time when the dust has settled regarding both countries’ major domestic agendas. It is a time of significant transition in U.S.-China relations, the first time that the two nations have shared high-level interactions. Thus there are at least two benefits to holding this conference that may be utilized bilaterally. First, now that the smoke of the U.S. presidential election has cleared, both sides can calm down, discuss matters frankly and get rid of emotional considerations. Secondly, the JCCT is a targeted platform, and thus can tear down politicized rose-colored glasses and actively focus on business alone.
Whether or not they are able to effectively utilize these two benefits in the completion of concrete tasks will, rationally speaking, depend upon both sides’ cooperation, but America’s wishes and choices will be most important.
In the past few days, there have been three particularly eye-catching news stories regarding the American economy. The first is the melee between Obama and the Republican Party regarding the “fiscal cliff”; the second is the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank’s declaration that it is officially launching its fourth quantitative monetary relaxation policy; and the third is the forecast released by the U.S. National Intelligence Committee predicting that by 2030, China would surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest economy, at which point the era of America’s sole domination will come to an end.
Although it is good to formulate international regulations bearing in mind the hegemony of the U.S. dollar, if we rely on shearing the wool off foreign countries to keep ourselves warm, everyone will be pulled over the “fiscal cliff” together and our bungee cords will not work. Although self-knowledge is good, obstinate focus upon an imaginary enemy will not free us from the zero-sum way of thinking and would be no better than fighting a windmill. This fear might explain why the U.S. has always refused to relax its policies toward China with regard to supervision of high-tech exports, and why the investment environment encountered by Chinese companies visiting America is still not quite as people expected.
To return to the JCCT, the global economic situation is complicated and grim, full of variable circumstances, and no one is without their share of problems. America’s concern is whether or not its administrators will be able to cast off the shackles of domestic politics, treat disparate issues separately, remove politicization from the issue of U.S.-China trade and continue to work with China to end the economic crisis. Indeed, the crux of the matter lies in whether America is able to rationally look upon itself and upon China. This will decide the bottom line of America’s logic and bargaining in its dialogues at the JCCT.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the U.S.-China “Shanghai Communique.” 40 years ago, no one could have imagined that the U.S. and China’s economies would become so closely entwined that their interests would become of such great mutual concern, that their economic structures would become so complimentary or that the extent of their cooperation would grow so deep. As the greatest developing nation and the greatest developed nation respectively, the strengthening of cooperation between China and the U.S. is vital for the stability and prosperity not only of those two countries, but of the entire world. The U.S. and China are entirely capable of overcoming the zero-sum way of thinking in favor of a more mutually profitable frame of mind.
The American politicians of today ought to have more wisdom, courage and insight than those of 40 years ago. I only hope that they are able to understand that through Sino-American economic cooperation, we may achieve a good start to this meeting at the JCCT, which in turn will help us take one more step down the path toward improved U.S.-China relations.
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