Earlier in September, President Obama took the decision to block a Chinese firm from building wind turbines in Oregon, according to administration because of ‘national security concerns’. Where does this leave Sino-US relations?
China has become the foreign topic of this election, the trade deficit being a major debating point. Countries with strong, growing economies are often seen to be threatening America’s world standpoint, especially when the trade deficit is in their favour; is this a sign of insecurity from American Exceptionalism? During the 80s and 90s it was Japan but, as Japan goes through similar economic troubles as the rest of the world, China seems to be an ever growing economic (and even military) threat.
This is, of course, not the only subject on which the two countries have disagreements. The US recently said it stood with other East-Asian countries in disputes against China about the sovereignty of certain islands and fishing waters. Tensions are running high with this issue; no-one wants to compromise their lands, especially not by handing them over to China, the imperialist state of the region.
The idea that a Chinese firm could threaten the national security of American authorities is exemplary of how the rest of the world views China. Known for being the least democratic of world superpowers, with a shocking human rights record, China is not someone we want to lead the world. Though America does not have the best record with its foreign policy there is still a reason why Chinese dissidents, fearful for their lives, tend to run first to the American embassy.
The secrecy of the one party that presides over a fifth of the world’s population is something to worry about. When Xi Jinping, Vice president of China, (who is thought to be next in line for the premiership) missed public appointments rumours spread quickly that he was ‘missing’; effectively he went missing for two weeks before making another public appearance. For two weeks one of the highest ranking members of The One Party left the public eye before reappearing without explanation. That is worrying.
In the US, as the election looms nearer, the subject of the deficit with China has become a hot topic: How to take the manufacturing sector out of Chinese hands and back to blue collar America. Some companies have already started bringing the factories back, it seems as China’s economy gets better their workers expect better pay, simple economics; but this is not good enough for some voters who want to see their government take more protectionist stances. Romney has said that if he takes office one of his first acts will be to sign an executive order labeling China as a currency manipulator; in truth, though this would upset Beijing, it is not an unfounded accusation.
This could all just be a remnant of America’s waning world influence. As countries look to China for aid and investment rather than the US, Americans, who are so often told how great they and their country are, must be a bit confused. Like a princess stripped of her title making a scene. But we cannot forget that any threat of military action between China and America is one of the most serious threats the world will have faced, any order, even simply to stop some wind farms, must be cautiously taken.
BY: James Tennent