Let’s start with two undisputed facts. First, we owe the Chinese a crapload of money. We owe China the kind of money that changes the definition of ‘money’ if you screw with it all at once. Second, the fastest and easiest way to piss off the Chinese is to bring up Taiwan. You might conceivably dispute the third point – when you visit people to whom you owe a crapload of money, a safe way to piss them off is to lecture them about how to run their house.
You can probably guess where I’m going with this. Hoping to boost his standing after a South America trip that most acknowledge as a disaster, Bush lectured the Chinese on how they should be more like Taiwan:
Modern Taiwan is free and democratic and prosperous. By embracing freedom at all levels, Taiwan has delivered prosperity to its people and created a free and democratic Chinese society,” Bush will say according to an advance text released by the U.S. White House.
By meeting the legitimate demands of its citizens for freedom and openness, China’s leaders can help their country grow into a modern, prosperous and confident nation
et cetera. China’s initial reaction, not so positive:
China said on Wednesday it would not tolerate any interference over Taiwan, after United States President George Bush praised the island’s democracy and urged Beijing to open dialogue with Taipei.
“Taiwan is a part of China, an inseparable part of China, and China does not brook any interference in its internal affairs,” Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told Agence France Presse on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific summit in South Korea.
Despite the fact that China badly needs democratic reforms, this was an inexplicably stupid move. Rumors about the president’s declining rheum sound more and more credible every day.
Criticisms that I’m ignoring China’s need for democratic reforms make no sense to me. Just the reverse is true – we all want to push China towards democratization. The problem is that you accomplish the reverse by insulting them.
What makes more sense to me is that I was not enough aware of how easy it is to provoke an angry response in east Asia. It’s reassuring, mostly, to hear that this sort of angry diplomatic rebuke happens every day in China, Japan and the Koreas.
Groan…I’m embarassed for you all.
a guy called larry
Tim, don’t you know you’re supposed to call them Communist China when you’re not talking about the money we owe them, or all the stuff in our stores? Even if it’s in the same sentence, decorum dictates this.
Can we make him stay in Crawford? And cut the phone lines? Who writes these speeches for him, an arms dealer?
I think we can say goodbye to Taiwan now. We are in no position to help them. And we have borrowed a googleplex of bucks from the Chinese, what if they want it all back, now? Score another win for the Shrub.
I read in a reliable source (National Enquirer, Star, or some other grocery store rag) that Bush had a nervous breakdown. You know the boy’s toast when they’re making up that shit about him. Or maybe they’re not making it up.
I’m no fan of the Chinese Government, representing as it does (strictly IMHO) the worst of both hugeness and of Leftism – but I have to say that I would fall over delighted if I were ever to hear a member of the Govt of Israel speak this forcefully and directly about a notion’s right to rule itself..
Too bad the US is so willing to lean harshly on a free, productive ally like Israel to Israel’s terrible detriment, while remaining content to give empty, foolish speeches like this to the intractable Chinese Government.
Eretz Yisrael L’Am Yisrael
PMIF – that wold be a “NATION’S” right to rule itself, not a “NOTION’S”
China should be more like Taiwan.
I’m no fan of President Bush. But his administration – especially when Powell was at State – had already embarassingly backslid in our official and legal stance to support the Taiwanese against aggression from Beijing.
If this is a reversal of their earlier capitulation, then good.
Thanks. After five years, I’m kind of used to being embarassed by the president. I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to NOT be embarassed by the president.
Seriously though, what the hell was Bush thinking?
Probably he was just having a bit of fun.
MN Politics Guru
China should be more like Taiwan.
I’m no fan of President Bush. But his administration – especially when Powell was at State – had already embarassingly backslid in our official and legal stance to support the Taiwanese against aggression from Beijing.
Yes, China should be more democratic like Taiwan. Bush saying this isn’t going to help.
Let’s use an analogy: what would people in Texas say if a prominent Democrat, say John Kerry, told Texas that they need a better education system like the one that exists in Massachusetts? The truthfulness of such a claim would be unimportant. People would bitch and moan about how an outsider who knows nothing about Texas is trying to interfere. Same thing with China.
Besides, how the hell are we supposed to support Taiwan? We have committed our entire military to Iraq and they are, through no real fault of their own, not doing a bang-up job of securing that country. What are we supposed to help Taiwan with? Bush is writing checks with his mouth that his political capital can’t cash, as they say.
Human Rights Watch Letter To President Bush (on his trip to China)
Click on the link to read the rest.
I guess I’m with Human Rights Watch in not thinking that this is a poor move on Bush’s part (which amazes me, because I do think he is a horrible president).
I think this post is pretty craven, actually.
We owe them money so we should give them a free pass to oppress people?
OK, MN Politics Guru – so you disagree with Human Rights Watch on this issue. Fine.
I disagree with them on ocassion myself.
And as to your last point, just because Bush has screwed up Iraq does not mean that we should abandon our commitments to Taiwan.
If China’s upset. Too bad. As a lender, they have to be nice to us, or we don’t pay them back.
But yeah, China should be more like Taiwan. But the incredibly brilliant guy from MN is right. The problem with these direct attacks is that while they play well back home, they have the opposite effect abroad.
We need them to be more democratic, and the way to do that is simple.
We sell them more Big Macs.
The road to Democracy is paved with Capitalism.
It’s my new quote. I just made it up, and when I campaign for President next year you’ll be hearing it a lot.
I will say this:
I agree that Bush has severely squandered America’s moral capital – in the worst way imaginable.
And I think there can be a legitimate discussion about the harm he can do to a righteous cause by opening his mouth on any subject, because he’s now “President Torture” and “President ‘Whoops’ No WMD” – but I don’t think that means that he should be forever barred from stating the obvious about a country that badly needs to improve its political framework.
After all, it’s not like he said we’re going to invade them. Then I’d be worried.
MN Politics Guru
Saying that China should be more democratic is not the issue. It’s that little added bit, the “like Taiwan.” No good could possibly have come from adding that part.
Comments like this make me think that either Bush doesn’t know anything about foreign relations, or enjoys deliberately pissing off other countries simply because he can.
Sure, it was a dumb thing for Bush to say.
It’s dumb because all it is is talk. And, frankly, I’m not sure we can do anything more.
Realistically, what levers do we have to influence how China treats its citizens?
Trade? They’ll be holding Mass in Hell before the US cuts off trade with China. We need their cheap products to keep our consumer economy afloat.
Military threats? Pardon me while I laugh until I drool. Even if we still had any military to threaten China with, China isn’t exactly Afghanistan or Iraq. It has a huge army, and nukes.
And it’s not like the Chinese themselves are clamoring to be liberated, esp. not by outsiders. The Chinese government has learned the most basic rule of staying in power: people who see their economic lot in life improving tend to be pretty supportive of the political status quo.
It’s actually kind of funny: China is moving from totalitarianism to authoritarianism while the US moves from liberal democracy to authoritarianism. Meanwhile, the man most responsible for authoritarianism in America decides to lecture the Chinese on freedom. I wonder if ol’ George is going to hold forth on the rule of law while he’s at it. That should be good for a few belly laughs.
Is there no end to the ongoing clusterfuck that is this presidency?
Steve S writes: “As a lender, they have to be nice to us, or we don’t pay them back.”
It’ll hurt us a lot more than it’ll hurt them.
China’s basically just North Korea on Prozac, and if an economic
collapse results in millions starving, so what? A few tanks and a hose
will take care of any demonstrators.
I’m not sure I quite understand the premise of this one. You mean to say there are still people in this world who take what Bush has to say seriously?
Well, there’s Laura, Bar, Karen, Condi… and 37% of the American people. At last count.
Oh, wait; you mean globally?
And, sadly, true.
I bet we’re polling ok in Micronesia…
You forgot Poland.
Oh, wait… They’re leaving the Coalition of the Dwindling by the end of the year. Never mind.
They don’t have anything else to do.
Can you explain that sentence to me Tim? Decling sanity perhaps. Decling credibility. Declining relevance. But declining rheum?
Yeah, and they said Reagan was stupid when he told Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”
They said Reagan was stupid when he called the Soviet Union an “Evil empire.”
But the inmates and freedom loving people rejoiced.
To wit: Here are the words of Natan Sharansky, then serving a nine year jail sentence for his pro democracy work:
Calling for greater freedoms does not squander political capital. Calling for freedom builds it.
I have not forgotten the Tiananmen Square protesters, nor the replicas of the Statue of Liberty they brought with them to the square.
It’s too bad so many of you have.
I have also not forgotten the words of John F. Kennedy:
“Let the word go forth, from this time and place, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans. Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we will pay any price, bear any burden, befriend any friend, oppose any foe, in order to ensure the survival and success of liberty.”
I’d like to think that we’d all back him up.
I see liberty has more than a few fair weather friends on this board.
Tomorrow, Jason will lecture us about apple pie. Friday, motherhood.
This isn’t the position I normally take but I am 100% supportive of Bush on this one.
I’ve lived in Taiwan for 13 years. It’s funny to see Balloon Juice make this kind of post.
China doesn’t like ANYTHING we do with regards to Taiwan and issues the same statement over and over. They were pretty angry when Clinton sent the carriers off Taiwan as well.
There is no problem with Bush saying China should be more like Taiwan and learn from Taiwan. See, if Taiwan is part of China (and notice that Bush used the words Chinese to describe Taiwan’s society) then why shouldn’t they be able to learn from Taiwan?
You know what would really anger the Chinese? Tell them to learn from Japan or Korea.
In any case, I would strongly suggest to not rely on Balloon Juice for any analysis of Taiwan-China-US relations.
Oh, and the US owes China money. Yes. But I rather suspect that gives us some power over them as well…if they ever want to see their money back. Do you think we should kiss their butts instead, since we owe them money? LOL.
Sure, a default would be horrendous for both sides, but they keep buying T-bonds to sterilize their balance of payment. Otherwise the yuan would shoot up (well, no it can’t so then it would converts to inflation and other distortions.)
And for some historical perspective, many people were very critical of Clinton’s caving in to the Chinese during his visits there.
People in Taiwan were very bitter about Clinton then…
Members of Congress pressure the Clinton administration into issuing a visa allowing Taiwan’s President Lee Teng-hui to make a four-day visit to Los Angeles and Ithaca, New York, where he gives a speech at his alma mater, Cornell University. Although President Lee’s trip is billed as a “private” visit, angry Chinese officials recall their ambassador from Washington in protest.
In the months following President Lee’s visit, the Chinese military begins conducting exercises in the Taiwan Strait. They fire short-range missiles and stage live-fire war games and air exercises between July and November.]
–I assume Tim F was angry about this, too. Imagine the nerve of Clinton to anger our creditors!
Okay, enoughg anger from me…must calm down…bye bye
Aaron your grasp of world finances is quite …errr… interesting. If China ever decided not to buy our T-Bills we would be in a world of hurt. We are giving them a lot of power over our economic well being. Kiss their asses? No, but piss them off in their own country when they are hosting our President?
Right! Because as soon as Reagan said that, Gorbachev raced over and tore down the wall himself with his bare hands.
Sure, the “historians” will tell you that it was more of an ongoing process of decades of internal economic decline and corruption inside the Soviet Union that led to the repeal of the Brezhnev Doctrine in 1989 and then the opening of Hungary’s western border, the sudden flight of East Germans through it, and then the realization among the East German leadership that they had no choice but to tear down the wall … but they’re kooks.
The power of Reagan’s voice and will was all that mattered.
I think we should suck up to China, and encourage them to basically butt rape, er, I mean assert legitimate national prerogatives over the Taiwanese the way they’ve done with Tibet, and come to think about it, pretty much anybody who has pissed off the Chinese, um, workers paradise kinda government thingy over the years. And anybody who says anything about it is just stupid and should be shot. This administration is a miserable failure, what with standing up to China and telling them we’d like to see more freedom of speech and voting rights. Miserable failure. Next thing you know they’ll be calling for free elections in Iraq, Syria, and Egypt. Stupid bastards, it’s going to cause no end of trouble. I’m so embarassed for my country today.
I was going to say what Jason said… he said it better than I would have. They complained about Reagan but he did the right thing. BTW… Donald Trump once explained that if you owe enough money to some institution, you have as much leverage over them as they do over you. They can’t afford for you to fail to repay.
I agree with HRW, too. Excuses that we shouldn’t ‘meddle’ with the internal issues of dictatorships because we’re ‘outsiders’ are inoperative. As a free people we are duty bound to pressure totalitarian regimes to democrtatize.
Besides, this isn’t exactly a new position of Bush’s – he took Clinton (who accused his father of being too friendly with “those who crushed democracy” in Tiananmen Square) to task for coddling Communinst China in 1999, before he’d run in a single primary.
Even Clinton occasionally sent the 7th Fleet through the Taiwan Straight to show support for Taiwan at critical moments. Was that sort of show of support for Taiwan also “incredibly stupid”? This smacks of grubbing for something to complain about.
Hey, what does Sharansky know? What makes him so credible? And why should we believe some two-bit Bush toady like Vaclav Havel who says that Reagan’s words empowered their resistance to the Sovs? They have no credibility, what would they know about what it takes to defeat tyranny. Bush is a miserable failure. It’s just words. Take it away PPGaz…
You are suggesgting that the USA would reneg on US Treasury Bonds? Its not just the Chinese that have them you know. lol….
Rick Lee writes; “Donald Trump once explained that if you owe enough money to some institution, you have as much leverage over them as they do over you. They can’t afford for you to fail to repay.”
Donald Trump wasn’t talking about a nuclear power with no qualms about running their own citizens over with tanks.
That’s quite a bit different.
Dodd writes: “Besides, this isn’t exactly a new position of Bush’s – he took Clinton (who accused his father of being too friendly”
Friendly? Bush’s deficits mean that he’s basically selling America’s ass to China.
That’s not just friendly, that’s intimate.
It’s typical posturing on both parts, and both sides genuinely mean what they say, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored for the sake of diplomatic nicety.
Besides, I believe Bush is taking a softer tack than say Reagan did with the Soviets, and Bush views China as much “freer” and “advanced” than ass-backwards North Korea, so there is a level of gradation in the President’s thinking here, and I’m sure he’s calculated his remarks to not offend too much but to convey enough of a message that will be a thorn in the side of the ChiComms.
I cannot believe that Tim posted this. This is getting bad. China is a poor country – we are their biggest customers. Did you know for instance, that if Wal-Mart were a country, that country would be the eighth largest buyer of China’s goods? To suggest that we need them more than they need us is ludicrous. I second Aaron’s post above, don’t come to Balloon Juice about US-China relationships. Bush made the right statement. Hey if Bush can take people rioting in the streets for days around the world, criticizing him, the Chinese can handle one short critical statement. I don’t mind some center-left commentary, but how did this is turn into a far left blog? Tim, please save the far-leftiness.
There is something to be said about being honest about it, but I don’t see what they intend to accomplish here. In the 80’s we had the Soviets on the ropes. Reagan wasted four years, but did see the opportunity with Gorby and took it (even though the hawks bitched and moaned about it, I might add). To his credit.
China isn’t a failed state. Not by a long shot. Before 9/11, the Neocons favorite punching bag was China, not the ME. Their strategies talked about ensuring supremecy and preventing China from becoming a superpower.
The problem is, China is an economic superpower, and we’re thinking we can mitigate that with the Big Stick (TM). I think we’re just marginalizing ourselves there, as we waste a trillion on GWoT/ME and not the engines that drive our innovation.
The Soviets had no chance of running with us. China doesn’t have that problem. They’re thrilled we’re bleeding ourselves out in the ME.
Certain high ranking members of China’s government also recently threatened to invade Taiwan and were philosophical about losing half their population in the nuclear war with the US that would follow. The US I want to live in speaks up for their friends. I don’t know what US some of you want to live in.
In my view, all of the criticisms of the main post are valid. It is interesting to see Bush-hatred lead to such Scowcroftian “realpolitik” on the part of a self-professed liberal. As to the money issue, what is China to do with all the U.S. dollars they get from us? Burn it? Hide it in their matresses? Ultimately, it has to be invested in the U.S., giving the Chinese a substantial interest in the growth of the U.S. economy.
Man, oh man. I wish this were true. However, if you run the numbers the US-China trade deficit is ridiculously huge. They “need” us like the Saudis “need” us, which is to say they “need” us to keep buying the resources we require to continue to exist as an economy. High import rates imply that we can’t subsist on our own and require other countries to produce our consumer goods.
The US has gotten addicted to cheap foreign labor and cheaper foreign resources. If China were to disappear tommorrow, you’d suddenly have sneakers and soda bottles and action figures costing the US exponentially more to make than they did before. And our economy couldn’t take a blow like that.
The US is paying the price of “Walmart Falling Prices” with its soverignty.
If China were to disappear tomorrow, other regions would begin to take up the slack.
You don’t have to believe this, but you will if you have noticed the Made in Malaysia/Madagascar/Mexico labels on your clothes and other products.
Capital flows to where it produces the most added value. Like water, if you dam it up here, it will flow there.
Well, they could also spend the money on:
1) EU Arms
2) EU supplied Nuclear plants/technology
3) Asian technology partnerships
4) Industrial base
5) Foreign oil/energy companies and reserves
Actually, they’re already doing all that. With our money. Doh!
Zifnab -China not a poor country? What is the average income of a Chinese citizen? What is the average income of a US citizen. Look it up. We need Saudi Arabia because they sell us oil – a commodity increasingly hard to find. We don’t need the cheap toys and trinckets we buy from China. We can buy them in plenty of other countries. They need US more to keep buying them, and help lift their millions of people out of poverty.
And PPGaz, wow, a posting I agree with. The world is coming to an end!
I know what you mean. I’ve been agreeing with Richard Bennett lately, too.
Has the earth broken out of its orbit to hurl into outer space? Has the law of gravity been repealed?
Maybe it’s some of that global warming I keep hearing about, making hurricanes and making bloggers agree.
Agreed. Let’s drink.
They use it to build up their infrastructure and feed and clothe their millions of poor people.
Is this Stormy or Ppgaz?
Stormy is not the only drinker around here.
Main difference is, she’s younger and her doctor hasn’t advised her against it yet.
I mostly comply with my doctor’s advice. By so doing, I keep in effect the warranty on some recent work done on my innards.
But once in a while I just say fuckit, and drink anyway.
Yeah, and what good did they do?
We defeated the Soviet Union with the power of the Big Mac! In the end it was Harry Truman who was more right than all the evil-doer callers. The Road to Democracy is Paved with Capitalism.
Again, this is my new mantra… my new ideology. It’s even consistent with my being wrong on the South African boycott thing back in the 80’s, and it explains why our calling Cuba evil-doer ever two minutes hasn’t succeeded in toppling Castro.
Just as an fyi – found this here:
US 2004 GNP per capita -$41,400
China 2004 GNP per capita – $1290
The Alcohol industry has benefited signifigantly from having President Bush in control of the red button.
Pretty catchy slogan Steve – keep it up, I might vote for you when you run.
scs – Yeah, but you need to read the Purchasing Power Parity table. They’re not that far down.
Nah, they aren’t on Table 2. That’s Hong Kong and Macao – they didn’t make the top 50.
Someone seems to be confusing this believing this statement is stupid, with a position that we somehow like dictatorships in China. As I noted early on, this shit plays well at home, because there are morons who think this, but it serves no effect overseas other than to create a bunker mentality with the dictators.
We’re not going to change China with words. It’s gotta happen with Capitalism. Build up their economy, and the people will revolt against the lack of their own control. i.e. the foundation of Democracy.
Look at the SARS outbreak. In the past, China has had famines and disease and lost thousands. They didn’t care. They dug a hole, threw the bodies in and nobody outside the country knew the better. But now with their global trade, a thousand deaths put up a big red flag and they started losing visitors and as such money. BAM! Things changed quickly. The government oficials whow ere doing nothing were ousted at the behest of the people, and replaced with people who were going to do something.
Anyway, the argument that people here are in favor of dictatorships is a non-starter.
scs – I assumed that was Hong Kong and China. I see what you mean now.
People seem to assume Democracy and Capitalism will always go hand-in-hand. As though it’s Gods (or Adam Smiths) way or something. From our perspective (or illusion) it is. But the Chinese have been doing things differently for a very long time.
How close, really, is South Korea’s or Japan’s democracy to ours? People vote, but the power (primarily corporate/economic planning) is way, way more centralized than the US. So are they as really as ‘democratic’ as us?
In another generation or two, I don’t think Democracy is going to really mean the same thing here or in China. Capitalism will thrive. Corporatism will thrive. Communism will mean something else. Whether your vote or mine (or Massachusetts) will matter should not be assumed. China may be able to make an Oligarchic Capitalist state work (and Rupert Murdoch is ready to help!).
The US will not be quite as Oligarchic, but power will probably be more concentrated than now. Think about it – by the end of GW’s term, two families will have controlled the Executive Branch for 20 years. With Jeb and Hillary waiting to extend it more.
Is that what Democracy is?
Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root.
New Harris poll is up on WSJ.com. Bush’s approval number falls to 34%.
I figure if Crazy Shrubbins makes one more rant about Iraq he’ll get down to where Nixon was at this point in his second term: 29%.
“You know what would really anger the Chinese? Tell them to learn from Japan or Korea.”
Yeah, after Bush and Koizumi’s meeting yesterday, Xinhua immediately sounded the alarm about the reaffirmation of US-Japan military ties. It was delicious.
As far as how well a pointed remark about Taiwan is going to play goes, enh. Try spending half a week or so reading the political headlines here in East Asia. Just about every day there’s a Chinese politico telling the Koizumi cabinet to stop visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, a Japanese politico telling the CCP to keep a better lid on anti-Japanese sentiment, and a DPRK flack declaring that Japan’s shifting military policy is a cover for a planned full-scale invasion of the Korean Peninsula. Visits between Japan and Chinese and ROK heads of state have been off-and-on for ages. The idea that there’s some kind of placid diplomatic pool that Bush is sending ripples over is ridiculous.
That’s not to say that the PRC won’t be pissed off, but the threshhold for being considered undiplomatic is very low here.
This post was completely misguided on Tim’s part. The Chinese deserve more freedom and Bush was smart to mention it in his speech. I thought liberals were for democratic reforms, but I guess it is only when the President asking for the reforms is a Democrat. Very disappointing post. Jason’s comment is why I have read his blog since it was called Iraq Now. Good stuff.
I don’t even have time lately to get a drink on because work has been crazy.
pp – What the hell do doctors know anyway?! ;)
Posts like this make me think that the righties have a point when they talk about “Bush Derangement Syndrome”….
How deliciously dishonest.
Listen, I’m ALL for China making reforms and striding towards democracy. However, this isn’t about that. It is about lousy DIPLOMACY.
Here’s a quick primer. You want your lawnmower back from your neighbor. Do you say:
“Hey neighbor, I’m going to need that lawnmower back. My in-laws are coming to town, and heaven forbid my mother-in-law sees a less than well maintained frontage.” (Everyone chuckles)
“Hey asshole, you’ve had my fucking lawnmower for three weeks. If you don’t give it back to me now, I’m going to thump your skull with this baseball bat.” (Fight ensues)
While I realize many of you would be inclined to go for option two, it is not an exemplary diplomatic model.
This is pretty funny – especially as China went to the communists originally because of liberals. (See: Truman and Marshall’s abandonment of Chiang Kai-shek.)
Is there any doubt they will abandon Taiwan?
Guess what? Cold War II is coming soon to a theatre near you. This time it is with the ChiComs. Where is our Ronald Reagan this time?
Precisely. Saying what he said is pretty much like asking your kid, “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” when he won’t do his homework. Wanting him to do his homework is not a bad thing…comparing him unfavourably to someone else, though, is the worst way to go about it. Bush did the exact same thing. There’s nothing at all wrong with him urging China to be more democratic — but the way he went about expressing it was incredibly insensitive, ineffective, and boneheaded.
Sometimes I slip into ye olde englishe phrases to add flavor. ‘Declining rheum’ roughly means the gradual loss of one’s faculties. Or at least that’s how I understand it.
Hah. That’s exactly the analogy that I wanted to use, except that I decided to keep the post brief. Maybe I should have run with it.
That’s exactly what Tim did, and yes it was a craven, morally bankrupt position for him to take. I’m disappointed that a number of others on this thread agree with him. What’s more, Tim’s underlying premise is wrong, as he demonstrates a pathetic lack of understanding of basic economics. First, China doesn’t want to piss us off in fear of not getting paid back. It’s not like they can repossess our cars. They have no collateral other than US notes. Second, they are a much poorer nation than the US and need our business badly. Third, by funnelling their money into US Treasury notes, they keep the dollar artificially overvalued and the Chinese Yuan artificially undervalued.. a situation the Chinese WANT TO CONTINUE.
In summary, economically we have at least as much, almost certainly more leverage over China than China has over us. But we shouldn’t be talking about freedom and democracy in China because we run trade deficits with them. Unbelievable
If we don’t say anything that won’t offend China, we won’t say anything at all. What Bush said was pretty mild, and it’s hardly going to be the end of the world.
Of course words won’t accomplish anything alone, but it’s important to let China know where we stand, and to let the world know. The statement had a lot more to do with democratic reforms than with Taiwanese independence!
When you devolve into a morally bankrupt money-more-important-than-human-rights position, you become France:
You have France, supposedly a western nation, joining China in large scale naval military exercises for the purpose of intimidating free elections in Taiwan. Un-fucking-believable, but that’s exactly what happened. Make no mistake, France would sell out western civilization for a few euros
Canada hasn’t had the will or the courage to take a tough stand on freedom and democracy since the Korean war. It’s part of their national ‘character’. Sad really
Oh yeah, Bush’s comments really freed all of the political prisoners, didn’t it. No more oppression in China, now that Bush has said “Play nice.” That was definitely worth whatever consequences may come.
Now, back in the real world, we have a leader whose irresponsible fiscal actions have helped China bend us farther over a barrel. We have a reduced capacity to wield a military stick due to our adventurism in Iraq. We owe China enough money to, well, buy our nation with. It’s one thing for the big kid on the block to tell other kids not to pick on the nerd. It’s another thing for the nerd’s tiny best friend to do so. It’s all bluster with no bite, and it pisses off our largest creditor. What’s the upside to this? America can say we’re strong on human rights (except for when we torture people).
And Darrell, you misunderstand the China situation. If we default on our debts, the US bond value would plummet. That would undermine the entire global economy, and screw a ton of people out of their retirement. Sure, it would screw China too, but not as badly as it would screw us. And last I checked, China was communist. If I remember correctly from the Cold War, communist countries don’t mind hurting themselves if it would hurt us worse.
The exact opposite is true. China almost certainly has more to lose than the US. We have countries lined up to buy US treasury paper. If we defaulted on ones owed to China for valid publicly stated reasons of war or human rights, our bond ratings would not be affected as much as you speculatively suggest. Again, US notes are in big worldwide demand for a reason. We are the most economically successful country on earth
Jason: I’m sorry to say, but you are no Doug J. and you will never be quoted in the Washington Post. Good first try though. You should share your words of wisdom with us more often. Darrell has become tiresome and banal. We need some new Trolls on this board. Thanks!
I report, you agree.
Darrell–You are nuts. If we default on our debt (regardless of the reasons), we would be saying to the world that our debt is to be used as a political tool. Our bond rating would go down the crapper faster than that burrito I had yesterday. Our notes are in demand because we have a stable government with a large economy and a history of never defaulting on our debt. The moment we default, that’s it, it’s over for a long time.
Experience tells me that you can find Darrell misunderstands most situations – whether they involve China or not. It is in his nature.
100% speculation on your part. You are literally talking out of your ass. You and I simply don’t know the impact. But intelligent people can make a decent guess. Bond rates are a function of supply and demand. Money is attracted to perceived ‘safe havens’.
If the US went around defaulting on notes to every country it disagreed with, your disaster scenario would make sense. But if the US made it clear that it would default only in the most extreme cirmcumstances, with its long history of otherwise timely payment of debts, that would be an ENTIRELY different situation. It would be like any other credit situation. If a company has thousands of lines of credit with various creditors, and then defaults some of the credit lines on a one-time-basis because of a legitimate reason (say, product wasn’t delivered as promised) while paying all the other creditors in a timely basis.. the credit rating may or may not be affected, but not necessarily in the “shitter” as Shygetz asserts with the confidence an idiot who doesn’t know better.
Similarly, if the US defaulted on some debts to Germany during WWII, that certainly would have minimal impact on the credit-worthiness of the bonds.
Bush did the right thing by telling China that they need democratic reforms to be more like Taiwan. Pressure like that will help cause Chinese citizens to start questioning why their standard of living and freedoms are so much less than the Taiwanese.
This is where the half-wits like John S start with personal attacks because can’t deal with my arguments. Blather on
I think you misread my comment, because your response makes no sense.
Speaking of “selling America’s ass to China,” one presumes you are aware of all the sensitive technology transfers the Clinton Administration allowed? That’s rather more significant than high but not record-setting (in real terms, the only way to compare that means anything) deficits.
Darrell, a default by the US on US Treasury bonds anywhere will have a global reaction. And no, we will not be “forgiven” because of the reason we default. Our history of default will be added into the risk associated with the bond. Higher risk, higher amount we will have to pay in interest, if we can get to sell at all. I suggest you look at the history of international bond defaults and how messy the economies got.
I wouldn’t worry too much about Bush’s comments, except that he should have expected that the Chinese would jump on them and attempt to wring as much benefit as they can out of them. All countries in the area seem to be afflicted with various politicians who are prone to making foot-in-the-mouth statements that everyone tries to use as much as possible (I’m thinking mainly of Japan because I lived there and got to hear of a lot of them. The one I liked best was the LDP geezer who piped up during one of the sporadic China-Taiwan scuffles and said Taiwan actually was part of Japan. That got throttled quickly.) It’s Kabuki international negotiation, standard operating procedure.
Bush would be morally equivalent here if Reagan had been yelling about tearing down the wall while the Soviets were our largest trading partner…
You Reps sold your ‘morals’ out to the Chinese a long time ago (keep shouting Clinton!). And your dollars keep that Evil Empire going. Every time you shop at WalMart, a Chinese kitten cries.
Ah, but it doesn’t matter as long as your President prattles every now and then about Taiwan. How Realpolitik of y’all.
Maybe we should just invade China, and bring Democracy to Asia.
This is where
the half-witsDarrell startcontinue with personal attacks in lieu of factual exchanges because he can’t make a decent argument without resorting to terms like ‘kook’ or ‘lefty’.
Perhaps you can point us to an equivalent example of an economic superpower with a long history of timely payment of debts who defaulted on debt to a country, not because it couldn’t pay, but because it went to war with that country. Did the UK or US default on any debts to Nazi Germany after Germany declared war? How’d that situation turn out?
Again, since you’re pointing me to history, please cite equivalent situations.. even remotely equivalent examples will do
I get it. We can reneg on China as long as we illicit a total regime change following a prolonged war with China (where we emerge victorious).
It’s so simple, really.
China has WMDs. China has slaughtered its own people. China is not a democracy. The Chinese people deserve to be free. Is it time to invade yet? Or do you hate the people of China?
The Captain of the O
See: Truman and Marshall’s abandonment of Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-Shek wouldn’t listen to Marshall and the other American military advisors and couldn’t find his own ass with both hands and a map, nevermind finding victory.
Well, it depends on the relationship of the brother and sister. If the brother has difficulty catching up to his sister and is sincerely trying, then that would be counterproductive. If however the brother constantly boasts about how great he is compared to his sister, constantly insults his sister, and even talks about his plans to bully his “stupid” sister into compliancy, then I think a little reality check from his parents about the sucesses of his sister, and his failings, may be in order.
Every situation is different.
Darrell–Germany owed the Allies money after WWI, so there were no debts to default on. Nazi Germany did default on its debts prior to WWII, and they were a terrible credit risk. After WWII, the US actually went to great lengths to protect W. Germany from creditors. Russia defaulted on its debts after the revolution for political purposes, and again in 1998 for necessity, and their credit took a big hit both times. Every known case of debt default has led to a serious downgrade in the bond status, not to mention occasional military action. We would probably have to withdraw from the IMF to do it, as well. Finally, no one was talking about going to war with China–we were discussing pissing China off so that they call our debt, and no country would accept us saying that we reserve the right to cancel our debt with any country that we are in a dispute with.
Since your position is so far out of mainstream economic theory, why don’t you show ANY evidence that people would just shrug off the US defaulting on our debt to China? Conventional wisdom would show that our bond status would drop, as we have shown that we don’t mind conceling debts for political reasons when it is convenient to us.
Jason Van Steenwyk
Heh. Now I’ve been accused of being a “troll.”
Heh. That’s pretty rich.
Apparently for the sin of advocating that we take a very public pro-freedom, pro-democracy position. But that tells me more about the people accusing me of being a troll than their accusations would tell anyone about me.
Yes, it may play well in the U.S. But the real audience is the Chinese people, both in Taiwan and mainland China.
I’m also bemused at the confusion people have between the trade deficit and the national debt. The two are not neccessarily correlated. And to blame the Bush Administration, which saw the dollar weaken substantively during its first term, for the trade deficit with China is particularly foolish.
A weak dollar is objectively a trade-deficit hawkish policy. It was Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, Rubin, who was a strong-dollar advocate par excellence. A strong dollar creates and exacerbates trade deficits.
What’s more, fiscal conservativism tends to strengthen the dollar. So the more fiscally conservative you are, the stronger the dollar, and the more likely you are to run a trade deficit with nations that do not peg their currencies to the dollar. The Bush administration can be blamed for failure to control spending – it cannot be blamed, given WTO treaty obligations – for the current trade deficit with China. That problem is much bigger than any single administration anyway, although a strong-dollar policy, such as Clinton’s, could make a small deficit much bigger.
Also recall, as the dollar strengthened this summer (it hit an 18 month high against the euro, for example, about a week ago), China abandoned the yuan-dollar peg – which is about as clear an illustration that China would like to maintain an artificially cheap currency as anything could be.
Lastly, the US is simply not going to run a trade surplus with China until China sprouts a real middle class throughout the country, and not just in their urban, coastal showpiece areas. The average Chinese citizen just does not have the buying power yet, nor the access to information.
Democratic reforms in China, and a loosening of the information culture, will hasten that process. But that is going to be demand driven. And when the Chinese people get wind of an American President arguing that a Chinese democracy is possible, then they’ll start asking some tough questions. As they did at Tiananmen.
We should absolutely encourage that process, both publicly and privately.
The sound of breaking bottles is music to my ears.
Also suggest looking at what happened to Argentina. Took quite a few years to get out of that one, as well.
There’s a lot of internal tensions within China already, but that has nothing to do with how they feel about Taiwan.
I still expect China and India to be the two countries that could conceivably inherit the role of the US. We’re not going to survive–we’re spending ourselves into oblivion and we’ve eaten our seed corn when it comes to industrial production. How many science and engineering grads are China and India churning out each year by comparison to the US? And we’re still dealing with having to convince idiots that evolution happens? Heh, I know who I’m going to place MY money on….
One reason why I’m planning to move back to Japan–any country that doesn’t put a premium on science and technology, education, industry, and rational thought is going to end up on the scrap heap of history and good riddance. Our Founding Fathers managed to strap a straitjacket around our religious idiots for 200 years but they’ve finally wriggled out.
Doesn’t anyone remember the last major China-US incident, the spy plane that was forced down in China. Bush really showed was he was made of at that time and while he grew a bit after 9/11, today he’s probably shorter than he was in April 2001…
If China wants Taiwan now instead of waiting for a possible reunification, I’m guessing they will get it and in the end the US won’t go to war with China over Taiwan. China isn’t Iraq and Taiwan isn’t Kuwait.
Capitalism will bring down China from within.