Sunday, September 6, 2020

For the Record: Tough on China


Illustration by Javier Zarracina/Vox.

Rafael trying to come out plus trompiste que le Trompe:


Other than that. I mean, even if you accept his stupid premise that the big thing is to stop China from its trade abuses, it's been extraordinarily weak, in comparison for example to the Obama administration and its skillful marshaling of a powerful coalition in the form of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump threw in the garbage because it had Obama's name on it—now TPP, cut off from the US, is considering inviting China in.

Not to mention the rigorous enforcement of trade rules from the Obama administration, which had been reversing the US-China trade deficit very substantially until Trump jumped in to wreck it.

China's terrible civil rights profile, with particular regard to Hong Kong, has only gotten worse since Trump took office. In 2014 the issue that had Hong Kongers in the streets was democratic suffrage, and Obama took a strong though ultimately unsuccessful stand against that and another undemocratic election (as designed by the British many decades ago, it should be noted, to keep British business interests like Jardine Matheson and HSBC in control) was held, though not until Trump was president in 2017. Nowadays Beijing has been tormenting Hong Kong with a new issue in the new "national security" law, which establishes the central government's decision that it should be able to haul Hong Kong defendants (typically press freedom defendants) to court in the corrupted courts of the mainland, in complete contravention of the 1997 agreement with Britain. The nothing that the Trump administration has done about it is noted above, though that leaves out efforts on secretary of state Pompeo's part to ban Chinese and Hong Kong students from coming to the US, financially insane as US college enrollment falls apart from the Covid pandemic, diplomatically insane in making the US look more and more like a hotbed of fanatical xenophobia.

China's human rights profile, especially its attitude to internal diversity, has plainly gotten worse and worse as Beijing gets more and more paranoid about minority groups, having moved from the Tibetans and Uyghurs to Hui people or Chinese-speaking Muslims, spared in 2014 and under relentless attack since 2019. Discrimination against the Mongol population of the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia (not to be confused with the independent nation of Mongolia to its north) has grown to include a vicious attack on Mongol language rights. And maybe the most urgent security issue, Chinese territorial agression in the South China Sea, has grown markedly worse, though secretary of state Mike Pompeo suddenly decided to start taking an interest in it in July.

It's become an unbelievably bad complex of problems, with nothing like an easy solution for any of them. But there is a politician with real foreign policy expertise who might be able to improve it:

He’s quite committed now to confronting China on these issues, preferably with US allies working alongside him to urge Beijing to change these practices. Most say the chances for success are minimal, but even some Republicans say Biden might have the chops to pull it off.

“The Biden administration would be much better positioned to marshal a coalition of countries” to counter the most troublesome Chinese policies than Trump, former Louisiana Republican Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., who spent years in the House working on Washington-Beijing relations, told me.

Precisely because of his understanding in the area where Trump's administration has been weakest and craziest, in international group work. So go home, Ted, you're drunk, and turn things over to somebody who has a clue.

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