Friday, 09 March 2012 00:00
During the current Presidential campaigns, there has been a great deal of discussion about China. Is China a threat to the United States? Are our gates for global trade to open for Chinese manufactured goods? Can China be an ally for the United States?
These are just a few of the questions that are debated about China. Now, I have to say that I am not a China expert, but I have had contact, in one way or the other, with China since Korean military service back in 1953. In addition, I ran the Asia-Pacific profit center for a major United States company; helped to open China for that company in 1984; and took a tour through China with my wife in 2008. I have a great deal of respect for the Chinese people. When we were there a few years ago; the people, everywhere we went in China, could not have been nicer to all of us in the tour group. In fact, we were stopped many times and asked if we would pose for a picture with a Chinese family.
As for transnational issues, let me take a look at whether the trade with China puts the United States behind an eight ball? It is true that China has a significant trade balance with the United States. What we often forget is that the trade imbalance started right after World War II when the labels all said “Made in Japan.” And then the labels read “Made in South Korea or Taiwan.” Remember those days?
As the economies of those countries grew, and a higher standard of living developed, the factories shifted from one country to another. Believe it or not, the same process is under way in China. On our tour in 2008, it was clear that factories were closing and the moves were underway to Indonesia, Vietnam, India and the Philippines.
Next, there is no doubt that China has a strong military presence and also has the capability to launch intercontinental nuclear missiles. But, in my opinion, the last thing China would want to do is confront the United States militarily. Just think about the sometimes strained relationship with Taiwan. China could easily takeover Taiwan, but has not done so. China would rather increase trade ties with Taiwan, and that is exactly what has happened over the last several years.
One other area, which deserves a great deal of attention is the control China has over North Korea. Remember, we still have 40 thousand United States troops in South Korea, and North Korea also has nuclear weapons with a delivery capability. China is definitely the balance in this part of the world.
The last thing the United States needs in today’s world is to shut the door on China. We must continue to work on trade issues while remembering it is much better for us to have a positive relationship with China than one where China is a threat to our interests.
One final point – more people are fluent in English throughout China than here in the United States!