How to Manage the China Relationship

Jon Huntsman (former U.S. ambassador to China from 2009-2011 and Utah governor) wrote a great opinion piece in Monday’s WSJ.

When Jon Huntsman speaks, I listen with regards to China. He wrote a great article, which I quote some pieces from below while providing my own thoughts. He made some salient points concerning the ‘pillars’ America’s China policy should rest upon:

1. “The United States must deal with China from a position of strength.” I believe, given the economic malaise of our own country, military cutbacks and destructive policy shifts, we are not in a power. Until we reform our economy through “difficult structural reforms” we are not in a position of strength. As Jon put it, “China will approach all interactions with the U.S. by first sizing up relative strength and leverage.”
2. “Economics and trade must drive our foreign policy and Asia strategy…Washington must get back in the game of robust trade liberalization.” I agree, we shouldn’t centralize our trade relationships to China. There are many countries in the Pacific rim who offer many of the same potential trade benefits we should be building relationships with. Look at the Philippines, Burma, Taiwan, India, Japan, etc… In my opinion, strengthening trade relationships with countries surrounding China will empower U.S. foreign policy toward China.
3. “We should renew our ties to key allies, focusing on joint endeavors that hedge against some of the more difficult contingencies we could face in the region from an aggressive China and People’s Liberation Army.” Agree, agree, agree. As we continue to build economic relationships with India, Philippines, Taiwan, Burma, Japan, let’s assist them in strengthening their military positions.
4. “Values matter.” We need to be clear that the actions of the Chinese government should not dictate United States’ values in the region. Our values and democratic principles transcend whatever foreign policy objectives we may have in the region.

I appreciate Jon Huntsman’s input and perspective. I think the most important point Ambassador Huntsman made is the United States needs to negotiate with China from a position of strength. We’re a nation that’s $15 Trillion in debt with a substantial portion of that debt owed to China. We have unemployment rates around 8% and continue to have no viable solution to the pending Social Security and Medicare crisis that’s pending.

The current United States administration has failed to substantially improve our position as one of strength. As a result, our current Administration will continue to weaken our economic future at home and lessen United States’ influence abroad.

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