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A Better Way to Deal With Beijing

Robert B. Zoellick

By Robert B. Zoellick (Original source WSJ)

“Donald Trump, the transactional president, is wagering his China policy on a raft of tariffs he says will lead to a big trade deal. Mr. Trump manufactures crises, and people feel relieved when he pulls back. But the reality of U.S.-China relations requires a different approach.

U.S. attitudes toward China reflect a convergence of six complaints. First, Americans object to China’s lack of reciprocity for trade and investment. The U.S. wants China to lower tariffs, protect intellectual property, stop forced transfers of technology, ban currency manipulation, and equalize business and investment opportunities. Second, the U.S. worries that China’s state capitalism creates unfair competition. This complaint extends beyond subsidies; many Americans believe that the whole system of state direction by the Communist Party conflicts with the model of market economies. Third, the U.S. suspects the “China 2025” plan aims to dominate the technologies of the future. Fourth, Washington wants to know the purpose behind Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative. It might be geopolitical, an outlet for excess capacity, a development scheme or some combination. Fifth, Xi Jinping has abandoned Deng Xiaoping’s adage of “bide your time, hide your strength” in favor of openly exercising China’s power. Finally, Americans, who generally expect technology will be liberating, find China’s use of technology to spy on and control society to be chilling. And the camps for a million Uighurs look inhumane.”

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