Washington vs. Beijing

A new congressional study questions whether China is ready to wear the mantle of world leadership. It smells of yet another attempt to get us worried about “the China threat.”

Despite its rising power and wealth, China may not be willing or ready to play a responsible role in an international system aimed at encouraging peace and stability, a commission set up by the U.S. Congress said in a report released on Monday.

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission accused China of failing “to meet the threshold test of international responsibility in the area of non-proliferation” by aiding Iran’s nuclear, missile and chemical programs and refusing to effectively use its leverage to bring North Korea back into nuclear weapons negotiations.

It said China in recent years has allowed the transfer of weapons and technology across its territory from North Korea to Iran and even if Beijing wanted to control such transfers, this would be very difficult.

Beijing’s adherence to World Trade Organization obligations remains “spotty and halting” five years after attaining membership while its hunt for oil and gas holdings overseas could “substantially effect U.S. energy security,” the report added.

This is the fourth annual report of the commission, created by Congress to examine the national security implications of the U.S.-China bilateral trade and economic relationship. The commission has been controversial because of concerns its members tend to be overly critical of China.

Sorry, but I’d be more willing to give credence to reports like this if I had any faith left in the current US government’s ability to tell the truth about anything, anything at all. China is looking out for its own interests, and its success in doing so is the one area where I give Hu a lot of credit.

Honestly, how much credit can we give our own government for playing “a responsible role in an international system aimed at encouraging peace and stability”? Which country has contributed more greatly to today’s state of chaos and insecurity? Physician, heal thyself.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 7 Comments

And to think I almost applied to an internship there . . .

It makes me wonder what sort of signal we’re trying to send to policymakers in Beijing. Then again, I imagine they’re just as baffled by us as we by them.

So let me get this straight. We’re trying to open up a closed, authoritarian society by condemning its policies at every turn (North Korea, Iran, currency policy, trade policy, etc.), rattling our sabers every couple months, and choking off the number of Chinese people who get to experience the U.S. firsthand by enforcing pitifully low visa quotas? Sound like a plan to me . . .

October 31, 2006 @ 3:16 pm | Comment

Is it 2009 yet?

October 31, 2006 @ 4:05 pm | Comment

I’d like to add two comments to that.

First, I think we are having here an instance of where the messenger has discredited himself to such an extent that his message is trashed without much further ado, though there still may be some ground for reflection on the basics of the message itself. I also do not feel that China is showing the responsible behavior it ought to on the world scene, by shooting Tibetan refugees in the back, by invoking the wrath of the African workers in some of the first countries where they venture into, and basically not engaging in a constructive dialog on the future of this world, where, whether you like it or not, they have come centerstage. I have no clue on how they deal and what they deal in with Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, but I am sure it is not the time to turn a blind eye to China only because of the fact that the messenger, the U.S. in this case, has recently made an entire mockery of principles it is said to hold in high esteem.

Second thing I wanted to ventilate is the utter irony of the U.S. complaining about China “refusing to effectively use its leverage to bring North Korea back into nuclear weapons negotiations”, when that same U.S. shot North-Korea virtually in the back only 4 days after they signed a denuclearizing agreement in September 2005 by imposing harsh financial sanctions on the country of Kim Jong Il. I did a post about that myself at my blog and I was frankly surprised that in the whole episode of N-Korea’s nuclear test I haven’t seen anyone linking to that Newsweek article from Seelig S. Harrison I refer to. But then again, each and every one of you reads more blogs and media than I do, so maybe I just may have missed the right sites and comments to go to. Still …

November 2, 2006 @ 10:43 am | Comment

Lao Lu, thanks for the comment. I’m not for turning a blind eye to China’s malfeasances; I’ve even mentioned one or two of them myself in this blog. (A touch of sarcasm.) The point here, however, is that the US is pointing its finger at China over specific malfeasances where the US is no better, and in some instances far worse. Also, I am skeptical of this specific report because of the long-standing anti-China stance of those who prepared it.

November 2, 2006 @ 10:53 am | Comment

I’m a little confused here. How is this to do with the US government? It’s a congressional report – legislative, not executive.

Also there would have been Democrats on that committee – unless you’re telling me they objected in the strongest terms to the report…..

November 2, 2006 @ 10:30 pm | Comment

The China threat is real. You do not see it because you refuse to open your eyes and see it.

November 4, 2006 @ 9:13 am | Comment

China has violated so many of the WTO rules it is not even funny.

1. They were supposed to start floating their currency in 2003. They have not.

2. Free Trade? Try to sell a car made in America in China. Duty: 24%, yett we will charge them a 3% duty.

China is Japan on steroids….

November 4, 2006 @ 9:15 am | Comment

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