By Katie Kieffer
“We’re up then we’re down,” is a Katy Perryesque way to describe U.S.-China relations.
Mixed messages are useful if we want to confuse, frustrate or anger another country. They are not useful in diplomacy or relationship-building. Mixed messages are dangerous because they make the U.S. appear weak and untrustworthy. Here are some of the mixed messages that we’ve given China, our biggest debtor and whose central bank owns $896 billion in Treasury bonds:
- Entertaining Chinese President Hu Jintao this week for an official “state visit” with unprecedented amicability and fanfare.
- In China, a bow indicates servility. In general, bowing indicates reverence, shame or submission. President Obama has bowed to the Chinese President Hu, who tolerates scores of daily human rights violations, in both Shanghai and Washington, D.C.
- The U.S. actually apologized to China for supposed human rights violations resulting from Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration law via Michael Posner.
- U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates took a recent four-day trip to China to help “heal” U.S.-China military relations and seek China’s support in controlling North Korea.
- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made the foolhardy decision to impose himself in politics and bypass the Treasury secretary to pressure Congress and China to adjust monetary policy to his liking.
The Associated Press reports that as Bernanke “veers into these political debates, Bernanke may be putting at risk the Fed’s strongest tools — its credibility and independence.”
The Associated Press continues, “llan Meltzer, a professor at Carnegie-Mellon University and author of a history of the Fed, argues that Bernanke already has compromised the Fed’s independence. Meltzer said that happened during the 2008 financial crisis, when the Fed bailed out insurance giant American International Group and supported JPMorgan Chase’s takeover of troubled investment house Bear Stearns.”
Ultimately, the Federal Reserve is taking antagonistic steps that will hurt the U.S. dollar and the world’s largest investor in T-bonds, namely China. So, China has no other choice than to slowly shed itself of U.S. Treasury bonds.
- U.S. military bases in the Middle East, Georgia, South Korea and Japan all pose threats to China. The U.S. tries to police the world, but her policy of interference is beginning to backfire.
- This week, President Obama appeared bent on reprimanding Hu for China’s human rights violations. But Hu openly warned President Obama yesterday that the U.S. should be careful to abide by a “principle of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs,” The Hill reports. Hu pointedly ignored a US reporter who asked him a question about human rights, initially claiming he didn’t hear the question.
Historically, Western pressure seems to have little impact on changing the Chinese approach, reports Russia Today:
A better approach
The U.S. could benefit from a more consistent and less intrusive approach to foreign affairs in China and around the world. This is particularly true given the sickly U.S. economy and the weak U.S. dollar. Not for all the tea in China is it worth sending mixed messages to the Chinese government.
In order to stay competitive and prevent China and other countries from pulling out of the U.S. dollar, we should focus on strengthening the small business climate and reducing our $1.4 trillion deficit by lowering the corporate income tax rate below other countries’ as I explained here. (Even China’s is 10 percentage points below ours, which is 35 percent.)
We can also recharge our economy by taking a more realistic approach to sustainability. While there is no Chinese version of the “EPA,” the EPA in the U.S. that seems bent on regulating businesses out of business, as I explained here. Once the U.S. reclaims her place as a top competitor on the global market instead of a top Chinese parasite, she will flourish independently.