Time to point the finger at China

Posted in China | 31-Mar-09 | Author: Judith Apter Klinghoffer| Source: History News Network

So, China is unhappy? That seems to be the message the popularity of the book Unhappy China is sending. We can surmise from the failure of the Chinese censors to stop the books's publication that it is not too unhappy with the books message. Allowing the publication of negative reviews of the book is merely an easy way to avoid responsibility.

Personally, I do not blame the Chinese. They should be angry. Their government should use this crisis to decrease their dependence on foreign markets by developing a domestic one. But that is not the message of the book. The book is fuming at their customers (most especially, Americans) who are getting deeper and deeper into debt buying cheap Chinese products. Why so cheap? Partially, because China keeps the value of its currency artificially low.

What worries the Chinese government? It realizes that the American consumer (bless its common sense) has seen the light and started saving. It also realizes that the American government has decided to replace the American consumer as the "big spender." So why are the Chinese not thrilled? The American government Keynesian could not be more accommodating, could they? They even fail to mention that Keynes suggested that a special tax be imposed on countries like China running a large current account surpluses in order to get them to boost domestic demand! For regarless of Washington's best intentions, there is no way Americans can keep on consuming so large a portion of what China is producing.

Indeed, they are right to worry that Hillary Clinton's promise not withstanding, Washington will find it impossible to avoid doing what it China is doing - escape bankrupcy by devaluing the dollars and with it the value of the Chinese dollar holdings. Such a squandering of their assets may indeed anger China's subjects and it is only prudent for the Chinese government to do their best to direct their ire at the most useful international whipping boy, the US.

After all, there is nothing the current Obama administration likes better than taking responsibility for all that's wrong with the world strategically as well as economically. So, China does not have to worry that the call by the authors of "Angry China" for the PRC to play a larger role in running the world would lead Washington to point out the Chinese failure to use their influence even with their North Korean neigbor not to mention with their Pakistani, Sudanese or Iranian allies. America is, indeed, unlikely to point out that China is the number one economic and strategic free rider in the world today.

Instead, we can soon expect the Obama administration to apologize for sending troops to help quell the Boxer rebellion a century ago. Sorry if I sound flippant. I should not indulge in such levity. The issue is serious. It is time to stop cuddling Beijing for the simple reason that we can no longer afford to do so. In other words, I am just as unhappy as the Chinese seem to be and I have not even mentioned their military build up or their cyberspying.