Asia Scope

China hypocrisy?

Anyone interested in the political and economic implications of China’s rise should take a look at a report issued yesterday by the Center for a New American Security .

The report covers a range of security issues and on a quick read through makes some sensible recommendations and observations, particularly G. John Ikenberry’s analogy likening China’s rise to that of Germany post-1989:

“The prospect of a unified — and more powerful — Germany worried the leaders of France, Britain, and Russia. In moving forward with unification, Chancellor Kohl signaled to his neighbors that if they acquiesced in unification, Germany would redouble its commitment to European integration and the Atlantic security community… Germany’s message was clear: to gain acquiescence in its unification and growth in power, Germany was prepared to further bind itself to its neighbors.”
The report has come on the back of a tricky week or so for US-China ties, following the US decision to impose tariffs on Chinese-made tires, which I wrote about last week. The decision provoked a tough response from China, and also in an opinion piece by The Economist, which called the decision “bad politics, bad economics, bad diplomacy”.

The Economist is right – now is no time to be hypocritical. And when I asked our China correspondent Kathleen McLaughlin about Beijingers’ views of the US in the week after the tariffs were announced, it’s clear that although the issue hasn’t been devastating, it has been noted:

“Beijingers are generally pretty friendly and open to Americans, at least in the presence of Americans. They tend to be curious, and often know more about the United States than Americans would know about China or any other Asian country.

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They often use words like ‘tough’ and ‘powerful’ to describe the United States with a sense of admiration. Yet they are quick to jump in with an opinion when the US does something politically unpopular like impose prohibitively high tariffs on imports of Chinese tires.”