Dealing With China

It is no secret that I am not a particular fan of President Trump.

However, he has put his finger on one long-lingering issue — the growing economic power of communist China. China is now the number two economic power in the world, and has the potential to become # 1. It makes common sense that the rest of the world now insist that they play under terms of free and fair trade, and abide by the patent and copyright laws of the rest of industrialized society.

What I don’t agree with President Trump on is that you can get this done with a “go it alone,” “tit-for-tat” tariff war. Wars, including economic ones, are easy to get into. However, finding peaceful and effective solutions to complex problems between nations takes long, arduous, well-negotiated and enforceable international agreements.

I read an article recently illustrating just how big and powerful China has become. The other major communist country, Russia, now has an economy only 12% the size of the Chinese economy. The Russian’s are now spending only about 25% the amount that China spends on defense/military expenditures.

What I found even more interesting, is that China (not Russia) figured out a way to ship products to Europe by rail without damaging them. Using its Trans-Siberian Railroad, Russia tried to develop this rail link, but with the vibration of changing cars and locomotives over this long route — products were damaged. The Chinese now have a rail link to Europe using “block” trains–one train leaves China and stays intact all the way to its European destination. There is much less breakage and damage to goods.

Russia also recently agreed to allow China to complete a 2,000 kilometer section of four-lane highway through its territory as a part of China’s “Belt and Road” program. In the not distant future, a four-lane expressway will be completed to Europe which will be 8,500 kilometers long (over 5,000 miles.) Chinese goods will no longer have to go to Europe by ship–they will be able to move directly overland by either truck or rail.

All of this is to say that China is no longer a struggling third world power. It has become a first-world economic super power. It is nation of nearly 1.5 billion people–nearly 19% of the total population of our planet.

The Chinese are also a proud people. They had one of the most advanced civilized societies in the world 1,000 years before the United States was even founded. It is not only Americans who have pride and patriotism for country. We helped them rebuild their country through our commerce and purchasing power, and now many American companies are deeply invested in the Chinese economy. Yes, they are still a communist dictatorship, but that should not make us think that we can just “bully” the Chinese into some kind of solution.

We need to come to grips with how to deal with China in the modern world, but a helter-skelter tariff war with no proposed solution to end it, is not the way to go.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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