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May 29, 2007

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John Bielicki

Our trade deficit with China is financing their military buildup. Second, look at the distance from China's mainland to the persian gulf. The Chinese could stop the flow of oil to the West and cripple our economy and military to respond to the crisis. I can see the cruise missle's coming from the Chinese submarines with the "Walmart" smily face painted on the tip of the warhead. "W" blew it going to war with Iraq. Generations of Americans will pay for his mistakes.

Sean Meade

John: i respectfully disagree. some other factors:

+ China's economy depends on ours and Taiwan's. they go to war with us, their economy goes in the tank
+ they've got the biggest urbanization in the history of the world going and still hundreds of millions of rural, dissatisfied poor
+ the 'trade deficit' is mostly old accounting, stuff we ship there for assembly and then get back to sell
+ on the contrary, China is funding our military deficit operations by owning roughly a third of our sovereign debt (which they own because it's a rock solid investment. in fact, some argue it's too conservative a place to keep their money)
+ very little oil flows from the Persian Gulf to the West. most goes east to India, China, and Japan
+ China's 'aggressive' military spending is still only about a fifth of ours. if we can't build a better military than theirs forever with those kinds of numbers...
+ they want to be more capable. they want to be seen as a player. they want strong defense. they don't want Taiwan to declare independence for the time being (they're fine with the status quo).

they have said they want to rise peacefully. we can hedge against an alternative path, trust and verify, and benefit from their economic explosion or we can try to set them up as a 'near peer' that we need a new Cold War with. i sure hope we choose the former path.

dan tdaxp

Of course, it is vital that we maintain the ability to sink the Chinese navy and maritime fleet at well. Any military engagement has to end with their end as a regional power and our maintenance of superpower status. The military-industrial complex is great for assuring that we spend where we have to, whatever the political climate is.

Likewise, it's possible for trading countries to shoot themselves in the foot. Argentina did it with the Falklands. China could do it with Taiwan.

But as long as we maintain the hedge, history implies that trade brings countries closer together. China arguably benefits more than any other state from the international regime, and is a responsible (mercantilist-realist) global player. Happily, China now sees some of the same blow-back that we do (kidnapped nationals in the Gap, etc). and has even more to lose from bad actors in her own neighborhood (North Korea, etc) than we do.

Our goal should be to trust from a position of strength. That's what we are doing, and what we will do for the forseeable future.

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