Reconstructing US-China Relations

Yves here. It is hard to fathom what the Biden Administration thinks it will accomplish with continued eye-poking of China. Many have correctly criticized the Trump use of tariffs, since they cost US businesses and consumers more than Chinese producers. Yet that approach would not have been nuts had it been part of a long-term strategy to rebuild US productive capabilities with an eye to operating as more of an autarky. Thus the tariffs would have served to wean the US off imports and provided some protection to US producers. Recall that development economics now endorses the once verboten idea of creating protections for infant industries so they can develop to the stage where they can stand up to international competition.

Of course, the US does have the wee problems of not believing in industrial policy, not being able to implement any long-term policy due to being hostage to regime changes in DC, and being in the WTO.

Jeffrey Sachs has some useful observations about where the US went wrong with China and some suggestions on how to repair the relationship. A problem from the US vantage is that some of China’s actions, from buying up farmland in Africa, the Belt and Road initiative, and its desire to subordinate Taiwan, look awfully hegemonic. Plus it’s easier to blame the hollowing out of America on China, when our corporate leaders were the ones deciding where and how to operate.

By Gregory Wilpert, Deputy Editor, Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

With the latest Biden administration accusations that China is responsible for hacking US companies’ email systems, US-China relations took yet another turn for the worse. While the administration has not yet indicated whether there would be any repercussions, the accusation feeds into the predominant narrative of the foreign policy establishment that China is neither a partner nor competitor, but actually a current or likely future enemy.

Does this bipartisan foreign policy view on China proceed from false assumptions and faulty principles? Is there a possibility for a new framework of cooperation between the US and China to create a more peaceful and sustainable world? The world-renowned development economist Jeffrey Sachs, who is Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, recently outlined such a framework for US-China relations in an extensive audio interview (with transcript) with Rob Johnson, president of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, for the podcast, “Economics and Beyond with Rob Johnson” (also available as an abridged videocast).

According to Sachs, US-China relations ought to revolve around several key principles that are quite different from the ones that the US has been pursuing ever since China’s GDP nearly reached the size of the US’s GDP (or even exceeded it, in PPP terms in 2017). In a reoriented US-China policy framework, the relationship would revolve around cooperation instead of competition, the acceptance of independent economic development, abandonment of an imperial mindset, and the domestic management of negative international trade impacts.

First, regarding competition versus cooperation, Sachs says, “We need a world in which cooperation is the dominant mode, whether that’s to fight a pandemic or to fight climate change or to promote development. We can’t do this in a divided world.” These issues are too serious to be left to a competitive framework, which would only result in distrust, a waste of resources (such as in new arms spending), and a futile struggle for hegemony with huge risks of open conflict. This ought to be obvious, but it is not, mainly because much of the US establishment sees China as an enemy that must be contained before it’s too late.

This leads to the second principle of allowing for independent economic development. Sachs explains that, historically, “American policymakers believed China would become wealthier and it would develop, but under the wing of the United States. We would be clearly in the technological lead, we would be organizing global principles, and there would be a place for China just like there would be a place for the whole world in development.” Viewing China’s economic development through the lens of economic subordination to the US leads to dangerous consequences, where we miss opportunities to “decarbonize our energy systems, solve problems of transport and mobility, help poor people get educations,” says Sachs.

When China rejected economic subordination to the US and decided to pursue an independent path of economic development, the US wrongly interpreted this as a form of aggression. The US thus proceeded to surround China diplomatically and even militarily, “circling the South China Sea while we openly talk about the Quad countries of Japan, Korea, Australia, India as the protection against China.” Of course, China has not taken this diplomatic and military encirclement lightly.

The third principle the US needs to adopt is that of letting go of its imperial mindset. According to Sachs, English imperialism from the 17th century to the first half of the 20th century “was transferred to the Anglo-American political culture in the 19thcentury, marked by ‘manifest destiny’ and the rise of the US as a global power. As soon as the US wars of extermination and genocide were completed against Native populations, the Anglo-American vision spilled out into building an overseas global empire. This started first in the Caribbean, the Philippines, and coastal China. It’s the foundational myth of 20th century America that our manifest destiny is also a global destiny.”

This perceived global destiny turned into a dangerous national perception that the US can do whatever it pleases on the international stage, rejecting international institutions at its will. For example, Sachs highlights that “the United States has walked out of the Paris Climate Agreement under Trump, walked out of the World Health Organization under Trump, walked out of UNESCO, cut aid, behaved atrociously, imposed unilateral sanctions.” One could say that this is all Trump’s doing, but Biden has barely acknowledged the damage his predecessor caused, and in some cases, such as with the sanctions on Cuba, Venezuela, and China, has not reversed or even eased the Trump policies.

Sachs points out that China, however, is interested in adhering to international law and working within a global multilateral framework, “because they see that with international law they wouldn’t be held back, they would be responsible for their own development.”

Finally, the fourth shift in principles relates to the management of international trade, where the US has been largely responsible for allowing China to become a global player. However, when China began to enjoy success in advanced technologies, at times even outpacing the US in manufacturing and innovation (as in the case of Huawei and 5G technology), not only has the US simply claimed that China is cheating but under Trump has claimed that China’s successes have come directly at the expense of the American people. This has especially riled up anti-China sentiments in the US industrial heartland.

Sachs points out that the economic theory that increasing international trade leads to greater economic growth remains true. However, unequal benefits can indeed result from this trade-led economic growth. The resulting inequalities, however, should be addressed through domestic policies (such as income redistribution), rather than trade protectionism. If the US had properly treated the decline of manufacturing in the industrial heartland as a domestic issue, and not an anti-China issue, it would have made sure that those who lost jobs or wages because of US trade with China would have found employment elsewhere, or would have been bolstered by transfer payments of some kind. Sachs brings up the social democratic model, found in countries like Sweden, which “was really always based on that idea that we shouldn’t resist productivity increases, new technologies, and international trade, because everyone will get taken care of through active social policies. A bigger pie will end up in more vacation time, more leisure time, and better healthcare for all workers, not just the lucky few.”

Instead, the US libertarian ideology treats those who fall behind in the economic system as “losers”–not just economic losers, but also moral losers–who do not deserve to benefit from state-provided economic relocation and support. “In the American mindset, and it’s a complicated cultural mindset­–it goes back to John Locke, it goes back to the Puritans, it goes back to the prosperity gospel, it goes back to racism–the mindset is, if you lose, that’s tough but you’re probably a loser. And if you’re depending on somebody else’s help, you’re really a loser.” Rather, Sachs says, “The right way to handle an issue of inequality [due to trade] is through U.S. redistribution rather than closing down global trade. You close down global trade, everybody loses.”

The Chinese have a very difficult time understanding this American mindset, argues Sachs, as the Chinese ask, “If you have some people that need help, why aren’t you giving them the help? Why are you blaming us?” China does not have this same difficulty with Europe, though, “because in Europe … the social democratic ethos is pretty pervasive.”

Taken together, these four shifts in foreign policy principles: from competition and conflict to cooperation, from non-acceptance to acceptance of independent economic development, from an imperial to a non-imperial mindset, and from blame of China to domestic responsibility for the unequal consequences of trade, would lead to a far more constructive relationship with China, one in which we could more effectively address the pandemic, the climate crisis, and avoid war.

As Jeffrey Sachs and Rob Johnson both point out in their conversation, none of these issues means that China is beyond reproach for human rights issues. Indeed, every major power – the US, China, European Union, and others – share the common responsibility to abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and both China and the US can do better on this account. According to Sachs, for the US to single out China’s shortcomings is self-serving, hypocritical, and unconstructive. He believes that the US should be working together with China, the European Union, and other parts of the world to strengthen the UN human rights system under international law and in line with the UN Charter.

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  1. Amigauser

    Jeffery sacks “Dr shock”, the man responsible for putting a whole generation of Russians into poverty, is now advocating , decarbonisation, income redistribution and more free trade and no tariffs,
    I think the American working class are about to get shafted by elitist environmentalists again.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You view of Sachs is seriously out of date. And your comment is ad hominem. Deal with what Sachs actually says above.

      Jeffrey Sachs has spent a lot of time trying to make up for his earlier positions. Recall that even the IMF research department has recognized the error of its ways and is now regularly publishing anti-neoliberal research, even if the program side continues to deploy its well established, as in nasty, playbook.

      Sachs devised a neoliberal program for post-Soviet Poland that was widely seen as successful; that’s why he was invited to advise Russia.

      And Larry Summers’ buddy Andrei Scheifer is much more culpable than Sachs. Not only was he on the ground but he also took bribes:

      1. Thuto

        Unfortunately, the dark shadow of past misdeeds or errors in judgement borne of misguided ideological positions can be very difficult to escape, even when one goes to great lengths to atone for past sins by living an exemplary life (that’s why the digging up of what people said years ago on e.g. social media to invalidate their current positions and crucify them in the present is so favoured by social justice warriors). Gandhi, before he left South Africa to play a crucial role in liberating India from British colonial rule, said “natives aren’t far removed from animals” among some of the horrible things he said about black africans, and to this day some bring up that period in his life to sully the legacy he went on to craft during India’s struggle for liberation. This tendency to “freeze individuals in time” and forever bind them to a period in their lives when perhaps their ego or immaturity exceeded their wisdom, a sort of ideological or moral background check, is a very common tactic used to discredit people who evolve their viewpoints to be in direct opposition to those held at an earlier time.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          As a general rule, I trust someones opinion more if they’ve moved to it from a previously different or even contradictory one (assuming there is no reason to think they did it out of self interest) – at least it shows they learn from experience and have thought it through, rather than simply adopting whatever the recieved wisdom is among their peers.

          1. Thuto

            I know a famous person who recently deleted 12 years of Twitter posts for fear that he might have said something in the past that the woke mob might use to cancel him. Imagine that…

        2. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Thuto.

          On his way home from Durban, Gandhi stopped in Mauritius and got Manilall Doctor to stay on and organise the Indian community on the island. As the pair, like the East African Indians currently in the British government, nursed a hatred of Africans, that made the labour movement more difficult to organise. This continues to this day in Mauritius and other similar current and former colonies.

          1. Synoia

            A model for this behavior is the historical attitude of the English towards the Locals in Ireland.

            One of the less advertised facets of exported English/Norman or upper class behavior.

            AKA: “He’s not one of us,” coupled with treating unknowing as stupidity. Unknowing is easily remedied with education.

          2. Thuto

            Thank you Colonel, the Indian community in Durban is known for its disdain for black people, and things boiled over during the recent riots when 23 people were gunned down in Phoenix, a predominantly Indian neighbourhood, in what went FAR beyond defending businesses and property from looters. In many parts of the country businesses were successfully defended and looting averted without bloodshed and loss of life, in contrast to the trigger happiness and indiscriminate shooting that we saw in what is now known as the #Phoenixmassacre.

            1. The Rev Kev

              I know that the British brought Indians over to South Africa to cut sugar cane in the 19th century and who then stayed and sent for their families. But I found it interesting how they had become involved in businesses since then. Back in the late 70s I was in a town called Dundee in KwaZulu-Natal which was quite a largish place even back then. I decided to check the whole town out and found that Indians were running nearly every shop in that town except for one run by Zulus selling plants and herbs. Rather remarkable that.

              1. Thuto

                Even during apartheid Indians had privileges that weren’t available to black africans which allowed many to get a start in business. Banks viewed them more favourably, and their education system was better funded, which meant better education outcomes and access to funding.

            2. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you, Thuto.

              My cousin, Mauritian Creole like me, is married to an Afrikaner and lives in Jo’burg. She gets curious looks from locals of Indian origin. Africans and Afrikaners don’t seem bothered.

                1. Colonel Smithers

                  Thank you, K.

                  It won’t surprise you that the system has made its way into the UK and US and caused problems in workplaces. I have worked at two firms in the City where compensation had to be paid after such discrimination.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    I think that China ‘understood’ Trump. There are plenty of Trump like characters running businesses in China so I think they instinctively understood how to deal with him and they respected his bluntness, even when he was being his stupid self. I think Sachs puts his finger on the real problem right now, which is that China finds Biden baffling – they can’t understand why anyone would ramp up tensions for no obvious economic or strategic logic or reason.

    There has always been a sort of bubble in Washington which has led the US taking actions which make little sense to other countries, but it seems to be getting worse over time. I think it would be a relief for the world if Washington learned the art of modest pragmatism.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The current Lords of Washington are not learning-capable. A different mindset-load of people would have to conquer Washington from its current NeoWilCon Occupation Regime and break all the NeoWilCon persons’ teeth out of their mouths with heavy tire irons.

      If a Modest Pragmatism movement can conquer Washington and purge and burn the NeoWilCons out of Washington, then Washington will be in the hands of Modest Pragmatists and the world may know relief. Except of course all the NeoWilCons in power in other governments will try imposing a Cuba-style blockade against a Modest Pragmatic American regime in order to force the NeoWilCons back into power. To counter this, the Modest Pragmatic regime would have to show and apply the heartless-ruthless side of modest pragmatism.

  3. BillS

    I think most NCers recognize Biden’s China bashing for what it is: deflection – deflection from the economic ruling classes’ role in hollowing out of manufacturing in the USA by offshoring to China. It is easier to blame the Outsider than to cut the “internal enemies” down to size. The New Cold War with China (and Russia, for that matter) has the added benefit of boosting that famous wealth transfer program: the Defense Budget.

    I would be surprised if astute Chinese analysts have not realized the the China bashing is for consumption by the US domestic electorate.

    In the last 30 or so years, it seems to me that US foreign policy is based on a program of international chaos. We see it in the Middle East and, increasingly, in Asia and Latin America. I am not sure if this is by design or an accident of incompetence at the upper levels of government.

    1. David Long

      Actions of the Biden administration are dictated by the Wall Street, Silicon Valley and MIC oligarchy, and reflect the at times conflicting interests of its constituents, while ordinary American workers have little influence. Cooperation with China hurts the MIC while enriching Wall Street, but is a mixed blessing for Silicon Valley. (US companies maintain high profit margins due to low-cost outsourced labor. iPhones are still assembled in China on the cheap, but Huawei leads in 5G implementation.) Acceptance of independent economic development hurts Wall Street and Silicon Valley. (Rent extraction opportunities in China are off limits to Wall Street, and Silicon Valley might be forced to cede leads in critical technologies.) A non-imperial mindset hurts the MIC, as it weakens the argument for a large military budget. That free trade is good even when China migrates to high end technologies hurts Silicon Valley, which faces unwanted competition. Arguments based on zero-sum gains, human rights, fairness and political ideology are cherry-picked for the consumption of non-elites to protect and further the interests of elites.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Brzezinski’s book in the 90’s largely calls for chaos or the US keeping control of critical trade nodes through force to keep Europe and China out. Peace would eventually cause the US to lose the post WW2 empire we inherited.

      The Bush doctrine reiterated by Obama much like the Carter Doctrine called for the US to respond with force of any threat to US supremacy around the world. If imperialists in the US can’t collect rent, they will do to a foreign country what they did to the formerly industrialized Midwest except with bombs.

      1. Kouros

        Re-enactment on the world scale of what has been happening, for the benefit of Israel, in the Middle east.

    3. Procopius

      I haven’t been able to track down his name, but one of the Chinese sages of about 2,500 years ago, probably around Qin dynasty (Wade-Giles romanization, “Ch’in”) observed, “In the absence of a foreign enemy, the State will go to ruin.” I think the Democratic Elite (Centrists, Moderates, New Democrats) and the Republicans adopted that belief. Certainly when Hillary became SecState she sought external enemies, adopting Russia as the easiest course. Under Bill Clinton we had Kosovo, of course, and then when “terrorism” was too amorphous to suit Bush the Younger he objectivized it by actually conducting war and declaring the “long enemy.” The Democrats have continued beating the drums for Russia as an enemy, rather than an adversary, but still need to please the Likud party in Israel by maintaining enmity with Iran. Most Americans have not noticed that our policies have caused Russia, China, and Iran to form an alliance. “Ally with the weaker to fend off the stronger, ally with the stronger to conquer the weaker.” The Chinese have a long tradition of learning from their history. American basically doesn’t have any history yet.

      1. Roger

        It’s Mencius who you are are quoting, seen as second only to Confucius himself. He lived during the Warring States period

  4. Michael

    Passing over the almost verbatim repetition of certain rhetorical features that are shared by an incredibly consistent cadre of commentators, experts, and policy influencers, it might serve us all better to be honest with ourselves about one thing:

    China will only “cooperate” with other interests when such “cooperation” is in the best interests of the Party and the Princelings who run it.

    Should those interests be at cross purposes – or worse, come into conflict – with their interests, the leadership of China will choose the path that brings the greatest short-term benefit to the ruling class; the same as any other ruling class will, regardless of their location (or culture).

    Whether their interests align with addressing the effects of our activities on the climate, the presence of potential pathogens inside their borders, or anything else is of greater concern than how much feigned outrage there is in the Global Times editorial section today.

    20 years of digging for this promised pony (from “liberalisation” all the way to now “cooperation”) should have been enough to disavow people of such illusions. Alas… not yet it appears. Not yet.

    1. tegnost

      will only “cooperate” with other interests when such “cooperation” is in the best interests of the Party and the Princelings who run it.

      Change “Party” to “Wall St.” and it’s the same game here.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      ” Co-operate with China” illusionists are not really illusioned. They are pretending to be illusioned because they and their OverClass owners and patrons benefit social-class personally from the continued pink-pony pursuit of ” co-operate with China.”

      If an “Exterminate Free Trade” movement conquered the American government and pursued autarky through militant belligerent protectionism, then the “Co-operate with China” crowd would lose its ongoing looting opportunities.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “They are pretending to be illusioned because they and their OverClass owners and patrons benefit social-class personally from the continued pink-pony pursuit of ” co-operate with China.””

        they’re also butthurt that china failed to remain a peasant society, as per the agreement.
        maybe shouldn’t have sent all that baywatch and Dallas…or allowed them TV, at all.
        (what did the Masters of the Universe think would happen?)

  5. michael hudson

    Protectionism won’t work for the United States, because it needs to go together with tax policy and with public infrastructure support — as it did so effectively in the 19th century (as I’ve described in my books). I’m academically centered in China now, and there’s a wide recognition that the U.S. has painted itself into a corner from which it can’t escape.
    China has kept money and credit creation in the hands of the Peoples Bank of China and its allied banks. They create money to finance tangible capital formation, not for takeovers and credit to bid up prices for real estate and other assets. They subsidize infrastructure costs — to make the industrial sector more profitable, not to make a profit on infrastructure investment as such (much less seek to charge monopoly prices).
    The U.S. sanctions have driven China to become self-sufficient in basic supply lines. The U.S. drive is to live as a rentier economy, buying up foreign growth industries and living off the profits. China intends to keep its economic surplus at home, not remit it to U.S. investors. Until now it was using its deals with Wall Street to gain the latter’s support in influencing U.S. foreign policy, but realizes that the U.S. hostility is now a built-in fact of life that cannot be changed. I’ve seen in the last year a rising disgust with the U.S., and a view that Biden’s administration is basically Trump 2.0, keeping Trump’s policy approach.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The US would also have to put their full weight behind public education to give the US a workforce of educated technical workers for re-located/new industries and to run the infrastructure. And that means to see education as a long-term investment for a country instead of another aspect of a rentier economy like is happening at the present.

      As for Biden’s administration being basically Trump 2.0, he did in all fairness say that nothing would fundamentally change.

      1. Procopius

        Well, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by his appointments on the domestic side, so far, but his appointments on the foreign policy side indicate, “Failure is not an option, it’s a built-in feature.” It became clear when Blinken announced he was not going to ease any sanctions until Iran returned to full compliance with the JCPOA. Of course the US is not going to return to even partial compliance first, that would be “weakness.”

      2. ashburn

        “The US would also have to put their full weight behind public education to give the US a workforce of educated technical workers for re-located/new industries and to run the infrastructure.”

        Exactly so. We exported our manufacturing technology to China and can’t easily re-assemble that lost talent. In the meantime, we subject our brightest students to debt slavery. I saw a recent statistic that China had 4.7 million STEM graduates in 2016, compared to 568 thousand in the US. India had roughly 2.6 million. We have entered the Asian century.

    2. Synoia

      I believe there is wide recognition on the US’ position in the US, hence the looting strategy of the wealthy, coupled with a large amount of deflection and propoganda.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, that’s why we will need an extensive ” teach-in” movement to re-explore and re-publicise what America did in the 19th century and how America diddit. And then start and win with a Government Re-Conquest movement to pursue Protectionism, tax policy, and public infrastructure support at the same time, each helping all of them helping each make all of them work.

      It will require winning a Civil Cold War or a Civil Hot War. One way or another, if we can’t exterminate the Free Trade community from American public and cultural life, the Free Trade community will exterminate America from existence over the next couple of decades or so.

    4. Amfortas the hippie

      “The U.S. sanctions have driven China to become self-sufficient in basic supply lines.”

      that right there is a hellova insight.
      but i admit i’m a little biased regarding autarky.
      our boss class’ short term thinking at this level will eventually be their doom.

  6. Keith Newman

    @Michael, 6:45 am (not Michael Hudson)
    I agree it is important not to have an excessively naive view of countries’ actions. However there are various factions within countries that have different policy objectives. All our countries are run by elites representing various factions. The more interesting point is what elite factions want to do, why, and how they manage to come together to accomplish their goals.
    In Canada where I live the Liberal party government of Justin Trudeau runs the country for the FIRE sector, but not exclusively. It has also adopted some positive measures for regular people.
    The Chinese government over the years has ensured hundreds of millions of people have been elevated out of extreme poverty and developed advanced industry. That happened due to deliberate policy.The US government over many years has favoured the FIRE sector, driven tens of millions of people into increasingly dire economic straights by destroying their jobs and has failed to provide access to healthcare to 34.7 percent of the population, also by deliberate policy.
    Sachs’ recommendation to engage China and work toward common goals seems reasonable to me. As Yves points out China is taking a broader role in the world. That is hardly surprising since its economy is now the largest in the world by PPP and growing more quickly than those of “The West”. Is it seeking to become the next world hegemon? Time will tell. Currently it has 1 military base outside the country (I read somewhere) compared to over 800 for the US.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If you have an economic hegemony working in concert with Free Trade Traitors ( who deserve mass extermination) in control of dozens of governments around the world, then you don’t need military bases.

      The CommuNazi ChinaGov PartyState is developing an economic hegemony in which they hope bases will not be needed. They are also building “bases” of a sort wherever they are needed, as with their Illegal West Bank Settlement-style artificial islands creating “facts in the sea” all over the China Sea, which they intend to conquer and strip of all resources till there is nothing of value left in the water or under it.

  7. saywhat?

    but also moral losers–who do not deserve to benefit from state-provided economic relocation and support. “In the American mindset, and it’s a complicated cultural mindset­–it goes back to John Locke, it goes back to the Puritans, it goes back to the prosperity gospel, it goes back to racism– Jeffrey Sachs [bold added]

    But it doesn’t go back to the Bible since the Old Testament forbids collecting interest from fellow citizens, commands debt forgiveness, provides for the continuation of roughly equal land ownership by all citizens (Leviticus 25) and establishes other rights for the poor.

    Funny then that in the still largely so-called Bible-believing US that economic “morality” should be so contrary to the Bible.

  8. Jim

    Sachs analysis of China presumes that they are reacting to American pressure. i.e. everything antagonistic that is presently coming from the CCP leadership is in response to their perception of a threat from the West. What if China’s actions aren’t from external pressure but are a deliberate plan to become the new imperial power of the world. China has been abused by foreign powers in the past and as such has a ‘wounded dragon’ mentality. The actions of China; the belt and road predatory lending more likely fits the ascendant imperial power model more than any other description. The flaw in Sachs logic flows from the Neo-liberal egocentric mindset.

    1. Kouros

      This is more like projection from your part, which likely reflects the US projection.

      The over 2000 years (and we could be generous to stretch that for 3000 years, to go prior to the warring states period, which gave us Confucius and Sun Tzu) history of China provides us with a rich trove of examples where we could or could not find expansionist intentions and aspirations of the Chinese. Yes, we have the soo many walls of China, built throughout northern China on a span of hundreds of years. We have the example of the Ming, burning down the ocean going fleet of the Eunuch Admiral.

      China has been taken before by the Mongols, by Manchurians, by the west (including Japan). When turning the tide, the Chinese have not started rampaging the globe. But as soon as the US has closed the western frontier and eliminated the native claims, immediately had embarked in a global conquest.

      As Stalin killed Trotsky, not only to eliminate an ideological adversary, but also as a sign to the outside world that the USSR is not in pursuit of exporting ideology, the Chinese themselves have reiterated that what they are doing has Chinese characteristics and as such cannot be exported.

      The Belt and Road is an initiative that increases connectivity (in various aspects) across the Eurasian landmass while keeping away from the US bombs, delivered by the planes launched from the US Navy carriers. The role of this navy is only second to promote freedom of navigation. First is to provide ability to stop that freedom of navigation on any polity that rejects US rules (which are not the same as international law)…

      1. Jim

        Projection or not, an analysis that your leadership/country may rely on should address this alternative. Because if you are wrong then you have exposed your country to a great risk. It isn’t saying that the CCP will attack you or does have a nefarious plan, but it analyzes the possibility and looks for signs that this is occurring.
        That being said, men like Sachs do not have their country’s interest at heart and willingly sold us out to profit themselves and their friends. They will only provide an analysis that will financially benefit themselves. I don’t fault China for looking out for their own interests.

  9. Sound of the Suburbs

    Where do things normally go wrong?
    “The Fate Of Empires and Search For Survival” Sir John Glubb
    The pivot point where the decline begins.
    “But, beneath the surface, greed for money is gradually replacing duty and public service. Indeed the change might be summarised as being from service to selfishness.”

    That sounds like the ideology we call “neoliberalism”.
    It’s the same mistake we always make.
    Money is the only thing that matters; we are on the downhill slope.
    The end is nigh.

    It is always in the interests of those with money to get us to think that real wealth lies in money, and we are dependent on them for their money.
    When they have succeeded, it’s the beginning of the end.

    Why is this so bad?
    Let’s have a look.

    The old switcheroo became essential.
    The classical economists identified the constructive “earned” income and the parasitic “unearned” income.
    Most of the people at the top lived off the parasitic “unearned” income and they now had a big problem.
    This problem was solved with neoclassical economics, which hides this distinction.

    Any serious attempt to study the capitalist system always reveals the same inconvenient truth.
    Many at the top don’t create any wealth.
    That’s the problem.
    Confusing making money and creating wealth is the solution.
    Some pseudo economics was developed to perform this task, neoclassical economics.

    Rentier activity in the economy has been hidden by confusing making money with creating wealth.
    Rentiers make money, they don’t create wealth.

    Everyone had expected economic liberalism to unleash capitalist dynamism.
    Instead there was a stampede towards the easy money of “unearned” income.
    In 1984, for the first time in American history, “unearned” income exceeded “earned” income.
    The rentiers have never had it so good.

    Confuse making money and creating wealth and you get into real trouble with banking.
    Banks create money, not wealth.
    You haven’t got a clue what’s really going on.

    On a BBC documentary, comparing 1929 to 2008, it said the last time US bankers made as much money as they did before 2008 was in the 1920s.
    Bankers make the most money when they are driving your economy into a financial crisis.
    They will load your economy up with their debt products until you get a financial crisis.
    1929 and 2008 stick out like sore thumbs.
    At 18 mins.

  10. Piotr Berman

    If this is all Sachs has to say, it is rather thin. ” If the US had properly treated the decline of manufacturing in the industrial heartland as a domestic issue, and not an anti-China issue, it would have made sure that those who lost jobs or wages because of US trade with China would have found employment elsewhere, or would have been bolstered by transfer payments of some kind. ”

    Either USA keeps to its imperial position as the controller of the world currency and financial transactions around the globe, or the balance of trade and services has to be balanced in the long run, and if the domestic production is lost for some goods, either other good production takes their place, or we have a smaller pie to divide. There is a hint that “we do not believe in industrial policy” and it is our vice, but more is needed on that.

    Morever, either carbon in the atmosphere is a problem, and realistic solutions need to be consider, including nuclear power, or talking about it as a “global problem” is an empty talk.

  11. Bee Pee

    What a horrible article.

    ==China is interested in adhering to international law== How about those Spratley Island and the South China Sea? How about intellectual property theft?

    ==America is “circling the South China Sea== No, we are navigating it, as is our right, in international waters.

    American ==imperial mindset== We don’t have colonies like Britain did. Sorry, Europe, that we created NATO that kept Europe basically conflict free since world war 2. Sorry we promoted global trade that ended up increasing the standard of living in Asia significantly. Sorry we were involved in the middle east and stabilized the international flow of oil. We truly are awful.

    China is run by a brutal surveillance state dictatorship. Not only do Americans have a bipartisan consensus of the threat from China. But the rest of the world is joining us.

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