The GOP and China

So a not surprising thing has happened in response to the reality TV star dominating the news in the GOP primary, but also in response to recent economic volatility around China and their growth slowdown. In fact, it happens every election cycle on the other side of the aisle. The China-bashing has begun.

Now, my kind of China-bashing involves thoughtful and sensible critiques of their deplorable human rights record. Instead, we have gotten a barrage of comments forcing observers to take notes on various candidates economic IQ’s.

Gov. Scott Walker, a respectable foe of union thugs, said that he has hardened on China in recent weeks because they have recently devalued their currency. He also called on them to implement free market reforms. Apparently, not a single aide of Gov. Walker’s mentioned that the currency devaluation came about as a result of them increasing market mechanisms towards such, meaning, laying off the interference that had been propping it up! The United States has threatened to call China a currency manipulator for two decades; now, they do as asked, and some candidates don’t like it?

The reality is that Sen. Rubio is right to hammer China for their piracy violations and massive flow of iniquities in the observance of human rights. But beyond standard politico-pandering, any suggestion that the United States is going to start a trade war with China any time soon is pure poppycock. If the United States wants to give China less leverage, she can shrink her deficit and balance her budget so as to regain the upper hand. In the meantime, the various threats Republican candidates are making against China remind me of what President Bush said to us at the SALT conference a few years ago about Obama’s campaign promise to shut down Guatanamo Bay:

“Oh. That never bothered me for a minute. I knew there was absolutely no chance he’d really do it once he got his very first national security briefing. No chance.”

Pandering to a low information voter on matters of economics is par for the presidential course. But the global state of affairs matters, and China is not a subject merely to score campaign points with at this time. Sober and sensible reflection of matters of global economic urgency are the need of the hour. Obama may run the full two terms of his presidency without China dominating the headlines. I assure you, the candidate we elect at the end of 2016 will not be so lucky.