144A Int’l Conflict Op-Ed

One of the classes I am taking during my summer in the U.S. is a Political Science class focusing on International Conflict. The class teaches different political theories/perspectives, such as Realism, Liberalism, Critical Theory, World Systems Theory, Constructivism, Feminism, and others, and applies them to the Kosovo conflict. In addition, we had to select a current world conflict and write a research paper, Op-Ed, and Policy paper. I selected the US/China debate over China’s renminbi exchange rate.

Here is the Op-Ed–Though well-written, according to my professor I did not focus enough on one main point, instead jumping back and forth between the difference both countries’ perceptions of one another, the Chinese ownership of foreign debt, and the current international monetary policy of both countries. Oh well. I had fun writing it.

Grade Received: B+

Uncle Sam Wants Hu! (And the Rest of the CCP)

Despite what ‘the Man’ would have you believe, it’s no secret that China is rising to superpower status in the world. Just like the billions of dollars in advertising that Coca-Cola and Pepsi spend to highlight their differences because in reality both taste so similar, so does American media vilify China’s government, throw human rights pity parties for China’s people, and point the finger of blame for America’s economic troubles squarely at Mao’s smiling portrait on the Forbidden City’s gate. All of this is in order to disguise the fact that it is us who are to blame for America’s economic situation—each and every American who buys that extra car, that extra t-shirt, that extra [insert anything purchasable at a Wal-Mart] that was made in China for a lot cheaper and thus sold for a lot cheaper than if it was manufactured stateside. It is all of these actions by Americans that move that job overseas to China. It is anybody who has consistently lived above their means, borrowing money that they can’t pay back to purchase something they don’t need, and every big business leader who saw the benefits of cheap labor in China and stayed blind to the mounting trade deficit caused by their short-sighted greed.

Like every intrepid, politically-conscious American knows, it takes only a simple Google search or an hour tuned into CNN to discover all the Western news articles and the myriad Western internet blogs and their writers, all more than willing to lay bare the horrors of life in that distant god-forsaken land. Tales of oppression and corruption from the local level all the way up to the global scale with China’s alleged currency manipulation, all play into the government’s portrayal of China as a two-faced threat that is both a backwards country whose leaders lie through their teeth to their population to keep them oppressed, while at the same time acting as a shrewd, conniving enemy of the American economy.

Yet for all the work done to highlight the disparities between China and the U.S., the fact still stands that of the 65.3% of the total American debt that is foreign-owned, China holds 23.4% of it. This is a massive amount of money to owe anybody. The blame for racking up a debt that large cannot be pinned on anyone more than the people who spent it in the first place. Regardless of how much pressure we put on China to adjust its currency’s value, which at this time effectively subsidizes China’s exports while placing high ‘tariffs’ on its imports or sanctioning trade with it, simply pointing a finger and saying “Stop it! It is your duty to hold your share of our financial burden!” is like burning down your house and then blaming the neighbors for not throwing themselves on the flame to extinguish it.

The Chinese have been relatively open to discussion about their monetary policy towards the United States and the rest of the world. As transparent as can be expected from any major power that has a vested interest in the survival of the same country that blames them for its suffering, that is. When the U.S. called for an unpegging of the RMB, China acquiesced and unpegged. But it is simply wrong to think that China will, let alone should, hinder its own progress in order to help bail out the U.S. from its financial hole. While China does own a large amount of US debt, it is not responsible for the United States’ financial problems. So instead of trying to play boss and attempting to control the Chinese economy in order to try and force a shift towards how we think the Chinese should act towards supporting our interests, we should be focusing on fixing ourselves. It is long overdue for the U.S. to turn its self-proclaimed role of Team America: World Police on itself and address the domestic reasons for America’s financial problems before going after China.

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