Letters to the Editor 2019

To the Editor: 

In a recent letter to the editor entitled, "Negotiating With China," a writer repeated the litany of right-wing fears and complaints about China. Most of what he said was true but decidedly myopic.

Looking mostly at China’s recent economic and military rise, the writer failed to see the other side of the picture - our nation isn’t on the rise. In fact, according to virtually every world opinion survey, there has been a decline in the view of America since Trump took office.

Unfortunately, that essentially negative view of Trump seems to increasingly be applied to the American people.

Why? “We’re living in a very different world than we did 10 years ago. It’s a multipolar, multi-conceptual world,” as Borge Brende, president, World Economic Forum said and, Trump, along with much of America, doesn’t see that.

Nothing illustrates this better than China‘s Belt and Road program to build infrastructure linking countries' ports and manufacturing centers around the world and tie countries together in mutual cooperation.

A total of 128 countries have gotten on board with the Chinese initiative, some eagerly, some cautiously, but all freely. That’s more than half of all the countries in the world.

In contrast, Trump and the Republicans can’t even seem to address serious infrastructure issues in the nation.

“Zero corruption, green, multilateral, quality, sustainability are the new glossary terms of the Chinese president,” said Bruno Sergi, a Harvard professor of the political economy of Russia and China. Whether those lofty ideals will be reached is doubtful, but they are showing leadership in things to strive for and all are goals which Trump has specifically (‘green,’ ‘sustainable,’ ‘multinational,’ ‘zero corruption,’ ‘quality’) rejected, but the world seems to want.

Why is the world negative about Trump? Partly because, far from making new proposals for ways forward, Trump threatens, demands, insists, and refuses to cooperate with pretty much anyone.

Consider one of his first moves after becoming president - backing out and eventually destroying the multi-country Asian trade agreement, TRANSPAC (which ironically pushed most of the signatories closer to China).

Consider Trump’s recent withdrawal from International Arms Trade Agreement. Trump’s renegotiation of NAFTA, the so-far unratified USMCA which most trade experts see as little changed from NAFTA and many Republicans say they will vote against when it comes up to be ratified.

The tariffs placed against Chinese goods, in a ‘trade war’ which he claimed was easy to win but, in fact, has gone on for eight months with no definite end in sight, and the Chinese economy is actually growing.

Now, with the boost to 25% on tariffs for Chinese goods, he is seen even more as an economic bully. If anything, the ability to stand up to the U.S. has boosted China’s prestige.

Consider Trump’s threats about withdrawing from NATO and his actual withdrawals from the U.N. Human Rights Council. And, of course, his withdrawing from the historic international climate accords.

Just as important, while we move backward, China is moving forward in many ways other than Belt and Road. Although Trump’s complaints about China “stealing” American technology is widely accepted as having a basis, he seems to be overlooking the fact that China is graduating far more science and technology majors than we are each year. “Theft” may soon end.

Complaining about China probably won’t do much to remedy any of that.

Getting America to see that we need new policies and a new vision of the new world is what is needed. And getting new, non-partisan, knowledgeable leadership is almost certainly part of that.

And we need it quickly; not just in the White House, but in the Legislature as well.