Mao's ghost

By EDITORIAL  |  August 8, 2008

The real winners of this development have been the multinational conglomerates that moved to China, and the financial institutions that backed them. Both of the presumptive presidential nominees, John McCain and Barack Obama, are curiously tight-lipped about future China policy. The reason for that may be simple: both are advised by people who make their livings outside of electoral politics, counseling multinationals that make mega-bucks in China.

Since Nixon approached China, the argument has gone that engaging the country economically would provide political leverage and ultimately result in liberalization of the repressive Chinese regime. According to the US State Department, China is still among the world’s nastiest governments — so much for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s “iron law” that economic liberation will lead to political liberation.

Seeking raw materials and favors that sharpen its economic might, China sponsors terror in the Sudan and Zimbabwe and props up dictatorships in Myanmar (Burma) and North Korea. Its rape of Tibet has intensified, as has its crackdown on internal critics and dissidents. So secure is China in its ability to play on the hopes and avarice of the West, that it has — against all expectations (foolish though they might have been) — barred meaningful Internet access to the legions of journalists covering the Olympic Games.

Engagement was the reason China was awarded the Olympics. As a rule, cities, as opposed to nations, are awarded the Games in an effort to downplay international rivalries and accentuate the efforts of individual athletes. However, there have been two exceptions: the Berlin Games in 1936 were awarded by contract to Hitler’s Germany and the 2008 Games were awarded to the People’s Republic of China. The distinction may appear small and legalistic. But in each instance, the International Olympic Committee fractured its own protocols to massage egos that were as internationally aggressive as they were domestically repressive.

Demonizing China is counterproductive. Nations have interests, not friends. But Americans should ask themselves, is it in our interests that China today holds $1.2 trillion in reserve assets alone, with billions more invested in US financial institutions and other businesses? And while we ponder that question, we should ask ourselves this: is it prudent for the federal government to spend like a drunken sailor with money borrowed from China? The fault is not China’s for pressing its advantage as vigorously as it can. The fault is with a political establishment that has become so used to its own double talk that it fails to recognize where the interests of its citizens lie.

Meanwhile, Mao smiles in his mausoleum.

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