Many politicians see the world in black and white. They are 100% right and the other side is 100% wrong. As a centrist, I often believe both sides are wrong. China is a case in point.
The Obama administration did a horrible job with China (and many other countries). China could do whatever they wanted. Our response was either lukewarm or nonexistent. Joe Biden seems to be following course. He recently said China was “no competition for us”.
President Trump is getting tough with China but, no pun intended, is like a bull in a china shop. He seems to focus only on the balance of trade. His tariffs are hurting our economy. No company can afford to absorb them so they are passed along to consumers. Their retaliation is costing us exports. They used to buy our soybeans but now buy from Brazil. Some jobs do return to the US but at a very high cost.
China aims to be the leading superpower in the world. One day they will have the planet’s largest economy. They want to be dominant in intellectual capital. They have an aggressive foreign policy and are becoming a military superpower. They also play by their own rules. There are millions of young engineers and scientists but they also steal trade secrets.
We should neither fear them nor demonize them. Instead, we need to meet the challenge head-on. We need to become a stronger competitor and deal with them on all fronts. If they break the rules (as we see them), we need to respond. That means going after companies and individuals that do wrong rather than expect their government to do our bidding.
International relations is a lot like surgery. It requires a firm but delicate touch. That’s why doctors use scalpels instead of meat axes. We would be better off if President Trump had a few scalpels but that’s not his style.