Episode 5: Domestic Challenges in the US-China Competition

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BBRNuoAMe8"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]this is robert kaplan from the foreign policy research institute in philadelphia this is a podcast series about great power rivalry in an age of global demons if russia continues to interfere with our democracy i'm prepared to take further actions to respond cyber attacks on the united states economic coercion the united states does not have the qualification to say that he wants to speak to china from a position of strength how will conflicts between the united states and china and between the united states and russia interact with pandemics climate change massive cyber attacks state failures and other terrors of a global media age you'll want to listen closely to the breaks because you might be one of the lucky listeners to receive my latest book the good american the epic life of bob gersoni the u.s government's greatest humanitarian as part of a giveaway today i have with me former ambassador to china and one of washington's greatest experts stapleton roy i will be talking to him about china this morning and the challenge that it poses my first question to you stape when you read about china in the newspapers or on television what is it about china that's not getting in the news you know what is the reality that you know about china but that we desperately need to know about but which is simply not being reported it's being overlooked that's a very fundamental question i have been associated with china since my birth and i have gone through periods when china was a wartime ally of the united states against japan when china was going through the communist revolution i lived in china during the first year of the communist takeover and only left when the korean war broke out i returned to china in the cultural revolution days i was part of the negotiations that helped establish diplomatic relations and i was the ambassador to china so i have seen china in many different forms and the important thing i think to remember is there's nothing foreordained about our relationship with china it does not have to be confrontational it does not have to be cooperative and the united states is one of the few countries in the world that doesn't simply have to take what others dish up for us in other words how we behave affects outcomes and i think that's the thing that's often missing with china people assume that we in china are going to end up in hostile rivalry and the answer i would say based on long association with china is that's nonsense we don't have to be in a hostile rivalry with china that's partly depends on our policies and a party depends on china's policies and a good test for looking at whether we're doing things right or wrong is if we're not getting along with china is that characteristic of all of the other countries that deal with china for example the leader of north korea really has no friends in the international community everybody has difficulty dealing with north korea the same was true as saddam hussein he did not have friends the same was true of qaddafi if you will but in the case of china a lot of countries are getting along okay with china a lot of countries have problems with china but the united states does not have to assume that we can't find a way of stabilizing the relationship with china the second thing i think that is often missing in our coverage of china is we don't look at it in a long enough framework china is changing 40 years from now china will not be the same as it is now but we tend to look at it in terms of four months or four years and say that change isn't occurring in the ways that we would like to see it change but those types of changes don't take place in a short frame time frame they require a much longer period and i think that that perspective is often missing in our coverage of china for example if you look at china what you see is two things one is that it's extraordinarily more developed than it was 40 years ago it has really created a large modern sector in china at the same time the governing system in china the communist party rule in china does not really rest on a normal modern legitimization process it rests on performance it's the extraordinary improvement in the life of the chinese people that legitimizes communist party rule in china and this is the big problem of china because all other modern governments in the world rest on two principles the concept that the just powers of governance are derived from the consent of the people and on the concept that power corrupts and must be checked and balanced all modern systems have those principles at their base but not in china so what china is facing is a major contradiction between the fact that they have created big middle classes that didn't exist 40 years ago who have had great exposure to the outside world china has been having a hundred million chinese going abroad every year probably the united states doesn't get anywhere near that number so you have a modernized middle class in china and you have introduced market principles into the way that chinese economy functions and you have a struggle in china over whether to strengthen those market principles or to strengthen the socialist aspects that still exist in china and that struggle is actively taking place in china so you have a modernized economy a modernized society in china but the leaders of china will not permit modernization of the political system state middle class you know you said earlier that china is growing a large middle class and that middle class will get bigger and bigger now in history middle classes are notoriously ungrateful they don't say thank you to the government they just have more wants and needs and desires and anxieties and they tend to hold government to a higher standard so that the larger and more confident the middle class the more the government itself has to evolve is that the central challenge of the chinese leadership to improve the quality of governance given that their whole goal is to make life better and better and that's going to create more and more middle class people who in turn are going to demand a higher standard of governance that's exactly right bob the way i put it is that middle classes generally own property or own things because they have risen to that level of affluence which means that they have something to lose the result is middle classes do not like to have a governance system in which they have no say democracy really is a middle-class form of governance and that has strengths and weaknesses for example india has a democratic form of governance but it still has a something like a 30 illiteracy rate whereas the literacy rate in china under an authoritarian system of government is something like 96 percent why is that because the government the democracy in india looks after the interests of the middle classes not the lower classes and that's a problem that we're beginning to run into in the united states because our wealth is getting excessively concentrated in the hands of our very narrow percentage at the top of our system and part of that reflects the fact that our middle class has been shrinking whereas the upper middle class and the one percent have been getting an increasing share of our national assets we're going to take a short break and when we return ambassador roy and i will talk about the one thing that could end the u.s china rivalry you'll want to hear this stay tuned this podcast is sponsored by the foreign policy research institute a non-partisan think tank based in philadelphia founded in 1955 fpri is committed to producing the highest quality scholarship and expert analysis through the lens of history geography and culture for more information about fpri and our work to educate the public on the most pressing foreign policy issues of the day please visit www.fpri.org [Music] state people when they look at the us and china there's this argument going on are we in a cold war are we not well in a functional sense a rivalry where neither side wants to have a shooting war is by definition a kind of um a cold war but it's obviously vastly different than the previous cold war or the formal cold war between the us and the soviet union how does this end does this remember the cold war with the soviet union ended as a feature of domestic politics not international relations the soviet system itself weakened you know could that the rivalry will call it between the us and china ultimately end by one of the two countries having a domestic crisis of sort that that weakens it first bob i spent nearly 10 years of my career working on the soviet union including three and a half years serving in our embassy in moscow and i think the cold war analogy distorts the current situation fundamentally so i don't think it's good to look at the u.s china relationship in the context of a cold war let me explain why if after world war ii the countries of western europe had had more trade with the soviet union than with the united states we would not have been able to set up the north atlantic treaty organization which was the fundamental strategic relationship during the cold war period in europe in asia all of our friends and allies most of the countries have more trade with china than they have with the united states so the countries of east asia do not want to be forced to choose between china and the united states if you recall john foster dollars in the eisenhower administration was angry at india because india was not online and we thought that india as a democracy should be lined up with us and india wouldn't line up with us but in western europe most of the countries were lined up with us so if we think in terms of a cold war analogy we don't understand the dynamics of east asia and that results in bad foreign policy and it undermines our relationships with the key countries that we have to be cooperating with in order to deal with a much stronger china that's fascinating stape because the soviet union didn't make anything that anyone outside of it wanted to buy or trade with you know western europe asia was stuck with us you know we're stuck with the west as a trading partner and that allowed us to keep alliances together it helped us to keep alliances together through many decades but now we're in a world where germany trade is going to be trading more with china than anyone else it's going to be getting natural gas from russia all of the quad you know india japan australia are going to be trading or are already trading more with china than with any other country so how do we forge alliances how do we how do we conduct alliance management in an age when our chief allies are going to have china as their largest trading partner or one of their largest trading partners this gets to the theory of foreign policy i was an american diplomat for nearly half a century 45 years and my experience was that the way you formulate foreign policy is you look at the objectively at the external world and determine what are the approaches that will best serve american interests in dealing with the objective circumstances that you see outside the country but to implement those policies you have to have domestic support yeah so the domestic component of foreign policy is very important because you can't implement a good foreign policy if you don't have the support necessary for that but we often get the horse backwards with the card we formulate foreign policies in terms of domestic attitudes which are not well informed about circumstances outside the united states and then we try to impose those attitudes on the countries with whom we have to gain the support of for success and that doesn't work and i think that's one of the problems that i think the by the administration is in the process of straightening out because in the trump administration we were essentially taking a presidential attitude and some domestic attitudes and trying to use that as our way of dealing with friends and allies and they were all upset by this so if you look at east asia where we need to have support in order to balance the rise of china we have to recognize that the economic relationships with china are very important to those countries and therefore if we adopt an approach that isolates us from that or asks them to choose between their security interests and their economic interests we will have unstable relationships with countries that we need stable relationships with in order to deal effectively with china how is the biden administration been doing you know you are who you appoint and they've made some interesting appointments regarding asia and they've appointed you know an indo-pacific czar which is a new position in the personality of kurt campbell who's a very i you know i worked for kurt and he's a very forceful individual he's one of these people who take over a room so to speak when he walks in and so this is something new on one hand and there's also a new secretary of state secretary of defense lloyd austin has a personal china adviser eli ratner who i know who's very competent but this is also something new the secretary of defense having a position for an advisor on china so with all of these bureaucratic changes at the top between trump and biden how is the administration evolving in terms of dealing with the china challenge my assessment bob is that the biden administration is trying to restore an orderly process to governance after what really amounted to the chaos of the previous administration in which there was not a policy formulation process i've never seen in all the previous administrations i have served under or watched as an adult observer anything approximating the absence of that policy process as was true of the of the trump administration so the biden administration has put very competent experienced people into senior positions it is trying to re-emphasize diplomacy rather than simply relying on our military power to accomplish our foreign policy objectives it is again reemphasizing relationship with our allies which is one of the gigantic assets that we have in dealing with the rise of china and that process is underway but at the same time the emphasis of the biden administration has been on trying to straighten out our domestic circumstances and i think a lot of us welcome that because what has been missing in our dealing with the challenge of china as it gets bigger and bigger as china gains strength and economic power is that we weren't addressing our our own domestic difficulties that were undermining our ability to compete effectively with china and so it's a good thing that the biden administration is focusing on the domestic factors but domestic attitudes toward china right now are extremely negative more negative than they've been in the last four or five decades and the problem is in order to maintain and gain the domestic support they need for their domestic programs the biden administration has been reluctant to make a sharp shift in the way that we are dealing with china for example the tariffs which are contrary to free trade and damage the interests of our own allies are still in place they haven't straightened out how we want to deal economically with china largely because that involves domestic interests and they don't want to compromise those domestic interests in order to push forward their domestic programs so china policy has not yet been fully adjusted to the directions in which i believe the administration needs to go in order to compete effectively with china but they are in that process and it's going to take a little longer to make sure that they deal with it effectively but a point that we haven't mentioned yet is the taiwan issue yes i was going to get to that but this is fine go right into it now if you please okay the potential bombshell in the u.s strategy in east asia and in dealing with china is how we are dealing with taiwan right now we have had a unbelievably successful foreign policy in dealing with taiwan as you know when we established diplomatic relations with china in 1979 we had to break our diplomatic relations with a friendly government we had to end our security treaty with that government and we had to withdraw our armed forces from taiwan but we insisted on continuing to sell arms to taiwan because we were not prepared to abandon taiwan at that time taiwan had adequate defense capabilities and we wanted to make sure that it retained those capabilities but in doing so we had to shift to an unofficial relationship with taiwan because what a one-china policy means is that you can only have official relations with one of the governments that at that time claimed to be the government of china and there were two governments then that made that claim and you had to recognize either one or the other so we shifted from taipei to beijing and recognized it as the official government of china but we were determined to maintain a robust relationship with taiwan but it had to be conducted unofficially and for 40 years taiwan has prospered unbelievably under that framework pensions through most of that period have been relatively low and enormous common interests were created between taiwan and the mainland through trade and investment and mutual visits but we have permitted increasing officiality to creep into our relations with taiwan and this is undermining this one china framework we're going to take a short break stay tuned if you're enjoying the global demons podcast you'll also enjoy robert d kaplan's latest book the good american a sweeping yet intimate story of the most influential humanitarian you've never heard of bob grissoni who spent four decades in crisis zones around the world thanks to our sponsor random house you can win a signed copy of the good american just by listening to this podcast all you have to do is subscribe to this podcast and leave a review on itunes spotify or wherever you get your podcast we will have a random drawing and announce the winner on our 13th and final episode some examples here what have we been doing to officialize the relationship with taiwan there are two areas where that has been taken place when we first were establishing the new relationship with beijing and trying to readjust our relations with taiwan we had very strict rules in place as to the levels at which you could deal with the authorities in taiwan and over the last four decades particularly in the last two decades there has been a what i would call officiality creep upwards where we have permitted officials on the u.s side to deal with officials on the taiwan side at higher levels and this has been very troubling to beijing because no country in the world has been able to have official relations with both taiwan and with mainland china so the real question is where is this leading china as a fundamental policy has said that it will use military force if necessary to prevent taiwan from becoming not part of china anymore in other words to gain full independence as an independent entity but taiwan is unique in the world it's the only disputed area where in fact it is in complete control of its own affairs but it hasn't been able to gain international recognition for that status except from a handful of countries and so what china is determined to do is to prevent taiwan from becoming independent but domestic forces in taiwan are moving in the direction that would be supportive of an independent status for taiwan this sounds like a perfect storm an increasing movement for independence increasing officializing of the relationship and china continuing to build up its military i would assume that neither china nor the united states wants to have a hot conflict of any kind and that the new administration is trying by inserting you know restoring process to the relationship which was lost during the trump administration is not trying to solve these problems so much as make sure no accidents happen you know establish a process some rules of the road and parameters so that both beijing and washington can talk to each other well bobby you will recall that one of the last things that the trump administration did just before leaving office was to remove the process for managing relations with taiwan and the biden administration has not restored that process so at the moment this is a very unstable area on a very key aspect of our relationship with china and with taiwan and this is a much more important issue than many people recognize china at the moment has a fundamental policy of seeking peaceful unification of china and it's important for the united states for china to adhere to that china does not have a policy of using military force to complete unification its policy is to use military force to prevent taiwan from breaking away from china but it can live with the status quo even though it would like to see unification take place and it's very important to manage that relationship in a way that keeps open the possibility of peaceful unification at some point in the future at the moment there is no possibility of peaceful unification between taiwan and the mainland but at the same time taiwan has not been successful in breaking loose as an independent country as managing that contradiction that is at the core of our relationship with china and at the moment the biden administration has not yet stabilized that we need a stable status quo in the cross-strait relationship in order to allow better possibilities to emerge in the future to stabilize the relationship so that possibilities can emerge in the future as china changes as america changes as taiwan changes and i suppose and i'm going to close up here and ask you a final question how does japan australia singapore how do they look at the american chinese rivalry over taiwan taiwan has an enormous number of friends in fact there's no one in east asia that has a hostile relationship with taiwan and that includes even the mainland because from 2008 and 2016 there was an explosion in cross-strait economic cooperation between taiwan and maine and china 23 economic agreements including the comprehensive economic framework agreement were negotiated during that period so taiwan has lots of friends but all of them have unofficial relations with taiwan and they would do not want that to be destabilized so they watch the united states handling of this question with alarm if we seem to be mismanaging it in a way that makes the possibility of conflict between the united states and china more likely in a sense our relationship with china is the test of the success or failure of our asian policy because every country in east asia is negatively affected by the possibility of a conflict between the united states and china they want our military presence in order to balance the rise of china but they want us also more economically involved because they are even more concerned about being economically dominated by china and that's an area that we really need to give more attention to well ambassador roy thank you so much for your time to listen to your thoughts on china and this is robert d kaplan of the foreign policy research institute signing off now thank you thank you for listening to this episode of the global demons podcast brought to you by the foreign policy research institute if you've enjoyed this episode please subscribe anywhere you get your podcast and visit our website at www.fpri.org for the foreign policy research institute i'm robert d kaplan<br><!-- wp:image {"id":1776,"sizeSlug":"large","linkDestination":"none"} -->rn<figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img class="wp-image-1776" src="https://en.videoencontexto.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Episode_5_Domestic_Challenges_in_the_USChina_Competition_8BBRNuoAMe8.jpg" alt="Episode 5: Domestic Challenges in the US-China Competition" /></figure>rn<!-- /wp:image -->[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Episode 5: Domestic Challenges in the US-China Competition

Share

Comments (0)

Post a comment