November 1, 2005
Written by C.N.
The New York Times has an article that describes a series of proposals that U.S. government officials will present China on how it can modernize its economy, with the goal of strengthening China’s yuan currency and eventually equalizing China’s current trade imbalance with the U.S.:
The plan, to be discussed in two days of talks here and in Beijing, calls for China to speed up the privatization of state-owned companies, including banks; to develop a Chicago-style futures market for currency trading; to establish an independent credit-rating agency; and to crack down on bailouts for banks left holding bad loans. . . .
Though many of the ideas are familiar, and often supported by Chinese leaders in principle, the list reflects an increased effort to lecture China about internal financial issues. That could backfire. Chinese leaders invariably bristle at pressure from American officials, and they could view the new American “priorities” as an unwelcome intrusion.
Beyond the actual financial details of the plan, I find the larger socio-political context of the U.S.’s efforts to influence China’s economy very interesting. Specifically, the question is, is the U.S. being a little presumptuous and maybe even a little arrogant to think that it can tell China how to run its own economy? How would the U.S. feel if China came out with a list of suggestions on how the U.S. can improve its economy?
Although the U.S. may have some legitimate concerns with some of China’s financial practices, it seems to me that the U.S. is in danger of engaging in another form of imperialism. In the past — long ago and recently — the U.S. used military means to spread its power and influence. Nowadays, they are apparently turning toward financial and political means to try to accomplish the same thing — influence the internal affairs of a sovereign country.
We’ve seen how “successful” these attempts at imperialism have been (i.e., Viet Nam, the current war in Iraq, etc.). In this case, China is not Viet Nam or Iraq — it is a major international political, economic, and military superpower, just like the U.S. In other words, the U.S. had better watch its steps here.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "U.S.’s Plans for China’s Economy" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2005/11/uss-plans-for-chinas-economy/> ().
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