Obama Said Knock China Out

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 11/11/2009 12:02:00 PM

Some folks think I exaggerate US-China quarrels. Well, perhaps this will give me more breathing space as US President Barack Obama talks trash prior to embarking on a tour across Asia extolling the virtues of the American way of life (or not). Something all of us are undoubtedly excited about is "China Currency Coalition" Obama visiting Beijing as both try to stare each other down in a game of chicken. Of course, America's champion Obama is seeking to placate domestic audiences by showing the burghers of Beijing who's boss (cue YouTube clip above) -

Don't call it a comeback
I've been here for years
Rockin' my peers and puttin' suckas in fear
Makin' the tears rain down like a monsoon

In an interview with Reuters, Obama is warning China that strains may become more obvious between the antagonists if global economic imbalances aren't resolved. (Read: China must allow the renminbi to revalue or face the consequences):
The United States sees China as a vital partner and competitor, but the two countries need to address economic imbalances or risk "enormous strains" on their relationship [time to sign up at Gold's Gym and put on some mitts, eh?], President Barack Obama said on Monday. Three days before leaving on a nine-day trip to Asia, Obama said the world's two most powerful nations need to work together on the big issues facing the globe, and any competition between them has to be fair and friendly...

Speaking in the Oval Office, he warned that the economic relationship between the two countries had become "deeply imbalanced" in recent decades, with a yawning trade gap and huge Chinese holdings of U.S. government debt. Obama said he would be raising with Chinese leaders the sensitive issue of their yuan currency -- which is seen by U.S. industry as significantly undervalued -- as one factor contributing to the imbalances.

"As we emerge from an emergency situation, a crisis situation, I believe China will be increasingly interested in finding a model that is sustainable over the long term," he said. "They have a huge amount of U.S. dollars that they are holding, so our success is important to them. The flipside of that is that if we don't solve some of these problems, then I think both economically and politically it will put enormous strains on the relationship."
Obama is saying that China must open up more of its markets to US exports to facilitate global rebalancing. True enough:
The Obama administration has resisted domestic pressure to brand China a currency manipulator, but has slapped tariffs on Chinese tires, steel pipes and other products.

Obama said he would be telling Beijing it needed to do more to open its markets. "Our manufacturers, I think, would have legitimate concerns about our ability to sell into China," he said, emphasizing that boosting U.S. sales oversees was a crucial part of his strategy to revitalize the economy and create jobs. "It is particularly important for us when it comes to Asia as a whole to recognize that in the absence of a more robust export strategy it is going to be hard for us to rebuild our manufacturing base and employment base in this country," Obama said in the 21-minute interview.
Like Obama, most Americans view China as more of a foe than a friend. In geopolitical terms--competition for Asiawide influence; competition in securing natural resources (especially energy); and treatment of rogue regimes--this is true. In the case of Burma, of course, it's all three but that's a story for another time...
A Thomson Reuters/Ipsos poll published last week showed that while Americans view China as important, many are wary. Thirty-four percent of Americans chose China as the "most important bilateral relationship" -- ahead of Britain and Canada. Yet when asked to characterize China, 56 percent saw it as an adversary while only 33 viewed it as an ally.
America sees competition as welcome as long as China plays by the rules. The question, of course, is who set those rules? Given its (now-ebbing) predominance in setting up international institutions--your WTOs, IFIs, etc., the answer is clear. This holds true as well for the Guantanamo Ghraibing nation's tireless espousal of human rights jibba-jabba:
"I see China as a vital partner, as well as a competitor," Obama said. "The key is for us to make sure that that competition is friendly, and it's competition for customers and markets, it's within the bounds of well-defined international rules of the road that both China and the United States are party to but also that together we are encouraging responsible behavior around the world."

Obama has been accused by some of soft-pedaling on China's human rights record, criticism he rejected. "We believe in the values of freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion, that are not just core American values but we believe are universal values," he said.
Pretty tough talk, Barack. But what are you going to do when China inevitably refuses to revalue the yuan, deal on climate change, and soften its human rights stance? Perhaps you're right and you know you must fight. Enough turkey punching already. As LL Cool J sang (rapped?):

Shadow boxin' when I heard you on the radio
I just don't know
What made you forget that I was raw?
But now I got a new tour
I'm goin insane, startin' the hurricane, releasin' pain
Lettin you know that you can't gain, I maintain