Obamania. A China Perspective.

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We all know that 4 is an unlucky number in China, and there is not much doubt that the 44th US President will face some double-tough issues as he starts in the job. China is not likely to be at the top of the list (in contrast to what might have happened in not for the financial crisis currently engulfing the world), but what impact might the change of administration have? Zhou Qi, researcher at the Institute of American Studies at China’s Academy of Social Sciences, writes the following in Caijing magazine:

    “Experienced China hands close to Obama agree that his policy on Asia, especially on China, won’t steer far from the current theme…

    Obama has yet to clearly outline his China policy. But most of his major advisors on China — including Jeffery Bader, Richard Bush and David Lampton — have extensive experience at the U.S. government’s diplomatic agency and are aware of the importance of retaining a pragmatic policy toward China. They also recognize the importance of building good and stable bilateral relations based on mutual trust. On several occasions, Bader has said that Obama’s China policy will reflect continuity.

    Of course, Obama can be expected to re-examine policies toward China in all respects, including the Strategic Economic Dialogue launched by outgoing President Bush. Last year, Obama called the dialogue a good idea, leading many to believe the high-level meetings will continue after this year’s final round.

    On trade, Obama might lean toward trade unions and emphasize worker rights. But it doesn’t mean he would be protectionist. His major economic advisors are liberal internationalists such as Robert Rubin. Moreover, Obama has called trade barriers harmful, emphasizing that free trade can enhance America’s competitiveness.

    One change might involve human rights. So far, we haven’t heard anything from Obama on this issue. But since the issue of human rights in China has been on the U.S. president’s desk since the Carter Administration, and Obama is a Democrat, the new president might be more critical of China’s human rights record. On the other hand, an aide to the vice president-elect, Joseph Biden, once told the media that America should focus on what China has accomplished in terms of human rights, not on its system. This comment might indicate a new perspective.

    Except for extreme conservatives, most Americans consider the current Taiwan policy adopted by the U.S. government wise and worth continuing. This was evident in a letter Obama sent to Ma Ying-jeou, the current Taiwan leader, after the Taiwanese election in May.”

China Law Blog has more analysis, and points to the Wu Way blog, which says:

    “[an article from Hexun] which includes in its title “The pressure is great for Chinese foreign trade”, suggests that Obama will put dampen the foreign trade market…On the other hand, the author suggests some common ground for the two countries, namely working together to help resolve the current financial crisis.

    As for Sina, the view is more positive than you’d think as well. The author points out Obama’s reputation for pragmatism — meaning that he would always act prudently when considering any policy changes towards China.

    Despite this, in light of the large number of Obama’s China advisors with realist positions, and even more due to the fact that America and China’s common interests outweigh their differences, Obama’s “not a friend nor enemy” and “competitor” strategic position towards China is bound to be discarded about half a year after taking office, just like what happened early on in the Clinton and Bush administrations. His China policy will gradually become more rational and realistic.…
    So, what’s the verdict? Certainly, there’s going to be pressure on China — but, on the other hand, China sees Obama as a steady hand who, when it comes to governance, will, to borrow a phrase from a Spike Lee film, do the right thing.”

Once all the excitement calms down, and normal business resumes (we are assuming it will!), we will see how the China-US strategic-competitive relationship progresses.

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One Response to “Obamania. A China Perspective.”

  1. Formosa Daily » Obamania. A China Perspective. Says:

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