Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.
It is the shifting of U.S. manufacturing jobs to China and the U.S. trade deficit with China.
The United States probably does have legitimate economic grievances against China. Some American economists, for example, think the Chinese government keeps the exchange rate for its currency artificially low in order to make its exports cheaper in world markets.
But the main problems we Americans have with China are due to things we have done to ourselves.
The Chinese never forced U.S.-based companies to give up domestic manufacturing capability. It never forced us Americans to neglect our physical infrastructure—our Internet service, our roads and bridges, our dams and levees. It never forced us to neglect our human resources—our higher education, our industrial research. It never forced our financial elite to invest in debt rather than invest in production.
Trying to substitute a military rivalry for an economic rivalry may or may not hurt China. It will not do us Americans any benefit because our problems do not originate in China. They originate at home.
China has its own problems—labor unrest, ethnic conflict, corruption, air pollution, suppression of dissent. Whether any of these problems are potentially fatal, I do not know. What I do know is that it would be foolish for us Americans to count on China self-destructing.
I found these charts in a Google Image search. What they show is that we Americans should be concerned about is being overtaken by China economically, not militarily.
Our high-technology military forces depend on the U.S. ability to make and maintain their expensive weaponry, and to pay for them. We are ceding the ability to make to China and we can’t be sure we always will have the ability to pay.
The most harmful thing that the Chinese could do to us Americans is to position itself to replace the American dollar with the Chinese renminbi as the standard currency used in world trade.
This will not happen anytime soon. Because so much of the world’s investments are denominated in dollars, few investors will knowingly allow anything to happen that makes the value of their investments less.
On the other hand, few people will want to be left holding dollars if there is a real danger its value will collapse. Once investors start to get rid of their dollars, there will be a panic. Nobody will want to be left holding a devalued currency.
I think any threat to the dollar would be a long time coming, but when it does come, it will be sudden, unexpected and devastating.
When the United States has covered the world with military bases, China has covered the world with infrastructure projects. As I’ve written before, I believe China’s method of projecting its power is the more effective.
Click on China Global Investment Tracker for the original Heritage Foundation / American Enterprise Institute interactive map.
I don’t approve of the authoritarian Chinese form of government. I would not like to see China become the role model for the world.
There’s nothing in the nature of things that says that has to happen. We Americans occupy one of the best parts of the Earth’s surface, and we are capable of being just as smart and hard-working as the generations that came before us. We’re not at the mercy of foreign troops or foreign bankers.
The things that hold us back are corporate and governmental leaders who don’t have our best interests are heart, and ways of thinking that prevent us from working together.
Rather than trying to force our system on the rest of the world, we should strive to set an example that the rest of the world would want to imitate.