America Is Fumbling Its Most Important Relationship
The United States has a China problem—and pundits and politicians are making it worse.
The core of such a plan should be trying to shape reality in ways that encourage and discourage various forms of Chinese behavior. The much-loathed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, was one of those possible shaping tools. The TPP was the rare policy that Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders all opposed, but its idea was to ally the United States with enough other Pacific Rim trading nations to create a rule-based economic reality too great and influential for China to ignore. Long-term industrial strategies, like the one the Clinton administration applied (successfully) in the early 1990s to revive the U.S. info-tech industry relative to Japan, also can have effect—and can include precisely thought-through tariffs as part of their power. Different times and different details require ever-shifting strategies, but none of them involves “villain” rhetoric or public demands and threats. Nor of course do they involve personal favors or business deals.