Brett Decker: Our Trade Deficit Is Underwriting China’s Military and Infrastructure Buildup

This photo taken on May 5, 2016 shows crew members of China's South Sea Fleet taking part in a drill in the Xisha Islands, or the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea
AFP/File STR

America’s trade deficit is funding China’s military and infrastructure developments, said former Wall Street Journal editor and Asia expert Brett M. Decker on Thursday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight.

The U.S. trade deficit widened in December to its highest level since 2008. Last year’s trade deficit saw a nine-year high of $566 million, according to data released by the Commerce Department.

Growing trade deficits with China are potential threats to U.S. national security, said Decker: “With whom are we building up the huge deficits? The record numbers, $566 billion (in 2017), almost $67 billion this year – 66 percent of that is China’s.”

America’s trade deficit with China serves the authoritarian state’s global ascendance and regional power ambitions, said Decker.

“What are our dollars doing?” asked Decker. “We’re building, paying for, and underwriting [China’s] military buildup. We’re building their infrastructure We’re making their country stronger for the future, sort of at the long-term expense of our own. We’re not making the investments in our own infrastructure.”

“Every three years, we’re at a rate of $1.2 trillion in trade deficit with China,” said Decker. “That’s money they’re just using to build a deepwater fleet so they can project force in the Pacific. It’s a national security issue, as well.” 

China is unlike “nominally friendly” countries given its status as a competitor to U.S. preeminence, said Decker. Acknowledgement of this fact requires a geopolitical analysis of U.S. trade with China to be broadened beyond economics.

The trade deficit “is not only a consumer question,” said Decker, inviting political observers to contemplate “the bigger picture” of geopolitics.

Decker drew a parallel between China’s contemporary political ascendance and that of Japan in the early twentieth century.

“My big worry about China is that it’s on a similar trajectory that Japan was on after they went to war with Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century, and little Japan beat Russia,” said Decker. “After that, they started looking at themselves as a potential world power because they had just beaten the Tsarist empire.”

China’s military buildup is suggestive of the authoritarian state’s ambitions and political calculus, Decker stated.

“My worry about Beijing is, what happens if everything hits the wall?” said Decker. “[What] if there’s a global downturn … in commodities, trading, and everything they need to build their infrastructure up? It’s not a coincidence they’re building this deep water navy. They already look at the South China Sea and the Western Pacific as their resource base. It’s the same thing Japan did. That’s the big worry. They’re building their military, they’re building their infrastructure, and they’re looking outward. It’s the same thing Japan did before World War II.”

Breitbart News Tonight airs Monday through Friday on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125 from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific).

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