At least one conclusion can be drawn from the Chinese economic meltdown and resulting whiplash on Wall Street: Our political class has failed on China.
In the 1992 campaign, the Clinton machine railed against the “butchers of Beijing.” Once in office, the Clinton Administration changed course and granted China “permanent normal” trade relations.
Clinton’s successors weren’t much different. Bush and Obama talked tough on the campaign trail, only to settle for a weak policy with China.
The verdict on this approach is now clear.
The U.S.-China partnership has produced handsome profits for the donor class. In 2013, Goldman Sachs — whose CEO served as George W. Bush’s Treasury Secretary — earned a profit of over $7 billion from its stake in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt — the head of Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness — called China’s state-run communism, “the one thing that actually works.”
But the overall balance sheet is not as rosy. In 1992, China overtook Japan as the world’s second largest economy, but was still miles behind the United States. The U.S. GDP at the time was over 13 times the size of China’s. Not anymore. Today, China is the biggest holder of U.S. debt, at over $1.2 trillion.
China’s economic rise has not brought democracy, as the Washington/Wall Street axis assured us it would.
In fact, the Chinese regime is waging a campaign of growing repression. Christians are bearing the brunt. According to a recent report by Freedom House, China is escalating its “harassment of underground and state-sanctioned churches” and “demolition of many church buildings.” Last year, a pastor was sentenced to 12 years in prison for defending the church’s property rights.
Nor have U.S.-China relations improved. The hallmark of the Obama-Hillary “pivot” to Asia was the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Obama sold the secret trade deal as a way to stand up to China. Now, the President admits that talks are underway for China to join ObamaTrade.
China has reciprocated by:
- Launching cyberattacks against the United States, which may have compromised the personal data of 4 million federal employees this year alone;
- Spying on the free world, stealing industrial and military secrets on an unprecedented scale;
- Covering for North Korea and cashing in on lifted Iranian sanctions; and
- Pushing territorial claims to the brink of armed conflict in the South China Sea, where the U.S. Navy has protected sea lanes since WWII.
In this week’s economic fallout, the donor class is reaping what it sowed. China remains an opaque, corrupt economic behemoth in which a few billionaire princelings are wreaking worldwide havoc.
I have never been the candidate of the donor class, and as President, my China policy will not reflect its priorities. I will overhaul our China strategy in three main respects:
Rebuild the military. My defense build-up will invest in the full range of capabilities necessary to contain China. I will emphasize offensive cyber-warfare capabilities to hack China back.
Stand unapologetically for Chinese democracy. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton promised that Beijing’s human rights record wouldn’t “interfere” with other issues. I will champion the cause of Chinese democracy because it is the surest way to extract concessions from Beijing.
Push back against Chinese cheating. Beijing is taking advantage of us. Our trade deficit with China has displaced over 100,000 jobs in Ohio alone. I will pursue anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations, legal actions, and countervailing duties until China ends its unfair trade practices.
Let’s use this week’s economic scare as a wake-up call. It’s time to cast establishment thinking aside and get tough with China.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is a 2016 Republican presidential candidate.