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‘Cool War’: The Future Of U.S.-China Competition

Conflict and co-dependence between the U.S. and China.

President Barack Obama meets with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, Tuesday, Feb., 14, 2012, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (Susan Walsh/AP)

In this Feb. 2012 photo, President Barack Obama meets with Xi Jinping, who was vice president of China when the photo was taken. Xi Jinping is now the president of China. (Susan Walsh/AP)

The presidents of China and the United States meet in California next week. That should be an interesting get-together.

Reports this week accuse Chinese hackers of stealing the blueprints of more than two dozen critical American weapons systems. That’s a lot of military capacity and many years and billions of dollars, effectively stolen.

At the same time, these are giant economic partners. It’s not like the Cold War. My guest calls this relationship a “cool war.” A lot to gain. A lot to lose.

Up next On Point: China, the U.S., conflict, co-dependence and “ cool war.”

– Tom Ashbrook


John Reed, national security reporter for Foreign Policy. (@ReedFP)

Noah Feldman, professor of law at Harvard University and author of “Cool War: The Future Of Global Competition.” (@NoahRFeldman)

Noah Feldman, professor of law at Harvard University and author of "Cool War" at the WBUR studios. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Noah Feldman at the WBUR studios. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

From Tom’s Reading List

Salon: How Guantanamo Affects China: Our Human Rights Hypocrisies – “The emerging historical moment is creating a new context for the rhetoric and practice of human rights. For the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States now has a major incentive to promote the international human rights agenda. So long as China continues to violate human rights, there may be no better ideological tool for the United States to gain advantage under cool war circumstances.”

Bloomberg: Feds Want to Spy on Tomorrow’s Technology — “Invent a new communications technology recently? If so, beware: the U.S. government may require you to build it in a way that will enable federal agents to eavesdrop by court order.”

Book Excerpt

You can also read Chapter One on the publisher’s website.

Excerpted from “Cool War: The Future Of Global Competition” by Noah Feldman. Published by Random House, 2013. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.


(Courtesy of Random House)

(Courtesy of Random House)

Are we on the brink of a new Cold War? The United States is the sole reigning superpower, but it is being challenged by the rising power of China, much as ancient Rome was challenged by Carthage and Britain was challenged by Germany in the years before World War I. Should we therefore think of the United States and China as we once did about the United States and the Soviet Union, two gladiators doomed to an increasingly globalized combat until one side fades?

Or are we entering a new period of diversified global economic cooperation in which the very idea of old-fashioned, imperial power politics has become obsolete? Should we see the United States and China as more like France and Germany after World War II, adversaries wise enough to draw together in an increasingly close circle of cooperation that subsumes neighbors and substitutes economic exchange for geopolitical confrontation?

This is the central global question of our as-yet-unnamed historical moment. What will happen now that America’s post– Cold War engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan have run their course and U.S. attention has pivoted to Asia? Can the United States continue to engage China while somehow hedging against the strategic threat it poses? Can China go on seeing the United States both as an object of emulation and also as a barrier to its rightful place on the world stage?

The answer is a paradox: the paradox of cool war.

The term cool war aims to capture two different, mutually contradictory historical developments that are taking place simultaneously. A classic struggle for power is unfolding at the same time as economic cooperation is becoming deeper and more fundamental.

The current situation differs from global power struggles of the past. The world’s major power and its leading challenger are economically interdependent to an unprecedented degree. China needs the United States to continue buying its products. The United States needs China to continue lending it money. Their economic fates are, for the foreseeable future, tied together. Recognizing the overlapping combination of geostrategic conflict and economic interdependence is the key to making sense of what is coming and what options we have to affect it.

This book grows out of work I did in the first decade of the twenty-first century on the opposition and synthesis of Islam and democracy. My hope then was that a nuanced understanding of the interplay between these ideas and systems might help us rethink the prevalent picture of civilizational conflict. In this second decade of the still-young century, the great issues of conflict and cooperation have shifted. Now U.S. leadership and Western democracy are juxtaposed with China’s global aspirations and its protean, emergent governing system. As before, my goal is to add complexity to the dominant conventional accounts.

The stakes of this debate could not possibly be higher. One side argues that the United States must either accept decline or prepare for war. Only by military strength can the United States convince China that it is not worth challenging its status as the sole superpower. Projecting weakness would lead to instability and make war all the more likely.

The other side counters that trying to contain China is the worst thing the United States can do. Excessive defense spending will make the United States less competitive economically. Worse, it will encourage China to become aggressive itself, leading to an arms race that neither side wants and that would itself increase the chances of violence. Much better to engage China politically and economically and encourage it to share the burdens of superpower status.

What we need, I believe, is to change the way we think and talk about the U.S.-China relationship — to develop an alternative to simple images of inevitable conflict or utopian cooperation. We need a way to understand the new structure that draws on historical precedent while recognizing how things are different this time. We need to understand where the United States and China can see eye to eye, and where they cannot compromise. Most of all, we need a way forward to help avoid the real dangers that lie ahead.

This book offers a diagnosis of our situation; an analysis of the ideas and incentives of China’s leadership; and an account of how nations, corporations, and peace-seeking institutions are likely to react to a changing world order.

In the first part of the book, I show how the interests of the United States and China often overlap in the realms of trade and economics yet still diverge dramatically when it comes to geopolitical power and ideology. This situation of simultaneous cooperation and conflict needs a new name — cool war — to capture its distinctive features.

In the book’s second part, I offer an interpretation of China’s leadership. It is not possible to understand the dynamics of a cool war unless we have a more sophisticated understanding of the Chinese Communist Party. No longer ideologically communist, the leadership is pragmatic and committed to preserving its position of power. It seeks to maintain legitimacy through continued growth, regular transitions, and a tentative form of public accountability. It aims to manage deep internal divisions between entitled princelings and self-made meritocrats via a hybrid system that makes room for both types of elites.

Finally, in the third part of the book, I consider the consequences of the emerging cool war. I evaluate the significance of the new situation for countries around the world, for institutions that exist to keep the peace through international cooperation, for multinational corporations that operate everywhere—and for the future of human rights.

The results matter. The complicated interaction between the United States and China will shape war and peace globally and reveal whether the dream of peaceful international cooperation — embodied, albeit shakily, in the European Union — can be extended to countries with less in common. It will determine the future of democracy as a global movement, structure the international strategies of growing powers like India and Brazil, and guide the movements of companies and capital. It will influence the United Nations, the future of international law, and the progress or regress of human rights. Ultimately, like the Cold War before it, this new kind of international engagement will involve every country on earth.

Wherever possible, I have avoided speaking of the American people as “us” or “we.” The ideas here should be of use in China, in the West, and elsewhere. The risk of conflict — whether triggered by leaders’ mutual misunderstanding or by accurate judgments of diverging interests — must be taken seriously.3 Reducing the grave dangers of global conflict would serve the United States but also China and the world more generally. The purpose of this book is to start figuring out how we can do so, before it is too late.

Tweets From During The Show

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  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    The Chinese have been positioning themselves for sometime now in South and Central America, preparing for the possibility of an American Invasion. They have been moving into Africa to insure access to Africa’s vast mineral resources. They continue to build their military. They have been playing these greedy corporate types for some time now. Corporate arrogance, anti-unionism was accelerated with Nixon’s China visit. All parties are to blame, though. Fools like Bush and McCain are busy sticking their nose in Middle East Affairs, further weakening our long term position. The Chinese are Masters at warfare. Their civilization has been around for thousands of years. They know all there is to know about fighting. Time has come to STAY HOME and SHUT THE DOORS and regulate trade ! There is not one invention or discovery that could not be made by freedom loving people. A simpleton with common street sense can spot a Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon !


    • JobExperience

      True but incomplete  Will James: Look at Afghanistan where US occupation helped nominally Chinese interests buy up mineral rights and construct railroad lines to manufacturing centers across the border. What you don’t get is it’s all one thing and that residual nationalism is only a tool of social control. Don’t fear the half of Chinese people who survive or not on a dollar a day. Yes there is an insulating upper 25% who buy Buicks and computers but they are a passive and dependent consumer market,, very similar to the USA. The same Oligarchs are the ultimate owners of Chinese, Indonesian, Bangladesh, Korean enterprises. They are now tightening the screws daily. And that is why Memorial Day was a sham: Our troops die to help the Oligarchy penetrate and develop markets, nothing more; nothing less. Andrew Bacevich lives nearby in the Boston area and On Point never calls. He agrees with what I’ve said above (Empire is killing us all.)and frames the 5th round of Afghanistan warring as part of the 100 years war over the greater Middle East. But now it is an intramural contest, dynamic exercises to build Oligarch muscles. It is so-o-o dangerous when “conservatives” demonstrate loyalty to global corporate capitalism. They are eager for a Zyclon B shower and an oven toasting: pre-packaged soylent green. Look for it in the frozen food case.

      • geraldfnord

         I wouldn’t say that they were the same oligarchs, more that oligarchy demands the same behaviours from oligarchs wherever they are, and that part of that is knowing when to coöperate, when to ignore, and when to fight.

        And I’d be careful with that ‘eager for a Zyclon B shower’ tack—it assumes that conservatives are completely stupid and/or deluded, which is dangerous because it both slights them (making them impossible allies, see above about knowing when to coöperate) and implies that they’re making mistakes _we_ would never, ever make…when isntead we are all human, all too human, and we can easily end up making similar mistakes. (See: how well the oligarchs of the capitalist ‘Soviet’ Union manipulated the American Left in the 30s by calling themselves ‘party leader’ and ‘commissars’, and their doctrine ‘Marxism’ when it was more accurately called ‘power’.)  I have the same distaste for it as I do for the word ‘sheeple’, whose usage immediately pegs the speaker as a frustrated, wannabe, shepherd.

        I would say rather that conservatives think that they are in favour of freedom for all, and privileges for the ‘right people’, which population can vary but always seems to include rich white men.  They are (for the most part) not evil, or stupid, or deluded to think so, they are just wrong about every bit of reality that doesn’t match one of their ideologies…and remembering that is our best bet for not making a similar mistake.

      • Wm_James_from_Missouri

        Let me be clear on some things. I don’t hate the Chinese or anyone who is living on one dollar per day. Cruelty, poverty, abuse and the like, are not attributes any sane person should aspire to support. It is just so sad that when you start to envision the possible scenarios that may play out, you must necessarily conclude that some of these dollar per day types will have reasons to kill us. They too are pawns but pawns can be trained to carry weapons and kill. Their personal histories will not have provided the kind of training that would allow them to see any other way.
        I do not believe that it is “Empire” itself that is the problem, rather, the types of Empires we choose to build.

    • TELew

       I think the problem lies in the fact that American politicians like to play checkers, while the Chinese like to play weiqi (or Go).

      • Jasoturner

        I’d like to see Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan try to play Go.  That would be highly amusing.

        • TomK_in_Boston

          LOL. I’d like to see them write a little C program :)

        • TELew

           “Go?  Go where?”

    • TomK_in_Boston

      “American” companies must manufacture in the USA. To hell with this offshoring. It’s pure class warfare. Time for  us to step in and end it.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        I had some problems with the audio. Please tell me we didn’t get through this entire hour without referencing last week’s show on Apple’s tax shell game.

  • Jasoturner

    The Chinese government is attempting to build a great nation through massive investment in infrastructure, manufacturing, education and agriculture.  It’s a very, very bumpy road, but their vision is clear and their progress impressive.

    The United States is attempting to eliminate deficit spending by curtailing investment in infrastructure, research funding and social services.  There is little national vision, only political bickering and a growing sense of decline.

    I suspect that China is taking the long view.  And in the long view, they may not see America as a particularly intimidating competitor.  25 years from now we may just be a bigger version of England or Spain.  A nice place to visit, but no longer a hegemon.

    • JobExperience

       They are  paving the roads  with bones and blood.
      We’ve  suspended paving the roads to starve out resistance in the Homeland. China and the USA share very high GINI coefficients (wealth is constipated).
      China and the USA are two pens in the same cattle lot.

      • Jasoturner

        You should visit China.  It is a very interesting and complex place, as are the people.  I found airfare to be reasonable in the late fall.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      High speed rail, subsidies to solar, and massive investment in R&D. The climate for research in China reminds me of the USA in the 60s, with new institutions opening and recruiting and hiring. What a contrast to sequestered USA!

      Yes they are shameless about cyber warfare and IP theft. They actually have students doing something besides finding better ways to play the wall st casino. But thy don’t really need theft to surpass us if the austerians continue to call the shots.

      • Jasoturner

        Sequestered USA.  Indeed.

        What amazed me in China (and I was not visiting traditional tourist spots like Shanghai and Beijing) was how many of the Chinese I met:

        a. Knew a little bit of English
        b. Were hustling and trying to start their own business in addition to having a regular job.
        c. Wanted to speak with foreigners out of genuine curiosity.

        When I thought about how many young Americans I know who can speak another language, or who would seek out a foreigner to have a conversation and ask them about their country, or who were more worried about trying to start a business than updating their Facebook page (or whatever the whippersnappers have moved on to), I did not come up with a big number.  The energy over there is intense.  I could feel it in the air.

        Sure, there’re still plenty of uneducated and poor people, and sure, their governance is in need of repair, but they are unmistakably a country on the move.

        Sad that our government can’t foster that same sense of anticipation for us.

        • TomK_in_Boston

          Well, at least in Boston, a lot of young Americans are starting their own businesses, largely because they recognize the toxicity of the corporate environment. Ditto for older Americans, as it’s the only way around rampant corporate age discrimination.

          Last year a Chinese delegation was visiting local universities recruiting for a new institution that was looking for 50-60 scientists in all areas. Must look pretty good to students who don’t know if their lab can stay open.

        • Steve__T

           You can’t expect the govt to foster that sense, that has to come from your parents, teachers, community leaders etc.  We have become what we wanted, spoiled stupid and self righteous.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            Nonsense. It comes from our gvt, We The People, in addition to all you mention. There’s a huge difference between the dog-eat-dog selfish reaganomic USA with off the charts inequality driven by policies devised by the 1%, looking to cut gramdma to keep taxes low on the romney types, and the USA of the 50s and 60s when we looked out for each other.

          • Steve__T

            I would say, yes IT USED TO, but it’s 2013 and those great days are behind us.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            If we choose to let them be behind us. We’re not victims of laws beyond our control, we’re victims of our own choices, manipulated by plutocrat propaganda.

          • Steve__T

             If just your choice or mine maid a difference maybe, I stick to my original statement we have become what we wanted, by majority stupidity. I don’t like it but it is what it is.

          • Jasoturner

            There was this guy, John F. Kennedy, who inspired thousands of kids to study science and engineering.  He was part of our government and I would assert he fostered a sense of purpose and excitement.

            Unfortunately, small ball seems to be all our current crop of politicians are capable of.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            We’ve gone from “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” and “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” to “The scariest words are ‘I’m from the gvt and I’m here to help’”. We’ve gone from the best and the brightest choosing civil service to civil servants being ridiculed as losers who couldn’t get a job on wall st. From building the interstates and going to the moon to “We’re broke, we can’t do that, leave it to the private sector”.

            Is it really possible to not recognize the corrosive effect of all the anti-gvt propaganda?

          • Jasoturner

            Based on some of the comments I’ve seen around here, apparently it is.

          • Steve__T

             Is it really possible to not recognize the corrosive effect of Gvt?

          • Steve__T

            JFK was my hero. And look at NASA now. Shame on us.

      • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

        What austerity?  The austerity boogie man is a myth.

        The official Keynesian story is that the PIIGS of Europe (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) have been devastated by cutbacks in public spending.  Austerity has made things worse rather than better – clear proof that Keynesian stimulus is the answer.  Keynesians claim the lack of stimulus (of course paid for by someone else) has spawned costly recessions which threaten to spread.  In other words, watch out Germany and Scandinavia:  If you don’t pony up, you’ll be next.
        Erber finds fault with this Keynesian narrative.  The official figures show that PIIGS governments embarked on massive spending sprees between 2000 and 2008.  During this period, their combined general government expenditures rose from 775 billion Euros to 1.3 trillion – a 75 percent increase.  Ireland had the largest percentage increase (130 percent), and Italy the smallest (40 percent).  These spending binges gave public sector workers generous salaries and benefits, paid for bridges to nowhere, and financed a gold-plated transfer state.  What the state gave has proven hard to take away as the riots in Southern Europe show.


        • TomK_in_Boston

          Righty Talking Point received on schedule.

          • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

            The saddest part of these threads are all the self-congratulatory liberal/fascists typing comments because it makes them feel smart and good about themselves.  

          • TomK_in_Boston

            I think the saddest is the righty parrots with no ideas of their own who feel compelled to throw in the official Party Line for the 999,999th time. Why bother? Maybe get a job?

          • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

            First, you don’t think, you only regurgitate words and phrases that other have approved.  
            Second, you spelled Patriot wrong.  
            Third, you can check I haven’t made 1000 comments, yet.
            Last I wish you well on seeking a job, perhaps landscaping would give you a chance to use your well practiced skill.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            The policies I support are all-American mainstream policies from the 50s and 60s, y’know, back when the American middle class was the economic wonder of the world. For you to call them fascism or socialism does nothing but display the depths of your ignorance and inability to cut through far right propaganda.

          • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

            Ok I get that you have never read a history book and that all that you “know” about the 50’s and 60’s came from watching “Happy Days” reruns. But I am curious as to which off your loony leftist policies you believed was the reason for the success of the American middle class? Please share from your fountain of knowledge.

    • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

      China has become a totalitarian cleptocracy the same way that Franco’s Spain was in the early 1970’s.  

      Mr Li complained in a US diplomatic cable released on WikiLeaks that Chinese GDP statistics are “man-made”, confiding to a US diplomat that he tracked electricity use, rail cargo, and bank loans to gauge growth. For a while, analysts use electricity data as a proxy for GDP but the commissars kept a step ahead by ordering power utilities to fiddle the figures.


    • videmus

      I suspect a media that is never allowed to criticize or analyze in detail the political body has contributed to your assumption of a unified and progressive government. In short, your ignorance of Chinese domestic issues makes you think the grass is greener. If you would visit Chinese language social media and forum sites like mop, weibo, sina, tianya, among others you would discover that the Chinese public’s view of their government is not unlike your view of the US government. And if you visit those sites often enough to catch certain posts before they are scrubbed, your positive opinion relative to the US may not last.

      • Jasoturner

        My ignorance is from spending time there.  And I never asserted they are a progressive or unified government.  Their governance is pretty awful, as are living conditions for many.  But as a country they are moving in a different direction from the US, which was the point.

        • videmus

          The perception among foreigners that the “Chinese vision” is clear is due in large part to the strict control of what you are allowed to see and hear. If, for example, one of the major parties in the US were to establish dominance and proceed to make congressional debates and legislative records state secrets, convict reporters who write about disagreements among the political elite for libel and rumor-mongering, and use state media to discredit the political opinions of non-officials, then people outside of the US would also see a very decisive and “clear visioned” United States.

          • Jasoturner

            Okay, you win.  America is clearly making investments in infrastructure, manufacturing and education so that our competitive posture is unchallenged.  The Chinese are monitoring each other as they live in shacks, create propaganda and fish in the Li river for tonight’s dinner.  No progress or vision going on over there.  Maybe I was thinking of Taiwan.

          • videmus

            You should know better than to bring straw men into this.  In the original post, there is the assertion that USA and China are going in opposite directions. I’m pointing that this conclusion is based on comparing knowledge of USA with perception of China. A brief view into what Chinese people say out of earshot of foreigners would dispel those perceptions.

            China and the US are both going in the same direction, and both have long term visions that are often undermined by short term opportunism, political infighting, and the trespass of ideology into empirical matters. That you are not aware of it happening on one side is not a reason to conclude that the two countries are diverging.

            It is mostly the rather shallow impression of China that I challenge.

          • JobExperience

            You were thinking of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
            How many kilometers of fence did you paint while visiting China? And you thought it was recreational. Now you are the Manchurian Candidate.

  • percymay

    “The United States is the sole reigning superpower, but it is being challenged by the rising power of China, much as ancient Rome was challenged by Carthage . . .”

    I believe the author has his history backward. The main cause of the Punic Wars was the conflict of interests between the existing Carthaginian Empire and the “expanding” Roman Republic.

    • JobExperience

      Comparing the USA to mythic Rome is a flattering falsehood. Rome never generated enough Greenhouse gas to heat the planet much and never manipulated the genome in suicidal ways. For the most part Rome understood their technology and managed it to advantage. We ain’t.
      Comparing Bush and Obama to Caesars is a hoot.
      Our Presidents are about as in charge as Regis Philbin.
      Austerity means our Empire is presently contracting.
      Dick Cheney might say we’re in our death throes.
      Roman civilization succeeded all too well by bringing technology and civilization to neighboring tribes who took over. Not that Capitalism can save us through cannibalism. (Carthage was Libya: They never had a chance. Do you believe the Bolivarian Revolution in Latin  America is a rival? Steps are being taken to crush it.) Global business operated by Oligarchy (trade agreements and managed war) have transcended nationhood.

      • TELew

        Actually, Carthage was Tunisia, plus colonies throughout the Mediterranean.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

         Maybe a Nero/Obama comparison is apt.

        Obama is fiddling while the USA is burning.

        And I’m happy to hear that Rome was not responsible for the Medieval Warming Period since it was much warmer then than now.  Whew!!!

        Finally, austerity?  You don’t run up $17T in debt whilst undergoing austerity.  Check your definitions.

      • Steve__T

         Mythic? Read history much? From your post I guess not.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    The naïveté of industrial and political leaders in cyber security has been a sad testimony their lack of qualifications to lead in this technological age. For decades, our most confident and aggressive leaders have been making policy and technological decisions on security based upon one prime directive: quarterly profit.

    Despite the threats identified many years ago by security and systems analysts; these bozos usually choose cheap over robust. Now our financial, industrial, defense, communication and power systems are vulnerable to attacks these greedy fools were warned against and paid to protect us against. These members of the ‘job creator’ class effectively sold out our security for personal profit over our collective security.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Look at that picture in the Oval Office.  Does anyone think Obama will get tough with Chinese?  Obama played hardball with the Tea Party.  But he will do nothing about the Chinese theft.

    • Shag_Wevera

      Can any president do that all by themselves?

      • WorriedfortheCountry

         Good question.  Maybe the current President could show some leadership.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF


          Senator Rand Paul dies of heat stroke while filibusteringt the ice water that President Obama nominated to take on the trip.

          Every Republican in Washington is a WATB who simply will not be “led”. Don’t pretend otherwise.

          • northeaster17

            Awesome strategy they employ. 

    • adks12020

      I seem to recall President Obama taking a stand against the Chinese steel industry price fixing and winning… http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/19/us-usa-china-steel-idUSBRE89H10920121019 

      There are other examples of a tough, but fair, stance with China as well but don’t let that stop you from maintaining your partisan stance.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

         My stance isn’t partisan unless you consider pro-USA partisan.  I am equally critical of Bush’s and Clinton’s failures with Chinese theft.

  • Shag_Wevera

    China will eventually defeat us, and they’ll never fire a shot to do it.  “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” – V.I. Lenin.

    I don’t really know if Lenin said it.  It’s been attributed to different people…   

    • Steve__T

       If they want to destroy us, they merely have to have every one jump up and down at the same time, the resulting earthquakes would devastate us. 

  • donniethebrasco

    Senators will have a hard time fighting the Chinese because of all the money they have given them.

    It should be called the Checkbook War.



  • donniethebrasco

    Remember June 4th,  1989.

    Until China recognizes this event, we will have a relationship of a divorcing couple whose lawyers are getting them to fight instead of compromising.

  • donniethebrasco

    We should put a remembrance for the 500 deaths in Tienanmen on the Washington mall.

    • nj_v2

      Right next to the one for the Kent State shooting victims.

      • videmus

        In drawing the equivalence you’ve actually revealed the great difference. “Kent State shooting” is available to be searched and to be studied, a gathering in remembrance is free to do so, regret by the government was issued in the aftermath along with policy changes, and student protesters are not cast as villains.

  • donniethebrasco
  • daveincatskills

    US-China Relations are extremely complex and full of paradox’s.  We must not overstate the threat nor understate it. 
    Hacking is the most recent example of the paradox in relations.  One need only review the Cox Commission Report from the 1990s to see all of the missle and nuclear weapons technology that was stolen. It includes specific nuclear weapons in the report. China was also the first nation to proliferate nuclear weapons yet we rewarded them during the Nixon adminstration to balance the USSR. 
    As corporations have looked to improve profitability they moved thousands of US jobs there and China reciprocated by buying US debt.  Now the US and China and intertwined. Niall Ferguson refers to this as “Chimerica” to illustrate the interdependence.
    Last year in the midst of turmoil in the Middle East the Obama Administration announced a “pivot” to the Pacific to balance China.  Is the “pivot” due to Chinese aggression or because the military industrial complex needs a new enemy to justify force levels and defense expenditure. 
    Policy makers need to look at China and all nations objectively and selectively use the instruments of national power. Exercising those instruments may mean that business interests may have to take a back seat to national security interests.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sam-Osborne/1115006842 Sam Osborne

    We live in a world of cyber knowledge and what get into the brains of students in the US from China does not get taken out when they go home.  There is little need to steal what can be backward or forward engineered. China has a lot of smart you people because China has a lot of people.

  • CJ12345

    Who’s this “we?”

    I hear journalists and pundits use “we,” “us,” “they,” and “them” liberally here and in covering many other military or espionage stories. If they were talking about Republicrats versus Demicans in Congress, the perspective would be much more detached.

    Can “you” take a meta-moment to discuss the way that these pronouns are being used and how the apparent shift in journalists’ perspective affects the story being covered?

  • mcashman

    Smithfield Foods announced this AM that it was selling itself to Shuanghui, a Chinese company.  Since we are debtor nation to them what can we do to stop them from buying our critical companies (food) with our own money and controlling our economy?

    Maurie Cashmna

    • WorriedfortheCountry

       Moo Shi Pork anyone?

      • geraldfnord

         Actually, Smithfield’s ‘country’ (or country-like) ham is in fact popular in making Chinese dishes here, it evidently being closer to their sort of ham than any other readily available here.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      I think you’re conflating a publicly held company with the national government.

      Tangent: At some point private companies seem to like the “follow the flag” stuff (protecting intellectual property) but when it comes to paying taxes to Uncle Sam, they suddenly become “multinationals”.

    • geraldfnord

      China owns roughly one-twelfth our national debt, which is a much bigger chunk of their economy than of ours, making it more of an insurance policy for us than for them.  We can hurt them with it much more than they can hurt us with it—calling it all in would make it worthless, since that would trigger default and/or hyperinflation and/or the loss of our markets.

      I’m not happy that they have that much, but let’s keep some sort of perspective here: it is not the debt, but rather the dogma of unregulated capitalism that allows them to do much as they will.  (Here, ‘capitalism’ means ‘a system giving privileges to those who have capital’.)  ‘Pecunia non olet,’ the Market cares nowt how you got your money—a beneficent idea that sold well, popular products that gave people pleasure and cancer, inherited it, expropriated it from landlords, warlords, and small farmers and landlords and then oppressed your workers—it’s all just capital, and its game is non-linearly tilted toward those who have the most.  (This is not entirely bad: civil rights for black and [even more so] dirty-white people have often been aided by rich men’s realising, be they ever so bigoted, that the despised had money to spend…though that is not in itself a cure for bigotry, since it is so ego-boosting for the bigot, not to mention _fun_ that very many will give up some cash in order to indulge in it.)

    • videmus

      A reading of what government bonds are and how they are issued and purchased should dispel this common misconception that having government debt is functionally equivalent to dealing with loan sharks.

      China is a creditor to the US more so because it is desirous of US bonds (price stability being one of a multitude of reasons) and is willing to pay to be the highest bidder for them, than because the US is begging China for cash.

      If it weren’t China buying those bonds, it would be the next highest bidder who also is desirous of owning US bonds.

      • mcashman

        You are absolutely correct, if we lived in a perfect world without government intervention and manipulation of markets.  I hope you will remember your statements when corn prices rise even further as a result of increased federal government mandates, continued tariffs on imports and subsidies for ethanol.  

        We have had a cheap food policy in this country for decades and now China will be a direct beneficiary of these policies.  Food is also based on supply and demand and the rationale for this purchase is likely based on exactly that.  China does not have enough arable land to support its increasingly affluent population.  We however, do.  So instead of buying imported product, which we can control, they are simply buying the production assets and will export as much as they need.  Since we have limited capacity to produce feedstuffs our food and fuel prices will increase.  

        A reading of the Ag Bill, which is due to be debated when congress resumes, would be instructive and should alarm you.  China is desirous of Smithfield (price and food stability being one of a multitude of reasons) and is willing to pay to be the highest bidder for it, unless it is simply a stalking horse, which is possible but would seem improbable at the price tendered.

  • donniethebrasco

    If they stop buying our debt, we will stop buying their cheap junk.

    The problem is when they use their money to start buying our assets.

    They will make Mitt Romney and the private equity asset robber barons look like kittens.

  • jbuettner

    If I were Pres Obama I would tell China “forgive our debt and we will forget about this hack” and if they refuse, stop buying from them, and get our allies to stop buying from them.

    • Tyranipocrit

      we should stop buying from them anyway–refuse every single product.  They are unsafe, posionous, fraudlent, cheap, based on slave-labor and evironmental terrorism.  Buy chinese products and you WILL harm your health and mine.

  • just_thinkin

    what is the likelihood of an uprising as middle class grows?

    • JobExperience

       …as middle class prosperity stalls?

  • just_thinkin

    what is likelihood of an uprising as middle class grows?

    • TomK_in_Boston

      what is the likelihood of an uprising as the middle class shrinks?

  • donniethebrasco

    China will say, “We are taking Taiwan.”

    We will say, “Do we have to pay you back right now?”

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    Isn’t it a little odd that the stock holders of Smithfield complained they weren’t getting a high enough return so the company was sold to a company in a non capitalist country? And just WHY will Shuanghui International Holdings Limited return MORE money to the investors? Especially when they are overpaying (based on stock price) by 30%?

    • geraldfnord

       China is a capitalist country: those with capital live much, much,…,much better than those without it, have more control over their lives, are lauded as wonderful examples to the rest of the population…the fact that they still claim to have ‘socialism building communism’ (no Soviet-style ‘Communist’ government ever claimed to be communist, which for them would come roughly when all Messiahs arrive, that is to say ‘tomorrow’, just like the jam) is of no account, since (as Kung Fu-tzu didn’t say) ‘If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s self-perpetuating oligarchy code running on a capitalist substrate with an authoritarian O.S..’

      • JobExperience

         According to Mussilini’s definition the dynamic between its government and business sector makes it fascist.

    • Tyranipocrit

      china is NOT non-capitalist

  • BHA_in_Vermont

     I don’t think New Balance can make that many shoes.

  • mcashman

    TF: I don’t think I am conflating this issue.  In this particular case the Federal Government is intricately involved in this industry via ag and energy policy.  It is one of the largest components of the federal budget.  All of the animals grown for this company are grown by farmers from Utah to North Carolina and some in South America and Europe.  I seriously doubt that they are going to welcome this.  This industry competes for feed with the ethanol and other livestock industries as well as industrial uses such as corn sweeteners, etc.  Swift was bought by a Brazilian company in the last decade.  To your point, the world did not end.  I think a good point can be made that this could help to build relations (The World is Flat).  However, I think there is little doubt that these issues will have an impact on Federal Policies and that the National Debt is a huge national security threat, albeit difficult to comprehend in its LT effects.  

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Agreed; you aren’t. Your full-paragraph history is a good background.

      And I should have been a little more descriptive about saying “one” instead of “you” in particular.

  • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

    Frederik Pohl would be pleased.


    • JobExperience

       I used to rent skis from Fred at his Beech Mountain NC store and I  don’t think he would.

  • Trond33

    The only one’s who need a cold war with China is the military industrial complex – for everyone else in the world, it would be best to avoid such confrontation.  

    The military industrial complex has had a good ten years of fear mongering with the whole “War on Terror” – the effects are weaning, time to move on to the next boogyman.  

    • Tyranipocrit

      i partly agree and I partly do not.  Because china is a threat to the world–environmentally and humanely throughout the world–their thinking, their culture their actions–are deplorable.  At least the when referring to the current gov. and the majority of cultural thinking.

  • twenty_niner

    In the end, the debt they hold are just little pieces of paper, and they’re not even that, just bits on a harddrive. And the economists that predict doomsday if we default are just one group on the opposite side of the fence of those who predict doomsday if we stay on the present course of borrow, print, and borrow more, and then print more squared.

    Frankly, a default would be a huge disruption but one that would ultimately put the country in a better place. It would end the policy of geometrically expanding debt. It would end the financialization and de-industrialization of the economy - we would have to go back to making things because those would be the only things we’d get. And it would end the currency wars, because China would no longer be able to suppress Yuan by buying dollars to buy Treasuries. 

    • Tyranipocrit

       oh my god i agree

  • Outside_of_the_Box

    From Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Libya, to Syria, to drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen, to tensions with Iran and elsewhere.The US used 9/11 to devise a new war front, intentionally open-ended and loosely defined. A coldly calculated propaganda campaign designed to last for decades and line the pockets of the MIC and other special interests with trillions of taxpayer dollars and money the US simply does not have.We have sacrificed the lives of thousands of American soldiers, and countless more with physical and/or mental injuries and trauma.Veteran support funding has reached impossible levels.We have managed to piss of a big part of the Muslim and non-Muslim world.We have become a model for a super power gone bad/rogue – ignorant, arrogant, lawless, greedy, ruthless….Serving the Elite at the expense of the majority.They say it is serving to promote and protect American interests.But what are these interests exactly, and for whom do they really serve?America is not a democracy!It is a crony capitalist system at best.Americans need to wake up and small the coffee.The MSM, including public radio, serve to perpetuate the illusion of democracy.People don’t realize how good life could be, if only these imbalances were corrected.Unimaginable prosperity. But instead, we are satisfied fighting over scraps of the pie, while the Elite gorge on the lion’s share.
    This is the reality in the US and much of the world today.
    Address the corrupt political system that serves the Elite at the expense of the people, and you have an entirely new ball game.
    Let it continue unchallenged, and expect much of the same and likely far worse.

  • http://www.facebook.com/j.nelson.hoffman J. Nelson Hoffman

    War is now  economic-cooperative or competitive. When Smithfield is bought by a Chinese company -we are losing control of our food supply.
    Until we start thinking of soft power-global trade and economic competition -strengthening or weakening the value of the dollar-savings vs debt -we will continue to follow the misdirection of military war, when trade is the true battlefield.
     And 10-15 trillion in debt does bode well for the future.
     Nelson Hoffman

    • JobExperience

      Nelson- Goldman Sachs is behind the Smithfield sale to nominally Chinese interests. Smithfiels was already producing tainted meat here and using near-slave labor. It will get worse but expect more hog factories.

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    When it comes to IP, China (and others) are going to steal us blind, particularly with full implementation of the AIA (so called “America Invents Act”), on March 16. Might as well just get rid of U.S. patent law, all together, because only the wealthy and large multinationals will be able to “buy” intellectual property protection (and I do mean “buy”). The AIA wasn’t in the minds of the Founding Fathers (Article 1, Section 8) – that’s for sure!!

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    Everyone used to complain China was Communist – make up your minds folks!!!

    • Tyranipocrit

       who are you talking to?  Everyone has different thoughts.  And what was, is not now.

      • The_Truth_Seeker

        That is a completely meaningless and useless comment! It’s like saying the Vietnam and Iraq wars didn’t matter because that was then, and this is now!!!!

        • Tyranipocrit

          clearly your mind is slow. let me break it down for you.  China is not communist.  those who think so  are ignorant and.or fools.   There are many people commenting on this site so who do YOU refer to as “Everyone”.  Your comments are completely useless and really just dumb.  What are you saying?  Nothing.  When you have something to say  i can respond to it.  Inane comments deserve nothing less than inane comments. 

          • The_Truth_Seeker

            It still IS communist (according to their government). It still is run by the “communist party” – BUT THAT WASN’T THE POINT (knucklhead) – the point was that people in America and Europe were “dreaming” of the the day that Russia and China would adopt our capitalistic economic system – now they have!!! So THOSE SAME people shouldn’t complain so much about China now. Is the world better off with China more capitalistic? 
            P.S. Learning from history IS important (even if you only have a fifth grade education), so don’t tell people “that was then, this is now” because it shows that you don’t care about history at all and are prepared to let it repeat itself. I’m not – I don’t want to go back to the 1920s when we were just expendable “numbers” (Ford Motor Company). Also, I think I’ll stick with my name, instead of your (pretty stupid one)!

          • Tyranipocrit

            what is a knucklehead?

            if you made yourself clear the first time there would be no confusion, but obviosly you cant write clearly.

            history never repeats itself. It adapts. it might be similar but it is never the same. Most history is a lie.

            “According to their governemnt”–thats not really true either. But since when do governments anywhere say anything that remotely reflects truth.

            Your name is pretty stupid.

            You clearly have no capacity to judge anyone if you think I dont care about history. But at the end of the day what really matter is NOW. We can learn from history, but if we define ourselves by history we going to be really confused.

            Your fifth grade education is showing. Putting so many words in capitals to scream at me only shows how dumb you really are.

            What is truth, anyway, knob-seeker?

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    Well, thanks to Congress and the President, the AIA will now make it possible to not only steal U.S. technology – but to patent this stolen technology in the U.S. no less!!! Talk about adding insult to injury. Time to party China (and not in the communist way). 

  • dave_george

    I think that many interpret China’s future is as a significant world power. I believe the reality is that they may become a significant regional power (a step before they would become a significant world power. Certainly they are becoming more significant economically, and militarily. However, they are not yet a significant diplomatic or information power. Diplomatically, they do have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and they do have influence with a group of what the US considers pariah states. But they certainly don’t have the ability to persuade the EU or most western nations, in the manner that the US can. Information, they are way behind, and in my opinion, falling further behind, by not opening up their information and transparency. Additionally, the west has limited confidence in their intellectual property rights (although they are getting better).

  • ms_onpoint

    We should take a capitolistic approach to China’s theft of US intellectual property. Put a dollar value on what they have stolen and reduce our debt to China by that amount. This avoids armed confilct and is proportional to the theft that has occured.

    • Tyranipocrit

      i didnt borrow money from china–corrupt politicians did!  to fiance illegal wars.  i didnt vote 4 the war.  But it is in my name.  Whatever copyright they violated that money belongs to the individual victims–not the corrupt war-mongering infanticide pursuing US government.  We the taxpayers have NO representation.  I dont give a hoot if billion dollar and trillion dollar ZERO tax-paying corporate fascists have copyright violated.  people before profit.  Education before profit.  Information before profit.  Instead of withholding clean technology for fossil fuel filters or the like, we should share such technology–we are largely responsible for the pollution in china–well, those same billion dollar traitorous American-international corporations.  -if we not accomplish great things in this world–and curb global warming and reduce pollution and save our planet and ourselves–we need to share technology and intellectual property on a global scale–not hoard it like petty little Beeches.

      • Tyranipocrit

         but we do need to put a stop to military theft

  • Tyranipocrit

    i am tech illiterate, so my question is–how are hackers able to hack into military contractors?  It seems retarded to me to have files on connected-computers–on the INternet.  Dont they have some kind of INTRA-net?  And if so, how can one hack into a closed-system without being inside the brick and mortar?  i dont understand how this can be?

  • Tyranipocrit

    engage china socially–but dont open trade barriers–we need more trade protection and fair trade.  Free trade is a fraud and a great evil.  

    Contain china economically and military in the world–because they are horrendous violators of human rights in the world and disgusting violators of earth rights.

  • Tyranipocrit

    we should protect Tiawanese soveignety.  They are not China.  They are an individual nation of vastly different culture and thinking.  We should trade with tiawan–increase trade with Tiawan and END ALL trade with the PRC.

    • ExcellentNews

      Amen! The US and Western Europe should trade only with countries who meet comparable human rights, labor and environmental standards.

      • Tyranipocrit

         i like your comment, however we do not have an excellent human rights record.  BUt we have members who try and a system that can at least idealisticlly be maneuvered to protect human rights and justice.

  • ExcellentNews

    No wonder Congress and their corporate friends are pixxed off by the recent theft of vital American technology. The way it is supposed to work is to have the CEOs and their banker/hedge fund pals outsource to China, and then get a 100% profit increase, followed by a 50% “job creator” tax cut. With China just getting our stuff without their participation, there are no extra millions to stash in the Cayman Islands…

    On the upside, if we ever decide to wage a cyberwar with China, we do not even need to hack computers in Beijing. All that it takes is to hack the systems of the Club for Growth, GPS Crossroads, the Chamber of Commerce, and similar fronts for the global oligarchy who already exported most of the American productive infrastructure abroad and gutted the middle class – all in the name of an obscenely fat quarterly bonus….

    • The_Truth_Seeker

      The U.S. capitalist system is now completely broken (and also fiscally broke). The Chinese will face the same fate, but it will probably take them another 20 years for it to happen to them. We were all probably a lot better off with both China and Russia communist countries (but North Korea capitalist).

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    Time for the American news media to, at least, “start” discussing what effect the AIA (“America Invents Act”), will ACTUALLY have on science, innovation and invention, in this country. In the two years that it took for this drastic, apocryphal and probably unconstitutional legislation to make it’s way through Congress and on to the President’s desk, NO ONE in the news media even bothered to ever bring it up to the American people. Legislation is no longer even bothered to be presented to the people. It is written by high-paid lobbyists who usually work on behalf of large multinationals. Most of the time, the people don’t have any say, and even if they do, neither Congress, nor the President seem to care anymore. The AIA will completely destroy all incentive for smaller entities to invent ANYTHING in the future – it simply won’t make any sense to even “try” and do this under the AIA. How will the AIA encourage more innovation in the U.S.? How will it possibly discourage cyber-theft?? There are simply NO protections against IP theft in the AIA – in fact it will greatly reward larger companies that steal IP from smaller companies. How could the media (and patent lawyers) been blind to this? Well. in the case of the lawyers, they will greatly profit from the changes (as usual). Another failure to report by the American news media. Maybe Al Jazeera can do a better job with this. Shame on you NPR, in particular. Is it because you get money from Apple and Microsoft (who favored the AIA)?

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    Yes, but who’s developing most of the new technologies of the world? How many new drugs have come out of China? How much new software? How many patents (now able to be stolen by China as well)?

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    Agree, 100%

Sep 15, 2014
In this Thursday, Sep. 11, 2014 photo, Middle Eastern leaders stand together during a family photo with of the Gulf Cooperation Council and regional partners at King Abdulaziz International Airport’s Royal Terminal in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

President Obama says he will build a coalition of partners in the Middle East to combat ISIS. We’ll do a reality check on who’s really stepping up for what.

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Uproar over development plans for the Grand Canyon. We go to the Navajo Nation and the Canyon floor to see what’s at stake.

Sep 12, 2014
In this May 23, 2014, file photo, Janay Rice, left, looks on as her husband, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, speaks to the media during a news conference in Owings Mills, Md. (AP/Patrick Semansky)

#WhyIStayed. We’re looking at women in and out of relationships of domestic violence.

Sep 12, 2014
President Barack Obama meets with Congressional leaders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, to discuss options for combating the Islamic State. (AP/Evan Vucci)

The President’s ISIS strategy. The Ray Rice video. Congress is back. Apple’s new watch. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
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