Twelve hours from now, the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services will hold a hearing on the economic threat that China poses to the United States. The Republican majority on the Committee has drafted 17 bills targeting China directly or indirectly. The Consigliere plans to live blog the hearing and you can follow me on Twitter as well (@altondrew).
Not the Yellow Horde argument again …
The first impression I ever have when I hear Americans criticize China is that America is scared shitless of the country. China is the “Yellow Horde” in the mind of a lot of Americans; that band of peasants turned Communist and unleashed throughout Asia in 1949 under the leadership of Mao Tse Zhong.
America was happy with China as long as they stayed in their lane manufacturing cheap electronics and apparel and exporting them to the United States. And silently, Americans must have been cheering on China’s “One Child Policy”; anything to keep the Yellow Horde’s population under control.
Americans did not expect China to catch up.
American reaction to China’s status as a creditor nation versus the United States should be of no surprise given the average American’s own ignorance about her banking system. Americans cannot grasp the idea that the Chinese would actually save the pennies paid to them by American firms and convert those pennies into American Treasury bills. Americans did not expect China to reinvest in educating its own students on how to develop their own technology. Nor did Americans expect the Chinese to invest in its own banking system including a central bank that invokes discipline on its commercial banks by controlling the interest rates the banks may charge.
Americans did not expect the Chinese to catch up.
America: Stay out of our markets
Writing for the Asia Times, Igor Kuchma noted in a 2019 article that China has become the market for goods from South Korea, Malaysia, and Japan. This role as an export destination provides China with significant trade heft in the Asian region. This trade heft, Mr Kuchma pointed out, was once enjoyed primarily by the United States.
United States influence in the Asian region’s domestic policy may further wane as China’s economic influence increases. This, versus the Yellow Horde image, is America’s biggest problem with China. China’s influence in the region arguably increased when it entered the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership with a dozen other Asian-region countries. The United States was left on the sidelines as 30% of the world’s population with a gross domestic product of $26 trillion moved closer to the goal line of an integrated regional economy.
It is always about the narrative.
It is unfortunate that neither members of the Republican or Democratic parties cannot craft a simpler narrative about why China’s economic moves impact Americans. The John Wayne, gung-ho story lines especially pushed by the mainstream media egg on a war versus pushing for a peaceful negotiation that would allow the U.S. penetration into Asian markets.
But when your public already thinks of the Chinese as some sought of physical threat, talk of giving peace a chance is silenced.
6 February 2023
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