December 18, 2022
From a Twitter thread I wrote on July 24, 2020:
1. I’m often asked, if I’m so critical of Trump’s approach to China, what I think the US *should* do … with the assumption I’ll be stumped, because I have nothing to offer. So let me answer that question, perhaps not exhaustively, but in some detail.
2. The US should strengthen its military alliance with Japan, Australia, and South Korea. That means restoring the Korea military exercises Trump has cancelled, not going out of way to pick trade fights with these partners, and working to heal the breach between Japan & S Korea.
3. The US should sell more modern military hardware to Taiwan, and formally commit, through an act of Congress, to defend Taiwan if attacked unprovoked. The US should not pressure Taiwan to declare independence simply as a way to tweak China’s beard.
4. The US should rigorously evaluate the reality of Hong Kong’s changing status as part of China, and adjust its treatment of Hong Kong accordingly. This is not to punish Hong Kong or China, but to recognize a reality Beijing has created.
5. The US should welcome any Uighur and any Hong Kong resident to its shores as a political refugee, similar to our long-time Cuba policy.
6. The US should work to establish a NATO of cybersecurity, a broad group of like-minded nations charged with defining accepted “rules of the road”, attributing the source of violations, and collectively imposing sanctions or counter-strikes in retaliation.
7. The US should step up counter-influence and counter-espionage operations at home, but conscious of both the complexity of corporate IP issues and the fact that many Americans have been unfairly targeted in the past mainly on the basis of ethnicity.
8. Americans, as a civil society, should educate themselves about human rights and privacy issues related to China, and make companies aware that compromising their values abroad is not without consequences to their brand reputation among consumers in their home market.
9. The US should remain part of WHO and WTO and fight, with our allies, for substantive reforms that would make them more effective in fulfilling their missions.
10. The US should rejoin some form of TPP, renegotiated in certain aspects if need be, to establish a community of regional trading partners that excludes China unless and until it makes substantive reforms to its mercantilist economic policies.
11. The US should join with its trading partners to aggressively challenge Chinese practices at WTO, and seek an expedited process to challenge new trade barriers when they are created. It should refuse to grant China “market economy status” it has not earned.
12. The US should lead its allies to establish regular multi-nation naval patrols of the South China Sea to protect fishing and other vessels from harassment and constantly reassert their status as international waters.
13. The US should make clear that the Senkaku/Diaoyutai islands in the East China Sea are included in our defense alliance with Japan, unless or until Japan alters or relinquishes its claim by negotiation.
14. The US and its allies should instruct their airlines to refuse to recognize or cooperate with any ADIZ China seeks to implement over either the East China or South China Seas.
15. The US should require Chinese companies listed on US markets to fully comply with US securities and audit regulations. Rather than punitively delisting those that cannot, we should work with China to organize their relocation to other, more appropriate capital markets.
16. The US should continue to vigilantly respond to and make the international case for security concerns tied to Huawei and other firms in sensitive areas. It should not confuse this defensive priority with an “industrial policy” aiming to “beat” China in technology.
17. The US should recognize that financial instability and economic failure in China is at least as likely to lead to serious problems for the US, as to any imagined regime change in China, and shape its approach accordingly.
18. The US should reach out as much as possible to India as an economic and geopolitical partner, understanding India’s own constraints and sensitivities towards defining itself as a US “ally”. The US should not go out of its way to pick trade fights with India.
19. Similarly, the US should reach out to ASEAN as a partner, on its own merits. The US should consciously NOT define its Asia policy as solely or even primarily a China policy. There is more to Asia than China, and we should act that way.
20. The US should work with the G7 and, subsequently, the G20 to pressure both China and Germany, in their own ways, to rebalance their economies towards greater consumption for the good of the global economy, and help facilitate that move in any way we can.
21. By facilitating, I mean REDUCING rather than EXACERBATING the risks involved in such moves. Getting Germany and China to be willing to move in that direction is more important than punishing them for past imbalances.
I’ll probably think of some more things I forgot, before I get up tomorrow. Maybe I’ll add some more. But this list – which is not w/o its own challenges and risks – is why I get frustrated when people portray criticism of Trump’s approach as no more than impotent “do-nothing”.
A few of these things Trump has done, but not very consistently or coherently. Most of them he hasn’t tried, and I doubt is temperamentally capable of trying.
By the way, I’m not saying this is a perfect list. Some of these approaches might work, others might not work as well as hoped, and we have to reevaluate and adjust. I don’t claim to have all the answers.