Saturday, May 31, 2014

Chinese games

China is playing the world, particularly the United States and Russia. Old players from the Cold War, China is finally ascendant, quickly rising above the stagnant economies and gummed ideologies of the US and Russia. But it’s not the game with Russia that Americans need to worry about – we need to keep our eye on our own relations with China.

China’s recent gas deal with Russia basically takes advantage of Russia’s limited economy and fast growing desperation. The New York Times reported, “The chief executive of Gazprom, Alexey Miller, said the contract called for Russia to supply 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually over 30 years, making the price about $350 per thousand cubic meters. In 2013, the average price of Gazprom’s gas in Europe was about $380 per thousand cubic meters.” Though Putin wanted a price closer to what European nations pay, with the Russian economy close to recession he seemed desperate to move forward with the agreement. The Russian economy is propped up mostly by exports of natural resources, particularly gas, which explains why the Russians reached for Crimea but also why world leaders did not become more aggressive about the annexation – it does not do much to broaden Russian exports and strengthen their economy.

China, on the other hand, will in the short term increase its governmental spending to create pipelines and other infrastructure to accommodate the gas supply from Russia. This will inject money into the Chinese economy, creating jobs. The Chinese get a great deal on the resources it must import and will continue to rely on their expanding economy to pay for these resources as that economy continues to grow and diversify past an agricultural and manufacturing base.

When it comes to America, the US continues to embarrass itself, further weakening its stance in opposition to China. Attorney General Eric Holder’s indictment of 5 hackers working for the Chinese military out of Shanghai was a bold move. Aggressive, the US should make the world aware that the Chinese can play dirty, that they steal industry secrets, and that cyberattacks strike closer to home, affecting the nation more than the average American understands currently.

That said, the US government cannot hypocritically being doing the same thing of which it is accusing another country. In a piece concerning American surveillance of foreign companies and negotiations, the New York Times notes that American “officials say, while the N.S.A. cannot spy on Airbus and give the results to Boeing, it is free to spy on European or Asian trade negotiators and use the results to help American trade officials — and, by extension, the American industries and workers they are trying to bolster.” China knows the US is doing the same thing it is, and the US is trying to defend its actions while denouncing China.

This hypocritical stance by the United States wounds its world standing. What other nations will aid in the indictment of China and the resolution of this government led corporate espionage when the world knows the US takes advantage of these very same weaknesses? This week Republican lawmakers and pundits called Obama's foreign policy address at West Point weak. But it is not the caution that Obama advocates that makes US foreign policy weak - it is our continued hypocrisy. We must learn to lead by example and not just by indictment.

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