During an interview on Sunday, May 2, Secretary of State Andrew Blinken said that “Biden administration’s goal was not to ‘contain’ China, but to protect a ‘rules-based order’ in international relations.”
This way of thinking is typical Harvard head-in-the-clouds hairsplitting by Blinken to create a sense that being wise is more important than winning. This fascination with rules and “rationality” (rules-based thinking) is an obsessive reality in the Ivy League and especially at Harvard University. “Rules-based” assumes purview over economics, ethics, spirituality, and psychology. We need a level playing field in every area of endeavor and to the smartest rules-based achievers go the accolades and the rewards. Further, within the atheistic mindset of the Ivy League, ethics or righteousness comes from human rationality and not from the revealed truths of our Judeo-Christian heritage.
Believe me, I spent eleven years in the Ivy League, including seven at Harvard, living with this mentality and cultivating it in myself. I still struggle with a lingering addictive tendency to think this way. To put the matter in specifics, in his effort to show how fine-tuned his thinking is, he fails to see that “protecting a rules-based order” with respect to China must result in a policy of containment. Yet, that logical result of the rules-based order means leaving the cocoon of Ivy detachment and taking risks in the less rule-driven world of contention and strife.
Why? Because China is NOT rules-based and is in a permanently aggressive mode that is a direct result of our letdown with respect to the threat of the Peoples’ Republic of China since recognition by us and admission to the UN under Nixon-Kissinger in 1972. There are many clauses in the Shanghai Communiqué that was signed that year by both the U.S. and the PRC. But the one that leaps off the page into the mind of this writer states:
“Both sides view bilateral trade as another area from which mutual benefit can be derived and agreed that economic relations based on equality and mutual benefit are in the interest of the people of the two countries. They agree to facilitate the progressive development of trade between their two countries.” Here was the pivotal axis of the agreement. There was no agreement about Vietnam, and the PRC insists repeatedly in that Shanghai document that it joins hands with all the oppressed peoples of the world (meaning, victims of non-Communist oppressions). Yet in this one sentence, they sealed the initial overture of “mutual benefit.”
We acknowledged that we sought benefits. What benefits? By recognizing the PRC our leadership was convinced we could gain more wealth and weaken communism at the same time. We would engage with them, and then dominate them by “playing by the rules.” (Remember that Henry Kissinger, like Blinken, was from Harvard.].
Then, after Nixon, we saw the inroads of capitalist multinationals in the PRC in the 1980s (intent on exploiting both Chinese cheap labor and the vast Chinese market). Yes. “Empowerment zones” or “Special Economic Zones”(SEZ’s) were created and incentivized by Deng Xiaoping after 1982. Hong Kong and Taiwanese business interests were middlemen for American investment in the PRC. One of the SEZ’s Shenzhen has grown from a town of 30,000 to a city of 12 million. “Its GDP per capita grew 24,569% from 1978 to 2014. Shenzhen’s GDP surpassed the U.S.$338 billion in 2017 because of its successful tech sector, and this growth exceeded that of Hong Kong and Singapore.” Of interest, it is very difficult to find out the foreign sources of investment in these SEZ’s. Further, with the prevalence of bribery in the PRC, it is also mind-boggling the extent of the corruption that is taking place in them.
Then as a direct result of the PRC/multinational investment alliance, the PRC, despite some initial hesitancy by the Clinton administration, was admitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in November 1999, and that membership allowed Chinese products to have lower tariffs on their exports to the USA and other countries. As Chinese wealth increased, the PRC emerged as one of our chief creditors in funding our chronic large deficits. China ratcheted up its U.S. Treasury bond purchases starting in 2000 as its income from greater exports –enabled by membership in the WTO after 1999—vastly increased. Now, the PRC holds more than one trillion dollars in Treasury Dept. IOU’s.
The USA working with world financial markets in concert with multinational interests has transformed China from a wicked but poor country into a wicked country able to threaten our interests. We have fed the “monster” and now the monster is a threat to us. Monsters of the communist variety do not play by the rules, so when Blinken says we all should be playing by the same rules, he is thinking that no matter how it seems, we are always going to be one step ahead of the Chinese. (I am translating from Harvardese into English.).
But once Frankenstein [meaning, Chinastein] has gotten off the table where it was created (as it has) containment is the only way to stop it because it is not playing by the rules and is powerful enough to continue not playing by the rules. The rules that have led to the might and influence of today’s China are no longer applicable. But those selfsame rules have created a new context in which the rules require us to supersede the rules with containment. To me, it’s a unique paradox, but very clear.
As a Harvard egghead whose shell has been cracked many times, I can say with a modicum of authority that with this mistaken understanding of our relations with China, Blinken has just blinked, and the USA in terms of foreign policy towards the PRC is in retreat.
To read more articles by Jeffrey Ludwig click here.