What I’m about to admit may sound bizarre, but I have to get this off my chest: Joe Biden published a discerning op-ed in The New York Times yesterday, and I am in almost complete agreement with him.
From the very core of my being, I fundamentally reject the notion that prosperity is only for some and not for all. The sort of pessimistic, Malthusian, limited thinking that some must be kept down so that others may be buoyed up is just plain wrong. When it comes to eliminating poverty and degradation, welfare and charity accomplish very little in the long term. If national governments could simply get out of their own people’s way, the fully unleashed power of free markets could nurture the sort of systemic prosperity that is the truest, simplest, most penetrating way to improve the living standards and freedom of people across the globe.
As China stands today, their rise would be a very negative thing indeed. Socialism and communism murder and make slaves of people – inarguable historical examples abound. Their rise would not necessarily be our demise, because as we have seen, jacked-up communist bubbles eventually pop, the only question being how much misery and death will occur in the process. But, if China keeps moving toward the economic liberalization they have slowly been implementing, political liberalization must inevitably follow.
So, even though the Veep immeasurably embarrassed us during his diplomatic trip to China (in not "second-guessing" their one-child policy), I think he came away with the right general idea.
Then, as now, there were concerns about what a growing China meant to America and the world. Some here and in the region see China’s growth as a threat, entertaining visions of a cold-war-style rivalry or great-power confrontation. Some Chinese worry that our aim in the Asia-Pacific is to contain China’s rise.
I reject these views. We are clear-eyed about concerns like China’s growing military abilities and intentions; that is why we are engaging with the Chinese military to understand and shape their thinking.
China’s current communist regime is something that we should work to contain, their military buildup is a concern, and the government’s constant antagonizing of U.S. interests is more than annoying. But China cannot grow its economy without loosening the communist deathgrip it has over its citizens, and that is something we can encourage.