The red carpet rollout at the White House for Chinese leader Hu Jintao, complete with celeb-studded gala, is reminiscent of that time Ronald Reagan threw a ball for Mikhail Gorbachev during the Cold War. Oh wait, that didn’t happen. Probably because Reagan wasn’t morally confused.
Morality gets muddy when those ideologically opposed to us start throwing around money – particularly when we’re collectively broke. While Western economic growth rate stagnates (2.6% over the year), China hasn’t had a growth rate as low as the USA’s since 1990 and now sits at nearly 11%. There may be some talk of inflation in China due to rising food prices, but the Chinese economy is diversified enough to reel in the slack. The really hot chick who downsizes her D-cup implants to B-cups is still going to be just as hot, and at least hotter than everyone else.
Right now, China is International Playboy Playmate 2011, making her world tour and being propositioned left and right by fiscally slutty world leaders. She’s playing on their most obvious vice in a time of economic crisis: not sex, but money. The words of former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev are coming back to haunt. He predicted that Communism would one day hang Capitalism, and that Capitalism would sell us the rope to do it. Tap into someone’s vice when they’re desperate enough, and they will find a way to compromise everything else they claim to value. What does a married man caught cheating with a mistress do when he gets busted? He rationalizes.
So what do Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy, and other Western leaders do when their countrymen are wondering why China is getting the kind of unprecedented royal treatment that actual royals haven’t seen? They rationalize. They point out that the red carpet rollout is for the benefit of every taxpayer who will benefit from trade deals and sales between US and China.
Obama tells America that he’s using the opportunity to discuss human rights in an attempt to change China’s record. He pretends to be imposing some sort of positive influence upon Hu Jintao – who likely nods and smiles politely when Obama explains to him what he must do to control North Korea. Meanwhile, China and its ideological Siamese twin, Russia, are back home encouraging and wiping the sweaty brow of Laurent Gbagbo, who lost the Ivory Coast presidential elections and refuses to release his grip on power even when speed-balled around the head by every other leader in the international “community”.
The message Obama is really sending to America and the world is: “This dodgy guy here has lots of money and he wants to give me some to share with you. You probably won’t feel great about where the money comes from, but the very act of taking the money and having to deal with him personally gives me a chance to have a say in how he governs and conducts himself. If we turn down the money, he probably won’t talk to us and we won’t get to lecture him.” Basically, Obama is trying to parent Athina Onassis (the richest little girl in the world at one time) – if she also had a machine gun.
Sources have told me, via indiscretions, that Obama and his envoys have told David Cameron and Britain’s Conservative government that he expects them to take a lead in Europe because Obama plans to distance himself from the EU to focus on China. It’s worth noting that he’s running from the most unionized block in the world towards the least. Via another indiscretion, I’ve been told that China runs outsourced book printing presses 24/7 inside tankers criss-crossing the oceans. Meanwhile, those in Europe are holding their bosses ransom every time they don’t get a requested pay raise.
China doesn’t play by the rules of the West, and maybe a few things can be learned that will level the playing field. Importing lessons and tactics seems like a better long term strategy than kissing up. In a global competitive marketplace, not trying to outcompete them means handing them victory.
For some conservatives, this is okay. George W. Bush said in his recent interview with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg that keeping an open dialogue with China will help change them over time. He used post-war Japan as a successful example of US dialogue turning a country around. But with Japan it was more than that. They were devastated after WWII, and General MacArthur spent 7 years there after the war building the place back up from scratch. Post-war Japan obviously isn’t today’s China. Nor does the USA have the same kind of carte blanche to remake China in its own image.
The sane solution? Point out to Americans what China is doing better and more effectively. Then start changing the system at home to be more competitive. That’s what Obama’s speech should have been about: What they’re doing right. Why they’re winning. And how we can compete within the framework of our own values.