The Plank

Obama's China Quandary

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I haven't said much about Obama's China visit trip, in part because I'm no expert on Sino-American policy. But what Peter Beinart says here rings quite true for me:

So it’s all well and good for the Obama administration to pay more attention to China. But the more attention the activist left and right pays, the harder it will be for Team Obama to come to terms with the new limits of American power. Try convincing the tea-bag crowd that the U.S. should cut its greenhouse gasses more than China does. Or try convincing the AFL-CIO that we can’t really retaliate against Chinese protectionism with protectionism of our own. Precisely because Americans haven’t been paying much attention to China, they haven’t fully acknowledged the shift in the balance of power between Washington and Beijing. The more the Obama administration calls attention to that shift, the more abuse it is likely to take.

As a government, the Obama administration seems ready for a relationship of equals with China. But as a people, Americans have barely begun to come to terms with what that means. I’m all for James Steinberg paying more attention to China. But what happens when Glenn Beck starts paying attention, too?

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