Huizer: lean on China (if necessary with volume- or category- related import quota’s) on issues like environment, working conditions, higher and better collected taxes (yes, in this case!) and much better provision of collective goods.
The problem is that this presumes that people outside China are somehow better and wiser at making economic tradeoffs and in generally running an economy than people in China. One lesson of the last set of bank problems is that its not clear that people in the West know how to run an economy better than the people than people in China. Certainly suggestions and ideas are appreciated, but if things start become more than polite suggestions, I do think that China needs to push back a bit.
China can take care of itself, and I’d much rather people in the West do what they need to do out of pure self-interest than out of concern for people in China. If the United States needs to raise tariffs to protect jobs in Kansas and North Carolina or send troops into the Middle East to protect the flow of oil, I’m fine with that.
The trouble with mixing self-interest and altruism is that self-interest ultimate discredits any altruism. By trying to link trade and liberal political reform, the West has managed to completely discredit the democracy movement. If the West starts supporting a “earthquake-proof schools movement” through trade pressure and then the Falugong, Tibetan independence people, and labor unions show up to advance their interests, this will destroy public support in China for the ‘earthquake-proof schools movement.”
I made a point at a discussion about foreign policy toward China where I pointed out that it was very damaging for Western nations to push policies as being good for the Chinese people when it’s pretty clear that the motivation were self-interest. For example, when people bring up intellectual property, ultimately it is because Western companies want to make more money…..
The speaker replied that Chinese aren’t stupid and can obvious see that the West in these situations is acting out of self-interest, ignore the altruistic coating, reply accordingly. Fair enough…. So when the US government then moves the topic from trade and intellectual property to political dissidents and minority issues then……