Donald Trump was the most vocal anti-China candidate in the 2016 US presidential election. Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton
Donald Trump was the most vocal anti-China candidate in the 2016 US presidential election. Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

As a Chinese-American I am worried by the seemly bizarre statements and actions by the president-elect, Donald Trump.

He is now surrounded by neocon advisors who wish to confront China. China bashing has dire consequences for Chinese-Americans. In fact all Asian-Americans should worry, after all most Americans couldn’t tell the difference between a Korean, Japanese or Chinese.

Back in the late 70s and early 80s Japan bashing was in vogue. Two laid off auto workers killed a Chinese-American, mistook him as Japanese, accusing him of stealing their jobs. There is already an increase of hate crimes targeting Chinese. Today I would not want to work in the defense industry as I did once. I worked on underwater submarine detection, for which I received secret clearance. It was based on using differential magnetometers, a field closely related to my Ph.D. thesis. It is ironic in view of the latest flap of US unmanned underwater drones recovered by the Chinese. Too many ethnic Chinese have been wrongly accused of spying. Worse things could happen to us if the current trend continues.

Ever since the re-establishment and reconciliation started with Nixon’s historic visit in 1972 and later the formal recognition of People’s Republic of China by Carter in 1979, the two countries were on the mend. Under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping China began a long period of growth and recovery. In three decades, its economy grew from a very low base to the world’s second largest today, in part due to its shift to an open market system helped by foreign direct investments. Most of the initial foreign direct investments came from overseas Chinese Diaspora including Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Hong Kong’s manufacturing sector essentially moved across the border. Many Taiwan industries did the same. The bilateral relationship between US and China has been and should be a win-win situation. Chinese workers found jobs and China lifted more than 500 million out of poverty while the rest of the world benefitted from low cost and affordable goods. American lives have improved as a result.

China used its surplus to buy US Treasury bonds thereby lowered US interest rates. The historical low mortgage rates allow Americans to buy homes and put extra cash in their pockets and it kept inflation at bay.

Did China steal American jobs or rape America as Trump claim? Hardly!

American companies have for years had overseas factories in many Asian countries as well as in Mexico. China, unlike Japan, is very open to direct foreign investments. American companies as well as European, Japanese and Korean companies have many factories there. Two way- trades reached US$627 billion in 2015, more than US’s trade with Japan, UK and Germany combined. China is now America’s third largest export market.

With China’s new growing middle class its market is now fulfilling the long term dream of selling to the Chinese. It was once said if every Chinese were to buy an aspirin that would be more than one billion. These days they are buying that and more. GM now sells more cars in China than in the US from cars made and sold in China. By the way those sales are not considered as US exports even though the profits generated belong to GM and its shareholders.

That is just one example. Apple assembles its phones in China with parts mostly from the US and other foreign countries; the total value of the phone is “credited “to Chinese exports thereby distorting the true trade balance. Greater China is also Apple’s largest foreign market though its share has been declining in recent quarters due to local competition. This is a symbiotic relationship that benefits both. Zachary Karabell in his book entitled: Superfusion spells out the mutual benefits of that relationship. That is hardly what Trump and his ill advised advisors want to hear.

China’s “sins” according to America, from Obama now Trump is it’s too successful. China’s slowly but surely rising threatens American domination in the Pacific. Henry Kissinger in his book “On China” stated there are some in our State Department who subscribe to the thesis that a successful Chinese “rise” is incompatible with America’s position in the Pacific and by extension in the world. America has tried to destabilize China for years with its covert support of Tibetans and Uyghurs and openly selling military equipment to Taiwan contrary to the Joint Communiqué between US and China signed in 1972. Even the so called “umbrella movement” in Hong Kong is funded by National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

America encouraged its allies Japan and the Philippines to do its beckoning by stoking aggressive confrontation with China in territorial disputes. How could supporting a revisionist Japan or call the South China Sea, the “West Philippine Sea” promote peace in the Far East? The so called Trans-Pacific Partnership, now seem to be dead on arrival, nominally seeks to manage trade, promote growth, and regionally integrate the economies of the Asia-Pacific region. It is telling China the second biggest economy in the world and a Pacific country is excluded. China is now surrounded by many hostile states.

China’s launching of Asian Infrastructural Investment Bank (AIIB) which will benefit a wide stretch of Asian countries that desperately need improvement in their roads, bridges and ports was spun by the US. In fact it pressured other countries not to join. That effort failed miserably when America’s closest allies starting with UK and then other major European and Asian countries joined. As of today there are 57 founding members with 30 more waiting to join. This leaves US and Japan as the only two major countries looking in. There is universal agreement that this is one of Obama administration’s biggest foreign policy blunders.

Ever since China’s ascent it’s been accused by US as a currency manipulator even though it held its currency steady in the face of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 when most countries in Asia devaluated theirs. Since then the U.S. has continue to print money thereby lowering its value. But it is called Quantitative Easing. There have been many QEs since. How about Japan whose currency has depreciated more than 30%? But Japan is considered an ally and therefore gets a free pass.

Why is the US trying to destabilize China? China is blamed for all America’s woes. It’s not just Trump. After all Obama and his former Secretary State Clinton were the chief architects of “pivot to Asia” a thinly disguised attempt to contain China that fools no one.

So what did China do exactly to deserve all the negativity? Has China threatened America? Does China have military bases surrounding America or send its fleets or planes close to its territory to monitor its activities? The answer is no. By contrast Australian documentary film maker John Pilger noted: Today, more than 400 American military bases encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and, above all, nuclear weapons. From Australia north through the Pacific to Japan, Korea and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India, the bases form, says one US strategist, “the perfect noose.”

Does the US really want regime change in China? Even in China’s darkest days it held onto its territory. Surely it will not let any foreign country interfere with its internal policies or tear it apart. As founding Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kwan Yew said: internally China needs stability externally China need peace. China is not a threat to America or any other country. Quoting Prime Minister Lee again: China wants to be China and accepted as such, not an honorary member of the West.

Richard King

Richard L King is a retired investment banker and venture capitalist. He received his PhD in nuclear physics from New York University and also attended Stern Graduate School of Business at NYU. Originally from Shanghai, he was an instructor of nuclear physics at the US Merchant Marine Academy, a trustee of the China Institute, a member of the Science Advisory Board at NYU and a director of the Committee of 100.

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