As with any unhealthy relationship, it’s worth considering our role in getting here. Ever since President Richard M. Nixon opened relations with China nearly 50 years ago, we’ve wanted engagement even at the expense of American values. We’ve not been demanding enough on human rights, starting with the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. We downgraded our relationship with our longtime friend, Taiwan, on the condition that the “Taiwan question” would be resolved peacefully to normalize relations with Beijing. And, we minded our own business during China’s one-child policy, which led to forced abortions and “30 million bachelors.”
Meanwhile, as co-dependents of a sort, we’ve happily allowed China to become an economic and military superpower while we fattened ourselves on cheap imports, washed down with the elixir of naive faith in the irresistible allure of democratic principles. Perhaps young nations such as ours shouldn’t presume to outmaneuver nearly 4,000-year-old cultures through flirtation and flattery.
By now, even President Trump’s critics may be willing to concede that he was right on this one. If he was elected partly to end China’s unfair trade practices, his reelection could depend on how successfully he navigates the China-Pandemic Problem.