Daily Archives: July 22, 2014

China’s recent moves in the East and South China Seas – various military deployments, policy proclamations, provocative naval maneuvers and rhetorical stridency – pose serious challenges for how Sinologists have traditionally perceived China and its foreign policy pursuits.

The conventional wisdom has long been that China is primarily focused on its domestic imperatives, including urgent tasks dealing with corruption, endemic pollution, and restructuring of inefficient state-owned industries. For decades now, it has been widely accepted that a benign international environment is a critical requirement for maintaining a sustained domestic focus. When there have been incidents in the past – such an encounter in 2001, when an American reconnaissance aeroplane was intercepted by an overzealous Chinese fighter pilot – it is often the case that the leadership in Beijing and Washington had to work carefully behind the scenes to untangle the mess created by nationalist and poorly co-ordinated elements in the military or border protection units. Unanticipated accidents and incidents were the worry, not premeditated gambits. Read more

Twenty years after Bill Clinton, former US president, signed the North American Free Trade Agreement, its very name chills the spines of US voters and congressmen alike. Even advocates of new regional trade agreements insist that they are not countenancing “another Nafta”. Yet Nafta-phobia is irrational. None of the terrible things that were, according to its opponents, supposed to result from its implementation have in fact occurred. Members of the free-trade area – Canada, Mexico, and the US – enjoy a large joint market and a common supply chain. Consumers in all three countries have gained.

It is true that America’s less-skilled workers have received an increasingly raw deal since the 1970s. But Nafta is not to blame. To claim otherwise is at best to mistake coincidence for causation. At worst, it is a cynical tactic employed to protect special interests at the expense of the common good. Read more