June 7 2013
Should China Be Considered America's Number One Adversary?
Chinese President Xi Jingping is in California today for the first of two days of meetings with President Barack Obama. This will be the first meeting between the leaders since Xi ascended to the presidency last year, and the list of topics runs the gamut from North Korea to cybersecurity to human rights.
The expectation ahead of the summit is that it will yield little in the way of substantive change, and is more an opportunity for Obama to lay down a new foundation with China's relatively new leadership team. "The White House is talking down the prospects of a major announcement. Instead, they are looking for rapport," wrote the New Yorker's Evan Osnos. The Obama administration made a highly publicized priority of its "Asia pivot," which looks like an attempt to counter China's increasing influence in the region.
One of the areas of concern for the U.S. is the growing economic power of China. The Chinese company Shuanghui recently announced plans to buy U.S. pork-producer Smithfield Foods. Several lawmakers expressed their dismay about the deal. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said the government "must take China's and Shuanghui's troubling track record on food safety into account." Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., added, "In the review of this proposed transaction, it must be shown that the deal will protect workers, food safety standards, and U.S. national interests."
Also on the docket is China's use of cyberespionage. As Carrie Lukas, managing director of the Independent Women's Forum, wrote in U.S. News, "it's not just businesses that are hemorrhaging proprietary information and losing vast amounts of wealth as a result of these attacks. The United States government is a frequent victim, and national security, rather than just dollars, is often a casualty."
The New York Times editorial board this week scolded those who it said "have been too eager to cast China as the next great adversary." But is there something to that idea, in light of China's growing economic power and Xi's nationalistic streak? Should China be considered America's number one adversary?
Here is the Debate Club's take: