Any country which tries to confront China’s unfair trade policies by itself, including rampant theft of IP and anti-competitive practices, is probably doomed to failure given the sheer size of the Chinese economy — and this judgment also applies to the United States, wielding unrivaled economic power though it does. That’s why the U.S. and Europe must present a united front to China if they are to restore the balance of power between themselves and the rising Asian superpower, argue Dalibor Rohac and Scott Cullinane in a new op-ed for the National Review.
- Such unity however is unlikely to emerge in the atmosphere of rivalry resulting from Donald Trump’s threats of hostile trade actions against Europe, including tariffs on automobiles and other key exports. That adds to disagreements over the Iran nuclear deal, European military spending for NATO, and climate change, among other topics.
- Rohac and Cullinane note that the current European direction is towards protectionism, as evident in renewed talk of “industrial policy” and “industrial champions” to take on both China and the U.S.
- However none of this changes the facts: “Yet whatever one thinks of the current U.S. administration, the interests of the United States and Europe are closely aligned on what is arguably the most important geopolitical issue of our age: China.” Further these interests are shared with other democracies including Japan, South Korea and Australia.
- The litany of Chinese abuses threatening democracies include “industrial espionage and intellectual-property theft, mercantilist economic practices that are only rarely challenged at the World Trade Organization, and China’s increasingly aggressive military posture in Asia.”
- Although the trends are far more encouraging, there are still areas where U.S.-EU cooperation appears feasible, including the election in 2020 of the director-general of the World Intellectual Property Organization.
- In conclusion: “Keeping the transatlantic alliance cohesive in a changing world demands concentrated attention and effort from leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. But both sides should remember that it is an exercise worth pursuing, regardless of politics of the moment.”