11.13.2005

Bush in China: What the President Must Do

President Bush is heading to the PRC and, despite a boatload of problems at home, his mission there involves a number of critical issues. Here's what Bush needs to do:

1. Slam intellectual property rights violations - The U.S. information economy rams into a brick wall in places like China and Brazil where IP protection is next to non-existent. Creative and technological exports are worthless if the first transfusion of ideas is copied and distributed illegally on a vast scale.

"Experts say China produces some 70 percent of the world's counterfeit goods with pirated music and video discs and all manner of fake brand-named products widely available. "

2. Make it clear to China that we're on to them - Bush needs to add an element of realpolitik to his discussions. He should state the obvious: China is a competitor of the U.S. He must point out China's increasing military expenditures, it's ties to and support of pariah states around the globe, and it's incursion into areas of U.S. influence, like Latin America. He needs to provide a strong, confident American stance and make it clear that we will not be hoodwinked.

3. Strengthen bonds with other Asian nations - Bush must convince other regional states that America will play an important role in helping to balance powers in the face of the unsettling rise of the Chinese military and economic juggernaut. He should employ this approach rather than merely hand out economic aid. We are spending too much already. Countries in ASEAN are crucial, as is Mongolia, which Bush will visit - a first for a U.S. President. Japan, too, needs to be encouraged to pull a greater share of its weight in helping to balance China.

Bottom Line: Bush must put his domestic and terror-centered concerns aside for a moment and focus on this trip - it has the potential to echo down through the ages.