Competition with China - Rivalry Week


By Daniel Knighton

President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao reach out to shake hands after a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Several years ago while you were eating lunch with friends, somebody at the table probably said, “You know, some day, China is going to take over with all that debt we owe them.” A schedule for how exactly that would happen most likely wasn’t proposed by you or any of your lunchmates, but it was nonetheless an agreeable consensus. As China’s economy emerged as the second largest in the world against the U.S. economy’s downfall, some form of economic head-butt was inevitable.

And now, with Chinese businesses’ acquisition of US assets reaching an all-time high, it looks like the communist nation is “cashing out.” You finally have some new developments to discuss at lunch.

Some experts likely supposed China would not be able to cash that check without meeting U.S. government resistance, but in the past few months we have seen some stirring in the U.S. federal government regarding Chinese corporate takeover. In September, President Obama, along with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., ordered Sany affiliates to cease and desist wind farm installations in Oregon. Proximity to a sensitive military base served justification. Weeks later, the Senate Intelligence committee called for Foreign Investment to block all acquisitions from Chinese mega communications suppliers ZTE and Huawei for fear of espionage. They also recommended that “all” Chinese companies participating in the U.S. increase transparency or face similar sanctions.

Two more big transactions are likely keeping the Committee on Foreign Investment working overtime. The Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation’s merger with Canada’s Nexen oil company includes property in stateside Gulf of Mexico. The move awaits U.S. government approval upon recent re-submission from the Chinese corporation. Another Chinese conglomerate, Wanxiang, is ready to bid for bankrupt battery-manufacturer A123 Systems, which has had contracts with the U.S. military. Several congressmen, as well as the Strategic Materials Advisory council, have officially expressed concern for national security on the matter, and asked the committee to reject if the bid is successful.

In virtually all cases, Chinese spokesmen have claimed that the American government unfairly limits trade with China under the unchallengeable guise of “national security.” The Sany group has attempted to sue Obama, declaring their constitutional rights violated as they lost an over $20 million investment without due process. The Justice Department claims the President’s exemption from judicial review is clearly stated in the law, and the challenge will likely be thrown out. Nevertheless, who would have thought a little aid challenging the President’s expanding reign of power would have come from China?

At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before lawmakers heed warnings of Red propaganda at the Chinese-owned neighborhood theater. Still, China’s ongoing economic success is undeniable, and the triangle of business, trade, and defense is bound to meet stateside structural modification as rivalry between the two superpowers advance. The Chinese system has demonstrated impressive efficiency for growth, such that has the United States government concerned about its foothold for global economic dominance. In the meantime, let’s hope increased Chinese business in the States propels the exchange and enhancement of democracy and efficiency for both nations.