Thursday 11 Aug 2022 | 05:37 | SYDNEY
Thursday 11 Aug 2022 | 05:37 | SYDNEY

America engaging China? Not always


Stephen Grenville

28 August 2012 14:40

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell is quoted as saying that...

...'no country has taken more trouble to engage with China' than the US. If anything, the US had been giving China more responsibility in global affairs than it was comfortable with. 'Look at the role they play in international relations in the global economy'...

Well, here are just a couple of small counter-examples.

First, no-one disputes that the International Monetary Fund has been unacceptably tardy in bringing its governance into line with the current economic weight of members. China's voting power is the same as Holland and Belgium combined. This anomaly was belatedly addressed at the G20 meeting in Seoul in November 2010, which agreed on a timetable that would achieve some reform by 2014. It now seems impossible that the first critical deadline, for quota increases, can be completed in time for the IMF meeting in Tokyo in October.

This stage requires the support of 60% of IMF members and 85% of the votes. Thus it can't happen without America's vote. President Obama has chosen not to bring the necessary legislation to Congress this year. Of course we can sympathise with the President's legislative constraints in an election year. And the US is by no means the only laggard. But it is the biggest by far and on other issues has been ready to exercise decisive authority.

Second example: the Trans Pacific Partnership is now the centre of America's free-trade efforts. It includes not only trade, but a range of other issues for which the US has set a 'platinum standard'. The provisions relating to state-owned enterprises will ensure that China will be excluded for the foreseeable future.

Photo by Flickr user Jason A Howie.