In any debate about international trade, “outsourcing,” or “globalization” these days, one is almost certain to hear about the rise of “China and India.” The two sides of this debate rail on about the nature of “China and India” – the “protectionists” complain about them, while the “globalists” usually praise them. However, both make the same mistake: they treat “China and India” as if they are identical twins at best, joined at the hip at worst.
For this reason, I have tended to steer clear of these discussions; in fact, upon seeing any article or column on these subjects, my eyes tend to glaze over. Still, I usually find myself examining them, and before too long, there it is: “China and India”! Bosnia and Herzegovina aren’t mentioned together this often, and they’re actually joined together as one country (ditto Serbia and Montenegro).
The combined geopolitical ignorance of so many luminaries on both sides of this “divide” has routinely depressed me. So I will now try to explain why Communist China and India are not the same issue and don’t pose the same challenges. The only things they have in common are large populations and a relatively short history as world powers in the modern era. Their differences – which center around three things: how they got to the positions they now hold, what they intend to do in the future, and how they view the United States and the rest of the democratic world – are far more important.
Communist China’s history is well known to some – and should be to everyone else. For over fifty-six years, the Communists have maintained the power they seized in 1949 by murdering over seventy million of their own people and, especially since 1989, building anti-American alliances that include sponsors and perpetrators of international terrorism, including al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein, the mullahcracy of Iran, and Stalinist North Korea.
Meanwhile, the one thing that Communist China supposedly has in its favor (a rip-roaring economy) is in large part inflated by phony statistics (fifteenth, tenth, sixth and last items) and cadre-ordered large-scale factory development that produces products for which no one has any use (twenty-ninth, thirtieth, last, and seventh items). An economy like this is akin to an athlete on steroids – tremendous improvement at first, but with horrifying long-term damage.
India, by contrast, has spent the last fifteen years or so trying to get out from under the economic mistakes of its past. It quickly ditched its vague anti-Americanism at roughly the turn of the century, and has been one of America’s closest friends in the 21st. While Communist China was making deals with al Qaeda and its Taliban hosts, India was actively supporting their opponents in Afghanistan – long before 9/11/01.
Yet most discussions of global affairs seem to devolve to economic issues; this largely negates India’s geopolitical and domestic differences with Communist China. However, even in international economics, India and Communist China are far from similar.
India is coming into the world economy in a good-faith attempt to understand the rules of the game. They are fully aware of their labor-cost advantage, and have sought to exploit it. However, they have largely shown respect for the international free market (such as it is), and have shown little interest in upending the system for ill-gotten gains.
Communist China, by contrast, has already used – and is still using – several forms of economic manipulation: a deliberately devalued currency, the lack of independent labor unions, and ecological “regulation” that leads to things such as the recent benzene poison spill in the industrial northeast. By these actions, Communist China is perverting the established norms of the international economy at the expense of the globe, rather than growing within those norms to take its newfound place within it, as India has.
The repercussions for the future are obvious, and chilling. India’s current labor advantage will likely fade as its workers demand paychecks roughly equal to that of the developed world. Communist China, by contrast, will force the rest of the world into a “race to the bottom” in order to keep up with its predatory policies. Additionally, India’s government will continue to respond to the demands of its people, who are seeing the benefits of freer international trade. The Communist Chinese regime’s only concern is its own survival, meaning more anti-American alliances, more twisting of the international market to damage the economies of the democratic world (India included), and even more brutal treatment of the Chinese people.
In short, India and Communist China are not alike at all. If the “protectionists” saw this, they would realize that international trade can, and usually is, beneficial so long as the rules are understood and followed by all. By contrast, if the “globalists” saw the differences, they would recognize that Communist China, far from embracing “capitalism,” is in fact violating its established norms in numerous areas.
However, neither camp seems to have an interest in geopolitics anymore. They both agree, in large part, that the only issue that really counts is economics, and neither wants to admit that their worldview tends to ignore – or at the very least, badly miss – the differences between Communist China and India. So they treat them as one and the same, to the detriment of the Indian people, the Chinese people, and everyone else. The only beneficiary of this joint myopia is the Chinese Communist Party. That alone is reason enough for “protectionists” and “globalists” to stop ignoring the facts and start seeing the world as it really is.