Saturday, July 02, 2005

China Unocal Bid

"'If we were to say no to [CNOOC's bid], it would likely stimulate just the sort of nationalist reaction in China that we should want to discourage,' said Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. 'We have a national security interest in integrating China into the global economy, and this [permitting the Chinese takeover of Unocal] seems to me one way to do it.'"

A subject like this should induce an unwonted spasm of humility and deference to experts in most of us commentators. Whether this is something to be alarmed about is essentially a question involving a level of expertise far above my head, but I tend to agree with Richard Haase. A warning flag goes up for me when I see that both of the legislators legislators mentioned as opposing this are from Texas. Despite what Chinese nationalists maintain, the U.S. is not in a containment mode with China, nor should it be. An invasion or embargo of Taiwan would be a trip-wire for such a policy, but we are not there yet, and I hope we never will. We can't be scolding China about its values-free energy grabbing policy in Africa, then forbid them from obtaining energy in legitimate ways such as this. My impression of the textiles debate is similar: it seems to be driven by U.S. domestic politics more than anything. But it is a technical issue - have the appropriate international trade organizations adjudicate it and abide by the judgement. The politicians in America who are suggesting that textiles are indispensible to America's economic heath are as out of it as Jacques Chirac and his assertion that agricultrue is the key to Europe's economic future.