Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 5, No. 2, February 2017
President Xi Jinping against the backdrop of the Chinese army. Source: Janne Wittoeck via Flickr.
James E. Fanell
U.S. Navy (ret)
Below are the critical comments I provided to Dr. Orville Schell, the co-chair of the recent Asia Society and University of California, San Diego report US POLICY TOWARD CHINA: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A NEW ADMINISTRATION. While there are sections of the work that I agree with, I still fundamentally disagree with the overall foundation of the document’s recommendations which I believe are designed to sustain the past 40 year of a policy that promotes unconstrained “engagement” with the PRC. As such, I’ve gone through the entire document and extracted several statements and paragraphs that I disagree with and a few that I agree with. While I will provide comments for each specific reference issue, I can summarize my dissent of the report in the following major themes:
1. Unconstrained Engagement. Engagement with China is asserted to be the primary goal of US relations with China without providing evidence for that assertion. Or worse, suggesting things are actually going well, contrary to all objective evidence.
2. “The Relationship” is the #1 Priorty. “The relationship” is prioritized as being equal to or more important than U.S national security. There is no clear articulation that U.S. National security should be the #1 national security priority for the US and that our relationship with China should be judged through that lens, not through the lens of sustaining “the relationship” at all costs.
3. Do Not Provoke. America should not “provoke” China, but again, there is no evidence to support why this position will benefit U.S. national security interests.
4. Dissent Not Welcome. While I appreciate inclusion of Ambassador Lord’s dissenting opinion on North Korea, clearly the study did not value, or include, dissenting opinions, especially in the Asia-Pacific Regional Security and Maritime Dispute sections.