Home GRASP GRASP/China Don’t let Beijing push us around, warns ‘frustrated’ former ambassador to China

Don’t let Beijing push us around, warns ‘frustrated’ former ambassador to China

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The United States lacks a strategy to deal with China’s rise, said former senator and ex-ambassador Max Baucus.
BEIJING — The United States needs to stop getting pushed around by China and work out a long-term strategy to deal with the country’s rise, former U. S. ambassador Max Baucus said last week.
In an interview more than five weeks after leaving Beijing, Baucus expressed frustration with the Obama administration’s lack of strategic vision and its weakness when it came to China. But he also accused President Trump of blundering around without even a basic understanding of the country. 
China, Baucus said, has a long-term strategic vision to build up its economic might and global influence. The United States, by contrast, often appears distracted by problems in the Middle East.
“The Washington foreign-policy establishment tends to put China on another shelf, to deal with it later,” he said. “We’re much too ad hoc. We don’t seem to have a long-term strategy, and that’s very much to our disadvantage.”
Baucus spoke by Skype from his home in Montana on Thursday, looking out over a beautiful valley framed by snowy mountains, where he sits and watches the storms roll in. 
Being ambassador to China, he said, was “the best job I ever had,” even if his tenure there was abruptly ended by Trump’s election victory. 
Baucus, who also spent more than three decades as a Senate Democrat, is proud to have visited all of China’s mainland provinces during his time there. He said he worked hard to prevent the two nations from falling into what has been called the Thucydides trap , a theory that an established power feels threatened by a rising power, leading to a rivalry that often descends into war.
But making the relationship work takes serious thought in Washington, he said, something that Baucus said did not always happen during his time in the job.
“It was very frustrating,” he said. “The White House would make a decision, and we’d roll our eyeballs, and say: ‘This isn’t going to work, partly because we’re backing off, we’re being weak. What’s the strategy going forward?’ ”
Among his complaints: that the Obama administration had not done enough to get the Trans-Pacific Partnership ratified by Congress, despite the hard work that U. S. Trade Representative Michael Froman put into the 12-nation Asia-Pacific trade pact.

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