The Bush Administration must find a way to restrain the impulse of many in Congress to all but declare a trade war against China. China is now the world’s third leading importer, behind only the U.S. and Germany. Since 2000, U.S. exports of goods to China have more than doubled to $35 billion while U.S. exports to the rest of the world have grown a paltry 2%. Last year, China was the fifth-largest market in the world for U.S. exports.
The challenge for the Bush Administration will be to keep the pressure on the Chinese government to continue its economic and trade reforms while fending off any legislation in Congress that would disrupt normal and growing trade and investment ties between our two countries. China’s emergence from centuries of isolation and stagnation is one of the great stories of our time. Hundreds of millions of its citizens are beginning to taste the rewards of middle-class life that most Americans take for granted. It is profoundly in our economic and security interests to nurture that progress.