Krugman: China is a ‘rogue economic power’

As if more than enough evidence weren’t enough, there’s this:

Last month a Chinese trawler operating in Japanese-controlled waters collided with two vessels of Japan’s Coast Guard. Japan detained the trawler’s captain; China responded by cutting off Japan’s access to crucial raw materials.

And there was nowhere else to turn: China accounts for 97 percent of the world’s supply of rare earths, minerals that play an essential role in many high-technology products, including military equipment. Sure enough, Japan soon let the captain go.

I don’t know about you, but I find this story deeply disturbing, both for what it says about China and what it says about us. On one side, the affair highlights the fecklessness of U.S. policy makers, who did nothing while an unreliable regime acquired a stranglehold on key materials. On the other side, the incident shows a Chinese government that is dangerously trigger-happy, willing to wage economic warfare on the slightest provocation.

He goes on to talk about how, starting in the 1990s, the Chinese were allowed to take over the world’s rare earth production industry, necessarily killing off our own industry in the process. About the Bush II era response, when we were supposedly doing everything and then some to protect our national security:

[P]olicy makers simply stood by as the U.S. rare earth industry shut down.

Seems like the Barons of the New America (and their political retainers and gophers) are willing to do anything for money.

As to lessons, the Professor suggests three, including:

China’s response to the trawler incident is, I’m sorry to say, further evidence that the world’s newest economic superpower isn’t prepared to assume the responsibilities that go with that status.

Let’s put that a little differently. As the Republicans are to the Democrats, China is to all U.S. policy-makers — facing a self-neutered opponent, relentless, and willing to do anything to win. It’s a match made in heaven — if you’re a Republican, or the Chinese government.


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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