The US-Mexico-Canada Trade Deal Is a Weapon Against Chinese Imperialism

The US-Mexico-Canada Trade Deal Is a Weapon Against Chinese Imperialism, by Austin Bay.

The Trump administration’s USMCA gives Washington a powerful economic and diplomatic tool for achieving the U.S. and its key allies’ most vital long-range goal in the Indo-Pacific region: preventing the rise of a hegemonic regional power, in this case China.

Key U.S. allies in the Indo-Pacific is shorthand for Canada, Japan, Australia, South Korea and Singapore. India is a quiet ally, though continued Chinese misbehavior will ensure India morphs from quiet to key. …

Chinese and American leaders appear to share two general assessments of their escalating “great power” competition, and both are grounded in economics. First, the military and diplomatic dimensions of 21st-century Chinese “national imperialism” rely on Chinese economic might and continued productivity. And second, the “miracle phase” of China’s economic revival is over. Per capita GDP went from $333 in 1991 to $7,500 in 2017, but the plateau phase has begun. For the moment, China’s grand strategy of national imperial expansion is vulnerable.

Here are some vulnerabilities, all of them affecting China’s economy and the Communist dictatorship’s ability to project power. Corruption challenges the dictatorship’s legitimacy. Managing the complex economy and addressing social and environmental problems test its technical credibility. China can no longer supply itself internally. It must import resources from Asia, Africa and the Americas. Communist legacies like state-owned enterprises employ people and party loyalists but they eat capital. Modernizing China’s military to rival the U.S. has bled red ink and matching the Pentagon’s might is not assured. Strategypage.com recently observed that corruption and mismanagement “cripple” China’s armed forces.

The general assessments and vulnerabilities tell Washington that the time to curb China’s appetite for imperialist aggression is now, by cutting off its economic oxygen. …

Mexico and Canada know China is anything but a friend, and the USMCA demonstrates that. Both nations will support U.S. demands that China respect intellectual property rights and pay royalties instead of committing intellectual property theft.