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Prof. Henry Rosemont says Obama must ignore all the saber-rattling by the Republican candidates for president and try to focus on this historic opportunity to build US-China relations, by following a few steps, that he lays out in this interview with Sharmini Peries

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SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. The effects the turbulent Chinese markets are having the world over is pause for rethinking China-U.S. relations and what can be done to stabilize the economy, as well as relations with China. Particularly in light of the fact that the upcoming visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping to Washington later this month is much frenzy in the media today. The visit to Washington is of course pegged to the annual address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 28. However, given that we are in an election year, the frenzy media is putting on the Chinese visit is to be noted, and also the China-bashing that is becoming popular among the Republican candidates. Here to discuss all of this today we are joined by a very esteemed guest, Henry Rosemont. He’s a distinguished Professor Emeritus at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and visiting scholar of religious studies at Brown University. His books include A Chinese Mirror: Moral Reflections on Political Economy, and his recently released book, Against Individualism: A Confucian Rethinking of the Foundation of Morality, Politics, Family, and Religion. Prof. Rosemont, a pleasure to have you on the Real News Network. HENRY ROSEMONT, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, ST. MARY’S COLLEGE: Happy to be here. PERIES: So professor, in a recent article you penned you had some advice for President Obama in terms of the president of China’s visit to Washington. Take us through the steps, advice you have for him. ROSEMONT: Most importantly, ignore all the sabre-rattling advice he’s getting from the Republican candidates for president and from some members of the House, and for most of the media, and try to negotiate some genuine negotiations for a nation and a world that’s increasingly in trouble. I believe this is a historic opportunity to start changing the course of the decline of the global structure of the world. The decline, continued decline, of U.S.-China relations, and the decline of the world’s economy. All of those need to be reversed, and the best way to reduce them in my view is by China and U.S. working in cooperation, and I mean cooperation. Close cooperation. No competition, and certainly no confrontation. PERIES: Prof. Rosemont, you advised in your few steps that you had outlined for President Obama that picking up on the ground in relation to the environment and cutting CO2 levels and the agreement that the U.S. and China had come to during President Obama’s last visit was a good takeoff point. Tell us more what you meant by that, and what else you advise in terms of building trust and the negotiations you think should be taking place during his visit. ROSEMONT: The agreement with Xi Jinping and the president on the issue of climate change was a good one, but it was only a beginning. And for many people in the environmental movement, disappointing. Your group yourselves had a very good program on that just a little while ago with a couple of speakers, one from IPS and a Chinese [inaud.] pointing out just how little was really accomplished in terms of heading away from the disaster that we’re heading toward. Now, but it was an accord. It was done in a friendly manner. Both sides clearly could see that they had something to gain. Neither side had to spend any time hectoring or lecturing each other. So that would be a good place to go. Rather than have Obama, for example, beat up once more the Chinese for weaknesses in their democracy, or not having one, or beat up on them for their individual human rights records, or have some Chinese somewhere beat up on us because of our attempt at hegemony and being the master imperialist. Those things don’t go very far. We are not going to change the Chinese on democracy, it seems. We’re not going to change them, at least in the short run, on issues of human rights any more than the Chinese are going to get us to stop trying to be number one. So I don’t think we should even try those things. We shouldn’t do with them. We should go back and try to greatly strengthen the climate change agreement. And then we should talk about a host of other things that is in the best interests of both countries. That both have to surrender something, but not much in terms of gaining the trust of the other, and to the long-term benefit of both. I’ll give you some examples if you like, but a lot of them are simple. They don’t threaten security. They’re not a risk to the economy. They could be done if people would do the negotiations much more on the basis of trust than competition or confrontation. PERIES: Okay, give me some of those specific examples that you think would really help take it to the next level. Negotiations with the Chinese are usually very nuanced, very politically vague. But I think this one that you address in terms of climate change is a very strong and tangible thing. But what else like that could you point to that you think would be constructive? ROSEMONT: The U.S. can offer to stabilize the Chinese stock market, which of course would contribute to the stabilization of our own. And they can offer–and that is to the great advantage of the Chinese, not just to have their stock market stabilized, but to begin to allow people more to move from an investment export economy to a domestic demand economy. When people feel their money is safe in the stock market they’ll buy goodies. If they don’t, they won’t. PERIES: Prof. Rosemont, how can the U.S. specifically reinforce the Chinese economy? Here you made reference to the use of the UN, for example, and their participation in the IMF as a potential stabilizing factor. What did you mean by that? ROSEMONT: It means–and here’s the way, the biggest way the United States can help the Chinese economy: through the stock market stabilization, and more, it’s simply to tell the Chinese we promise not to interfere with the renminbi becoming a currency on which all countries have drawing rights. We’ve always stopped that in the past. But it makes a huge difference drawing investment from overseas. In China it helps Chinese investors invest abroad without feeling they have to put everything in their own country. It produces its own finance market, if you will. And it would help the stock market. At the same time we did that we could suggest that the Chinese take a much more active role in the IMF, and coordinated more with this [Developing] Asian Bank. Something else I’ve been suggesting is that none of the institutions that are global in scope seem to be capable of doing their job anymore, as the global economy conflicts, everything continue to go forward. PERIES: And why would the U.S. want to do that? At the moment they can flex their muscles at the IMF, and they have control of that. But supporting the Asian Development Bank might be in competition with the IMF. ROSEMONT: Yes. The world is growing too small to engage too much longer in too much competition, in my estimation. The problems of the world are not going to go away by competition, because in competition by definition in addition to winners you must have losers. Losers don’t like being lost. So what we have to try to do is build up a system in which everybody gives up a little something so that everybody gets a fair amount. Now, it requires institutions to kind of bring an order to doing that. Our financial markets cannot go unregulated, globally. We need a strong IMF, World Bank, Asian Bank, and they should work in a coordinated way. We need to do things to hold the EU together, and perhaps the Euro. That’s falling apart, as Germany is a creditor, Greece is a creditee, and you’re finding more and more disruption, dislocation, and dislike in Europe. And if Europe falls apart, the whole globe suffers a great deal. But right now Europe is just torn between creditors and debtors. And that situation is only going to get worse unless there are some international organizations that can help bring some order out of that chaos, it seems to me. PERIES: Prof. Rosemont, Susan Rice, in preparing for the visit of the president, the Chinese President Xi Jinping, expressed his hope for a sustainable and steady growth as far as relations with the U.S. is concerned. It seems to me that there is very little emphasis on sort of long-term planning in terms of collaboration and cooperation with the Chinese. Why is this so endemic in terms of U.S. foreign policy? ROSEMONT: America is a capitalist nation, and it insists on as much of a laissez-faire capitalism as it’s possible to get for one reason: it knows it will win almost all the competitions. That’s why it pushes free trade so much. I can document that for anyone who’s interested. You can give them my email address. But we want free, open everything. Because when free, open everything, is the United States tends to win. It’s only when other countries protect some of their products that they can sell them, because we can undersell them. Or at least most of the time. But now it is possible the more that China, for example, continues its military buildup, the harder it is for it to sustain economic growth. We talk about China as an aggressive threat to us. It’s not an aggressive threat. There are 21 [battles] of aircraft carriers in the world. The United States owns 12 of them. China has one. It’s retrofitted from an old, beat-up Russian one. For the Chinese to build 11 aircraft carriers to catch up with us is going to cost an awful lot of money. China cannot afford a blue ocean navy. But yet if we keep up the buildup, if we keep up the pressure, they’re going to have to build one. But there’s an option. And oddly enough it was suggested by the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen. What the world needs is what he calls a thousand-ship navy. As many countries as wish to can participate with as many ships as they like under the general, but not sole, leadership of the U.S., and they will patrol the world’s seas. They’ll receive training on how to fight piracy, training on how to handle refugees in the open water. Receive training on how to work against terrorism and they’ll all be trained to provide humanitarian work in areas that experience an earthquake, a tsunami, or things like that. That would allow all navies to reduce their expenditures and draw a considerable amount of security around the world. That’s a little thing. We could do it. Let me keep going a little farther so you can get the hang of which way I’m going. We push the Chinese to get much tougher on North Korea. Be tougher on the refugee, don’t give them so much. Add sanctions, like we want to sanction them. And the Chinese are reluctant to do that. Do we offer the Chinese anything in return? No, we just tell them to do that. We like to order them around. We don’t like to negotiate. The Chinese don’t want to rein in or do sanctions too much. One, because they’ve been a good big brother to North Korea for a long time, and you don’t like to abandon friends of long standing. But China might do it, and here’s their real fear, if the United States says, you join us in applying the sanctions and making them tough. And then when the North and the South reunify, we promise we won’t send any troops to the North, or put nuclear weapons there either, because we know that would be right on your border. And the Chinese know that, too. Very well. That’s something we could do. We could give things. We could recognize easily the Chinese claims to security concerns in the South China Sea by saying we recognize, want to be recognized, for the same claims in the Caribbean. Now, let’s both of us take our claims and our interests to the international maritime groups and try to settle them that way. Not just tell the Chinese what they should be doing while we do nothing or do the opposite of what we tell them. This is why we–this is what negotiations would be about. But it can only be built on a basis of trust. Not competition or confrontation. PERIES: Prof. Henry Rosemont, thank you so much for joining us today. ROSEMONT: Oh yes, I’ve only begun. PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.


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Sharmini Peries was a co-founder of TRNN, where she harnessed the power and expertise of civil society institutions. Previously, Sharmini was Economic and Trade Adviser to President Hugo Chavez at Miraflores and for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Venezuela. Prior to that she served as the executive director of the following institutions: The Commission on Systemic Racism in the Criminal Justice System, The International Freedom of Expression Exchange, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, and the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. She also managed the Human Rights Code Review Task Force in Ontario, Canada. She holds a M.A. in Economics from York University in Toronto, Canada. Her Ph.D. studies in Social and Political Thought at York University remain incomplete (ABD).

Henry Rosemont is professor emeritus at St. Mary's College of Maryland and visiting scholar of religious studies at Brown University. He is the author of many books, including his recently released Against Individualism: A Confucian Rethinking of the Foundations of Morality, Politics, Family and Religion.