The China Divide and the Future of the GOP

Excerpted from IPS Special Project Right Web.

Barring a shocking turn of events, the 2012 election will not turn on foreign policy. The Republican primary debates thus far have focused mostly on economic and cultural issues. Indeed, with the exception of minor candidate Jon Huntsman, the current Republican Presidential field is notable mostly for its lack of experience or interest in foreign policy. Recently, several candidates took the opportunity to criticize President Obama’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq. However, this represented less a positive vision of foreign policy than an opportunistic critique of the incumbent.

Perhaps the biggest long-term foreign policy issue facing the United States is the status of its relations with the People’s Republic of China. Over the past ten years, China has developed into a mature military power, developing advanced technology such as ballistic missile submarines, the J-20 stealth fighter, and the DF-31 Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile. Trade with China has quadrupled since 2001, as the PRC has become the United States’ second most important trading partner after Canada. China also holds holds 36 percent of all foreign-owned U.S. Treasury securities. Put simply, the political and economic relationship with China is absolutely critical for the future prosperity and well being of the United States.

Unfortunately, the current Republican field has given little indication of any serious thought on the future of this critical relationship.

Robert Farley is an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce.

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