Seen and heard this evening

Frank Jannuzi, Hitachi fellow, China expert, and Democratic staffer at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (on leave), spoke tonight at Temple University Japan on the second Armitage-Nye Report.

I’m not going to give a full summary of his talk — much of it was spelling out the thinking of the report’s drafters and explaining the points at which he diverged from his co-writers — but it was worthwhile to get a peek behind the curtain, so to speak.

He did mention a few things worth relating here:

  • According to Jannuzi, the average American family gains $1,000/month from US trade with China (presumably due to savings from having shelves stocked with cheap goods). This figure seems believable intuitively, but I’m curious as to how this number was reached. In any case, if it’s true, I feel a lot more confident in arguing, as I did in this post, that the administration needs to start making the case for the Sino-American economic relationship loudly and clearly.
  • Another figure cited by Jannuzi is that apparently sixty percent of Americans have a favorable view of China, while a survey of congressional staffers found that only approximately ten percent have a positive view of China. I find this surprising, and somewhat hard to believe (the former, not the latter), considering that nearly all reporting about China is negative in some way — its arms buildup, its unfair economic practices, etc. Maybe Americans don’t buy into Lou Dobbs’s “Red China” rubbish.
  • Among the Japanese in attendance, at least those who asked questions after Jannuzi’s talk, there was a palpable sense of unease about the state of the US-Japan alliance. Questioners wondered if maybe the report was too sanguine about the alliance, reflecting my previously stated concerns about drift and a shocking lack of communication and coordination between Tokyo and Washington.
All in all, I like Jannuzi’s optimism about Sino-American relations, but I wonder if the Armitage-Nye Report, rather than dividing its attention between the region and the alliance, might have been better off focusing on the alliance and exploring how it can dovetail with some form of US-Japan-China security cooperation, an arrangement mentioned in the report in passing.

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