With President Obama set for a major trip to Asia next month and the Obama administration nearing the halfway point of its first term, U.S. officials tell Inside the Ring that a heated policy debate is under way over how to deal with China."Through their supporters in and out of government." Yeesh. Geertz adds:
Two camps in the policy dispute involve one powerful faction that favors past policies of conciliation and concessions in relations with China — described by one official as the "kowtow" group. A second, more centrist, group is characterized as "sad and disappointed" by China's across-the-board refusal to work cooperatively with the United States for the past two years.
The policy debate is almost totally hidden from public view and only occasionally surfaces in public through statements or public speeches by faction members.
China's diplomats and intelligence officers are said to be aware of the debate and the U.S. officials said the Chinese are actively trying to influence it behind the scenes through their supporters in and out of government.
The kowtow group is headed by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and includes White House National Security Council Asia Staff Director Jeff Bader, and his deputy, Evan Medeiros, a China military expert. Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing also support continuing the current U.S. policies aimed to avoid upsetting Beijing's communist leaders.Bader came out of a company that does business with China (see this article) -- that complicating factor almost never appears in news reports -- but like many other areas of governance, foreign policy often represents a case of regulatory capture by the concerned private interest.
According to the officials close to the debate, this group and its supporters in departments and agencies, including the intelligence community analysis groups, believe they must protect China from critics who they claim want to turn it into an enemy by following U.S. policies that will not upset Beijing.
The centrist faction is being called the "sad and disappointed" group whose most senior members are Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and, although not technically a policy official, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta. Included among the sad and disappointed group are Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asia, and Wallace "Chip" Gregson, a retired Marine three-star general and assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs.
As I've noted before, advocacy of the position that "we shouldn't anger Beijing" simply gives the CCP a veto over US China policy. Not only that, but as the article notes, Adm. Willard has been sidelined for speaking out for a tougher US line -- meaning that criticizing Beijing can get you in trouble -- thus handing Beijing a veto over who gets to participate in the policymaking conversation.
[Taiwan] Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!