Sunday, January 20, 2013

PF February 2013 - China Pro Position

This analysis of the February 2013 PF debate topic, "On balance, the rise of China is beneficial to the interests of the United States." begins here with definitions.


This resolution requires debaters to advocate their positions based upon the recognition that the rise of China has advantages and disadvantages for the interests of the United States.  As a result, teams must show, based on some standards of measure, the net benefit is positive (for the Pro) or negative (for the Con).  Additionally, debaters must effectively cut through the media hype and political hysteria which surrounds the topic and present clear and compelling arguments to support their respective positions.  Of course, I must state right now, my opinion is based on a rather idealistic model of debate in which the judging standards are totally objective.  In reality, that will hardly be the case.  Many judges will be presumptive one way or the other and based on popular opinions, I would say more will be biased toward the opinion the rise of China is bad for the U.S.  Unlike the rise of the former Soviet Union, which was viewed as a major military rival; the rise of China not only carries national security concerns but economic concerns as well.

The China Plan

As a background for examining the Pro side we need to understand the goals of the Chinese government.  In 2011, Hu Jintau, President of the People's Republic of China, delivered a speech outlining the five-year plan for the government  This speech, delivered in 2011 is an important public statement of internal national objectives and foreign policy.  I include a portion of the transcript here for your reference when looking at the remainder of this article.

Jintao (2011):
In the next five years, China will make great efforts to implement the strategy of boosting domestic demand, especially consumer demand, and put in place an effective mechanism to unleash consumption potential. We will ensure that consumption, investment and export contribute to economic growth in a coordinated way. We will follow a more proactive opening-up strategy, explore new fields and scope for opening-up, and broaden and deepen our shared interests with other parties. We will bring into play the important role of import in achieving macroeconomic balance and economic restructuring, and promote basic balance of our trade. This will provide important opportunities for countries in Asia and the rest of the world to increase exports to China.

In the next five years, China will make great efforts to pursue the strategy of "going global". We will encourage enterprises of different ownership structures to invest overseas in an orderly manner and carry out cooperation on projects that will improve local infrastructure and people's livelihood. We will make more investments in Asia and the emerging markets, and at the same time give more economic assistance to developing countries in Asia.

In the next five years, China will make great efforts to participate in global economic governance and regional cooperation. We will push for the reform of the global economic and financial systems and the building of a balanced multilateral trade regime that benefits all. We oppose all forms of protectionism and will work for a more just and reasonable global economic order. We will take an active part in 10+1, 10+3, the East Asia Summit and cooperation between China, Japan and the ROK, and promote the steady development of the China-ASEAN FTA. We will step up cooperation with neighboring countries in infrastructural development, including transport, energy pipelines, information and communication technologies and power grids, so as to achieve better connectivity in the region. We will advance exchanges and cooperation with other Asian countries in tourism, culture and education and between the young people to deepen our mutual understanding and friendship.

In the next five years, China will make great efforts to build a resource-conserving and environment-friendly society. We will further implement the basic state policy of resource conservation and environment protection, raise energy efficiency, cut the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions, develop a circular economy, promote wider application of low-carbon technologies, and actively respond to climate change. By doing so, we hope to balance economic and social development with population, resources and the environment, and embark on a path of sustainable development.

The Preemptive Strike

Given the potential biases I briefly mentioned in the introduction to this article, I think a viable strategy will be to frame the Con position as being harmful to U.S. interests.  This strategy will essentially turn the entire Con case in many instances by suggesting that merely claiming the rise in China is harmful fosters an attitude that indeed harms our national interests.

Prime & Garver (2012):
"The rhetoric about China’s faults vis-à-vis the challenges facing the U.S. continues to escalate. During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama chose to lead the attack, blaming China for some portion of our woeful economic situation. Mitt Romney retorted that Obama’s tough handling of China is too little, too late, and that he would do the job right. Now that Obama has won the election, we would be smart to redirect our discourse. The U.S. and China have benefited tremendously from their economic interdependence, and from cooperation in the Persian Gulf. China is a country with substantial international clout. It is not a power hostile to the United States. It is often willing to work with America, even when it disagrees with U.S. policy. In administration after administration, American leaders have recognized this fundamental reality and acted accordingly to maintain cooperative relations with China...Bilateral economic relations are also essential to the interests of the U.S. China is now the second largest trading partner of the U.S. and the third largest export market. U.S. exports to China have grown an average of over 13% annually since 2001...Rhetoric aside, the success of many aspects of the United States’ future will depend on how we cooperate with China."

Greis (2005):
"China, it seems, means very different things to different people. Western fears and fantasies about China reveal a great deal about the interests and ideals that shape the American political landscape. They do not, however, teach us much about the real China. Romanticizing and demonizing China, furthermore, dangerously distorts our understanding of Chinese foreign policies. The way that we talk about China influences the ways we interpret and respond to Chinese actions. And the way that we talk about China also influences the way that the Chinese (mis)understand us. Such trans-Pacific muddles help explain how the United States and China came to blows in Korea (1950-1953) and Vietnam (1965-1973). And a conflict over Taiwan remains a real possibility at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Our China policy debate must, therefore, see beyond such distortions to focus on the real China."

Gross (2012):
"Clearly, we need a national debate about U.S. China policy to prevent doing permanent damage to American interests in Asia. We need to rethink our current policy to avoid a new Cold War and to benefit economically from China’s rise so as to strengthen America’s security and prosperity. The best way to overcome the “China threat” and advance U.S. interests in the region is by achieving a stable peace with China through the resolution of outstanding security and economic conflicts between the two countries."

The Economic Advantages

Clearly China's 1.3 billion people represent a significant market opportunity for the U.S. and new and bigger markets are good, especially as a catalyst to kick-start a flagging economy.  But, we must see on the Pro side of the debate, the rise of China and potential US economic benefits are realized over time and we are only now starting to see the first glimpses of the possibilities.  The China labor force, cranking out millions of units of low cost products flooding US and international markets has resulted in an ever-growing middle class of consumers within China as those laborers earn higher and higher salaries.  As seen above, Jintao has stated: "In the next five years, China will make great efforts to implement the strategy of boosting domestic demand, especially consumer demand, and put in place an effective mechanism to unleash consumption potential. We will ensure that consumption, investment and export contribute to economic growth in a coordinated way."  Though the central government has made some moves to limit desire for western consumer goods in favor of domestic goods, the evidence will show, Chinese consumers are more than willing to purchase western materialism to the tune of billions of dollars.  The rising Chinese consumer market is a potentially huge economic advantage for the Pro.

Liu (2012):
As wages rise in China, their workers enter a middle class capable of buying things the United States can export. Customers there create jobs here. Higher demand means American workers can start earning higher wages — wages that enable them to afford those slightly more expensive iPhones. A virtuous cycle. We’re all better off when we’re all better off.
...China’s ascent can be great for America. Competition forces us to make more disciplined choices, to activate more fully our creativity and ability to cultivate and elevate talent from anywhere. This is our secret weapon. No one adapts like the United States.
While some pundits fret over a rising China, Keith Fitz-Gerald, the chief investment strategist for Money Morning, a Baltimore-based investment newsletter, takes the opposite view.
"A powerful China is coming, and we have two choices. Either we're at the table, or we're on the menu," says Fitz-Gerald, who adds that China isn't the enemy. "Good news from China is good news for the U.S.; bad news from the Chinese economy is bad news here."
According to Fitz-Gerald, the rise of China presents a dramatic opportunity for the U.S., especially if it can shift to an export-driven economy.
"Over the next decade, the world is going to have billions more people entering the middle class," Fitz-Gerald says. "The smart companies are already starting to cater to that market."
Mittelstaedt says companies such as McDonalds, Starbucks and Ford have been betting on a Chinese middle class they believe will be large and keen to spend its disposable income. Recently, The Gap announced plans to open 30 stores in China this year, no doubt eager to sell American fashions to a growing Chinese middle class.

Griswold (2007):
I’m bullish on China’s rise. China’s engagement in the global economy is good for people of China, good for Americans, good for the world. While the critics of trade with China mistakenly focus on the alleged harm it causes, they tend to overlook the benefits. Those benefits include lower-priced imports for U.S. consumers and businesses, expanding export opportunities to China, and the economy-wide benefits of Chinese capital flowing to the United States.
Those imports allow Americans to stretch their paychecks further, raising real wages for millions of workers. Money saved because of lower prices for Chinese imports allows U.S. consumers to spend more on other, non-Chinese goods and services, including those produced in the United States. Those savings are especially important for low- and middle-income American families who spend a relatively larger share of their budgets on the discount-store shoes, clothing and other products made in China.
American producers and workers have gained tremendously from growing export opportunities to China. China’s fixed currency has allegedly discouraged exports to China, but that is not supported by the trade numbers.
Since 2000, U.S. exports of goods to China have increased by 158 percent, from $16.2 billion to $41.8 billion in 2005. The rate of growth of U.S. exports to China since 2000 is more than 12 times the rate of growth of U.S. exports to the rest of the world other than China during the same period. 


Disarming the Chinese "Military Threat"

There is dispute in southeast Asia and China is a key player in the region.  Besides the strategic importance of international shipping in the region, the seas around the region are rich in much needed resources.

Jegarajah (2012):
While Asia's two largest economies shadow-box in the East China Sea, unresolved territorial claims in resources-rich waters immediately south are complicating oil and gas developments aimed at meeting the region's rising energy needs.
China and five other countries – Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia – claim ownership to all or parts of the strategically-vital South China Sea, which provides 10 percent of the global fisheries catch and carries $5 trillion in ship-borne trade, equivalent to half the world's shipping tonnage.
"With Asia's growing appetite for oil and natural gas in deepwater areas, tensions have recently intensified between China and its neighbors Vietnam and the Philippines," said HSBC analysts led by Thomas Hilboldt, Asia-Pacific Head of Oil, Gas & Petrochemicals Research, in a report on September 14.

A regional conflict in the region would have dire consequences on global trade and US interests in particular.  Key US allies are in the region who enjoy the protection of the US and any outbreak of hostilities would threaten wider involvement as nations move to protect western interests. Despite the potential for growing struggles in the region, the US does well to temper its perception of China as a world power with global reach.

Larsen (2011):
"...we have to deal with China. If our political and strategic approach is to demonize it, we risk a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Chinese are not infallible, all-powerful, or malevolent. China is a normal rising power with unique historical legacies, and we must seek engagement rather than vilification. The United States should not approach engagement with trepidation. China has significant domestic constraints that will limit its development as a global military power. China is more likely to be a regional military power; therefore, it will be neither adversary nor partner"

Rosemount (2008):
"China’s unprecedented industrial growth over the last two decades has raised the question of whether it now poses a threat to the security of the United States economically, militarily, or both. Economically, the extent to which China truly threatens the United States depends at least in part on the chauvinistic assumption that any potential challenge to absolute U.S. global economic dominance is threatening. On the military question, the answer is much clearer. China is not a military threat to the United States...A reduction of U.S. threats to the world ... would decrease the likelihood of confrontation with China as well as undercut any rationale for China’s own increased military spending. Such a shift in U.S. national security strategy would not only increase the security of China and the United States but the world as well."

The Pro Position

While I think Pro will have their work cut out for them, the Pro case can be effective in convincing judges there are good reasons to believe the rise in China is a benefit to US interests, especially the myriad of economic interests fueled by China's growing consumerism.  Overcoming bias will be a burden for the Pro team. For this reason, I have suggested Pro include some type of preemptive positions to characterize the Con case as fundamentally harmful to US interests.  The rise of China is not a concluded event and to be sure, it is far too early to fully understand what impacts are on the horizon.  Both sides will be forced to deal with speculations, hypotheticals and well-reasoned opinions.  Pro can look at Japan, Korea and in some respects, Vietnam as examples of how US-Asian cooperation benefits the interests of the US despite past wars.  The fact we have never had a direct war with China only adds to the possibility of favorable outcomes arising from increased economic engagement.
I expect Con will try to advocate three primary arguments:
  1. China will tank the US economy
  2. China expansionism will result in war
  3. China will damage the world's environment (or some such)

Of course Pro will need answers to these contentions and it will not be hard to find.  While the rise of China's economy can represent enormous market potential for the US, the US is restricted by internal political policies which may ultimately prove more damaging than any direct impact from the rise of China.  As the US policy continues to send mixed signals, evidence will show the developing world is looking more and more to China as a stable economy which only serves to increase Chinese economic clout in the world.  Pro can exploit this fact by arguing any failure of the US economic position in the world will be our own doing, leaving China poised to fill the gap left by our collapse.  Pro teams can use the same strategy for most of the Con positions and assert that most harms perceived as a consequence of China's rise are really the outcome of our own collapse or failings to leverage advantages.

The Policy Debate War Hammer

I truly believe that because Policy Debate teams have been running China disadvantages for so long, a wealth of evidence will be pulled out and used in Public Forum debate.  Much of this evidence will point to the war scenarios arising from anticipated collapse of US regional hegemony in the Far East.  Some of it asserts Chinese expansionism as a catalyst for war.  There is a sizable body of literature to support the contention that Chinese expansionism is a myth.  US military strength is unmatched and by most accounts China is several decades from being close to matching it.  If the use of policy evidence becomes an issue, realize that like Public Forum debate, Policy carries evidence for both Aff and Neg and so answers can be found which offset these kinds of claims.

Enough for now.

Next I will address the Con position.

China Research Center, 2012: Vol. 11, No. 2, Commentary: Demonization of China Puts U.S. Interests in Jeopardy
Penelope Prime and John Garver

Henry Rosemont, "Is China a Threat?" (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, February 6, 2008)
Henry Rosemont, Jr., a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus (, is distinguished professor emeritus at St. Mary's College of Maryland and a visiting scholar in the Religious Studies department at Brown University.

U.S.-China Relations: No Need to Fight, National Defense University, Joint Force Quarterly, JFQ 63 (4th Quarter, October 2011)
By Daniel S. Larsen
China’s New Nationalism, Pride, Politics, and Diplomacy, ISBN: 9780520244825, July 2005
Peter Hays Gries

Monday, Oct 22, 2012 03:30 PM EDT
Quit bashing Beijing — China’s rise is good for America , Blaming the rising power for our troubles is dangerous and just plain dumb: The U.S. needs a strong China
By Donald Gross
Donald Gross is a former White House and State Department official

Towards Common Development and a Harmonious Asia
Speech by H.E. Hu Jintao President of the People's Republic of China At Opening Plenary of Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2011, 15 April 2011

Why China’s Rise Is Great for America, Time Magazine (online version)
By Eric Liu, Feb. 22, 2012
Eric Liu is an author, educator and civic entrepreneur. Liu served as a White House speechwriter and the deputy domestic-policy adviser to President Clinton.

How China's Economy Influences the U.S.,,
Michael Estrin, 2012

The Competition for World Resources: China’s Demand for Commodities, CATO Institute
By Daniel Griswold, February 8, 2007, Director of the Cato Institute's Center for Trade Policy Studies

International Relations Theory and China’s Rise: Assessing China’s Potential for Territorial Expansion,International Studies Review (2010) 12, 505-532
M. Taylor Fravel
Department of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


  1. Dietrch was here!

  2. the G Factor has taken this land


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