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Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

Mickey Edwards
Political leader

Mickey Edwards

Former U.S. Congressman, Mickey Edwards is vice president of the Aspen Institute, where he directs the Institute's Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership.

Hu Jintao's classic dilemma

Question: Americans now view China as the biggest threat to U.S. economic and military interests. What leadership advice would you give to President Hu for creating a more positive political climate for U.S.-China relations?

Hu Jintao has a classic dilemma: a title that conveys an impression that he has more authority than is really the case (American presidents have a similar constraint). But challenges to his leadership come indirectly, creating situations that box him in without a direct confrontation, as in the military's test of a new weapon apparently without his prior knowledge. But two can play that game. Knowing that a more overt challenge is unlikely, he can--with well-publicized words and agreements--put his rivals in a similar box, creating a de facto fait accompli to which they will have to accommodate themselves.

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By Mickey Edwards

 |  January 19, 2011; 10:25 AM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals , Government leadership , Political leadership , Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Expanding the center of all nations | Next: Following Chinese precedent


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Having ignored endless entreaties from US Presidents, treasury secretaries and secretaries of State from Clinton presidency to Obama’s until now, President Hu is NOT going to heed any advice from any American on US-China relations.

China has continued its mercantilist trade policies with ever increasing trade surpluses and forex reserves ignoring all such entreaties. And US businesses are as much at fault as Chinese policies for such one way trade because they are hooked to huge profits that cheap Chinese products generate for them.

China has continued to prop up North Korean regime despite all the US entreaties against it.

China has continued to trade with Iran despite all the US entreaties against it.

US is whistling in the wind if it can advise China to bend on such issues when China has its own priorities about them. Bent on replacing US as super power, China could care less about such advice.

To use old Rooseveltian adage, Chinese President ‘spoke softly but carried a big stick’ during his US visit.

China’s rise to super power status to challenge US is a fitting monument to the much-celebrated foresight of Nixon-Kissinger to embrace China to counter Soviet Union in 1972 just as 9/11 attacks is a fitting monument to Reagan embrace of Islamic fundamentalists to counter Soviet Union in 1980s Afghanistan.

Posted by: martymartel3 | January 22, 2011 9:57 AM
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If I remember correctly, Kennedy was furious when the Pentagon conducted a "routine" missile test during the height of Cuban missile crisis.

Posted by: lohengrin | January 19, 2011 10:15 PM
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China faces a whole series of issues, not the least of which is a gender gap as shown here:


In some parts of China, their one child policy has led to up nearly 30 percent more males than females. This growing gender gap could ultimately lead to unrest in the country which will interfere with its economy, including its manufacturing capacity. As the world's factory, this will impact the economy of the entire world including that of the United States which needs the low-priced goods produced in China to keep its inflation rate under control and its interest rates low.

Posted by: Baywoodfarm | January 19, 2011 11:26 AM
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