Fresh Ideas: The trouble with China
November 7, 2012
OK, Americans. The war’s over. Just like the Pentagon, it’s time for Democrats and Republicans alike to start planning for the next one.Let’s start with the Chinese. Oh, we can badger them about manipulated currency exchange rates, about unfair trade practices, about stolen intellectual property, about cyber-spying on our security and R&D software.They won’t listen. They don’t care. They’re not about to stop any of that, because they’re winning. They’re holding huge proportions of our national debt. Huge access to our markets. Huge willingness and means at home to invest in education and research and nation-building. Would WE care about their criticisms if we had these kinds of advantages?We can’t afford to declare war, over trade or over maritime rights in the South China Sea or over preferred forms of “democracy.” In many senses we’re too weak and they’ve already won these wars.So let’s think about the next war, and what is truly problematic about the Chinese: we don’t have enough of them.Not here, not in our universities, in our R&D labs, in our corporate managements. It’s not because they don’t want to be in America — it’s because instead of opening America’s gates to a desperately needed human resource, we banish them.“America turns its back on some of its best and brightest students,” is the way Barron’s financial magazine put it in a recent lead editorial. “They come from all over the world, about 300,000 new ones (from China and other developing countries) each year… They are often working harder than Americans in the most difficult subjects, such as math, physics, biology, chemistry and engineering.”Stuff our own kids aren’t doing nearly enough of, in other words.“Then after they have acquired prestigious degrees, after they have soaked up American culture, after they have made friends and future business contacts, America sends most of them home without a second thought.”Kicks them out, that is, right through the same “Golden Door” that we opened to them.Think about it: The strategically wisest thing for America to do about China, and all the other countries that send their best and brightest, is for us to quit being stupid. Keep them here. These vanishing — 300,000 a year — guest visitors are potentially as much our upcoming entrepreneurs, our scientists, our global managers as are born Americans. Let’s show the Chinese an old American trick, and give THEM access to the Dream.• Cutts is a retired career journalist, including 12 years with the daily Stars & Stripes and a year and a half as a Vietnam correspondent, and also was an adjunct journalism instructor at WNC.