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The U.S. needs a wise sanctions policy to counter China

After the G7 summit, the president seemed Joe Biden Measures are being taken to join other democracies against China in an increasingly combative situation on the world stage. His attempt to build on the diplomatic efforts initiated by the Trump administration is an encouraging bipartisan development. But we must be careful not to inadvertently take measures that would damage the US economic status when confronting Beijing. We must resist the temptation to sever the relationship altogether.

China is American The third largest trading partner And the world Second largest economyIf the United States isolates itself from this market, it will only extend the time it takes for the economy to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Foreign partnerships help advance the progress of many industrial sectors and provide employment opportunities for hardworking Americans.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. and China traded More than 634 billion U.S. dollars In terms of goods and services. 2015 was the last year for which data were available, and US exports to China supported approximately 911,000 jobs. It would be irresponsible to undermine foreign partnerships that allow such a large amount of economic activity with extensive and indiscriminate sanctions.

In addition, if we are economically isolated from China, we will miss an important opportunity to use “soft diplomacy” to win hearts and minds. In addition to military strength, economic diplomacy and American capitalism also played an important role in winning the Cold War. As the French philosopher Regis Debray observed, “Blue jeans and rock music are more powerful than the entire Red Army.”

US President Joe Biden speaks at an event held in Washington, DC with the governors of western states and their cabinet members on June 30, 2021. In his speech, Biden talked about the combined effects of drought, high temperature and wildfires currently affecting the western region of the United States.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

On the contrary, complete economic isolation is not always effective in achieving US foreign policy goals. For example, after nearly 60 years of embargoes and stable economic sanctions, the Communist Cuban regime has endured it. I participated in the efforts in the late 1990s to relax restrictions on trade in food and medicines with Cuba, which have been in place since the embargo began. This move not only benefits American farmers and manufacturers—they are finally able to sell their products with their foreign counterparts who have benefited from exclusive access to the Cuban market for nearly 40 years—but it also serves as a catalyst for change in the country. As the United States and the Cuban people established closer ties and goodwill, the Cuban people became increasingly impatient with stagnant growth and lack of opportunities, and the country’s Communist Party leadership was forced to adopt a series of economic liberalization policies and government reforms.

We must learn from these and other experiences and act accordingly when facing China. We must find a way to focus sanctions on a narrow scope and reduce risks, instead of launching indiscriminate economic attacks, which will inevitably end up hurting many American companies. Targeted sanctions on high-ranking Chinese officials and companies connected with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Ministry of National Security can protect the economic benefits we enjoy while still achieving many policy goals.

Economic sanctions have been the cornerstone of US foreign policy for a long time, but exercising discretion on how and which individuals and entities to impose sanctions on is crucial to maintaining the dominant position of the United States on the world stage.

By severing ties with China economically, we will unnecessarily harm our economy and run the risk of giving up the dominance of the United States in the global free market. Cultivating foreign partnerships while cleverly imposing sanctions when necessary is the best way to achieve US foreign policy goals.

George Nethercutt is a former congressman for Washington’s Fifth District and former vice chairman of the National Security Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author.

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