by Massimo Calabresci, TIME, Jan 20, 2011 –
Mannie Garcia / Bloomberg / Getty Images.
Timothy Geithner was sitting in his spacious Treasury Department office overlooking the White House earlier this month, mulling the U.S.’s sometimes testy relationship with China. The view wasn’t great: China was flexing its military muscles, sticking to a hard line on the valuation of its currency and generally making everyone in Washington jumpy as the state visit by President Hu Jintao approached. Is a trade war possible? Geithner was asked. "A very low probability," he replied, "and I think it’s completely avoidable."
But not impossible, he could have added — and with good reason. War is to be avoided, but the threat of war can be useful. . . .
See also Why U.S.-China Tensions Will Mount Despite the Obama-Hu Lovefest, TIME, Jan 21, 2011 –
President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao walk on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington. Tim Sloan / AFP / Getty Images. The reason Presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao went to such great lengths during Wednesday’s White House lovefest to declare that the U.S. and China can get along in peace and prosperity for years to come is that neither man is convinced they will. In fact, the U.S. and China are entering a dangerous two-year period during which the pressures for confrontation are as likely to build as they are to abate.
It was partly in the hope of defusing already mounting pressures on both sides that Obama and Hu went to such lengths of civility. Major power centers on both sides want a more confrontational policy. The Chinese military, driven by nationalism and self-interest, has accelerated its push for a blue-water navy and expanded its claim to the South China Sea. State-run industries, and their protectionist backers in the State Council, have sought to tighten access to China’s manufacturing contracts. And the propaganda department of the Chinese Communist Party has heightened the rhetoric of confrontation. . . .