James McGregor: Time to Rethink U.S.-China Trade Relations

James McGregor writes in the Washington Post:

With nearly half of his Cabinet heading to Beijing for the May 24-25 bilateral “strategic and economic dialogue,” President Obama should launch such a strategic economic dialogue among ourselves. The time has come for a White House-led, public-private, comprehensive examination of American competitiveness against a clear-eyed view of China’s very smart and comprehensive industrial development policies and plans.

What technology do we protect? What do we share? What are our commercial strategic imperatives as a nation? How do we retool the U.S. government’s inadequate and outdated trade bureaucracy to provide thoughtful strategic focus and interagency coordination? How do we overcome the fundamental disconnect between our system of scattered bureaucratic responsibilities and almost no national economic planning vs. China’s top-down, disciplined and aggressive national economic development planning machine?

At issue is an array of Chinese policies and initiatives aimed at building “national champion” companies through subsidies and preferential policies while using China’s market power to appropriate foreign technology, tweak it and create Chinese “indigenous innovations” that will come back at us globally.

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