Debates and more debates

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It’s a miracle. In the “debate” (and I used that word advisedly, these things are not real “debates”) last night among the Republican candidates for President in the United States, one of the questions actually had to do with China!
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the question was directed at one of the candidates, California Congressman Duncan Hunter, who has about as much chance of being elected President next year as I do. Worse than that was Hunter’s answer:

MR. GOLER: Congressman Hunter, virtually all U.S. exporters want access to China’s huge market. You have said that you would deal with the enormous trade deficit this country has with that country. Tell me how you’d do it and how fast.

REP. HUNTER: Yeah, very simple. China is cheating on trade. They devalue their currency by 40 percent.

That undercuts the American markets, wipes American products off the shelf not only here but around the world. And the latest study I’ve seen shows that we’ve lost 1.8 million jobs in the United States, high-paying manufacturing jobs, to China, 27,000 jobs lost in South Carolina alone. I would enforce the law with China, the trade rules with China.

And the other thing I would do is, I would zero the manufacturing tax on American manufacturers. Our guys are down right now. They’ve been buffetted by these unfair trade practices. Let’s bring back the American industrial base, and that’s important for national security as well.

That means we’ll be able to have — you know, I sent out my teams a couple years ago when our guys were getting hurt by roadside bombs. We found only one company left in America that could still make high- grade armor steel plate. The arsenal of democracy is leaving these shores. We need to bring it back. I’ll do that.

How mind numbingly dispiriting it is for a reasonable question about US trade relations with China to be answered, “yeah, very simple.”
No, it’s really not. The one thing it isn’t, in fact, is simple.
I’d actually donate money to a candidate—that is, if we were allowed to– who on national television would respond to question like that by saying, “y know, that’s a really complicated issue, and I’m not sure I have all the answers, but I am sure the one minute I’m given here on TV to answer is not nearly sufficient to do the question justice. But if you look on my web site in the next 24 hours I’ll post my thoughts on this. Next…”
I’d also love to know what the study is that says the US has lost “1.8 million” manufacturing jobs to China. I guess were it not for China the unemployment rate in the US would be zero….

Speaking of debates, there will be real one tonight, New York time, broadcast on NPR in the United States that might appeal to anyone out there who’s a US-China policy wonk. At the Asia Society in New York, the question, “ Does A Rising China Means Trouble for the United States?’’On the `Aye’ side of the motion are Mike Pillsbury, a department of defense official and long time China hawk, Jon Mearsheimer, a University of Chicago political scientist and leader of the so called “realist” school of foreign policy in the U.S., and Bill Gertz, the national security correspondent for the Washington Times who has written at least one overwrought book about how China is stealing US military secrets left and right.
The `Nay’ team will be former Ambassador Stapleton Roy, former journalist turned businessman Jim McGregor, and Dan Posen, formerly on Bill Clinton’s National Economic Council. Audio of the debate will be archived and available here: