Krause on China

Mike Krause, a Senior Fellow with the Independence Institute, has started the blog “Regime Watch” to track “Beijing’s world-wide thuggery.” So far, I’ve learned of China’s role in the Sudan and in Zimbabwe.

Mostly I track state policy, and even there I must be selective in what I follow. I devote less attention to foreign affairs, and China gets only a fraction of that time (what with all the goings on in the Middle East). It is great, therefore, that Krause is devoting a space to China, a nation posed to become an ever greater global player.

I’ve always been torn between two arguments. On the one hand, free trade with China may foster a middle class there, expose China to Western ideas and institutions, and encourage pro-liberty reforms. On the other hand, trade (or at least some sorts of trade) may further enable China to build its military, threaten its neighbors, control its people, and support other oppressive regimes. Obviously, we do a great deal of trade with China, though, off hand, I don’t know what fraction of our trade or China’s trade this constitutes. In what ways is China getting better? In what ways worse? Perhaps Krause can delve into these sorts of broader issues as he develops his blog.