U.S.-China policy and the Trans-Pacific Partnership were both discussed Wednesday evening at the Moritz College of Law as an auditorium filled with students listened to opposing perspectives.
The event at the Saxbe Auditorium focused on the implications of the TPP and whether United States policy concerning China should be one of engagement or containment. The relationship between the two countries is often debated among policy makers.
The discussion was hosted by the OSU chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society, a student organization that fosters constructive dialogue of contemporary national and international issues.
“We try to present all points of view,” said Martin Lopez, president of the Alexander Hamilton Society OSU chapter and a third-year in political science.
The TPP is a 12-nation trade pact that seeks to lower trade barriers among the countries around the Pacific. The trade agreement is still in the negotiations phase and will require the support of Congress to pass.
The first panelist, Keary McCarthy, the president and CEO of Innovation Ohio, an Ohio policy think tank, said he believes that while engaging in free trade undoubtedly leads to overall net economic benefit for America’s GDP, American workers will be the ones to pay the price.
“Will that economic growth be tightly concentrated or broadly shared?” he asked those in attendance. “When you look at the history of free trade agreements over the last 20 years, I think it’s hard to make the argument that free trade agreements lead to broad based prosperity for the American domestic labor market.”
Stacy Haerr, a fourth-year in Chinese and security and intelligence, admitted that she doesn’t know as much about the TPP Agreement as she said she probably should.
“I want to focus on China in my career, so I want to know more about the policies,” she said.
The second panelist, Bin Yu, a political science professor at Wittenberg University and a senior fellow at the Shanghai Association of American Studies, told the students that the Chinese are comfortable with the differences between China and America.
“The Western approach thinks that if you are our friend, you need to assimilate with us,” he said. “Whereas the Chinese believe in harmony of the differences, we believe in needing to respect each other with our differences.”
Daniel Blumenthal, the director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and a resident fellow, was the third and final panelist. He acknowledged that the TPP isn’t the answer to all of American’s issues with respect to China, but it is one of the tools of national power available.
“In Washington, we are always looking for tools of power that aren’t military,” he said. “Economic leadership along free market lines is something that got us to our very favorable position in the first place.”
The evening ended with the moderator, Peter Mansoor, the AHS faculty advisor, an OSU military history professor, and a CNN military analyst, encouraging students to do their own research and to look at the benefits of free trade agreements before making a decision on whether free trade agreements are good or bad for the American people.
“If free trade agreements were so bad, if they depressed wages, if they ruined the middle class, if they worked against our interests overseas, then why do presidents and presidential candidates of both parties support them?” he said.