If the Chinese Could Vote in America


There has been a ton of interest among the people I have met in China over the last ten days in the US presidential elections.
My informal poll of folks here runs something along the lines I heard from an anonymous think tank entrepreneur here in Pudong, Shanghai:

If we could vote, we would vote for Barack Obama’s foreign policy and John McCain’s economic policy. Can we merge them?

That sounds like most of the folks I know at Goldman Sachs — current staff and formers (like Bob Rubin)
— Steve Clemons


20 comments on “If the Chinese Could Vote in America

  1. bob h says:

    The Chinese surely understand that McCain’s neocon belligerence would put them in the crosshairs before too long. I cannot believe they would touch him with a 40-foot pole. As for McCain’s “economic policy”, I really fail to see that he has one.


  2. Paul Denlinger says:

    In Beijing, every government ministry has at least one think tank
    which it supports. All government ministries report to the State
    Council, and since these government ministries have incessant turf
    wars, each has its own think tank to provide it with data and
    information to support its views.
    Its job is to draft the position papers to support the ministry which
    acts as its patron at the State Council level debates.
    This also happens in major municipal level governments, such as
    It’s all part of jostling for power and favor in today’s China.


  3. Mr.Murder says:

    Pleasure to see Tom’s commentary here.


  4. Tom - Daai Tou Laam says:

    Actually think tank entrepreneurs can wield a lot more influence in China than you may believe.
    It’s this type of individual who is plugged in to the profit making for mid-level cadres, who need the good economic figures on their watch as a way to climb the political ladder.
    This is the primary driving force behind the words coming down from Hu in the last week or so about not really being serious about stemming inflation. Any growth is better than no growth, even if the growth is completely eaten away by inflation. (There is one wing of the Chinese economic establishment that’s arguing that high inflation is at worst acceptable and at best a good thing.)
    And Steve, what brings you to Hong Kong?


  5. Mr.Murder says:

    Immunity for telecoms has passed the Senate.
    GWB smirks his way through a press statement on the issue.
    Immunity carries with it obligations to uphold transparency or face contempt.
    This is simply an avenue of access now, the telecoms can only maintain immunity provided they disclose fully the extent to which they acted. This can still drive discovery.
    Any other such claim would be pretty tantamount to being unconstitutional, extra-constitutional, or anti-constitutional.


  6. WharfRat says:

    Point definitely taken; I’ll concede a great deal of ignorance about China. You’re probably right about their lack of meaningful political clout, at least at this time.


  7. Matt says:

    Yea, I personally would not assume that “think tank entrepreneurs” should be included in the political leadership, given that we are talking about China. Even for those “in” the political leadership, I would not assume that they have much ability to make significant differences in policy matters. That’s why I use the term “decision makers.” Of course, political power resides on a spectrum; it’s just that “think tank entrepreneur” does not sound like a contemporary Chinese political decision maker to me. At present, his or her influence is probably now limited to strictly economic matters; any “political” movements they aspire to can only be medium-term at best (more realistically, long-term in perpetuity).


  8. WharfRat says:

    It’s unsurprising that the political leadership of a country which has benefited from the complete lack of regulation of global capital flows and investment bankers share the same attitude: both seem utterly incapable of abandoning their focus on short-term profits for the few for more sustainable habits of practice, like developing solutions that are good for the whole and fair to the parts.
    Here in Mexico, the feeling is evenly divided between Obama and McCain. The few who stand to get rich on petroleum privatization favor McCain, whose pockets are lined with ExxonMobil money funneled through the AmCham. Of course, given that he favors building more walls along the border, there are many socially aware Mexicans who are pulling hard for Obama. And by “socially aware” I don’t mean “anti-Republican;” many of these people are in business.
    McCain only supports the free mobility of capital flows–that’s what McCain understands by “Free Trade” while there’s a hope (and at this point it’s only that: hope) among a variety of Mexican business leaders that Obama’s understanding of the “renegotiation of NAFTA” stance means some provisions to permit a little more free movement of the labor force between the US and here, which would actually put money into the economy here in Mexico.
    (For what it’s worth, I include “think tank entrepreneurs” [whatever that means…] as the political leadership, rather than a barometer of intellectual opinion; in my mind think tanks are interventions into political economy first, and intellectual inquiry second. And for the curious, the New America Foundation-Goldman Sachs connection is pretty close, in my understanding. You’ll never see the New America Foundation support research that proposes something other than “a market-oriented” policy.)


  9. Matt says:

    It would of course be very interesting to hear the views of Chinese movers and shakers on the US election. It wasn’t clear if your think tank entrepreneur was Chinese, but I assume he/she was. I’d expect that the progressive intellectual class within China would clearly want Obama to win, as that would on many levels validate the democratic project in the eyes of most people in China and thus give progressive intellectuals more power to argue against autocratic decision making in general. I think an Obama victory would renew the impression that the US is not a bunch of bungling troglodytes, that our advantages are not simply material but are also in the field of ideas. For the few who are actually involved in making decisions in China, this will force them to re-assess their own foundations, and if they do not further perfect their ideals in governance, it will make their position more precarious. It all comes down to the principles of tending your own garden.


  10. AIJ says:

    One has to differentiate among constituencies in China. I imagine
    some in the Chinese military would prefer a McCain foreign policy.
    As one Chinese officer told me during the 2000 election campaign,
    he supported Bush because Bush foreign policy would be good for
    the Chinese military budget. Talk of a league of democracies
    coming out of the McCain campaign might also be welcomed by
    Chinese nationalists and assorted hardliners. It will support their
    narrative about the US desire to weaken and divide China.


  11. Deacon says:

    You’ll not get any closer to
    the truth about what’s afoot with
    Bush’s GLOBALIZATION and
    than my below thoughts and links
    ((copy and send to friends and colleagues;
    and note that I REPEAT MY PREMISE
    The Third-Way push of
    socialism/capitalism to
    equalize the world’s
    economies has caused
    this looming food
    crisis, NOT CAPITALISM.
    Socialist/communist leftists
    have captured capitalism
    and enslaved it to EQUAL/
    “FAIR” outcomes.
    Of course, you’ll have to
    think more deeply to find
    the truth.
    Read and learn the truth:
    What we are facing in 2008
    is a Third-Way (socialist-
    conspiracy to equalize the
    world’s economies, as preface
    to installing one-world
    government; a plan hatched
    during the 1940s GATT
    formulations, which were
    socialist/communist, in
    Keep in mind that there is
    no PEAK OIL crisis, only a
    decades-long, purposeful
    cap on searching and drilling
    and refining for oil, in order
    to put the world in crisis-mode.
    Using food to produce fuel
    is part of the conspiracy to
    generate food riots, in order
    to destabilize governments;
    and this so-called “war on
    terror” is also part of the
    secret plan, although its
    primary beneficiary is Israel
    in the exchange of blood
    and treasury for oil–as
    payoff for protecting Israel
    from an ever-threatening,
    encircling Islamic Arabism.
    The secret plan?: to create
    one-world government under
    This is a conspiracy-driven
    dismantlement of the West’s
    financial underpinnings,
    for a certain purpose: TO
    for future installation of
    one-world government.
    I’ve provided all the details
    in my essay, “Planned
    Destruction of America”
    (linked below), which is my
    report on Lt. Col. Archibald
    Roberts’ 1968 booklet: “The
    Anatomy of a Revolution”.
    Planned Destruction of America
    Corporate America: What Went Wrong?
    This one helps to confirm efforts to PURPOSELY trash America’s
    financial underpinnings:
    Study my essay, then write as
    if we’re all being led down
    a path to hell on Earth by
    secretive, elite movers and
    shakers on the Left and Right
    (path to hell aka “Third-Way
    Global Economic Socialism”).
    Read and learn and teach:
    The EU and the coming North
    America Union are products of
    the 1940s GATT formulations,
    and very few analysts are
    aware of it ((GATT, NAFTA,
    and CAFTA are socialistic
    attempts at equalizing global
    economies, in order to in-
    stall one-world government
    under THIRD-WAY Global
    Economic Socialism)).
    Read my missive to Ron Paul’s
    staff, regarding my view that
    this financial crisis is not
    by happenstance nor
    mismanagement, but BY
    The Honorable Ron Paul is
    ignorant of an ongoing conspiracy
    to topple, financially, the West,
    in order to equalize the world’s
    economies; for building one-world
    government under GLOBAL ECONOMIC
    SOCIALISM. // The conspiracy
    began in the 1940s with the GATT
    formulations. // Ask why Greenspan
    had violated his chairmanship
    duties by advising prospective
    home buyers to take out an ARM.
    // Ask why Greenspan had sent out
    fed regulators to warn banks that
    they’d be charged with RACISM
    if they didn’t loosen home
    loans for minority, HIGH RISK
    home buyers. // Ask why Greenspan
    recently, TRAITOROUSLY, had
    advised OPEC oil producers to
    de-link from the U.S. dollar. //
    Greenspan – the FEDERAL RESERVE
    – has embarked on a purposeful
    set of monetary policies designed
    to destroy the West’s financial
    Why hasn’t there been a class-action
    lawsuit against the Federal Reserve
    and Greenspan by ARM holders?
    “Seen in the best possible light, the housing
    bubble that began inflating in the mid-1990s
    was ‘a great national experiment,’ as one
    prominent economist put it–a way to
    harness the inventiveness of the capitalist
    system to give low-income families,
    minorities and immigrants a chance to own
    their homes.”
    Zionist Jews’ machinations ought to be
    obvious to you, such as using the U.S.
    as a PROXY COMBATANT for defending
    Oil is payoff for the
    West’s efforts at providing
    –for protecting Israel
    from expanding, encircling
    Islamic Arabism; a Jewish
    nation-state having sup-
    porters throughout the West
    willing to destroy the
    entirety of Western civili-
    zation for Israel’s sake.
    That’s the gut-wrenching
    truth of why Western demo-
    cracies are sacrificing
    blood and treasure in the
    Middle East; especially the
    U.S., which has enough
    off-shore and on-land oil
    reserves to last 300 years
    at her present rate of
    consumption, and which
    reserves were PURPOSELY
    capped and/or not drilled
    because Israel’s supporters
    have poured millions of
    dollars into ENVIRONMENTAL
    MOVEMENT groups’ coffers,
    to work at keeping America
    from oil/energy indepen-
    dence and tied to Israel’s
    interests in the Middle
    That’s the truth you’ll
    NEVER see nor hear reported
    in Western mainstream news
    media, because Israel’s
    supporters control what’s
    fit to be said or printed
    about why the West wars
    with Islamic Arabism.


  12. leo says:

    I suppose the Chinese are interested in the US election because they have absolutely no control over their own government.


  13. jon says:

    McCain has an economic policy? Seems more like a grab bag of


  14. ... says:

    someone actually cares what the folks at goldman sachs thinks!!! geez! these are the same types responsible for the mortgage crisis and the coming financial meltdown.. these same folks think of ingenious ways to steal others money… i am therefore not surprised they like the anti-robin hood mccains economic policies. geez!


  15. Mr.Murder says:

    The big money China wants us to stay the course.
    That way they get first dibs on market entry w/Iran, and we continue to be bogged in Iraq and sell of our future at the price of a record trade deficit w/China.
    Neither candidate has indicated that the above policies would not contionue to some level.


  16. PrahaPartizan says:

    How do you divorce “foreign policy” from “economic policy” when so much of the latter is involved with the foreign exchange rate policies which are pursued by the respective countries? China has pursued a “beggar thy [trading] neighbor” for the last twenty years with its cheap currency and total lack of regulations for the environment or worker safety. How well will they survive if the yuan were allowed to float to the natural exchange rate at which it should reside? This whole policy has been aided and abetted by the big money boys on Wall Street who saw an easy way to tap into the easy money gusher it represented. My foreign policy would lean on the Chinese a hell of a lot harder for them to make decent movement in the direction of enhancing environmental regulation, worker safety and union formation. McCain and the whole Publican program consider those elements of economic policy anathema, which makes one pause about considering a “conservative” a free-market advocate when godless Communists support your policies 100%.


  17. Zathras says:

    It’s clear enough that “economic policy” means “trade policy” in this context, isn’t it?
    Sen. McCain is known as a free-trader. Sen. Obama isn’t. On trade, Chinese and other non-Americans would have a pretty good idea what they were getting with McCain. With Obama, not so much. Actually, that goes for Americans, too.


  18. Kathy Kadane says:

    Now if McCain had an economic policy, maybe it’s a deal.
    Still waiting to hear how he’s going to fix the mortgage crisis.
    Also: is McCain lucid enough to find his way to any given school cafeteria, without SS help?
    Don’t think so.
    Please tell the Kitai-squeze to read their underground news a little more closely.


  19. Joe Klein's conscience says:

    I was asking the same questions myself. McCain’s economic policy? Do they know he doesn’t have one except for tax cuts and wishing for ponies?


  20. Linda says:

    What part of John McCain’s economic policy–like continuing the Bush tax cuts? I thint that’s the John McCain of 2008. Or is it the somewhat younger John McCain of a few years ago?
    Should we assume that the think tank entrepreneur adn Goldman Sachs are earning in the top 1% and wants to keep getting richer and richer? The John McCain who wants to just cut spending for unnecessary programs and further shred the social safety net? I haven’t seen a plan or commitment from either candidate to do anything about DOD spending.
    Who are you talking with? Chinese citizens on the street, or Americans hiring cheap Chinese labor to make things that used to be made in USA?


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