IN OTHER WORDS: Bush in Asia

Fresh from his disastrous Latin American tour, President Bush is off again — this time to Japan, South Korea, China and even Mongolia, presumably to thank the latter for the 131 soldiers it is contributing to America’s Iraq efforts. The White House seems to have trouble finding uncomplicated nations that support America’s Iraq policy. We wish the president a nice trip, but before he gets to Mongolia, he has some other work to do: getting America’s critically important relationship with China back on track.

The US seems to be on the run, fuelled by the false perception that China’s rapid economic rise poses an inevitable threat to America. This summer, a hostile US Congress blocked a Chinese government-owned company, CNOOC, from buying Unocal. A dozen or so proposals floated around Capitol Hill for across-the-board tariffs against Chinese imports. Just days ago, the textile industry got US to strike a deal with China limiting imports of bras and socks.

Bush must resist the advisory group’s shortsighted calls to hit Beijing over the head with the blunt instrument of trade sanctions. Smacking China until it complies with the US on trade is a short-range policy that doesn’t take into account that it is now a political as well as an economic global power.