But largely irrelevant in the longer term on which the Chinese are focused. By the time the Chinese decide they will have to allow the renminbi to appreciate, they will have accomplished two long-standing objectives. First, their vaults will be stuffed with an even larger hoard of American IOUs, enough to give them an important influence over U.S. foreign policy. â€œHow do you deal toughly with your banker?â€ asked Hillary Clinton of the then-prime minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, at a luncheon last year. His answer is not recorded.
It is true that if the Chinese start to dump U.S. Treasuries and dollars, the value of their own piles of dollar-denominated assets would decline. But if the broader geopolitical objective were served, that would merely be a cost to consider as part of the military budget.
Second, by then the Chinese will have copied enough American and Western technology to be in less need of an undervalued renminbiâ€”they will have made-in-China products that can dominate world markets even if their currency approximates its market value. The camels that trod the old Silk Road laden with spices and porcelain will have been replaced with air and sea freighters hauling solar panels and all sorts of goods based on copied technologies and purloined intellectual property. To cite just one example, the high-speed trains that China is now selling worldwide are based on technology brought to China by French, German and Japanese companies.
Every deal to tap the vast Chinese market comes with a requirement that they turn over their technology to the Chinese: nuclear plants, green energy products, autos will be made by American companies in China â€“until the Chinese complete construction of their copycat plants. The initial orders satisfy the American executives, their eyes focused on the next quarterly report. The Chinese, their eyes focused on 2020 and beyond, know that the technology in hand, they can duplicate the factories and techniques needed to dispense with the American capitalists. Westinghouse Electric recently turned over 75,000 documents to its Chinese customers as the initial part of the technology transfer to which it agreed as part of a deal to sell four nuclear plants to China. Nothing seems to have changed since Lenin observed, â€œThe capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.â€