27 November 2008
E & OE
Subject: China and Obama
LISA MOLINARO: Joining me today is Otto Marasco who is the owner and author of the blog, American Interests and in the short time, we have left, we are asking about China in relation to America under Obama’s Presidency. Otto, on the question of China during the recent Presidential campaigning, we felt that the subject was a non-starter; does it mean that China will figure less in the new administration?
OTTO: Well, I had expected China to be a bigger issue that it was during the campaign especially given the concerns many Americans have over the impact of Globalization, and its impact on their economy, and perhaps this could have evolved into more debate about trade and investment issues in relation to both nations, not to mention China’s arms buildup. As I saw it, there was little of that, certainly hardly as much as I would have thought, however I do believe the odds are overwhelming that there will be essentially continuity in American policy toward China. On that very question, I would recommend that in fact, it does stay the course in terms of overall strategy toward China, but I think it important that Obama also engage with Chinese leaders early in the new administration, having said that I am not suggesting that Obama should personally visit; I don’t see that as a necessity. Now with APEC having just concluded in Peru, I think and would hope, that plans are made by senior U.S. officials to visit China early in Obama’s first term, alternatively the upcoming G20, in 2009 may provide an opportunity.
LISA: Your thoughts on how Asia will receive Obama generally….
OTTO: Well I so think he will be embraced, which underlines the goodwill already in place for Obama but it also means that there are going to be very high expectations because like it or not, there are some big issues to be inherited. For example, Obama is not going to be able to get out of Iraq immediately, unless it’s achieved in an irresponsible manner and I cannot see that happen. Then we have Guantanamo, is he really going to close it, and if so, what is to be done with those that were detained there? Finally, and by way of example, the financial crises is being blamed on America, these are just some of the problems which won’t go away overnight, so given that expectations are high, Obama may be a casualty of such.
LISA: On other nations, turning away from America as their protector in favor of China and should that concern the Americans?
I am assuming you are talking about traditional American allies like us here in Australia, somehow gravitating toward China at America’s expense. Let me say this, nations like Australia will not in fact turn away from America and its protection or security shield anytime soon, if anything because of issues of compatibility in terms of values and way of life, so I don’t see it happening. America is sure to remain engaged in the region and while I also understand what was suggested in discussions prior to interview about somehow the Democrats being the party most interested in Atlantic issues whereas Republicans are conceived as being equally interested in the Pacific, still though, I feel certain that America will remain sufficiently engaged in the region under the Presidency of Obama. On the question of whether it would concern Washington, I feel it’s only logical that it would, but having said that, there is no evidence to suggest that it’s likely to occur.
LISA: We need to leave it there. Otto, thanks for your time today, maybe we can continue this another time.
OTTO: Feel free to ask, always available.
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