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Blythe McGarvie

Blythe McGarvie

Posted March 31, 2009 | 04:01 PM (EST)

G-20 Summit and the China Viewpoint


One of the great benefits of reading the local version of the Wall Street Journal when residing in Beijing is that you compare it easily to the Western version of the same paper. Today, "the China envoy reassures on dollar "headline on page 2 of the Asian edition would leave you to believe that China is not calling for a replacement of the dollar as the world's main currency. It suggests a moderate stance from China, discarding an isolationist political point of view and offering a perspective on our interconnected economies. The American headlines are all about how China is threatening the U.S. with a new currency in order to show how frustrated the bond holders are with a U.S. and its consumers that wastefully spend dollars which corrupts the value of its currency. In the Asian version, "Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's government is still keeping open the option of a further fiscal boost if one is needed", reads the article. In other words, speak softly and carry a big stick.

Of course, those of you who read history recognize this adage as the famous one from Theodore Roosevelt from his 1901 speech. Today, as the G-20 summit begins in London, I hope rhetoric is reminiscent of President Teddy Roosevelt who opened frontiers and created an awareness of our environment. As his namesake website indicates, "Theodore Roosevelt Presidential achievements are impressive. In foreign affairs he led us into the arena of international power politics, thrusting aside the American tradition of isolationism, while on the domestic scene, he reversed the traditional federal policy of laissez-faire, and sought to bring order, social justice, and fair dealings to American industry and commerce. "

My key lesson from reading the China and American viewpoints of the upcoming G-20 summit is that in Asia, we are hoping that Teddy Roosevelt shows up at the G-20 rather than Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was a savior, but also a protectionist with disastrous results. According to the FDRlibrary.com website, FDR "campaigned energetically calling for government intervention in the economy to provide relief, recovery, and reform. His activist approach and personal charm helped to defeat Hoover in November 1932 by seven million votes." I am advocating that our politicians at the G-20 summit act like Teddy Roosevelt -- who cared about the rest of the world -- rather than a Franklin Roosevelt -- who created a long-lasting depression in the 1930s. By the way, so would the Chinese leaders.