David Leonhardt’s “A Losing Bet with China” is an opinion article that appeared on the New York Times on May 19th, 2019. This online article is brief, succinctly covering the specific ideas that the author focuses upon. As with other opinion articles that appear on the New York Times website, this article is part of a series on America’s relations with China.
The article attempts to discuss The United States’ relations with China. Leonhardt believes that President Donald Trump, like his predecessors, is failing in his geopolitical policy towards China. The article begins by mentioning an event in history that defined the two countries’ relations – the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1991. Leonhardt is of the opinion that the failure by the United States to punish China’s human rights violations in 1991 was not only a mistake, but it also informed subsequent president’s international policy with China. In turn, the inaction by the past three presidents has contributed to the economic rivalry between the two countries today.
In analyzing the situation today, the author suggests that President Trump, while taking a different path from that taken by his predecessors, is still failing at achieving what should be a mutually beneficial future for the two countries. To come up with this conclusion, Leonhardt relies on the opinions of multiple contributors, including politicians and fellow columnists. They all share the view that confrontation is not the solution, but they fail to come up with an ideal approach for handling the situation.
I feel that the author falls short of achieving the goal of clarifying to the reader why the US is losing its China bet. Although he states that the country’s presidents of recent history have not done enough to prevent China from committing acts that are against its international policy, he does not explain clearly why and how he thinks the United States has failed. He offers the opinion that President Trump’s approach is clumsy and likely to fail, yet he does not provide enough details to explain why. Instead, he refers his readers to another article without explaining what the article says. The author goes ahead to quote other individuals who share his opinion and even concludes his article with quotes by Bret Stephens, a New York Times colleague. It is felt that the article could have achieved its mandate better if the author had dissected the issue more critically, relying on his expert knowledge of the topic.
I do not like this article. While I like the topic of discussion and the ideas that the author brings forth early in the article, I do not like the approach he uses for the rest of the article. The article is brief, which at a glance seems to be an attempt to discuss ideas as concisely as possible. However, a reader with no knowledge of the topic would not rely on the article for information. The article could be improved by discussing issues critically. For instance, one of the ideas raised in the article is that China is now an adversary of the United States and new policies should treat it as such. The author could clarify how President Trump’s current policy qualifies as unfair treatment of China. He could also provide specific ideas and suggestions for the country’s policy going forward. Such an approach would help the author to discuss the topic critically while providing his readers with an informative piece.
Leonhardt, David. A Losing China Bet – Presidents who gambled and lost. The New York Times. May 16th, 2019. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/16/opinion/china-trade-war- trump.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FEconomics&action=click&contentCollecti on=timestopics®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacemen t=6&pgtype=collection