As the United States and China face off, President Trump seems determined to disarm his own country — to undermine our greatest strengths.
I’m not talking about tariffs or trade rules, soybeans or steel, or whatever else Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping jawboned about Saturday in Buenos Aires as they negotiated a 90-day truce in their commercial disputes.
I’m talking about something more fundamental. Long after the truce expires, China will be promoting its authoritarian model throughout the world as a superior alternative to Western democracy.
In that competition, China boasts that one-party rule enables long-term planning and follow-through. It can complete huge infrastructure projects without pesky citizen opposition or time-sucking environmental studies. It can offer loans to small-country dictators without bothering about corruption, transparency or human rights. Its huge internal market, shielded from outside competitors, nurtures homegrown companies. Its vast storehouse of data on every citizen, collected without permission or respect for privacy, gives its companies an invaluable resource.