Deciding whether to permit the export to the PRC of sensitive technology with ominous military applications;
Responding to continuing Chinese trade abuses and infringements on intellectual property rights; and
Evaluating how to end China’s unhelpfulness on such matters as the growing threat from North Korea and Iran — whether by offering it more “carrots” in the form of “grand bargains,” or by penalizing it including through U.S.-led efforts to encourage systemic political change in Beijing.
It is unimaginable that during the Cold War any president would appoint — let alone that a majority of senators would vote to confirm — a man like Armand Hammer as secretary of the Treasury. Now President Bush has nominated his Chinese counterpart and, all other things being equal, Henry Paulson will have the votes to be confirmed.
Since Communist China’s interests and those of the United States are likely to diverge ever more sharply in the years ahead, the very least that should be required of Paulson is that he recuse himself from involvement in matters of interest to the PRC. Unfortunately, as the foregoing list suggests, since China’s interests and activities figure so prominently in the Treasury portfolio, such a recusal would reduce the job to a part-time one.
In the absence of such a recusal, however, Paulson’s China-related work at Treasury will require an extraordinary level of transparency and accountability by members of Congress, the media, and the American public. We must be assured he is working for us in this job, not for Communist China as he did so successfully in the last one.
– Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy, the lead author of War Footing: Ten Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World, and a contributor to National Review Online.