The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) tends to be a good barometer of legislative thinking about China in the United States. Not that this thinking is either coherent or well directed. But it does represent the way in which U.S. "China expert" elites and their legislative masters develop "knowledge" about China. This knowledge is then used to shape U.S. policy and legislative approaches U.S. China relations. It also suggests the way that U.S. ideological thinking shapes the way in which China is viewed as understood by the United States.
This characterization is not meant to suggest a personal position on either the outlook or work of the CECC, or of its advisers. That characterization, however, does suggest that ideological blinders tend to tell us more about the U.S. (in this case) than it does about the Chinese. But if course the same is true of Chinese organs with a similar purpose aimed the the United States. It is with the object of helping to understanding American construction of China, rather than of helping to understand Chinese constructions of themselves (however "flawed" either exercise may be in and of itself and to itself), that this is offered.
One notes only that trade has always been weaponized as an element of politics--the legalization of that weaponization after 1945 offered at least the appearance of predictability and stabilization, that is of the marketization of politics (that is of conflict) among states so that the rest of us might better maximize our own welfare within and between these battles. It is becoming clearer, now, that legalization in furtherance of a regulatory governance structure within which these political contests could be managed is itself weakening. Perhaps this conference provides a window on to the mechanics and trajectory of that change.
The CECC, under the Chairship of former Presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R-FLA) has just announced hearings on the Chinese engagement with world trade in general, and the World Trade Organization regime in particular. The "concept note" for the hearings and the tentative list of witnesses follows.