大约一年后，奥巴马总统给蒙大拿州当时最近退休的高级参议员马克斯·鲍卡斯（Max Baucus）打电话，并向他提供了担任该国驻华高级外交官的工作。他欣然接受了。因此，鲍卡斯所说的开始是他职业生涯中最有趣和最苛刻的工作。因此，我最近参加了华盛顿特区的年度Zeidman讲座，期待着前大使鲍卡斯出席。他在晚上多次承诺“切入追逐”，并且在很大程度上做到了，并告诉观众中国是美国最重要的关系，现在发生的粗暴事件可能会变得更加粗糙，但他乐观地认为事情会如此最终变得更好 – 如果两个县都没有“愚蠢的东西”。美国人了解中国最重要的是他们的制度与西方的任何国家完全不同。他解释说，其中一个问题是，中国的法治基本上没有了，共产党负责裁定涉及国家和人民福利的所有事务。从理论上讲，党的存在是为了满足所有社会需求，如果不满意，就会保留人们的内容。最近几个月，党内控制个别中国人生活的更多方面的努力加速了，引起了一些内部的不安和鼓励党的领导人对人权采取更严厉的立场，预测该地区的军事力量和贸易。解释鲍卡斯说他听到中国领导人说：“没有人权;只有党。“鲍卡斯说，对中国商品征收关税是行不通的。他说，有什么工作是与党的领导人私下交谈，现在是习近平的终身总统。他举了一个例子，习近平和奥巴马之间的会晤，奥巴马向习近平解释说，任何进一步扩大南中国海有争议的沙洲对于美国及其盟国都是不可接受的，因为中国声称他们并将其转化为可能的军事用途是违反国际法的。在面对面之后，开发停止了，但没有回滚。自演讲以来，中国军方在其中一个岛屿上建立了轰炸机，美国派出了军舰。是时候进行另一次私聊了？特朗普总统已经举行了这样的会议，其中一个会议转化为中国对朝鲜的更大压力，以限制其核武器试验并与其南部邻国取得联系。那戏剧还在继续。但是，自从鲍卡斯发表讲话以来，一场贸易战已经开始，美国对数十亿美元的中国商品征收惩罚性关税，中国以实物形式作出回应。由于预计贸易战可能会拖延，特朗普已承诺向美国农民提供数十亿美元的援助，其中包括蒙大拿州的一些农民，他们已经感受到中国在其他地方采购牛肉和大豆的压力。
About a year into second his term, President Obama called Max Baucus, Montana’s then recently retired senior senator and offered him the job as the country’s senior diplomat to China. He readily accepted. Thus began what Baucus says is the most interesting and demanding job of his career. So, it was with high expectations that I recently attended that annual Zeidman Lecture in Washington, D.C., at which former Ambassador Baucus was featured. He promised several times during the evening to “cut to the chase,” and largely did, telling the audience that China is the most important relationship the U.S. has, the rough patch happening now is likely to get rougher, but he’s optimistic that things will get better—eventually, and if neither county does “something stupid.” The most important thing for Americans to understand about China is that their system is completely different than any country in the west. For one, he explained, the rule of law in China is largely missing, with the Communist Party responsible for adjudicating all matters involving the welfare of the nation and its people. In theory, the party exists to fill all social needs and keep people content if not happy. Efforts by the party to control even more aspects of the lives of individual Chinese have accelerated in recent months, causing some internal unease and emboldening party leaders to take tougher stands on human rights, projecting military might in the region and on trade. Paraphrasing what Baucus said he’s heard the China leadership say: “There are no human rights; there is only the party.” Baucus said imposing tariffs on Chinese goods will not work. What does work, he said, is private conversations with the head of the party and now president for life, Xi Jinping. He gave as an example a meeting between Xi and Obama where Obama explained to Xi that any further expansion of the contested sandbars in the South China Sea would be unacceptable to the U.S. and its allies, as China’s claiming them and converting them for possible military use was a violation of international law. Following that face-to-face, development stopped, but was not rolled back. Since the lecture, China’s military has based bombers on one of the islands and the U.S. responded by sending warships. Time for another private conversation? President Trump has had such meetings, and one translated into more Chinese pressure on North Korea to curtail its nuclear weapons testing and make nice with its neighbor to the south. That drama is still unfolding. But since Baucus spoke, a trade war has begun with the U.S. slapping punitive tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods and China responding in kind. Anticipating that the trade war may be protracted, Trump has promised billions in aid to U.S. farmers, including some in Montana, who are already feeling the pinch as China sources its beef and soybeans elsewhere.