Video: Keeping an eye on China
updated 6/29/2005 2:55:50 PM ET 2005-06-29T18:55:50

With a population of over 1.3 billion people, China's combined size and growth potential poses concerns about how the U.S. will react to a growing economic rival. Currently, China is a large consumer of American goods, including everything from McDonald's restaurants, to California wine. While the U.S. is to provide these services for a price, a thriving Chinese black market has had a strangle hold on American intellectual properties like music and movies for years. Both of which are major American exports.

The issue currently in the news surrounds the ramifications of the Chinese entering the oil market as a major consumer.

MSNBC's Randy Meier discussed the relationship between the Chinese and U.S. economies on Wednesday with NBC Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell.

"As China rapidly transforms itself from a land of rural poverty, to modern day Shanghais, the government is on a global buying spree for energy to fuel its growth," Mitchell reported. The latest bid is by CNOOC, a Chinese oil company, for UNOCAL, the California energy giant." 

According to a recent CIA study, "By 2020, China's defense spending will overtake Russia's and be second only to the U.S." Mitchell said. However, whether China becomes an ally or an enemy as it continues to grow partly depends on how the U.S. interacts with the nation economically.

"Many experts say that the U.S. can't stop China from becoming an economic superpower, but whether or not they become an enemy depends on how we treat them. If we treat them like an enemy, they'll become one," she reports.

Regardless, Mitchell noted that the economic ties between the two countries are already strong, on and off the books.

"We sell about $34 billion a year worth of good to China, but we buy so much more, we had a trade deficit of about $162 billion last year and its going to be a lot more this year," she said.

But those numbers don't include black market sales of everything from video games to designer clothes.  That's why there's pressure from many lawmakers to get tough with China, Mitchell said.

"There's protectionist pressure on the Hill to try to slap new tariffs on China and pressure them into taking certain steps that they are reluctant to take," she said. "And they of course, have not been playing fair, they steal our intellectual property. We are a knowledge society, they are taking advantage, they don't have to have expensive research and development because they simply rip off what we've produced. So they've got to start playing fair or there will be steps from the Hill."

To watch Andrea Mitchell's full report on China and her discussion with Randy Meier, click on the video link above. MSNBC Live with Amy Robach and Randy Meier can be seen weekdays from 9 a.m.-Noon.

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