CNBC.com Op-Ed: "The High Cost of Our Addiction to China"
U.S. relations with China are in the news, but not just because of today's Strategic & Economic Dialogue (S&ED) in Beijing.
No, it's more complicated than that. The U.S. embassy briefly sheltered a blind Chinese dissident named Chen Guangcheng this week, which put a very public face on the brutality of the Beijing regime.
In addition to disregarding human rights norms, though, Beijing also routinely violates the rule of law when it comes to international trade agreements.
Scott Paul, Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), says that Beijing is not about to deviate from its brazen course unless shown that there are consequences for such lawbreaking.
In an editorial published today at CNBC.com, Paul listed some of the great failures of U.S. trade with China:
Tibetans are certainly not better off--they are self-immolating at an alarming rate in the face of cultural genocide. Here in the U.S., manufacturing workers are not better off, either; they are among the estimated 2.8 million Americans who have lost their jobs as a result of unbalanced trade with China since 2001. Chinese workers still toil in abysmal working conditions--with multinational companies only deigning to raise standards when exposed by scandal. China's pollution has not abated either, and an estimated 750,000 Chinese prematurely die each year because of it. American security is not better off--we have allowed China to purchase 9 percent of our public debt while we attempt to contain Beijing's capabilities in outer space, on the Pacific Ocean, and in cyberspace.
So what to do? How to unwind the juggernaut that Beijing has built with the profits of a stunning $295 billion annual trade surplus with the United States?
Paul explains that there are options:
- The House of Representatives should pass bipartisan legislation to deter China's currency manipulation. The only thing standing between business-as-usual and a real shot across the bow to Beijing is House Speaker John Boehner. Half of his caucus supports the bill, along with an overwhelming number of Democrats. Currency legislation was one of the few items passed by the Senate last year that overcame a threatened filibuster.
- The Obama Administration should declare that reducing our $295 billion trade deficit with China involves not only increasing exports but also decreasing imports. If reshoring is ever to become a real trend, we must reduce the flood of imports coming in from China.
- The Obama Administration should file a slew of trade cases at the World Trade Organization (WTO), and should self-initiate cases domestically to provide relief for battered industries such as clean energy and auto parts, as well as to establish just how little Beijing has done to honor its end of the bargain.
- The Obama Administration (and various states) should bar procurement from China until Beijing provides 100 percent reciprocity based on the value of these government contracts. There should be no settling for empty promises or a signed agreement that is unenforceable.
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