The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

November 20, 2013

America is most clearly losing an economic war with China

This is the time of year when many communities set property tax rates. Invariably, taxes are going up and the discussion will turn to lessening the burden by attracting new business — even if it means those businesses from a neighboring community.

As these situations play out every year, our communities fight over a fast-diminishing pool of manufacturers, the scraps of what was once a robust segment of our economy. We’re not alone. It’s happening in nations across the world, and the culprit is the same: China.

For 13 years we’ve been at the losing end of an economic war, one that we have largely refused to fight. Instead we’ve rattled our rhetoric ineffectively as losses have grown. It’s estimated that 57,000 American manufacturers have closed during that time. For many American workers, their final act is boxing up their manufacturing equipment to ship to China.

As of 2011, America is estimated to have lost 2.7 million manufacturing jobs directly to Chinese competition — plus an unknown number of jobs in related sectors.

This economic war began in 2001, after the United States and others championed China’s entry into the World Trade Organization. This allowed China, which had a notorious reputation for unfair trade practices, to trade on par with nations that followed the WTO’s strict policies. It was naively thought that China’s entry would mean it would start following the rules, that its working class would embrace democracy and prosperity, and that other nations would gain equal access to China’s economy.

None of those things happened. In the meantime, China continues its old tricks — subsidizing its private sector to destroy foreign competition, manipulating its currency to give itself a trade advantage, and suppressing workers. It has stolen intellectual property from U.S. companies and bullied American businesses attempting to enter its market. All as it continues to buy up our mounting public debt, furthering our dependence on it.

Meanwhile, our internal bickering is distracting us. President Obama skipped a crucial Asian summit last month, a move widely seen as giving China an advantage in efforts to dominate its Asian neighbors. Instead, Obama stayed home to deal with Congress’ shutdown of the federal government.

It’s up to our federal government to deal with economic threats facing our nation. China is a formidable and predatory force that wants it all.

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