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A policy fails well beyond Washington's wildest dreams

November 25, 2009 - Mike Maneval

Journalist and editor Harold Meyerson takes President Barack Obama's recent trip to China as an opportunity to assess America's relationship with the freedom-hating police state.

One policy, Meyerson observes, looms large over U.S.-Chinese relations: permanent normal trade relations. At the time proponents said the measure would increase the access American producers had to Chinese markets while giving the Chinese citizenry access to diverse viewpoints and a tolerance for civil debate and civil liberties, undermining the nation's brutal tyranny. 

Congress and President Bill Clinton granted China this prestige back when our trade deficit with China was $60 billion. Today, Meyerson notes, it is $268 billion, a figure that has grave implications for America in at least two ways and that illustrates the inaccuracy of one of the aforementioned predictions.

As Meyerson reports, China has used the explosion of wealth to position itself as America's creditor, financing for interest the U.S. government's deficit spending. And the expansion of manufacturing in China forces American workplaces to compete with labor markets that offer significantly lower costs - because those markets are comprised of children and the desperate, working under conditions that would be recognized as slavery in most of the world. While the horrors this policy subjects the Chinese workers to are obscene, the effect here on our shores also degrades the value of our own workdays and has contributed greatly to the erosion of the manufacturing sector in the U.S.

And for all of these very real consequences, what of the other optimistic prediction of the policy's proponents? That trade privileges would spark a desire for liberty and dignity in the Chinese and weaken the government's iron fist?

In the past year, it was revealed inferior Chinese steel led to the collapse of Chinese schools, killing the schoolchildren. When grieving parents at the scene began to ask questions, they were viciously beaten by Chinese authorities. Another bit of multinationalist optimism exposed as inaccurate.

 
 

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