Let’s pay a visit to Little China in Front Royal, Virginia.
I’m not talking about China City Buffet, that wonderful restaurant where I used to take my grandkids for their birthdays.
Nor do I mean the nearby Virginia International Academy, which despite its name caters only to Chinese students transitioning into American universities. I do wonder why, if Chinese schools are any good at all, we now have close to 400,000 Chinese students studying in the United States – but that’s a different topic.
No, when I say Little China, I mean Walmart.
Remember that retail giant’s commitment to “Made in America?” It’s long gone – if it ever existed. Excluding groceries, Walmart imports roughly 70-80 percent of its goods from China, marketing some of them under “store brands.” In addition to the billions of dollars spent annually on these imports, Walmart has invested millions more in various Chinese ventures. Naturally, the corporation opposes higher tariffs on certain Chinese goods.
Now let’s leave Front Royal’s Little China and look at the bigger picture.
Last year the United States imported $539.5 billion in goods from China. It exported $120.3 billion in goods to China. That’s a trade imbalance of $419 billion.
For years, Chinese tariffs and government subsidies for manufacturers have made mock of the concept of “free trade.” The United States has long been the victim of this strategy, which often violates World Trade Organization rules. For example, in “Tear Down This Wall—the Chinese Tariff Wall,” Baizhu Chen specifically addresses the issue of American made cars and the high tariffs to which they are subjected. But this wasn’t written yesterday. It was written in 2012.
Enter Donald Trump.
Unlike politicians of the last forty years, who complained about this one-sided arrangement but did little, President Trump has called out the unfair trade agreements between China and the United States. He imposed tariffs on Chinese goods to bring that nation to the bargaining table.
The president understands that these trade issues have greater consequences than the price of soybeans or kitchenware. In addition to the harm done to American workers and small companies by corporations seeking cheap labor abroad, there are issues of national security at play and a robust Chinese effort to expand its influence around the world. In the New York Post, Myron Magnet offers this observation:
But Trump came to realize that the problem was much larger. To enter its market, China for years has required high-tech companies to transfer proprietary technology to local partners, so that US corporate bosses, with their focus on quarterly results rather than long-term viability, promiscuously allowed Chinese firms to filch a storehouse of laboriously acquired Western knowledge that could vault so industrious a people to domination of the highest-value industries in short order.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is also seeking markets and spheres of influence worldwide. In Africa, for example, more than 10,000 Chinese corporations are at work. In what is called the Belt and Road Initiative, a program seeking to expand global links through ports, roads, airports, and other means of commerce, the Chinese are bringing Africa, valuable in raw resources, into their camp. In some cases, they are now the real power behind certain debt-distressed governments, calling the shots and essentially serving as the imperialists they once despised.
The Chinese have undertaken similar strategic maneuvers in Latin America, investing, building, and loaning out vast sums of money. In Ecuador you’ll even find Chinese-developed CCTV cameras using facial recognition technology to record the activities of citizens.
This year, an emboldened CCP sparked massive protests and demonstrations in Hong Kong when Beijing sought to violate a 1997 agreement giving Hong Kong special status vis-à-vis China. These protests are ongoing.
In the South China Sea, the CCP has built artificial islands clearly intended for military use. Despite international law forbidding such structures, the CCP ignored warnings to desist and continued the construction.
How many of us Americans have heard of Falun Gong or Uighur? Google those words along with indoctrination camps and see what the Chinese do to millions of their citizens.
How many Americans in prison are forced to donate their organs to those who needed a liver or a kidney? Google “organ harvesting China,” and make the comparison.
How many of us want a Chinese-style “social credit system,” where, like children, we are given points for being good and demerits for being bad?
How many of us, whatever our nationality, want to live under a government which, as George Orwell put it, is a “boot stamping on a human face—forever?”
One last observation: despite the usual negative media coverage, Trump has for once united Democrats and Republicans in Congress. According to a Fox News story, both Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged the president to fight aggressively against Chinese trade policies.
Our leaders and our media should make it clear that we support human rights, not only for the citizens of Hong Kong but for all the Chinese people. President Trump’s tariffs are a first step toward informing the CCP that there are rules in the game of trade and government.
[Image Credit: The White House, Public Domain]