China’s Giant Sucking Sound

In 1980, presidential candidate Ross Perot used the metaphor of a  “giant sucking sound” to warn our citizens on the dangers of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.  He correctly predicted that  many of our factories would relocate to Mexico to take advantage of lower labor costs.   His critics said, “Good riddance.  We will replace those low paying jobs with good paying high-tech jobs!”

Well that giant sucking sound from Mexico paled by comparison to the ginormous sucking sound from China. Surely you’ve heard it!   China not only sucked the bulk of our manufacturing jobs out of the U.S., it also sucked a good portion of those high-tech jobs away from our country along with the bulk of our technology.

I remember being in a state of shock in 1996, when I learned that the Chinese began launching our satellites.  Both American industry and state-owned Chinese companies had been lobbying for years to get satellites off what is known as the ”munitions list,” the inventory of America’s most sensitive military and intelligence-gathering technology.

The Defense Department, the State Department and our intelligence agencies were adamantly against it.  However, President Clinton caved in to the business lobby and not only took satellites off the list, but turned over the export licenses to the Commerce Department run by the notorious Ron Brown, who had been one of the Democrats chief fund-raising strategists.

What could possibly go wrong with handing China our most sensitive technological secrets?  Surprise, surprise, two years later, a congressional commission led by Rep. Christopher Cox (R. CA) discovered that the technical information that these American companies provided China was used to improve Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile technology.  The ban on these satellite launches was reimposed in 2000 but that horse had already left the barn.

But that wasn’t the only damage done during the Clinton Administration.  The Trade Act of 1974 stipulated that we review China’s trade status annually, which was a reasonable thing to do with a communist country that abused its citizens and did not abide by the world’s norms.   However, many of our largest corporations, which give heavily to both political parties, were so hungry to have their products manufactured in China and sell cheap goods that they turned up the heat to end the review and make China an equal trading partner.

At the time, this trading status was called “Most Favored Nation” or MFN.   How dare we call a nation that forced abortions on women and killed prisoners for their organs a Most Favored Nation!   That wouldn’t wash, so Clinton simply changed the name from MFN to PNTR or Permanent Normal Trade Relations, and China has been cleaning our clock ever since.

I must add that Clinton had a lot of help and cover from greedy Republicans.  In fact, the chief sponsor of this legislation was Rep. William Archer (R.Texas) who argued that this was vital to our farmers.  The other selling point was that it would help the workers of the PRC lead better lives.  China also was required to join the World Trade Organization where it could be sanctioned for crimes against its workers and problems between our two countries.

That hasn’t worked out too well.  President Xi Jinping is now president for life.  The government has deployed mass surveillance systems to tighten controls over its citizens and anyone who gets out of line is subject to arbitrary detention, imprisonment and “enforced disappearance.”

The brutal one-child policy has been changed to a two-child policy, largely because of the shortage of women.  Presently, the trafficking of women from neighboring countries is ignored in order to insure brides for Chinese citizens.

When China is sanctioned by the WTO, it simply ignores the sanctions.  Nevertheless, the U.S. has continued to turn a blind eye to the stealing of our intellectual property, the manipulation of currency, slave labor in our supply chain and the dumping of Chinese products in our country below cost in an attempt to eliminate competition and control the market.  Why?  To appease the big business political donors who are also the big media advertisers.  These corporations are only concerned about one thing, their bottom line.

So now we hear all this talk about free trade.  Trade with China is anything but free or fair.   So if China stops buying our soybeans or the price of Chinese goods go up what is the worse thing that can happen?  Farmers began to grow things needed by other countries, American factories reopen, workers are paid a decent wage and we all live better lives.

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