March 01, 2017

While Lobbing Rhetorical Bombs at China, Trump Risks Friendly Fire

By Harry Krejsa

During the campaign, Donald Trump’s foreign policy platform was decidedly lacking in detail. A notable exception, however, was the purportedly unquestionable villainy of China. China was a jobs thief, Mr. Trump claimed, manipulating its currency to prop up its exports and exploiting bilateral trade arrangements so as to tilt the scales against American competitors. In his trademark restrained and contemplative style, Mr. Trump accused previous American leaders of allowing Beijing to “rape” the United States and carry out “the greatest theft in the history of the world.” Many countries were to blame for the decline of working-class America, Mr. Trump claimed, but China was the chief wrongdoer among them.

Except that China no longer seems to exist, and the chief threat to American blue-collar jobs comes from within our borders — not abroad. President Trump, in clinging to this narrative, promises to fight a war long past with weapons that are likely to hurt his allies as much as his supposed enemy.

While there was a time that some factory-floor jobs were indeed offshored to China (likely the late 90s to early 2000s), most economists agree that this is no longer the case. Over the long term, automation is, and will likely continue to be, the true threat to blue-collar American workers. Chinese factory-floor wages have risen quickly in recent years, and they are now the highest in Asia, so much so that Chinese companies are now seeking cheaper labor in other parts of the continent. China’s currency, while likely undervalued for a time, has stabilized to the point that their central bank is working to strengthen it.

Read the full article at China-U.S. Focus.

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