Saturday, September 18, 2010

Viewing the trade deficit with China as a form of subversion

Entitled “Chinese Water Torture: Subversion Through Development,” the Heritage Foundation in 1992 published a lecture on how open trade would open up the Peoples Republic of China and bring the downfall of its Communist regime.

Because the Heritage paper was so certain about how “subversive” trade can be, I saved it. I found it only the other day.

The author, Andrew B. Brick, then Heritage’s Senior Policy Analyst for Chinese studies, first delivered the lecture at Florida State University on January 22, 1992, He described how his strategy would work – using outside influences such as trade to “open up a Communist society” would create “political grievances that undermine the extant regime.”

Eighteen-plus years seems like enough time to assess the consequence of Brick’s formula, especially because the United States followed it in a bipartisan way supported by people who had never read his lecture.

The biggest clue for an assessment is found in the U.S. Commerce Department data on U.S. merchandise trade. All last year the United States

-- Imported $296,373,900,000,000 in goods from China
-- Exported $ 69,496,700,000,000 in goods to China, a deficit of $226,877,300,000,000, compared to $18,309,000,000,000 the year when Brick was delivering his lecture.

The U.S. trade deficit since 2001, when China joined the World Trade Organization, has caused direct pain especially to American workers. Between 2001 and 2008, according to the Economic Policy Institute, the deficit with China caused a loss of 2,400,000 U.S. jobs.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials are putting pressure (i.e., getting down on their knees) for China to stop manipulating its currency in a way that bolsters China’s trade advantage and puts a dent in the U.S. GNP. Moreover, Washington has repeatedly declined to name China a currency manipulator out of fear that China would take retaliatory action.

So who is applying Chinese water torture against whom? Who is subverting whom?

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