In 2001, China joined the World Trade Organization with the support of a Democratic US president and a Congress that was controlled by Republicans. Shortly thereafter, China began flooding markets in the United States with illegally subsidized exports. As a result, around 57,000 US factories had to close and now more than 25 million citizens can’t find a decent job. To make matters worse, the national debt has grown to three trillion dollars and it’s all owed to the world’s largest totalitarian nation.
Many large manufacturing companies in the United States uprooted their factories and moved production to China. Many Americans lost their jobs and the economy of entire towns or communities was seriously disrupted. Those small businesses that provided maintenance, equipment, accounting, design, meals, materials and everything else lost a source of income.
The factories or companies that decide to stay on US territory are deeply affected by unrestricted importing. If the buyers can get the same product for a lower price, then they will automatically go after the bargain, even if the quality is not up to par.
When former President Bill Clinton was trying to convince the nation to agree with having China join the WTO, he spoke about granting the people of China greater openness and freedom. He also said that the agreement would mean greater prosperity for the American people. He called it ‘the right thing to do, a historic opportunity, and a profound American responsibility’. Clinton promised a bright future for both workers and manufacturers in the United States. The belief was that American companies would be able to sell and distribute products in China for the first time ever and this would ultimately democratize the Chinese dragon and free the people.
Just what has the future looked like since China joined the WTO?
The Chinese sell products at 1/10th of what it would cost to produce in the US. How can this be?
A large part is due to environmental neglect. Less than 1% of the urban air in China meets the air quality standards set by the European Union. Pollution control costs money and being allowed to dump toxins into the air and the rivers gives China a competitive advantage.
Workers in China have almost no rights. Their employers can commit crimes against them and suffer no consequences. There are no safety regulations, no minimum wage laws, and employers aren’t obligated to pay social security or health insurance. A workday can last anywhere from 12 to 16 hours and workers get thrown into solitary confinement for not reaching their production quota. All of this makes it a lot cheaper to hire Chinese workers.
The Chinese government also manipulates the currency by illegally pegging the value of the yuan to that of the US dollar at a rate far below market value.
These and many other extreme conditions are what make it difficult to compete against the Chinese market. Should this be allowed to continue?