Is it Possible to Make China Pay... Without Hurting American Workers? - Paycheck

Is it Possible to Make China Pay… Without Hurting American Workers?

Unfair trade practices, stealing intellectual property…it’s no secret that China has done a lot of things to get on the world’s bad side..

But then, January, we got part of a new trade deal signed with them, and things were looking a bit better. 

Then… Boom: a global pandemic comes along and reveals China’s true colors… yet again. And not the Cyndi Lauper kind.

So now we have to face the question:  is there a way we can make China pay that will a) keep them in check in the future but also b) still protect American workers? 

The lung of the issue

The current administration (and the world) is growing more and more frustrated with China because they refuse to be honest and transparent. They’ve rigged trade, they’ve stolen intellectual property, and outright lied when it came to COVID-19.

“They didn’t let us in, they didn’t let us understand what was going on,” according to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. They failed to alert in a timely manner and they withheld data that some believe could have helped the rest of the world prepare better, sooner. 

Literally,  this long-term path of economic recovery could’ve been shortened, or perhaps avoided altogether, if China had just been honest. 

Instead, they lied about the numbers… and even tried to shift blame to Washington.

The case against cutting ties with China

Most agree that we need to make China pay somehow; the real question is whether it’s actually possible to cut ties with them, and to what extent. Here are the main points brought up against cutting all ties:

  1. International trade is generally good for world peace, because our economies are dependent on each other.. 
  2. Trade between the US and China is so large that it’d be impossible to cut ties altogether: our supply chains are interconnected, 1.4 billion Chinese consumers buy American goods, and China holds $1.1 trillion of our national debt.
  1. There may be other smart ways to make the Chinese government pay.  without ending our relationship altogether. We just need to get creative.

What are the more creative solutions to making them pay 

So if we can’t just say sayonara overnight, what can we do? 

One Senator thinks we should deny US visas to Chinese students applying to study fields related to national security, such as quantum computing and artificial intelligence, at US colleges. 

Another idea is to stop Chinese companies who don’t follow our accounting rules from trading on US stock exchanges. And to make our supply chains more resilient, the government could impose a tax on US companies that manufacture goods in China. 

So what’s next?

Honestly, this could go any way. It’s unclear what the current state of the trade agreement is between the US and China.  And, especially if we lead the way in making China pay, it seems less likely the US and China will ever really see eye to eye.

 The good news is that it does look like China is trying to focus on keeping the relationship intact. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said in a recent statement that “maintaining a steady bilateral relationship served the interests of both peoples and would be beneficial for world peace and stability.” He went on to add that “the two sides should strengthen anti-epidemic co-operation, win the war against the epidemic, treat patents and resume economic production. But this requires the US to meet China halfway.”

The bottom line

The US administration is looking at ways to make China pay for its unfair trade practices and untruthful information related to COVID, but it’s a tricky game that involves supply chains, millions of American jobs, and the millions of Paychecks that go with them. These are thorny issues, but issues that must be addressed nonetheless.

What direction do you think we should go? Should we deny US visas for Chinese students, stop Chinese companies from trading on US stock exchanges, force US manufacturers to make their products in America… or come up with other solutions?

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