clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

America’s foolish trade policy with China is a bigger problem than supply chain woes

America ships billions of dollars overseas, importing far more than we export, especially to China. This makes America more economically and militarily vulnerable.

A container port in eastern China on Dec. 7. The U.S. trade imbalance with China must end, a former Chicago congressman writes.
A container port in eastern China on Dec. 7. The U.S. trade imbalance with China must end, a former Chicago congressman writes.
AP Photos

With 40 to 50 container ships sitting off the Southern California coast waiting to be unloaded, it would be a perfect time for the national mainstream news media to start talking about what we import.

They could address the American dollars we are shipping overseas, principally to our number one rival, the People’s Republic of China.

But the national media prefers to talk about the supply chain being clogged up, and Americans not being able to get their Christmas presents.

The best way to unclog our supply chain would be to start paying the truck drivers and warehouse workers union wages. I’m talking about the truck drivers who carry the merchandise from the ships to the warehouses.

Those drivers, along with the warehouse workers, are working for low wages. That’s why there is a very short supply of drivers and workers available to move items along. Once merchandise is sorted at the warehouses, trains and union truck drivers are ready to move the merchandise cross country. Railroads are a great arsenal of terrific union jobs. They’re the main supplier of middle-class jobs in this land of the “Pilgrim’s Pride.”

Now, let’s get back to the focus of this column: Trade, and all the items we import from around the world — items that for economic and security reasons should be manufactured, produced and assembled here in the United States.

Why is this allowed to happen? Because it saves Americans a few dollars on product costs and brings greater profits to companies.

Some of the countries we import from more than we export to, just up to September of this year, are: China $255.4 billion; Mexico $78.3 billion, Vietnam $65.5, billion; Germany $51.8 billion; Japan $47.5 billion; Canada $34.2 billion; and Malaysia around $20.1 billion.

We shipped out to our top 15 trade partners approximately $780 billion in just the first eight months of this year. That projects to over $1 trillion for the year. There are many other countries with which we have trade deficits of perhaps $400 billion to $500 billion.

Imagine the good-paying jobs this has cost our country.

Some items we import are electronic equipment, machinery, boilers, nuclear reactors (yes, nuclear reactors), toys, games, furniture, apparel, iron, steel ... the list goes on.

Let’s remember what we did during World War II and after. With our patriotic spirit, initiative, hard work, dedication, intellectual properties, design, industrial might and unparalleled manufacturing, we became not only an unmatched military force, but Franklin Roosevelt’s arsenal of democracy.

We not only supplied our forces, but all of our allies too, with the tanks, ships, planes, guns and other military weapons that enabled us to defeat the Empire of Japan and Nazi Germany. Then we rebuilt Japan and all the countries in Europe that wanted our help.

That was the greatest display of economic and military power the world has ever seen. And it was all used for the good of mankind

Stealing intellectual property

Some argue the greatest beneficiary of our naïve trade policy, and that’s putting it mildly, is Communist China. Besides foolishly importing all of those items from China, we allow them to steal a great deal of our intellectual property.

What is not turned over by American companies looking to manufacture in China, the Chinese simply steal — by becoming friendly with employees with access to American intellectual properties, then threatening or bribing them. They then launch Chinese companies in their domestic market and export these same items to the world, driving out and bankrupting competition by selling at cut-rate prices.

The intellectual properties gathered by China are converted into military capabilities. So our trade relationship with China makes the United States very vulnerable economically and militarily.

Leaders in Washington have to get the message that this trade with China and other nations must stop, now. Our survival depends upon it.

William Lipinksi served as a Democratic member of Congress from Illinois’ 3rd District from 1993 to 2004.