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Economy

Why American should stop bickering trade: I

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Ten years ago I did a bit research on the imbalance of China US trade, for a speech to be given in Public Speech class. The imbalance (US deficit, China surplus) grew significantly in last 10 years, with the American manufacturing jobs moving to China, this is again a hot topic in the election season. Politics aside, we ask the following question again.

Who is benifiting from the China US trade?
I noticed this post from my friend Wang Jianshuo’s blog. I haven’t read the book, but I have heard lots of media coverage on the US on this China trade (mostly negative comments), such as this one (book review, quoted from above) “(this is) essential reading for anyone concerned about how dangerous pet food and clothing manufactured in China make it into American stores…”

Essential? Really? I think for the first part, the author should go to China, visit some plants there, talk to Chinese people, before jump into such one-sided and biased conclusion. Being a Chinese professional who have studied, worked and still live in the US since 1997, I have seen many stuffs made in China, and I believe I have some authority on this matter.

Whether one wants to admit or not, China’s cheap (but quality) exports helped the US inflation in control in last decade. From the stuffs in Wal-Mart or iPod, it helped the squezzed middle class have some money left over for the starbucks coffee or their kids Nintendo DS. It also helped Steve Jobs and his troop cash in handsomely from the record corporate profit. Meanwhile, as I understand the workers in China did not get paid much, and their working conditions are not that great either (but they still do better than not working). Much of the profit goes to factory owners.

Use my own example the other day, I bought this inexpensive but cool floor lamp for $16 at Target:

inexpensive cool floor lamp pic

Yeah, it is not perfect, and requires assembly, but hey it’s just $16, or 102 Yuan. I doubt I can buy that quality lamp at 102 Yuan in Shanghai though.

So, what’s my point? While there are some incidents in the Chinese exports to the west, we should ackowledge trade in large extent benifit both sides. Probablly more benifit goes to the western receipients (consumers, corporations CEOs and shareholders) than the migrant workers in China. After all, most of those workers are just trying to make the ends meet…

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