Conservatives' China fears playing into anti-free trade agenda

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Opinion Zone,Mitchell Blatt

Glenn Beck recently made a major discovery: When he ate a Burger King recently, he discovered that the toys in Burger King’s kids’ meals are made in China. That discovery, apparently, was the genesis for his January 14 show in which he exposed what no one in the mainstream media is telling Americans: that China is a rising power (and might possibly take over America, or something).

If it hadn’t been for all the talk about “outsourcing” since 2004, the spectacle of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Democrat campaign ads attacking China in 2010 for “taking our jobs,” the fears of China’s growing military and the hubbub over Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I’m sure no one would know about China!

With the economy in recession and some economists warning that “The jobs won’t come back,” China has become an easy target for both conservatives and liberals who want to advance their own agendas, but its liberals with their anti-free trade position who have the most to game from overzealous anti-China fears. Conservatives, however, are often playing into liberals’ anti-free trade agenda by raising fears about China’s growing influence and economy.



In a January 21 post in Hot Air’s Greenroom titled, “Is GE betraying its customers and its country?” Douglas Ross (DirectorBlue) excerpts an article about how GE is selling aircraft electronics to China that will be used in military fighters. Ross ties that in with GE’s reception of bailout money and its profit from the government’s “green” initiatives and healthcare initiatives as well as its previous ownership of the NBC and MSNBC (prior to the sale of NBC to Comcast).

Certainly the subsidies and the bailout were disappointing and are grounds for criticism. Bernie Sanders thinks so, too, having criticized GE for receiving bailout money and doing business with China during his filibuster of the tax deal. The self-proclaimed socialist Sanders doesn’t want American companies to be engaging in free trade with their own money. Democrats who like to campaign on the theme of “outsourcing” also have been critics of free trade. But conservatives should support the free market and friendly relations with China because it increases economic prosperity while decreasing the threat of war.

Much of this “outsourcing” includes Americans producing automobiles in Toyota and BMW plants in America or working for BP extracting oil or franchising one of their stations. American companies need consumers, and they can find them in China, where Ford and GM now sell more cars than they sell in the U.S.

Glenn Beck found a way to turn American companies selling cars to China into a bad thing, saying, “We now get their choice [of car]. We’re a secondary market.” China, by virtue of its population, buys a larger number of cars, so Beck thinks that Chinese people automatically get better cars. If you combine the car sales of every country but America, the figure will be much greater than the number of car sales in America, but the quality of each car measured won’t change.

Along with economic fears, conservatives are particularly apt to fan the flames about China’s military. An article in Fox news on January 7 said that “China’s New Fighter Jet Could Post ‘Terrifying’ Challenge to U.S. Fleet.” China is increasing its military to a size still much smaller than America’s, just as other countries have done in the past as they have faced concerns about protecting themselves. What would really pose a potential threat for causing tensions is if columnists continue to write articles, like the National Review’s Jay Nordlinger did on January 19, saying that Hu Jintao’s state dinner at the White House is “A Stain Upon the American Honor.” Diplomacy and mutual connectedness is the best way to avoid war, and irrational fear of China, if it ultimately leads to less trade and more distrust, will only make conflict more likely.

As Frederic Bastiat said, when goods cross borders, armies won’t. (His direct quote was, “If good do not cross borders, soldiers will.”) There are issues that we should pursue to resolve with China--such as having China get tougher on North Korea after their flare up with South Korea--but these issues can be resolved peacefully without animosity between both sides. With $400 billion in trade annually and billions in American debt held by China, America and China are partners, not adversaries, and it is in China’s interest for America to continue to prosper. Rather than squabbling over who gets how many pieces of the international pie, we should be making the pie bigger for everyone, as is the result of free market pro-growth policies in international trade.

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