After decades of artfully swindling American experts and businesses, the Chinese government is beginning to face a reckoning.
After decades of artfully swindling American experts and businesses, the Chinese government is beginning to face a reckoning. Last week, President Trump announced that tariffs in response to China’s systematic theft of U.S. intellectual property will commence on July 6th.
The levies of twenty-five percent will apply at first to $ 34 billion in Chinese imports, later expanding to $ 50 billion. That will only affect about ten percent of what America imports from China each year, but the move marks a fundamental turning point. At long last, something is being done about trade and intellectual property theft by China.
Ever since commerce between China and the West began in earnest, foreign officials and businessmen have been unable to resist the allure its huge market of would-be consumers—currently numbering 1.4 billion. This siren’s call continues to be answered despite unending evidence that China would never allow “barbarians” a major stake in its domestic economy, and indeed wants handsome compensation just for access to this market.
The closest anyone came to such access was the British, who in the mid-19th century went to war twice to preserve and expand its lucrative export of opium from British India to China—essential to counterbalance British imports of Chinese tea. The Chinese still bear a grudge to this day, referring to the agreements opening China after the wars as the “unequal treaties.”
After a devastating world war and then decades of self-flagellation following the nation’s 1949 takeover by the Chinese Communist Party, China again began to open economically in the late 1970s. Since then, the American corporate elite, backed by Wall Street and the Bush and Clinton dynasties, have enthusiastically supported trade with China, despite obvious flaws.
A big turning point came in 2001 when the World Trade Organization (WTO) admitted China. It was preceded by a 2000 vote by Congress to give China “permanent normal trade relations,” which, in effect, ended Congress’s role in influencing trade policy with China.