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Business with China: Good or bad?

Posted Thursday, October 25, 2007, at 10:15 AM

Ever played Chinese checkers?

It's a board game in which one player tries to move his/her game pieces to the other side of a three-pointed star.

The United States and China are each trying to move to the "other side" -- as in merchandising in each other's country -- but it's no game.

Is the U.S. business community becoming too close to China?

For many years “china” when referring to merchandise meant fine dishes and eating utensils.

Now “China” means money and income.

Example: The best-selling vehicles in China are Buicks. Made, of course, by General Motors in partnership with a Chinese firm.

Plans are in progress for Chinese-made economy cars (read: manufactured by low-paid, non-union labor) to be imported into the U.S. within the next few years.

Will Chinese-made cars be safe?

Consider that Chinese-made toys are being recalled and pet food, fish and toothpaste from China caused food poisioning.

If these incidents had happened 30 years ago the government would call it a Communist plot to poison us. Times have changed.

Gov. Phil Bredesen is in China this week on a trade mission seeking still more Chinese “investment.”

“Our trade relationship with China rose to $1.8 billion in 2006*it has risen more than 1,100 percent in six years,” Bredesen said at the Governor’s Conference on Economic Development and Community Development earlier this month.

“Over $900 million of that came from the purchase of Tennessee agricultural crops by China..so it’s clear that this trade mission is one that will directly benefit rural Tennessee.”

That’s the good spin. At least the Chinese people are getting safe food from us.

For the other side of the story, let’s hear from Rep. Zach Wamp, a Republican representing the Chattanooga area:

“From manipulation of the currency to the persecution of Christians, from providing cover to the North Koreans as they supply nuclear technology to Syria and Iran to the complete lack of support for global security at the United Nations Security Council, the Chinese government is fooling the whole world with the gold and shimmer of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, while ignoring the responsibilities that go with free enterprise,” Wamp said in a press release.

“Piracy and counterfeiting levels in China continue at unacceptable levels, and the country hasn’t adequately addressed deficiencies in its protection of intellectual property and its import barriers. The economy is not the only issue at stake here. Free markets require free people. What about human rights and religious freedom?”

“In the past year, many foreign missionaries have been kicked out of the country and prominent Chinese human rights advocates have been imprisoned, threatened or otherwise silenced in order to “clean-up” the country before the Olympics.”

So: Should the U.S. keep investing in China, reaping economic benefits and hoping to maybe have some influence in other areas? Or should the U.S. take the approach that we don’t need to strongly support a nation so ethically against our beliefs, even if it costs us?

And is this drive for more Chinese business ties ultimately going to take still more lower-paying jobs from non-urban areas in Tennessee which are already hurting enough? Rural residents deserve higher pay, but lower-paying jobs may be better than no jobs at all.

Let’s hope that whatever happens, wisdom prevails and everyone benefits in the end.

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China may look impressive in its show places like Shanghai but what are they doing to their environment and how are they treating their cheap labor. Competition is a great thing but not a the cost of abusing both the environment and the people.

-- Posted by devan on Sun, Oct 28, 2007, at 6:59 PM

Although Zach Wamp makes some valid points, he is confounded by the disease known as ALS (American leadership syndrome)-we can make all nations/peoples think and govern like we started to at America's founding and ever-increasing wages in America are the only sign of success. First, the Chinese government and constitution is not based upon Judeo-Christian principles as the American constitution is. Second, the reason America is buying goods from Mexico and China is because Americans want something immediately for nothing. We have become a welfare Nation that wants our government to rescue us from any/every ill in life and to provide us with every opportunity. Although I strongly oppose Gov. Bredesen on many issues, I can appreciate him going to China and being impressed. I was in Hong Kong in the Marine Corps. China was an impressive place even in 1979. I can just imagine how impressive Shanghai is now. China has become an economic powerhouse because Chinese people work cheaper then Americans and unions do not exist. If China as a socialist nation can do this, how much more should America be doing this by Judeo-Christian principles of working hard and taking care of our own needs? Mr. Wamp, you are paid too much as a Congressman. Your position has become a full-time job to you. Our founders never intended that. You receive free medical care, a pension, paid holidays and the list goes on. Part of the reason Americans are not satisfied is because our politicians are not. If somebody in the world can make products cheaper then Americans, then so be it. Thatâ**s competition. One thing is for certain Mr. Wamp, you will not stop Americaâ**s thirst for more â**stuffâ** by complaining about China. Start in America were the Congress will not be satisfied with what it has. The truth is, Americaâ**s leaders have become corrupted by money and power. They provide Americans with a bad example.

-- Posted by Twicer on Sat, Oct 27, 2007, at 7:16 AM

Excuse me, but Russia was once the Powerhouse Communist nation, and we befriended them in numerous ways... We now have supposedly peaceful relations with them, and their country has slowly but sure changed into a "Democracy"...

I don't necessarily know what all is made in China, or what we ship to them. All I know, is that if we were to stop doing business with them, Americans would go bankrupt. At what costs? I am not sure. But I don't plan on boycotting Chinese made goods, perhaps just the method in which they produce them?

-- Posted by nascarfanatic on Thu, Oct 25, 2007, at 5:42 PM

We might as well do business with China . . we already have sold America to them and Mexico.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Thu, Oct 25, 2007, at 3:08 PM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.