While U.S. "gets tough" with China, it's not enough.
Washington has now taken some first baby steps in the right direction.
By John Kusumi
President of the pro-democracy China Support Network
To his credit, U.S. President Barack Obama is carving out a distinct profile on the matter of U.S.-China policy; different than that of his predecessors. The news of this week tells us that Obama is stiffening the spine of the United States in its dispute with Communist China about the matter of currency manipulation. China keeps its currency pegged to the dollar at an exchange rate which is artificially low when compared to where free-market forces would put that rate. The dispute impacts jobs and trade. In a free trade environment, China's behavior amounts to cheating and to gaining an artificial benefit (akin to subsidized exports) at the United States' expense.
The United States has economic problems of its own, and should not be appeasing communists, dictators, tyrants, and thugs to its own detriment. We have been carrying the costs associated with bad behavior on the part of China's regime, which is still led by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). To be very conservative in China is to be Maoist.
The China Support Network (CSN) has existed throughout an era of U.S. corruption on steroids, ever since the June 4, 1989 massacre of innocents at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. There, the Chinese army used live ammunition on world TV to clear away the crowd of college students, who had occupied Tiananamen Square to demand freedom, democracy, and human rights in mainland China. The CSN arose from shocked Americans, who would care to help the students -- China's Generation Xers -- in the furtherance of the Chinese democracy movement.
We have watched the U.S. government and news media become increasingly more corrupt. The U.S. government used the renewal of 'Most Favored Nation' trade status with China to add life support to the regime: to brace, buttress, stabilize, prop up, and enrich the communists, dictators, tyrants and thugs who continue to run the Chinese government to this day.
In the meantime, on human rights, the Chinese government has become worse, worse, and worse. In addition to the unanswered Tiananmen crackdown, they have since then launched the unanswered Falun Gong crackdown; the unanswered Tibet crackdown; and the unanswered East Turkestan crackdown. This means that after killing Beijing college students, the CCP went on to kill many more innocents and prisoners of conscience, from among Falun Gong practitioners, Tibetans in occupied Tibet, and Uighur Muslims in occupied East Turkestan.
How is it that government Chinese behavior on human rights could get worse and worse and worse, while U.S. rewards by way of a trade surplus got larger and larger and larger? There would be a public outcry, but for the stepped up corruption on the part of the U.S. news media, which has swept under the rug all objection and protest about Tiananmen, Falun Gong, Tibet, and East Turkestan.
I have described the U.S. media as "the corrupt, flacking for the corrupt," and indeed the China human rights issue shows us the prime example of "one hand washing the other" in the U.S. establishment, as corrupt media protects corrupt political leaders and their ruinous decisions on such matters as free trade.
So now, as news reports say that the U.S. is "getting tough" with China, how does CSN, the organization I lead, react? It becomes necessary to applaud the U.S. activity on the matter of currency manipulation, while deploring the silence and lack of activity on the matter of slave labor. We see a linkage here which is not reflected by U.S. leaders or media. These twin issues have the same net practical upshot. --China plays economic dirty pool, and as a result there is a tilted playing field which presents the United States with a competitive disadvantage.
- We are boggling at the double standard! -
We are boggling at the double standard, and believe that the existence of this double standard may impugne the motives of the U.S. political leaders and pundits who support the move on currency manipulation. Why the silence on slave labor? Is that silence indicative of a guilty demeanor on the part of the U.S. power structure on this issue?
The preceding two paragraphs already include the key observations that inform the CSN stance. We can conclude once again that the relationship between U.S. media and U.S. political leaders is that of "the corrupt, flacking for the corrupt."
Perhaps, at this juncture, someone will say, "Wait -- I need a primer on the situation." The article might do well to slow down and to explain the underpinnings. That is well and good; let's go.
Slavery abolished in America, not China
The United States, itself, abolished slavery in steps between 1862 and 1865. The first measure, in 1862, was called The Emancipation Proclamation. The last measure, in 1865, was the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. At that time, China was ruled by the Qing dynasty, and authorities did not move to match the American measures.
What does abolition of slavery mean?
What does abolition of slavery mean? School children may think, "This question is easy. A freed slave gains liberty, leaves behind chains, and becomes a free man." As far as it goes, that's a fine answer -- but, those of us who are not school children should note that slavery entails another dimension: economics. In an economic sense, the abolition of slavery means that henceforth, the value of labor will be "something" rather than "nothing."
Free trade is for the free world
In 2000, U.S. President Bill Clinton was pushing through the U.S. Congress a "free trade" agreement with Communist China. The China Support Network was against that measure, as were leading Chinese dissidents (including veteran campaigners of Tiananmen Square). We were also joined by America's labor unions, and by Congressional leaders such as David Bonior, Nancy Pelosi, and Dick Gephardt.
The measure was called PNTR. The establishment says that means "Permanent Normal Trade Relations." CSN says that it means "Permanent Normal Tyranny Reward."
Free trade would be less objectionable if it stayed within the free world. While America's unions have found all such arrangements to be odious, noxious, and objectionable, some measures - like NAFTA, CAFTA, and FTAA - stay within the Western Hemisphere, where the member nations are ostensibly countries of the free world. At least they are not nuclear-armed, communist superpowers.
Abrogating the Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment
When free trade extends outside of the free world and in particular to China - a nuclear-armed, communist superpower with slave labor gulags - then it takes odious, noxious, and objectionable to a new level, because it is a way for U.S. corporations to bypass the 13th Amendment. By sourcing their production and procurement to China, U.S. corporate leaders are able to leverage dirt-cheap labor in China to replace American workers (exacerbating U.S. unemployment and trade deficit problems) to pad their profits handsomely. It undermines the economy while it also undermines freedom, democracy, human rights, and U.S. national security.
This also throws U.S. workers into direct competition with the inmates of China's slave labor gulags, which are also known as Laogai concentration camps. In fact, if Washington's "name of the game" was democracy or nationhood, then we would not be implementing free trade with tyrannical regimes. The agenda to trade with China is Prime Example #1 or "the tell" which informs us that Washington's name of the game is not democracy or nationhood. Instead, their game is to enable kleptocracy and looting while turning away from any morals, scruples, values, or ethics.
Discerning readers can already tell that the China Support Network finds the "free trade with China" policy--in toto--to be inexcusable, unforgivable, and morally indefensible, if not literally criminal. (And, on the latter point, one can certainly argue that a "crime against the American worker" has occurred. Unfortunately, there is no statute which criminalizes such manipulation of the economy.)
Even free traders should object
However, if we put aside the CSN's objections to the entire package of China trade, and assume there is no objection to China trade in principle, then there is still room for supporters of free trade to be incensed at the present day circumstances with China.
The employment of slave labor, as occurs in China, is economically just as objectionable as is the Chinese practice of currency manipulation. If the idea with China trade is to allow bidirectional trade on a level playing field for both sides, well then -- slave labor tilts the playing field, just as much as currency manipulation.
In each case, the result is the same. Chinese exports are priced lower than would be the case on a level playing field, and U.S. exports are priced higher than would be the case on a level playing field. By these two means -- currency manipulation, and slave labor -- the Chinese government has tilted the playing field, and engages the U.S. with economic dirty pool. In other words, slave labor is not just a human rights abuse. It is an economic abuse.
Right now, Washington is sounding self-righteous over the matter of currency manipulation, and silent over the matter of slave labor.
The silence is very telling.