American Officials Erase US Role in Empowering Their New Number One Enemy China

As Washington increasingly inflates the China threat, a few pieces of sly propaganda to sell that conflict are coming more into focus. Recent speeches devoted to China by key figures in the Biden administration largely rested on falsehoods that conveniently erase decades of mistakes by the American elite and therefore shift all the blame onto China.

Both Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and national security advisor Jake Sullivan recently engaged in this rewriting of history that claims the Chinese stole American jobs and similarly that Beijing nefariously took control of the “clean” energy industry and will now use its position to coerce other nations, potentially slowing climate action.

One can see why it’s an attractive talking point for DC officials as it helps sell the conflict to working class Americans and environmentalists, but it’s simply not true.

The blame for American industry (green or not) relocating to China was caused by the greed of American elites who reaped massive profits in the process. Now they claim taking on China will bring back jobs and help tackle climate change. Nevermind that much of the American industry now being relocated out of China is going to other “low-cost” countries or that the US war machine is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter.

How are Yellen and Sullivan portraying the US as an innocent bystander that never could have foreseen the loss of US manufacturing to China?

Here’s Yellen speaking on April 20 at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies:

Over the past few decades, China has experienced an impressive economic rise. Between 1980 and 2010, China’s economy grew by an average of 10 percent per year. This led to a truly remarkable feat: the rise of hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. China’s rapid catch-up growth was fueled by its opening-up to global trade and pursuit of market reforms. …China has long used government support to help its firms gain market share at the expense of foreign competitors.

…The actions of China’s government have had dramatic implications for the location of global manufacturing activity. And they have harmed workers and firms in the U.S. and around the world….China’s unfair economic practices have resulted in the over-concentration of the production of critical goods inside China.

And here’s Sullivan in his big speech about the new US international economic policy  speaking at the Brookings Institution last month:

The so-called “China shock” that hit pockets of our domestic manufacturing industry especially hard—with large and long-lasting impacts—wasn’t adequately anticipated and wasn’t adequately addressed as it unfolded.

First off, to the point of government support. China no doubt provides subsidies for firms largely in fields deemed strategic. The US also does so (see: Inflation Reduction Act, oil, agriculture, auto, etc.).

No doubt that China has bent and broken WTO rules, but that was working just fine for US officials until it wasn’t. Now that officials like Sullivan have woken up to the fact that offshoring everything to China was a disastrous long-term security plan, they say it’s Beijing’s fault for the “China shock.” But contrary to Sullivan’s claim such an outcome couldn’t have been foreseen, it was “adequately anticipated.” Here’s a piece from the New York Times back in 2000 titled “Unions March Against China Trade Deal”:

Thousands of steelworkers, truck drivers, auto workers and other union members rallied on Capitol Hill and swept through the halls of Congress today in a show of muscle intended to block a trade agreement with China.

Their message, conveyed by union leaders and rank-and-file members who came from as far away as Michigan and Nebraska, was that trade was working for American corporations but not for American workers.

…[the union members] said, they are only opposing a deal with a country that does not respect workers’ rights and would stop at nothing, in their view, to steal the jobs that are the backbone of the American middle class.

It was obvious at the time what was happening; the real story is well-known, but just to recap: it was American elites’ greed that caused the American working class to lose 3.7 million decent paying jobs from 2001-2018.

Matt Stoller and Lukas Kunce tell the story from a national security perspective in a 2019 piece at The American Conservative. Using old US telecom equipment company Lucent Technologies as a starting point. In 1996, AT&T spun off Bell Labs into Lucent, which began to buy up companies in an effort to keep its stock price high. Lucent also lended money to risky startups who would then buy Lucent equipment. Then came the dot-com bust, and the company, already dealing with accounting scandals, began massive layoffs. But that wasn’t the end of the story. Stoller and Kunce write:

In the early 2000s, the telecom equipment market began to recover from the recession. Lucent’s new strategy, as Mottl put it, was to seek “margin” by offshoring production to China, continuing layoffs of American workers and hiring abroad. At first, it was the simpler parts of the telecom equipment, the boxes and assembly, but soon contract manufacturers in China were making virtually all of it. American telecom capacity would never return.

Lucent didn’t recover its former position. Chinese entrants, subsidized heavily by the Chinese state and using Western technology, underpriced Western companies. American policymakers, unconcerned with industrial capacity, allowed Chinese companies to capture market share despite the predatory subsidies and stolen technology. In 2006, French telecom equipment maker Alcatel bought Lucent, signifying the end of American control of Bell Labs. Today, Huawei, with state backing, dominates the market.

The erosion of much of the American industrial and defense industrial base proceeded like Lucent. First, in the 1980s and 1990s, Wall Street financiers focused on short-term profits, market power, and executive pay-outs over core competencies like research and production, often rolling an industry up into a monopoly producer. Then, in the 2000s, they offshored production to the lowest cost producer. This finance-centric approach opened the door to the Chinese government’s ability to strategically pick off industrial capacity by subsidizing its producers. Hand over cash to Wall Street, and China could get the American crown jewels.

Can you blame Beijing? If the US wants to sell off their industry, wouldn’t it be crazy not to take it? The fact is the Chinese used the system Washington built against them, and now the likes of Sullivan and Yellen cry foul.

Long Yongtu, China’s chief negotiator for WTO accession has defended Beijing’s role in the country’s economy, saying “when we promised to adopt a market economy, we made it absolutely clear that it would be a socialist market economy.”

The loss of US manufacturing decimated the country’s research capacity. It means the US relies on components made in China for aircraft carriers and submarines. It means a trillion dollars in defense spending helps enrich China – the very country which is supposedly behind the increased defense spending in the first place.

Of course, Yellen and Sullivan admit no mistakes by the US ruling class. It was impossible to know this would happen, they say, despite warnings at the time that this very situation would arise.

Not surprisingly, when Politico did a 20-year-anniversary story on China’s accession to the WTO, most US lawmakers didn’t want to talk about their vote to normalize trade relations with China in 2000 (which paved the way to the WTO).

But four American “experts” who did the planning and negotiating of the normalization of trade ties with China have zero regrets. That’s hardly surprising as it seems the number one qualification to become an expert is the ability to never admit being wrong. It also probably didn’t hurt that all these experts were rewarded with better positions and often cashed in afterwards.


Yellen and Sullivan also play up how confronting China is part of their newfound focus on minerals critical for a green economy, but what they’re really doing is disguising another lack of foresight by American elites. Sullivan says critical minerals are “the backbone of the clean-energy future” and that “clean-energy supply chains are at risk of being weaponized in the same way as oil in the 1970s, or natural gas in Europe in 2022.”

Many of these minerals are controlled by China and are also critical for the US defense industry. Who could have foreseen? Here’s another tidbit from that 2000 New York Times article:

In an effort to counter the unions’ message, the administration released a Commerce Department study showing that every state would benefit from increased trade with China. And Gen. Colin L. Powell, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, endorsed the agreement, saying that among its other benefits it would be in the nation’s security interests.

How has that worked out? Well, it’s now unclear how exactly the US would conduct this was it wants so much with China considering it’s so reliant on it for minerals and components crucial to the American military. As Army Technology points out:

The US Department of the Interior released a list of 35 minerals it deems essential to the economic and national security in 2018 (updated in 2022), amongst them many REEs. The problem for the US is that the local production of these materials is hugely limited.

The extent of reliance on imports varies from mineral to mineral. Beryllium is mainly used to create lightweight material used in fighter jets, lithium is essential for modern battery production and tin is used in electronics, including soldier semiconductors, a sector that is projected to reach a value of $17.5bn by 2030.

Whereas the US produces some of the minerals mentioned above, it entirely relies on China and other countries for many other supplies. Cerium is used in batteries and in most devices with a screen and magnets forged from neodymium and samarium are impervious to extreme temperatures that are used in fighter jet fin actuators, missile guidance, control systems, aircraft and tank motors, satellite communications and radar and sonar systems.

Here again, it was the US that moved rare earth and other mineral processing to China, that sold off mining operations to Chinese companies, and reaped the rewards for doing so. As Stoller and Kunce describe:

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Defense Department invested in the development of a technology to use what are known as rare-earth magnets. The investment was so successful that General Motors engineers, using Pentagon grants, succeeded in creating a rare earth magnet that is now essential for nearly every high-tech piece of military equipment in the U.S. inventory, from smart bombs and fighter jets to lasers and communications devices. The benefit of DARPA’s investment wasn’t restricted to the military. The magnets make cell phones and modern commercial electronics possible.

China recognized the value of these magnets early on. Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping famously said in 1992 that “The Middle East has oil, China has rare earth,” to underscore the importance of a rare earth strategy he adopted for China. Part of that strategy was to take control of the industry by manipulating the motivations of Wall Street.

Two of Xiaoping’s sons-in-law approached investment banker Archibald Cox, Jr. in the mid-1990s to use his hedge fund as a front for their companies to buy the U.S. rare-earth magnet enterprise. They were successful, purchasing and then moving the factory, the Indiana jobs, the patents, and the expertise to China. This was not the only big move, as Cox later moved into a $12 million luxury New York residence. The result is remarkably similar to Huawei: the United States has entirely divested of a technology and market it created and dominated just 30 years ago. China has a near-complete monopoly on rare earth elements, and the U.S. military, according to U.S. government studies, is now 100 percent reliant upon China for the resources to produce its advanced weapon systems.

And now as the US presses the situation in Taiwan and enacts chip controls (and pressures other countries to do the same), how is China considering retaliating? From Nikkei Asia:

China is considering prohibiting exports of certain rare-earth magnet technology in a move that would counter the U.S.’s advantage in the high-tech arena.

Japan specializes in making high-performance magnets from rare earths while the U.S. produces products that use the magnets…Washington has since moved to forge a rare-earth supply chain on U.S. soil. China’s share of all rare earths produced globally dropped to roughly 70% last year from about 90% a decade earlier, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

At the same time, China still holds a tight grip on processing rare earths. Most rare earths extracted in the U.S. go to China for refining before being shipped back to the U.S.

The CHIPS Act and the Inflation Reduction Act have added roughly 77,000 jobs so far, according to Jack Conness who does a neat job tracking the investments. That’s still a far cry from the 3.7 million jobs sent to China from 2001 to 2018, and it doesn’t look like many more will be returning despite the push to move production out of China as ties deteriorate. There’s the problem of automation, which FiveThirtyEight noted back in 2016:

 Because of rising wages in China, the need for shorter supply chains and other factors, a small but growing group of companies are shifting production back to the U.S. But the factories they build here are heavily automated, employing a small fraction of the workers they would have a generation ago.

And there’s always the pesky issue of American workers asking for decent wages. Both Yellen and Sullivan waxed on about “friendshoring” – relocating from China to friendly countries, which also happen to be low-wage. This is evidence of more short term thinking and prioritizing profits. Recall that China was initially thought of as friendly, and the selling point was that gifting it American industry would only make it friendlier.

Companies from China are already out in front of the friendshoring trend and are increasingly setting up shop in Mexico in order to be closer to their biggest market in the US.

Sullivan and Yellen don’t touch on that or just how difficult this reorganizing of supply chains will be. A 2020 Bank of America study found that it would cost American and European  firms $1 trillion over five years to shift all the export-related manufacturing that is not intended for Chinese consumption out of China.

Additionally, China remains the main player in East Asian production networks, which makes manufacturing electronics products, for example, without Chinese parts and components increasingly unrealistic. Meanwhile, the US is still the largest source of inward foreign direct investment flows into ASEAN. From The Diplomat:

These different roles played by the U.S. and China in the East Asian economic system are a result of the distinct fundamentals of their domestic economies. China has pursued a production- and investment-based growth model in the past few decades, while the United States is a post-industrial, heavily financialized economy, sustained by high consumption and its central position in the global financial order. These fundamentals will prove to be harder to shape than unilaterally altering trade policies.

On the one hand, this means that attempts at isolating China are limited by the economic realities. “Friend-shoring,” “nearshoring,” and newfound industrial policies in the United States (and Europe) could very well lead to the diversification of U.S. imports, lessen the perceived national security risks associated with import dependence, and provide economic benefits to ASEAN countries by shifting some manufacturing activity from China to Southeast Asia. However, these policies are unlikely to fundamentally challenge China’s central position in regional trade and production networks in the mid-term. As Apple’s struggles in diversifying the production of the iPhone show, China-centered production networks are not easy to replicate in other countries, as Chinese logistics and suppliers possess significant advantages.

With that in mind, it’s likely this ends up as another situation similar to the purchasing of Russian oil via India:

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  1. Rob Urie

    $1 trillion to rebuild critical American manufacturing seems like a bargain compared to the alternative.

    This would be productive infrastructure, meaning that it would be an investment based in a presumably recovered industrial policy.

    What is the alternative plan?

    Good article.

    1. christofay

      One obvious drawback is the corruption in and around our central U. S. government. As with the ballyhooed aid to Ukraine, of that $1 trillion a portion, a large portion?, is drained off by insiders. You can look at our worst secretary of state Blinkin. He had a consultant company and also a leverage buy-out company centered in D. C. engaged in the military sector. There’s a lot of money there. We have the most expensive military-industrial-bureacracy complex on earth but our weapons are second best with only enough ammo for a week. Blinkin added noting of value but had two hands out to skim off a cut.

    2. SocalJimObjects

      That estimate seems low, has there been any infrastructure project in the US coming on budget? Also no way American bosses would want to deal with union issues.

    3. Pelham

      Agreed, but I’d up that to say it’s essential reading.

      I’d like to have a lot more names of the Americans who sold out the country — and then a retroactive law to formally label them as traitors.

      1. some guy

        All the inventors of Free Trade ideology and architects of the Free Trade Agreements.

        Bill Clinton was the Democrat who was able to pull off his Nixon-Goes-To-China on getting Free Trade agreements passed through a Majority Democrat House. He would deserve a very central mention for his very central role in actually Getting It Done.

    4. Jeff Jenkins

      I like how this fool goosed China GDP growth numbers by using 1980 as a base year, that is when the market reforms were dictated. The 1980s wasn’t a spectacular growth time for China, about the same as the 1960s before the Cultural Revolution and it included a recession. Even with Deng’s slave labor, free market zones in the 1980s, there wasn’t much spin-off from the multinationals.
      The ‘growth’ was all outsourcing, made possible by the internet from the late 1990s on. It amazes me how quickly peopple forget these things. The Boomer generation told the Millenials about all of the lost industry and better way of life. The Zoomers have an impression, but no real understanding of the loss.

      1. Yves Smith

        Wowsers, stick foot in mouth and chew much? You just demonstrated statistical ignorance.

        Any numbers series with low increases in the start of the series will depress overall growth (CAGR).

        Please do not loudly and proudly misinform readers

  2. Candide

    Reading this article with delight, having closely tracked NAFTA, TPP and other dangerous temptations, and spread the warnings, I can’t help remembering a New Yorker cartoon of a smiling man and woman at a party, with her thoughts in a word balloon: A little more cleavage and you’re a dead duck.

    Presumably neither of them was nuclear armed or in possession of a lethal propaganda system.

  3. JR

    I don’t like V.I.Lenin, but what was it that he said? Oh yeah, something about selling some rope …. Our own elites selling us out? Who’da thought? (sarc)

    Good article…I’ll next start searching to see if RFK, Jr., has a position on this.

    1. Troy

      OT but you’ll happy to know, the idiom you’re thinking of dates back centuries, and really shouldn’t be attributed to Lenin.

    2. Jeff Jenkins

      He said, “the capitalists would sell the rope to hang their own grandmother,” when he referred to Ford investing in the USSR.

      Lenin is an iconic and selfless figure…

  4. Tim

    I hear the ‘China stealing our jobs’ stuff a lot when I have to work on job sites (trim carpentry) and we’re feeling comfortable enough with one another to share opinions on worldly issues.
    Construction workers tend to be fairly conservative these days with a reactionary bent. It’s an aging workforce with aging attitudes I suppose. Whenever I feel like making the effort to push back on the ‘China stealing jobs’ stuff I remind whoever is making the claim that my shop is full of tools from all over the world. US, Italy, Germany, Taiwan and China. Heck, a good deal of my US tools still have the ‘proudly made in the USA’ stickers from the late 90’s.
    S’funny thing there. Somehow I remember the Mexicans stealing our jobs first as all the flagship tool companies started sporting discreet ‘made in Mexico’ tags in the early oughts. Then a few years later they changed again to ‘made in China’. From Porter Cable, Milwaukee, Skil (was becoming junk anyways) Delta, DeWalt, didn’t matter. They all took this path.
    So rilly, it’s more like China stole jobs from Mexico that stole jobs from Murica amiright? I usually drive the point that no ones stealing nuttin. Bunch of Americans in suits sold out our manufacturing and decent jobs to make a quick buck. It was unions and leftists that were fighting NAFTA, etc. The same bunch that was saying it was just the reality of nature for business to find the cheapest labor at home or abroad, your just gunna have to learn to code or stock shelves now, are now saying we got to hate on China cuz job stealing. BS!
    I’ve never had anyone disagree with me on that point yet.

    1. nippersdad

      And the fun part is pointing out that the means of Chinese success in building its’ economy is called “The American System”, because we were the ones who developed the model of tariffs and public investment in infrastructure that we are now complaining about China using.

      1. eg

        Also the industrial espionage — an American “innovation” at the expense of Old Blighty in the late 18th/early 19th Century.

        That’s long down the memory hole, mind you …

        1. nippersdad

          Yup. Wasn’t it the US’ penchant for pirating novels by people like Dickens that provided the rationale for international patent protection laws? It is all just so ironic. What goes around comes around.

          1. TimH

            A big perception problem is that the durned furriners steal good ol’ American/British/German (pick your pedestal) and just copy. It absolutely isn’t true of China now.

            The same rhetoric was used against Japan in the 1970s (when they produced the absolute best portable audio, and invented the Walkman), then Taiwan, Korea, China.

            Since so much tech design talent is currently recruited from and/or located in Taiwan, Korea, China, India (and a shout-out to Romania) the nationalism seems a bit silly.

            1. nippersdad

              Why steal patents when you can just buy them? No, it is not true of them, they are smarter than that. They bought the rights to the rope manufacturing processes and plant that we are using to hang ourselves with.

          2. digi_owl

            Dunno much about patent law over the ages, but i once tried to look into the history of copyright law and it was “interesting”.

            First off all, both England and France came up with similar systems around the same time.

            But while the English system, copyright, was focused on the economic side, France focused on the reputation of the author side and thus gave up the life plus X years thing that the likes of Disney has so grossly abused.

            Anyways, those two, and a buch of other nations, get together in Bern and hammer out a international concept of copyright that mix the economic focus of England with the duration from France.

            USA is not party to this, as i think it happens before USA becomes a nation. But even so, USA just copies the original English concept and largely ignores what is happening in Europe.

            Fast forward to the 1960s, when a guy visiting London comes across a copy of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and brings it with him back to USA. Where he sets about releasing an unlicensed version just as the hippies are kicking it off.

            And it was not until the 1980s that USA officially signed the Bern convention on copyright.

      2. some guy

        But ” we ” are not the ones complaining about it. At least Us aren’t the ones complaining about it. Them are the ones complaining about it. The same Them who did it to begin with and the same Them who suppressed all historical mention of the “American System” to begin with, in hopes that present day Americans would never even know that such a thing had ever even existed.

        Here is a little item on the man who invented the American System and invented the word ” American System” for his American System.
        and . . .

        Tony Wikrent writes about this sometimes. Tony Wikrent was the second source I heard about Henry Carey from.

        The first source I heard about Henry Carey from, several decades ago, was Acres USA.

    2. JohnnyGL

      Our elies thought they could turn China into Mexico. It didn’t work out.

      Now, they want to pretend it was never their plan to send everything over there, it just ‘happened’.

      1. jsn

        Who could have imagined the temerity of the Chinese government using its power for the benefit of the Chinese people, and through them itself, instead of cash grabbing as Neoliberalism requires?

        It’s all so backwards, it’s theoretically impossible (from a neoliberal perspective) and just can’t be happening, we’re all reeling!

        How were all these western executives doing the cash grab thing as a patriotic duty supposed to anticipate such incomprehensible motives?

  5. lyman alpha blob

    You really have to admire the hubris involved with the globalist “logic”. As you note, “…the selling point was the gifting it American industry would only make it friendlier”, but when it turns out the Chinese are actually good at markets (who would have thought a nation that’s been around for a few millennia knew anything about trading?!!?), then when they sell rare earths to willing participants at a fair price, they are weaponizing the trade.

    Yet when Uncle Sugar uses actual weapons to blow the Nord Stream so they can force fuel at increased prices down the throats of their European allies, that’s not “weaponization”, oh no no no. That’s the US bringing friendly rainbow pony sparkle gas to the world!

  6. Rolf

    Thanks for this, Conor. The 2019 TAC piece by Stoller and Lunce is well worth reading.

    Two of Xiaoping’s sons-in-law approached investment banker Archibald Cox, Jr. in the mid-1990s to use his hedge fund as a front for their companies to buy the U.S. rare-earth magnet enterprise. They were successful, purchasing and then moving the factory, the Indiana jobs, the patents, and the expertise to China. This was not the only big move, as Cox later moved into a $12 million luxury New York residence. The result is remarkably similar to Huawei: the United States has entirely divested of a technology and market it created and dominated just 30 years ago. China has a near-complete monopoly on rare earth elements, and the U.S. military, according to U.S. government studies, is now 100 percent reliant upon China for the resources to produce its advanced weapon systems.

    This is the son of the Watergate special prosecutor (until the Saturday Night Massacre of 1974), who died in 2004. The son, if still alive, would now be in his early eighties.

  7. JohnnyGL

    Good write up on this.

    Who knew it would be the imperialists in the US that finally attacked our long-standing model of neo-liberalism?

    1. some guy

      But they are not attacking the model. They support the model, including by suppressing discussion of the fact that part of the model was dismanting industry here, packing it up into big crates, shipping it to China and rebuilding it there in order to exterminate unionized industries here in order to exterminate the unions here. Their current accusations against China as a “bad actor” here are designed to cover up the process by which they elevated China to its current “bad actor” status for their own profit and anti-unionitic mass jobicide policy.

      Trade is a form of war-fighting on the field of economic combat. Every country should be presumed to be a bad actor in the battlespace of economic warfare. Protectionism is how a pro-survival nation protects itself against its foreign trading enemies and its own upper-class collaborators with those foreign trading enemies against the survival of those collaborators’ own country.

      We probably need a party so overtly protectionist that it would call itself the Protectionist Party to make those points and run on them. Perhaps it could call itself the Green Unions Protectionist Party and work out with Union leaderships how Unions could survive and even benefit from Greenism in a Militant Belligerent Protectionist context.

      America should seccede from the International Free Trade System and should run off the Corporate Globalonial Plantation. If China doesn’t like it, China can nationalize and expropriate every American investment in China. It would serve right the economic traitors who invested in China against America to begin with.

      And the rescue of our industries held hostage by foreign trading enemies should not be limited to ” world leading” technologies. It should include most of all the simple things that we know Americas are smart enough to make . . . like forks, spoons, knives, fishbowls . . . pickle jars . . . rubber dog shits . . . plastic vomits . . . shoes, socks, underwear, etc. All these things should be made within the borders of America itself, or else imported for sale at a fair price from countries with even higher wages and better conditions than America has.

      Free Trade is the New Slavery.
      Protectionism is the New Abolition.

  8. Hayek's Heelbiter

    As a friend once remarked, “Yes, we can declare war on China? But whose going to make our spare parts?”

  9. Mikel

    “…Now that officials like Sullivan have woken up to the fact that offshoring everything to China was a disastrous long-term security plan, they say it’s Beijing’s fault for the “China shock…”

    Offshoring as many critical needs as the USA does to ANYWHERE is a disasterous long-term security plan. But that only would matter if the establishment was concerned with the the security of the country’s citizens. It’s all about the power of corporations.

    There has been no system designed AND implemented in the USA that puts the needs of the people first.

    So anyway, why would officials step out with such a shameless twisting of the history of outsourcing jobs?

    Because it doesn’t matter to people who are not from here. It may not be the officials themselves in all cases, but the audience they are talking too.

  10. Ed

    Talk about “elites” who made “mistakes” is a nice way to avoid the needed discussion about the essence of capitalism and imperialism. The junior role of the USA’s labor hierarchy that promotes “labor management” harmony and obedience to the two party mentality has made the working class in the USA incapable of any independent fight to protect workers on all fronts.

    1. Pelham

      Agreed, “mistakes” is the wrong word. These people knew precisely what they were doing, and every last one of them needs to be held accountable in the most excruciatingly public way possible.

  11. Eclair

    During the 80+ years of my lifetime, I have seen an enormous shift in the way China has been portrayed to Americans.

    I was raised reading Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth and Alice Tisdale Hobart’s Oil for the Lamps of China. And seeing the films. Stories of Chinese peasantry, tilling their plots with primitive tools, binding the feet of their girl children (if they hadn’t killed them off at birth,) taking concubines, rejecting the Christianity, and chance for Eternal Life, that the righteous White missionaries offered them. And famines killing off millions.

    Our city had a few Chinese immigrants (compared to the thousands of Poles, Syrians, Italians, Germans, Irish and French Canadians.) The Chinese owned laundries; more affluent women brought their husbands’ shirts to the ‘chink place,’ to be washed, ironed and starched. My mother had her favorite; they also sold fresh bean sprouts (grown in the cellar) and medicine bottles, carefully corked, of soy sauce.

    Little word filtered out on the Revolution, except that the Godless Communists had taken over by force, expelling foreigners and allying with the Red Russian Communists. Everyone dressed alike in Mao jackets and earth tones. Depressing. The artless and ignorant peasants had become ruthless, militaristic autocrats. (Who had apparently outlawed foot-binding and concubinage, as well as done some major land redistribution, somewhere along the way. But, shhhh!)

    And, of course, the endless coverage of Tian’anmen Square.

    Meanwhile, the city where I was born and raised lost most of its jobs in the post WW 2 years, when the textile factories closed and moved south, to states where labor unions were discouraged. The city where we now reside, in Chautauqua County, NY, saw its furniture factories abandoned, workers, left jobless, amid mass moves to the southern states.

    In another few decades, the textile and furniture manufacturing moved to Asia. Quietly.

    In the mid-90’s, my spouse and I traveled in China for two weeks. We were escorted by our son, who was working there and spoke enough Mandarin to allow us to travel on the trains used by the locals, and stay in Chinese hotels (although on the ‘foreigner floor.’) We ate great food in tiny restaurants, or off street carts. This was at at time when foreigners were still herded about in groups and encouraged to stay in Western hotels and eat Western food, and fly rather than travel by train.

    We often ended up on streets or local buses, surrounded by curious but friendly locals, wanting to try out their English language skills. Change was in the air. People were upbeat, excited, entrepreneurial. Sure, there was ‘poverty,’ but not the hopeless, deadening kind. Things were crackling, cities were being built (even though the taller buildings had frighteningly rickety bamboo scaffolding!)

    US (hah!) corporations, like Boeing, were openly partnering with Chinese firms. Carrier air conditioning dumped over a thousand employees in Syracuse NY to move to where the business was, China.

    And now, China is, depending on what day it is, Enemy No. 1. Or, No. 2, if Russia seems to be ‘winning’ in Ukraine. They have, as Connor mentions, ‘stolen’ our industries and our jobs. And, they don’t play fair; the government, unlike the US, subsidizes chosen industries.

    After all those decades, I remain a hopeless naif, still believing that the main purpose of ‘government’ is to insure the well-being, education, security (as in having a warm, dry, safe place to sleep and adequate food, not two guns per person) of each inhabitant. And, China seems to be doing better at this than the US.

    1. bonks

      Thank you for articulating your thoughts eloquently. My first visit to China was in the early 2000s, together with my parents and siblings. We did touristy things in the several major cities, and saw the limestone mountains in Guilin. I was in my early teens and all I could remember was the terrible experiences I had with the rudimentary toilets, the awful long bus rides and various other inconveniences. Despite coming from a poor, developing country, I was not expecting to see worse than what I had seen in my hometown. That emotional memory stayed so strong with me that I swore I would never go back.

      For the next decade, I finished my studies in various developed countries but couldn’t find a place I felt was suitable for someone who wanted to build something from the ground up with no access to financial assistance. Fifteen years after that traumatic trip, I gave Shanghai a a visit. The changes in infrastructure, logistics and transportation were so vast that I thought I had stepped into the future. I knew then this was the place I could do something for myself even when all I had on me was my own two hands and a brain. If you can think of something, there’s someone who will make it for you, even if all you need is one piece, which is not something that I could do when I was living in developed countries. Like what Mr. Hudson had said, by investing in infrastructure, the government subsidised the costs of doing business. From then on, whenever I come across fellow millenial peers or younger in the west who want a way out of stagnation, I would always advise them to consider China. While I can’t speak for others, I love that I can walk around at night safely, food and rental pricing remain stable throughout the years, and like what you said, people are out and about enjoying themselves even if life can get pretty tough. The country lives and breathes, continuously changing in the blink of an eye.

    2. Pelham

      China’s elites may be horrid in many ways, but in some ways their interests roughly align with the interests of the Chinese people. The better China does, the better they fare. That ceased to be the case for US elites re their fellow Americans some decades in the past. Now, however painful, it’s incumbent on us to cast our elites overboard — even if it means (IMHO) that project has to take its first tiny step by returning a certified buffoon to the White House.

      1. some guy

        There is a case to be made for that. Regrettably, I suspect the certified buffoon would be just a Trojan Horse full of Republican elites supporting Free Trade just as much as the Democratic elites do.

        And “deconstruction of the Administrative State” would mean abolition of the FDA, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, EPA, etc. so that no future reformationists would ever be able to disinfect these agencies and bureaus and restore them to pro-citizen functionality.

        So electing the buffoon has very high risks of accelerating the domestic decay. In fact, it might be an accelerationist thing to do, which might well recommend it to the Marxists and Leninists among us.

        Now . . . IF! a Green Unionist Protectionist Party could organize itself and get on many ballots fast enough to suck enough votes away from the DemParty nominee to assure its defeat at the hands of the certified buffoon, then we would be a little closer to self-rescue through a political process.

  12. John

    Globalism has been predicated on the premise that the US, or the Combined West, the Empire, will always be the hegemon. As to China, I have long thought that the political and business class assumed that as China was so China always would be: poor, militarily weak, and a plaything, not to be taken seriously as a nation. Clearly, they had not and still have not studied the history of China. Great and powerful dynasties have been followed by times of troubles then followed by great and powerful dynasties. The arc from the heights of the Qing to the depths of the Century of Humiliation followed the First Opium War to the still rising CPC “dynasty” is just one more turn of the wheel. US elites lunged for short term profit. Why would China not take advantage of the offer. China did and it is prospering and regaining the lofty position it has often held in its long history.

    As with China in economics, so with Russia in geopolitics. The US ‘elites’ operating on false assumptions are watching the greatest geopolitical error the history of US foreign policy inexorably playing out before their transfixed gaze. In each case, they have no idea what to do except to blame anyone other than themselves.

  13. Screwball

    I worked for a division of a multi-national from 1987 to 1997 in Toledo, Ohio. At one time there were 5000 people on that city block size facility. They told us to write our congress people and push them to pass NAFTA because it would open our business up to all these new places. It would be great for our business. We were skeptical.

    Once NAFTA was written into law (1994?), things started changing, and very quickly. By 1997 our 5000 person facility was a shell of what it once was, and by 1999 it was pretty much closed (other than a skeleton crew in the office and engineering) and became a warehouse which it still is today. 5000 jobs – gone.

    I spent the remainder of my career working for a couple of other multi-nationals who’s business model was to send any and everything they could to China, Mexico, or any other third world country for wage and environmental arbitrage – because profit margins.

    Sullivan and Yellen are simply FOS, as they usually are. All the off shoring was by design and on purpose. These choices have been devastating to the American workforce, not to mention the empty factories and businesses that litter our countryside as their blight became the new normal.

    But it was good for Wall Street and company boardrooms.

    1. The Rev Kev

      About twenty years ago I read an article by this women who complained that these very same officials had changed the laws so that corporations exporting all the equipment and workers to China were able to get a tax break for doing so. Thus the US government was actually helping to facilitate the export of all those jobs there. I always thought that the thinking was that sooner or later, the Chinese billionaires would become the real power in China after pushing aside the politicians and at that point, Wall Street could go in an ransack China in much the same way that it was done to Russia back in the 90s. So now, I would go so far as to say that if China agreed to turn over control of their country to Chinese billionaires, then all this conflict with China and the US would go away within days.

      1. Kouros

        I was just thinking abut this when I started reading your post. NC or its commentariat mentioned a while ago (maybe a year, maybe more) and it stuck with me, about the legislation pushed through the Congress by Wall Street that due to taxation incentives, business was compelled to move activities outside US rather than invest in the US…

  14. marku52

    I well remember Krugman lecturing (and denigrating) people like me that thought “free trade” was going to be a disaster. Apparently we were just too stupid to understand.

    Who was right in that debate? Krug?

    1. Pelham

      Has Krugman ever appeared in a forum in which a questioner has nailed him to the wall on this subject? I suspect he finds ways to avoid such challenges.

  15. GlassHammer

    China wasn’t the launching pad to eastern trade networks that Americans believed it would be back in the 1990s and early 2000s. And American control over intellectual property, design/engineering, software, etc… did not translate into control over the Chinese manufacturing sector or stifle the emergence of Chinese firms that now rival U.S. firms.

    The goal of crushing U.S. labor by outsourcing manufacturing worked exactly as planned but everything related to exerting influence in China utterly failed.

    1. some guy

      If it was ever even sincerely intended, rather than just a line used to sell Free Trade, including with China.

  16. synoia

    The UK has a similar progression, with one extra wrinkle. The UK must import food.

    Before entering the Common Market, the remains of the UK’s empire exported food to the UK.

    After the UK joined the Common Market the previous food exporting parts of the empire had to find other buying countries for their food exports (Indian; China and other Asian countries.)

    Then the UK left the EU with no plan to feed its population, and the consequence is an explosion in the cost of the imported food.

    And now Britain is a small overcrowded Island, with many tax avoidance schemes through territories being its major industry. (AKA Finance).

  17. Susan the other

    Productivity was no obstacle to China’s economy, even being so socialist, because they had 1.5 billion people to raise out of poverty. Whereas here productivity has become the jumpstart that only backfires. There comes a time, whether socialist or neoliberal, when profit becomes stranded – there is no place to invest it profitably for future returns. Instead of “offshoring” or going to war, everybody’s go-to solution, the world could simply look at profit itself. Capitalism is more vulnerable than socialism because capitalism has a profit mandate, rather than a social mandate, and becomes pointless. But we gladly sell ourselves down the river. So I continue to wonder if a small change in attitude might make a big difference. If we stopped incentivizing everything with profits and replaced it with an incentive to stabilize the environment and society we would go beyond socialism and capitalism to a new value system altogether. Where profits are not a mirage.

  18. spud

    thanks Connor, its all right here, 1993 was the year america went full blown fascist.

    The High Cost of the China-WTO DealAdministration’s own analysis suggests spiraling deficits, job losses

    Report • By Robert E. Scott • February 1, 2000
    Issue Brief #137

    Download PDF

    The High Cost of the China-WTO Deal
    Administration’s own analysis suggests spiraling deficits, job losses

    by Robert E. Scott

    President Clinton claims that the recently signed trade agreement with China “creates a win-win result for both countries” (Clinton 2000, 9). He argues that exports to China “now support hundreds of thousands of American jobs,” and that “these figures can grow substantially with the new access to the Chinese market the WTO agreement creates”

    “China’s entry into the WTO, under PNTR with the U.S., will lock this relationship into place, setting the stage for rapidly rising trade deficits in the future that would severely depress employment in manufacturing, the sector most directly affected by trade. China’s accession to the WTO would also increase income inequality in the U.S. 4

    Despite the Administration’s rhetoric, its own analysis suggests that, after China enters the WTO, the U.S. trade deficit with China will expand, not contract. The contradiction between the Administration’s claims and its own economic analysis makes it impossible to take seriously its economic argument for giving China permanent trade concessions.”

  19. Bruno

    “Long Yongtu, China’s chief negotiator for WTO accession has defended Beijing’s role in the country’s economy, saying “when we promised to adopt a market economy, we made it absolutely clear that it would be a socialist market economy.”
    Translations from the officialeze:
    —“socialist market economy”=State Capitalism
    —“ecological civilization”=Environmentally Destructive Capital Accumulation

  20. tevhatch

    Carl Zha interviews Peter Lee, an Anglo-Saxon businessman and writer for Asia Times. Interesting background on conflict between USA and China. 27 May 2023 interview It’s interesting to hear the advertisement for other programs, particularly the 2nd one, for shows on TNT. Seems this station can hold two opposing ideas and still function.

  21. Glen

    Don’t forget the richest family in America, maybe the world:

    Wal-Mart & China – A Joint Venture

    From the beginning, Sam Walton and Wal-Mart focused on buying goods as cheaply as possible, which often meant buying imports. Here is an examination of the history of Wal-Mart’s procurement practices in Asia and China — even through its own “Buy American” promotional campaign in the 1980s and 1990s — and the prognosis for the future.

    I have not been in a Wal-Mart in over twenty years, and before that, only a handful of times.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      almost 30 years ago, when i moved the trailer house out here, and i was sitting in the sand yard(mom buldozed the site ere i arrived) in one of those white plastic walmart chairs i’d run off with from mom’s house.
      just sittin there, drinking beer, getting acclimated to my new surroundings…and idly picking at the “Made in USA” sticker affixed to the arm of the chair.
      it finally came free, revealing a “hecho en mexico” sticker underneath.
      intrigued, i picked at that…and it eventually released, as well…and there was a “made in malaysia” sticker.
      kept picking….under the latter was the final sticker…”Made in China”.
      ..and people wonder at deaths of despair, mass shootings,40 years of stagnant wages, “Going Postal” and Righty Nationalism…

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        and dammit….the same people who are now insisting breathlessly that we simply must go to war with china are the same bunch, or their heirs, who sent the dern physical plant over there in the first damned place…because they didn’t want to pay taxes, or pay Americans, or be regulated.
        I remember the Clinton years well…taught me a lot about just how “represented” i am.
        next to my stump barstool at the Wilderness Bar, it is scrawled:”dont blame me, i voted for Perot…twice”
        i won’t allow an amurikin flag on my part of the place.
        because the real thing that represents both abandoned me and my ilk, and simultaneously declared war on us, long ago.

        1. Pat

          I am an urban middle class female. I did spend time in more rural areas of NM during my scholl vacations because that’s where my grandparents were. I have had a variety of jobs in my life, but my unionized job was in the entertainment industry, one of the few areas where they haven’t yet managed to destroy the unions or ship all the jobs out of the country. While I am a recovering Democrat, I have had those moments of rebellion. I can only claim to have voted for Perot once.

          One of my favorite things to do during periods of high patriotism is to ask people where their flag, flag pin, and/or flag decal was made. It isn’t appreciated as it is never America. I also remember asking someone, if the government doesn’t think jobs should HAVE to stay in America and require it, why the hell do you expect that the CEOs of whatever business is supposed to take up the slack for manufacturing will keep jobs here out of the goodness of their hearts. One are suppposed to represent Americans, the majority of which are workers and need jobs and the other represents the stock holders who only care about profits. They didn’t appreciate it when I told them to urge their kids to become plumbers or electricians, even after I pointed out that those jobs can’t be shipped overseas, unlike everything tech based.

          1. digi_owl

            Sadly while those jobs can’t be exported, they can be undermined by “grey” immigration of underpaid workers.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i remember that article…only a couple of years after we got the internet machine.
        and one of my first research frenzies…one that settled me into the partial boycott of wally whirled(out here, for some things, there’s really no choice, sadly)

        on the far underside of the economy, otoh, from where walmt sits, is lil ol me…i sold 120# of peaches thursday and friday, for cobbler and whatnot this weekend…entirely black market…even in an alley behind the school to teachers…like a crack dealer.

        1. some guy

          It is hard to be pure in an impure world. A total boycott of some of the biggest Black Hat Perpetrators may not be possible. A partial boycott may be the best anyone can achieve. Perhaps we need a word for that, a word like “semicott”. Perhaps one can still get some things from NOmart or NOmazon. If one can, perhaps one should, to keep these White Hat Benefactors in business at the margins of existence, against the arrival of a better day.

  22. TomW

    This was more popular than everyone is willing to admit to. No-one forced anyone to shop at Walmart. The bigger picture was that everyone loved cheaper stuff. The US was trying to export Coke, Boeing and Disney, and import labor intensive stuff. Even labor wants productivity increases. This is the dream of development economics. And Americans don’t want to do basic farm labor or old fashioned factory work.

    1. More or less everyone wanted to export high value added stuff and import low wage, low value stuff. Textiles have been migrating to lower wage economies forever. Let me add that the US was able to automate and retain its carpet industry, but does anyone know or care. The jobs in Georgia aren’t great, the plants are highly automated, and well…no one cares much.

    2. Neo-Mercantilism doesn’t work in a democracy where importing interests roughly balance exporting interests. EG…Boeing vs. Walmart. Paul Ryan’s excessively complex tax scheme attempted to address some of this and was immediately DOA. Consumers want cheaper stuff.

    Personally, I’d rather import cheap stuff than low skill economic migrants. But none of this was an accident or a surprise. People voted for this. Ross Perot was the last/only popular opposition, so not everyone. They might hate a lot of the negative outcomes, but they loved every benefit.

    The idea that only greedy oligarchs favored this misses just how popular this was. And finally, the Chinese are Starbucks drinking iPhone users, not red Chinese Maoists. So why not get along with them?

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      While I disagree with some of what you write, I will agree with both of these points:

      The idea that only greedy oligarchs favored this misses just how popular this was. And finally, the Chinese are Starbucks drinking iPhone users, not red Chinese Maoists. So why not get along with them:

      This began with Republicans but has spread to flag-wearing Dems as well: China is never mentioned. It is always the “Chinese Communist Party.” When did that happen? I never heard much at all about the “Chinese Communist Party” during all those decades when all the jobs were going there.

      And as for the complicity between significant portions of the American electorate and the program of the billionaires, you’re absolutely right. Joe Biden is right in assessing that $5 gasoline will make it impossible for him to be re-elected regardless of anything else so he’s a “drill, baby, drill” guy. You can take Americans’ civil liberties away chunk by chunk. You can so incompetently handle a pandemic that we now have a new, permanent killer among us. You can allow a health industry to make healing a distant memory. And, of course, you can ignore the increasing impacts of climate change and the dark future it foretells.

      But by everything that is holy, do not let gasoline get expensive.

      JT had it right nearly 50 years ago:

      I used to think that I was cool
      drivin’ ’round on fossil fuel.
      Then I learned what I was doin’
      was drivin’ down the road to ruin.

      “Traffic Jam”

    2. JBird4049

      True, but didn’t many Americans, particularly the unions, fight against this, and what all the Americans who lost their well paying jobs during the past forty years, did they want this to happen?

    3. digi_owl

      > Consumers want cheaper stuff.

      The term consumer is perhaps the linchpin.

      Because one man’s consumer is another’s worker.

      Or in order to consume, one has to work (or rack up some nasty credit card debt).

      The consumer of today is the gentleman of Victorian Britain. And the sign of a gentleman back then was that he had enough passive income from shares and property rents that he could spend his days at the club with a newspaper and a drink.

      1. some guy

        As long as cheaper stuff was not allowed to exist, consumers couldn’t buy it at the expense of their fellow workersumers who made the more expensive stuff.

        Free Trade was instituted to give consumers a chance to race eachother and their ( our) whole society to the bottom, and then even lower than that, by looking for always the lowest price, always.
        Perhaps there should be a Legal Minimum Price to go along with the Legal Minimum Wage.

        1. digi_owl

          > Legal Minimum Price

          That is what import duties were all about, but protectionism is anathema to economists and seen by them as one of the instigator of wars.

          1. Pat

            Funny none of the armed conflicts of my lifetime were instigated by import duties. Resource theft, sure. But most of them were flat out power grabs.

            But then again most economists have been shown to be bigger liars than our current news media.

    4. spud

      if you have to give up your standard of living and technology, and go deep into debt, then free trade ain’t so cheap.

      america did fine for many many decades without cheap stuff. cheap stuff equals low wages.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Cheap stuff equals abysmal quality, reliability, and durability. Not qualities I look for in my purchases. Hard to buy better as old stand-by brands enthusiastically undercut their brand values to make a temporary profit from attempts by buyers to purchase quality, if at a higher price. Poor quality at a higher price is no bargain!

        1. some guy

          Customers know that, consumers don’t.

          Be a customer, not a consumer. That is still possible in some cases, even in the teeth of a forcefield matrix designed to destroy customer-grade quality and erase the memory of its ever having existed.

          Perhaps customers will recognize eachother while hidden in plain sight among the milling mass of consumers by virtue of the decent quality things they see eachother having and using. And the seekers after quality can be quietly initiated into the secret circle of quality seekers and quality finders and quality-payers-for.

    5. Jeremy Grimm

      I grew up in an area of the u.s. heavily dependent on spending by the federal government. I saw mass layoffs as government contracts came and went. I positioned myself in a job working for the MIC that required u.s. citizenship and a security clearance, just in case. I was not unaware of the possibility that white-collar jobs might also be sacrificed for the supposed economic efficiency and ‘progress’. Early on, I figured out that life as an economic gypsy might offer the best prospects for maintaining continuous employment.

      As I remember the times, the nascent PMC class acted as cheerleader and support for the free-trade gutting of u.s. manufacturing. The white-collar workforce, the ‘smart’ people, believed the economists and their theories — I admit I felt as one of them. I took a minor in economics and thought I understood a little about how things ‘really’ worked. I believed and wanted to believe that somehow free-trade — NAFTA — might make everyone better off once things settled out. Bill Clinton sold that ‘magic’ beautifully. Perot appeared comic to me. After giving regard to Perot’s assessment of NAFTA, I was wary of what else he supported. His background as the billionaire founder of Electronic Data Systems, an IBM clone, to say nothing of his choice for Vice-President, suggested a conservative streak that paled beside that of Bush Senior. Although I worried he might be right about NAFTA, I could not shake the feeling that NAFTA was somehow inevitable. I do not recall Bush having much to say about it, and it was not the only issue in play. Regan and then Bush Senior had occupied the Oval Office. I regarded Bush Senior as far too
      closely tied to the CIA, and probably the real force behind the treasonable Iran Contra Affair — the man to remove from office at all costs. Bill Clinton appeared the most likely to succeed in that. Besides, I wanted to believe that the Democratic Party supported my best interests. They were still the Labor party and still favored the common man, or so I convinced myself [FOOL].

      After NAFTA, as u.s. industry was dismantled and shipped far far away, along with so many jobs — mostly blue-collar jobs — the white-collar workforce looked on in shock and felt relief that they had been passed over … this time. The blue-collar workers forced out of their jobs were too busy moving and trying to somehow hold their lives together to make
      much fuss. I grew more skeptical of Clinton, though not nearly skeptical enough. The 1996 Presidential elections offered Clinton, Dole, or Perot, this time, with a new VP candidate with ties to TRW. 1996 offered choices only a little better than the more recent choices we endured between Biden, Trump, or some third-party wild-cards pulled-in from some vicinity of Mars.

      This is a long mia culpa combined with more than a suggestion it is mistaken to suggest that NAFTA “was more popular than everyone is willing to admit to.” The idea that no one was forced to shop at Walmart and everyone loved cheaper stuff is — in my opinion — very FALSE. I believe Walmart took advantage of what are sometimes termed monopolies of location. As a large firm, with relatively deep pockets, Walmart could and can wipe out local competition by selling items at a loss. Once the competition is gone, they recover their margins. As the sole access to a local market Walmart holds leverage over local buyers and leverage over sellers hoping to sell into the market Walmart now controlled after destroying their competition.

      With local businesses devastated, Walmart, as an increasingly important employer in a locale, held leverage over local employment. People living in areas devastated by the loss of major employers, as those employers moved far far away — were in no position NOT to look for low low prices. Choice? I looked at prices, because I had to, and though I might purchase cheap goods from Walmart I was not fooled by their increasingly shoddy quality. Walmart became the sum of what was available for many items on many regions of the u.s.
      More expensive products labelled “Made in America” were not really made in America if you looked more closely at what the label meant.

      Your two points of economics completely ignore how the u.s. became an industrial power. The u.s. did practice a Neo-Mercantilism, and “in a democracy”? Alexander Hamilton crafted u.s. Neo-Mercantilism, altough he makes a very poor poster child for democracy. [Perhaps Aaron Burr deserves some thanks for the success in his duel with Hamilton? — though I am no fan of Burr beyond his timely ending of Hamilton.] The export of “high value added stuff and import low wage, low value stuff” was at the heart of colonial Neo-Mercantilism as practiced by the British Empire and hardly unknown to the u.s.

      I lived through those times of Clinton and NAFTA, and if you believe dismantling u.s. industry was “more popular than everyone is willing to admit to” — I believe you are mistaken. While there was indeed favor for free-trade and NAFTA, there was little understanding of, or reporting of its consequences. Besides, the u.s. government was at very very best, only slightly more responsive then than now, to the will of the voting public or concerned for the Common Good. Whether NAFTA “was more popular than everyone is willing to admit to” is FALSE and did not greatly matter to the u.s. Elites. NAFTA “Popular”? I do not agree. I might use the terms accepted, tolerated, TINA, or some variants thereof, but “popular” — not among my acquaintances.

    1. some guy

      This feature appears every Sunday over at Ian Welsh, as well as at Tony Wikrent’s own site.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      N.C. appears to be eating Welsh’s lunch. Perhaps he could be incorporated into the N.C. sphere? [NO ASSIGNMENTS or other baggage!!!!! Just a thought as the world of independent commentary and news sources grows ever more constrained.] I feel a time may come when the many currently independent sources of dissent may fail to continue without a solid home. Serving as that home is not what I believe is a role N.C. desires to fill. But the future suggests there will be fewer and fewer alternatives. Remaining as a beacon of Truth, N.C. — may need to call for our substantially augmented support.

      1. some guy

        In what sense in N.C. eating Welsh’s lunch? Is Welsh competing with N.C. to be a business? Or is Welsh writing to reach ” a few good readers”?

        And since he and N.C. are mainly writing about different things from eachother in a different style, is it even the same lunch being eaten? I think both blogs are eating their own separate lunch, as they serve their own separate purpose.

  23. David in Friday Harbor

    I have fairly recently heard Yellen speak in person and I just read Jake Sullivan’s April 27, 2023 Brookings remarks.

    As pin-head products of a politically-focused academic system who have never put-in an honest day’s labor in their lives, what is remarkable is their blithe refusal to own-up that it was the Clinton and Obama administrations who crammed the magical thinking of financialization and globalization down our throats while enabling the Republican monomania with tax-cuts for the already wealthy. Sullivan correctly describes yet fails to ascribe the slightest agency to the policies of administrations in which he participated.

    I’m convinced that the current administration’s domestic politics-motivated U-turn toward China-bashing is going to backfire spectacularly when the Chinese slowly cut America off from raw materials and manufactured goods necessary to the daily lives of ordinary citizens.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      “I’m convinced that the current administration’s domestic politics-motivated U-turn toward China-bashing is going to backfire spectacularly…”
      Wow! Ya think? I cannot think of a recent policy decision by the u.s. that did not look like a double shotgun blast into a foot. I am not sure how many feet the u.s. has left. Is the government organism a Centipede or a Millipede? Millipedes do smell bad.

    2. some guy

      The ChinaGov may curtail raw materials reaching America in order to bring America to heel as the proper running dog which China intends to turn America into.

      But the ChinaGov will not curtail its manufactured goods to America until it has extracted every last bit of wealth from America and exterminated the very last little desperate-holdout workshop here in America. For China to curtail its manufactured goods reaching America would be like a drug kingpin curtailing its drugs from reaching its best customer.

  24. Phenix

    $1 trillion over five years to shift all the export-related manufacturing that is not intended for Chinese consumption out of China

    That is 1 year of American defense spending.

    The US can bring back it’s manufacturing but that means it can not run account deficits. The global system is collapsing. The American Empire is collapsing but that does not mean that China the next dominant player. I still have my money on the country with the healthiest demographics and geography.

  25. Hayek's Heelbiter

    I’m curious why the Chicago School and their disciples and worshippers aren’t proclaiming the ascendancy of China as triumphant proof of their neoliberal theories of market efficiency..
    Can someone enlighten me?

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