It could be said that people are naive if they do not recognize the distinct advantage a state-driven economy has over free enterprise, at least initially. A bit predatory in nature, such a system can quickly exploit the weaknesses of its competitors, however, a major flaw is that over time a state-controlled system pays dearly in that they are not responsive to consumers real needs or trends. Such systems also fail to react accordingly to market change thus squandering their resources. The crux of this article is that it is important we recognize China is a state-run economy based on a business model that is geared to expand by crushing the competition. Subsidizing those companies working within its system in a multitude of ways helps it achieve this goal.
For years China has been a place were corruption has flourished, partly fueled because any appearance of growth has been rewarded. Also, the rules protect the politically connected. Donald Trump recognized this and rallied those Americans that have been harmed and most affected by globalization and the “China effect” to put him in office. Trump’s so-called base is made up of supporters many of which have lost their jobs or seen wages stagnate over the years. This sometimes referred to as the hollowing out of America is something that has occurred across a broad swath of the country as greedy companies have exploited the concept of “free trade” by having the products they sell in America manufactured in China using cheap Chinese labor.
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Three articles that appeared on this site over the last year support my argument that China is not our friend and that we had better be on our toes. The first explored how China was ramping up its fledgling aviation industry and how when it hits its stride we can expect cutthroat competition. The article warns that as China’s aviation industry takes flight over the next decade America may be saying say goodbye to a big chunk of its exports in this field. The Chinese manufacturer claims the twin-engine, narrow-body design of the C919 is superior to its competition the Boeing 737, the best-selling jetliner in the world, and its competitor, the Airbus A320. COMAC (Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China) also says it can bring the C919 in at a price lower than the $50 million range that Boeing and Airbus charge for each of their planes.
On Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first state visit to the USA, he made a couple deals said to help foster relations between the two countries. One was to order 300 Boeing aircraft for $38 billion, this was tied to Boeing building the first “aircraft completion plant” in China, it was to be Boeing’s first non-U.S. plant. Considering China’s knack, or shall we say, history, of taking advantage of sucking production ideas from manufacturers this move was a watershed event to many industry watchers. As noted above China is now in a far better position to realize its dreams to develop this industry because part suppliers such as GE, Pratt & Whitney, and other firms are eager to supply the engines and other key components. The politics of globalization a few years ago have paved the way forward and makes China’s effort to produce planes far more likely to succeed. With China’s experience of building cities from scratch, why build just one factory when you can build twenty? This means we should not expect this industry to grow organically but it is logical it will be engineered by an aggressive government with a mission.
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The second deals with the company formed in a recent merger of China’s two largest train makers this means the production of railway locomotives, bullet trains, passenger trains and metro vehicles. It points out that no effort is being made to deny that the impetus for the merger of China CNR Corp and CSR Corp in 2015 was the quest for a deeper push into overseas markets. Proof of its ability to compete is that it has been able to win by a wide margin nine-figure contracts, such as the supply of metro cars to Boston and LA. It should also be noted that CRRC recently formed a consortium with Bombardier that allows it to compete for the renewal of the New York subways where it appears they are currently in the lead to win the contract that should amount to around $1.5 billion dollars.
The third article warns that when you closely examine America’s trade deficit with Mexico it becomes even more disturbing. When following the money the United States huge trade deficits you begin to understand the money eventually ends up in China. When you start thinking about all the money and jobs we shift into Mexico each year you would think by now Mexico would be rolling in cash, however, a bit of research quickly confirms that the money Mexico receives by way of trading with America quickly passes through its lands and flows to Asia. It could be argued that when all is said and done, we are still transferring our wealth to the far east only by the scenic route and each year the numbers are huge. The US trade deficit widened to a shocking 48.7 billion dollars in October of 2017.
It does not take a great deal of foresight to realize that America is on verge of giving up its role as an economic leader if it continues on its current path. Those who surrender to the idea America is too small to lead based on population numbers do not understand that quality beats quantity hands down. Sadly the spirit of, “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” is alive and well in many of those advocating free trade and the expansion of globalism. Whether driven by greed or suffering from being short-sighted, buyers of the many products we import each year should resist giving up their futures so that we can buy the latest fancy flat screen television or set of patio furniture made in China for far less than one made in America. Countries that export goods at slightly below cost in exchange for manufacturing jobs are not stupid they are predatory and we in America are their prey.
H/T: Bruce Wilds