Unfair to blame China for U.S. job losses: leading U.S. expert on China

Updated 2017-04-05 10:00:27 Xinhua

China-U.S. trade benefits both sides and China is not to blame for the loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States, said a renowned U.S. expert on China.[Special coverage]

Statistics from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce show that two-way trade of goods exceeded 519.6 billion U.S. dollars last year, making China America's largest trading partner and America China's second largest.

“I think respectable economists, not people who were just working for politicians, all agree that bilateral trade has benefited both the U.S. and China,” Avery Goldstein, a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania (U Penn), told Xinhua in a recent interview.

The standard of living of the American people has became higher because of less costly Chinese products, added Goldstein, who was listed among the top 20 China experts in the United States by China Foreign Affairs University in 2015.

It is unfair for some politicians to blame China for America's loss of manufacturing jobs, Goldstein pointed out, noting that it is more about worldwide market competition, and about automation, which leads to higher productivity -- and fewer workers -- in factories.

“Of course, if the relationship is poorly managed, if the negotiations with China on trade don't go well, and if tariffs are imposed on China, Americans will quickly see the effect, which would be an increase in the price of goods,” said the expert.

According to an Oxford Economics report, China-U.S. trade was credited for creating some 2.6 million jobs in the United States and contributing 216 billion dollars to U.S. economic growth in 2015.

“We should not try to keep China poor or to prevent China from playing a bigger role in the global economy, but rather to figure out how to cooperate with China in addressing the problems of global economy and managing some of the difficult trade and financial issues that come up in international economics,” said Goldstein.

Commenting on the upcoming meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump in Florida, the expert stressed that the significance of the event should not be underestimated.

The two leaders, first of all, will “get a deeper understanding of each other and each other's general views about the U.S.-China bilateral relationship,” said the professor, who is also director of the U Penn Center for the Study of Contemporary China.

“Beyond that, each side may want to lay out a general road map for dealing with some of the areas where cooperation looks most feasible, and some of the areas where it is clear the two sides will have to work hard to manage their disagreements,” he added.

Noting that Trump, who has been in the White House for over two months, might not have a “comprehensive China strategy” in place with his entire foreign policy team being assembled, he observed that the U.S. president is turning from “tough talk to pragmatism” on policies towards China.

Trump has reversed his previous assertions and pledged to honor the one-China policy, a cornerstone of China-U.S. diplomatic relations. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has vowed that the U.S. side is ready to develop relations with China based on the China-proposed principles of non-confrontation, non-conflict, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

The upcoming meeting will provide “an incentive” for the Trump administration to “have a tentative outline of how they like to approach the U.S.-China relationship, and help them understand how they may have to adjust,” Goldstein said.

“But even such success will only be a start with much work to be done by both sides in subsequent months and years,” as bilateral ties have become increasingly important and complex in recent years, said the professor.

Moreover, the two countries share responsibilities in dealing with many regional and global issues, like climate change, non-proliferation, counter-terrorism, disease control and disaster relief, he added.

“Look, the bottom line here is for President Trump,” said Goldstein. “Domestic economy is the most important issue as it is for most presidents, and so he's going to have to calculate. It's pretty clear picking up a fight with China would not be good for the United States.”

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