Recently, headlines regarding the U.S. Justice Department indicting five Chinese military officers for cybercrime appeared nationwide. There is skepticism that these Chinese officers will ever see the inside of an American courtroom. In fact, this indictment has already resulted in a backlash from the Chinese government and counter-charges that are likely the first symptoms of a metastasizing crisis.
Of course, there are procedures for dealing with nations that engage in illegal activity. It’s just that they are very slow and require actual losses of American knowledge, revenue, and jobs before they can even be pursued. On rare occasion these procedures actually work, if you call it that, as demonstrated by the recent win by the United States over China regarding auto parts in a formal WTO (World Trade Organization) decision.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said the duties were part of a pattern of “illegal and improper activities” conducted by the Chinese.
“China has had 14 years to start playing by the rules, but instead we see illegal and improper activities over and over again,” Stabenow said. “As long as China keeps up this illegal behavior, we can and must respond with these kinds of strong enforcement actions.
Hooray! A trade case win that took years to accomplish. Great news unless you are one of the American business owners, investors, workers, or communities that has already gone under thanks to this abuse of trade policy. Is there a system that would allow for more timely results, even possibly stopping the damage before Americans have their life’s work destroyed?
Yes there is. In a post on this blog almost a year ago on this topic it was noted…
I remember Congressman Kenny Hulshof assuring folks from Franklin County that PNTR with China, which removed the annual review of our relationship with China and the ability to revoke preferred trade status by increasing tariffs if they were doing something, like hacking, we found objectionable would be great for the United States.
Opponents of Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with China argued the annual review was an effective way to monitor and maintain relations with the aggressive communist nation sporting a record of economic, trade, and human rights problems.
Once again, labor and opponents were outspent and outgunned by the multinational corporations that have since outsourced thousands of factories, millions of jobs, and created billions in U.S. trade deficits with their PNTR “victory.” That’s not even mentioning removing our ability to tackle issues like hacking without a lengthy World Trade Organization process that is our current remedy.
So if Kenny Hulshof and his free trade friends had listened to the AFL-CIO, Trade Analysts, and the busload of folks from Franklin County that accompanied me to a protest of PNTR with China and maintained our annual review of Chinese trade practices this toothless indictment saga could have been avoided. Americans losing their businesses and jobs could have been avoided. By maintaining our sovereignty and reviewing the activities of Chinese hackers followed by the implementation of tariffs designed to negate any Chinese advantage obtained through illegal activity this could have been avoided.
The Chinese would have lost the incentive to undermine American industry due to the tariffs and domestic industry and workers could have continued to compete on a level playing field thanks to a government that took timely, effective action to protect it’s own.
Of course, a bi-lateral trade relationship that ensures other nations don’t undercut American business and labor through unfair trade practices also would have accomplished the same goal. Just as it did for almost 200 years before the Free Trade scam suckered our legislators at the expense of their constituents.