WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said on Tuesday the United States was impatient for forceful Chinese action to cut trade deficits but Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi said Beijing would not yield to pressure.Who they kiddin'? "Anti-China sentiment"? Where? Did I miss the memo?
"There is growing skepticism in each country about the other's intentions," Paulson said at the start of two days of talks with a top-level Chinese delegation and amid growing anger in the U.S. Congress over China's huge trade surplus.
"Unfortunately, in America this is manifesting itself as anti-China sentiment as China becomes a symbol of the real and imagined downside of global competition," Paulson said.
Yes, I think there's legitimate concern over our trade and currency deficit with China, but no one in their right mind is blaming China. We've all seen how this administration has borrowed, borrowed, borrowed, taking a page out of the American consumer economy, like Paris Hilton with a platinum card on Rodeo Drive. Did China take advantage of this?
Does a drug pusher give free samples?
We practically, begged them to buy our debt. We practically begged them to open their cheap labor markets to American manufacturers. And now we have to practically beg them not to call in their chips?
Ma Xiuhong, China's vice commerce minister, said a group representing more than 200 Chinese firms will have signed at least $20 billion in deals with American companies when it wraps up a two-week 24-state tour on May 24.Oh, duh! Those were the price advantages that, when we were exploiting the Chinese labor market, we were happily shelling out money for. Now that "sisters are doing it for themselves", we want a piece of the action?
But even a spate of contracts was unlikely to tamp down anger in the U.S. Congress over what many see as the artificially low value of the yuan, which they argue gives an unfair price advantage to Chinese exports.
Don't make me laugh. Yes, China has been gracious and noble in signing $20 billion in import contracts (they've probably laid half of this off on satellite countries that will repurchase goods, like North Korea or Vietnam), but there's a limit to what they will do, and certainly, any competitor worth his salt is smelling blood in the water.
We would act no differently (in point of fact, we haven't) in China's circumstances. We ought to clean up house here and next time, we can go into these talks with more moral authority and street cred.
In the meantime, I have to laugh at our arrogance. Yet again. What is it about this administration that they can't handle simple issues, like trade negotiations or armament treaties , or niggling over whether Bin Laden is still in charge of Al Qaeda without sounding like a classroom full of third graders?
Oh. Right. Magical children...