Or­di­nary peo­ple hit by trade ten­sion

Visit to US re­veals reliance on ev­ery­day goods

Global Times US Edition - - BIZUPDATE - CHU DAYE

I trav­eled to the US last week, amid the heat of a “trade war” be­tween China and the US. The week be­fore, the two sides ex­changed fire with a flurry of tar­iffs, fol­low­ing the US move af­ter its Sec­tion 232 in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Chi­nese steel and alu­minum prod­ucts. There have since been even higher tar­iff threats and re­tal­ia­tory mea­sures. The trade ten­sions be­tween the two economies are at a record high.

At the air­port pickup, I asked the taxi driver’s opin­ion about this. “No mat­ter what he [Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump] says, he is not go­ing to win. Be­cause too much daily stuff comes from China,” the driver said.

“But the US could pro­duce many of the things on its own,” I said, re­fer­ring to the spa­cious Ford GMC van we were sit­ting in. “You can live with­out a car, but you can­not live with­out the daily goods China pro­duces,” the driver said.

I used my ho­tel room to get an idea of how many of the daily goods used in the US are made in China. The tele­phone, a cus­tom­ized item from Coloradobased firm Teledex, was made in China. The dig­i­tal alarm clock, from New Jersey-based iHome, was made in China. The TV re­mote con­trol was also made in China. A chrome-plated mir­ror with a light, sold by the Con­necti­cut-based Con­air Corp, was also made in China.

The om­nipres­ence of “Made in China” prod­ucts, es­pe­cially small elec­tronic goods, speaks silently about the co­op­er­a­tive re­la­tion­ship be­tween the world’s two largest economies. And in this di­vi­sion of la­bor – the Amer­i­can com­pa­nies de­sign­ing the prod­ucts, the Chi­nese com­pa­nies man­u­fac­tur­ing them, and the Amer­i­can con­sumers us­ing them – all sides ben­e­fit.

What’s more, I have never seen these prod­ucts in Chi­nese ho­tels or in on­line mar­ket­places. The in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty for these brands is not in ques­tion.

The long queues in front of the US Em­bassy in Bei­jing and the jam-packed flights across the Pa­cific are a tes­ta­ment to the strong peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes be­tween the two coun­tries. This is the an­chor and the driver of Sino-US eco­nomic re­la­tions.

Too much trade war rhetoric and the sell­ing of the wrong idea that China has been tak­ing ad­van­tage of the US will have a neg­a­tive im­pact on the minds of or­di­nary Amer­i­cans who have not trav­elled to China and who rely on the me­dia to form their opin­ions of a coun­try so dis­tant and that only ap­pears on the bot­tom of the goods they use.

A neg­a­tive im­pact on them will erode the foun­da­tion of the two coun­tries’ re­la­tions. This should not hap­pen, as it will be the or­di­nary peo­ple who take the brunt of a trade war.

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