Ordinary people hit by trade tension
Visit to US reveals reliance on everyday goods
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.