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Democrats and Republicans alike are fed up with unfair Chinese trade practices.
As the initial shock of the coronavirus pandemic is gradually replaced by collective determination to not only grapple with the nation’s current critical medical equipment shortages but also prevent the repetition of similar disasters in the future, Americans are coalescing around a new commitment: getting tough on China.
New polling reveals that the bulk — 69% to be exact — of the U.S. general population, regardless of party affiliation, is united in favoring the tough trade policies that the government has recently enforced against China. Of those surveyed by The Harris Poll, 50% called for even tougher action, and 73% of Americans favor reinstating more tariffs should China fail to uphold its end of the U.S.-China trade deal’s “Phase One.”
Before we launch into more, let’s be crystal clear: Bigoted attacks against Chinese nationals and Chinese-Americans are abhorrent and must come to a complete stop. COVID-19 knows no borders and has devastated communities all over the world. People are suffering — this is true in America as it is elsewhere. Attacking people for their origins is not only oppositional to America’s founding philosophy but also counter-productive. Our scrutiny must turn to the Chinese government instead.
China has long abused international trade law to unfairly advantage its industries though industrial subsidies and currency manipulation on top of egregious human rights violations.
In the short term, this has meant that corporate America has benefitted from bigger paydays while America’s factory workers floundered, withering communities around the country. In the long term, the consequences have been even more far-reaching and perhaps unexpected for some.
The stressors the coronavirus has placed on America’s healthcare system has exposed the fragility of our national stockpiles and our ability to manufacture the goods our nation needs in times of emergency.
We can only hope that today’s global pandemic will remain a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but we cannot remain naïve to our vulnerabilities.
Decades of offshoring America’s manufacturing have undercut our nation’s ability to respond to crises like the pandemic. Our nation’s supply chains for crucial medial equipment are in some cases hopelessly entangled by dependence upon other countries — pharmaceuticals are a prime example of this — and our manufacturing capability winnowed down to the point of impotence in far too many scenarios.
But The Harris Poll’s latest findings also offer further insight into the future of American manufacturing.
Reports of manufacturing’s exodus from China have long been in the news as U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports disincentivized companies from exploiting China’s cheap labor and lax environmental standards. Though these companies may be leaving exiting China’s factories for more mercenary reasons, polling reveals that Americans are now also calling for U.S. companies to leave in light of the coronavirus’s impacts.
According to The Harris Poll, 71% of Americans agree that American companies should “pull back from manufacturing in China.”
We’ve known for a long time that American workers deserve better than to see their jobs leave our shores. And now America emphatically agrees.