Thursday, September 23, 2010

China's potemkin village

not about Zimbabwe, per se, but Tom Friedman wrote a pro China propaganda piece in today's New York Times, lauding China's economic miracle, and insisting that although he wouldn't want to live under it's "authoritarian rule", nevertheless, it is a wonderful place.

I answered it at my BNN blog, pointing out that China's economic miracle is partly based on an underpriced Yuan and unfair labor practices that mean new businesses in Asia and Africa can't compete, while China's bribery to corrupt governments mean they can exploit their resources for pennies, while local folks don't benefit.

The previous post from the UK Mail shows an example of this with the blood diamonds, but here in the Philippines, it includes suspected bribes to the Arroyo administration to allow them to have sovereignty over our gas fields in the Spratlys islands. But this is the tip of the iceberg: Today's news shows that bribes to customs officials allowed the importation of melamine contaminated milk from China, and in our area, cheap Chinese onions have made many of our farmers bankrupt.

From my BNN essay:

China is undoubtedly a growing power, but what Friedman is not noticing is most worrisome for those of us who live outside the US: that China’s economic policies-are essentially neocolonialist. By keeping the Yuan’s value artificially low, and by giving government subsidies to their goods, they are waging a price war against emerging markets in Africa and SEAsia.

By flooding the markets with their under-priced goods, thanks to the underpriced Yuan, local businesses here in the Philippines can’t compete. So local businesses either can’t be started or go bankrupt.

Is this good or bad? Both. I have no problem with free trade per se. But China’s manipulation of the Yuan means that they are not playing fairly.

And President Obama is trying to pressure China to reform the problem.......

To the President’s credit, he is allowing the Congress to consider passing protective legislation to counterbalance these unfair trade practices.

China’s economic miracle is based not only on their questionable currency manipulation, but on bad labor practices (underpaying workers, forbidding strikes), and (alas) often the export of shoddily made or even counterfeit goods due to a large amount of corruption at all levels of their society.

We here in the Philippines are aware of this, because we have to worry about buying products from China, because a lot of them are poorly made and break shortly after being bought. Sometimes the goods are even dangerous, such as melamine in our milk or the cheap generic medicines that don’t work. And we also know about the large bribes by China to certain politicians to allow them to steal our natural resources.

So one longs for a real report on the Chinese economic miracle, that sees a more balance picture, instead of a glowing report on what the Chinese government wants Mr. Friedman to see.

No comments:

Free hit counters
Free hit counters