The $52 Billion China Question

U.S. exports to China last year totaled $52 billion, which pales in comparison to the $285 billion in Chinese imports coming into the U.S. The result is not only a record trade deficit, but also a blow to our GDP, lost jobs, unsafe products, and an erosion of our manufacturing base.

By the way, some of our fastest growing exports to China are waste -- scrap metal, scrap copper, scrap paper and the like. Not products that will create the good-paying jobs of the future.

Ironically -- or perhaps not -- a study released last week concludes that the Chinese government is subsidizing its steel industry to the tune of $52 billion. While American companies are eager to compete in the global marketplace, it's impossible to compete with these subsidies, which violate all sorts of trade rules.

Congress is poised to act on China's illegal currency manipulation, which gives Chinese producers a 40 percent price advantage over American production, for the first time. But the Bush administration indicates that it still opposes any and all interventions.

That opposition is shortsighted. Unless the Chinese government understands that there are consequences for its market-distorting practices, the regime in Beijing won't be inclined to change them, no matter how many trips Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson makes there.

There is another opportunity to secure good-paying jobs. The International Trade Commission has been reviewing the case of below-cost steel imports from China and other countries. It has heard testimony from dozens of Senators, Members of Congress, workers and domestic steel companies about the damage this dumped steel causes to one of our nation's most important strategic industries. Hopefully, the ITC will make the right call and continue to ensure that American workers and manufacturers have the same opportunity to compete as their overseas competitors.

Standing up for accountability and fairness in our trade policy doesn't mean you are anti-China or protectionist. Rather, it means you support the rule of law and eliminating market-distorting practices. These are lessons the Bush administration and mainstream media should learn.