America's openness to doing business with Asian giant can change
Welcome back to America, Xi Jinping. I have been to China many times and enjoyed eating scorpion in Jinan and studying the pandas near Chengdu. I fell in love with the Chinese people and their love for America. Because we are in a period of free elections familiar to all Americans but unique from a Chinese government point of view, I thought I would give you a glimpse of the future. Change is coming, particularly if I am elected this November.
We are China's best customer on earth, but we're a nation in economic difficulty, so let me take the liberty of honest observation.
The imbalanced and unfair trade that exists between our nations is not sustainable. It will be corrected. We expect healthy trade to be fair, balanced and smart for both parties.
There is much that my country must do to strengthen its future - reforming our campaign system, budget, taxes, energy policy, overregulation of small businesses, banking system, health care costs, trade policy - and our election is about these matters and more. Most of these reforms will affect you in terms of American partnership over time, but one - trade reform - concerns you directly, immediately and long-term. Let me speak to you about China's role on this issue.
China does not trade fairly. It manipulates its currency to enhance its already healthy 40 percent labor-price advantage. China subsidizes its own designated "industries of the future" to the direct disadvantage of U.S. entrepreneurs and their workers. China has no apparent minimum standards on safety, health, environment or working conditions, with six-day workweeks and 12-hour days often required. Frequently, room and board are the only compensation, and there is widespread use of forced labor, child labor and prison labor. Many Chinese plants would not be allowed to operate anywhere in the United States.
Worse, China has deliberately and systematically placed myriad impediments to the reasonable entry of American manufactured products into China. These include piracy of patented products and processes, violation of copyright laws, a long list of import requirements often changed at the last minute - even as products arrive dockside. These hidden impediments are particularly discouraging to the heart of American industry - small businesses, which do not have the staff of lawyers, lobbyists and specialists to break through. These small companies are fast, focused, flexible, friendly and our best competitors, Mr. Xi, and China is deliberately keeping them out of your markets. You've figured out what the best part of America is, while our own government is still trying.
We offer the hand of cooperation and mutual advantage, but trade must be fair, balanced and smart. You will not be allowed to unfairly and systematically destroy our advantages while you secretly enhance your own.
As president working with Congress, I will take these and other steps toward fair and balanced trade with China:
1. Revoke permanent normal trade relations with China. China is the worst trade aggressor in the world, a black hole for American jobs, a security threat (increasing your military spending while we downsize our own) and a menace to the world's labor and environmental standards. China just placed a 22 percent import tariff on many American-made autos. We said nothing.
2. Have the Treasury Department officially designate China as a currency manipulator - a prerequisite for solving this problem.
3. Pass the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act currently before Congress. Give American industry a means to fight currency manipulation.
4. Expand standards on country-of-origin labeling, including on food and pharmaceuticals, to protect the American consumer; crack down on theft of American intellectual property; and withdraw from the World Trade Organization, if necessary. This organization routinely compromises American sovereignty and prevents us from retaliating against foreign mercantilism.
5. Strengthen our national security by implementing domestic content standards for military equipment, beginning at 65 percent with quality and pricing standards in place.
There is much more that can be done to expand or reduce our relationship, depending upon China's willingness to resolve these issues. As your largest customer, we expect that mutual interests will rule and that balanced, fair and smart trade will work for both sides. "Cost" is always of interest to our consumers, and China can claim that advantage, but America will balance that with judgments of fair play, economic health and self-reliance.
Other issues will be discussed while you are in America, including China's protection of the Syrian government's abuse of its people, China's attempt at shielding Iran's nuclear ambitions, and the apparent disregard for basic liberties of your own citizens in a crescendo of incidences, but jobs and trade reform must be addressed now.