This week’s visit to our friends at Beijing’s People’s Daily gives us this account of the PRC having joined the big boys, with over one trillion U.S. dollars worth of annual international trade. That would put China up there with only the United States, Japan, and whoever is in third place (Germany, maybe… the EU as a whole?). To put this in perspective, the entire American annual GDP is in the ten trillion dollar range.
China holds over $500 billion in foreign exchange reserves (mostly yankee dollars, mostly in funny paper like T-bills).
Further, China observes that it employs around 80 million people in its foreign trade related sector… the entire American workforce is right around 100 million people.
In short, in economic terms, our fastest growing creditor is, by far, our fastest growing competitor. In liberal terms, of course, China has little or no worker protections, environmental protections or anything else we watch “liberals” whine about in the context free trade agreements like NAFTA, or without, of course, contract protections and protection of intellectual property rights, which many “conservatives” care about (or, of course, human rights protections, which no one seems to care about).
But, the Chinese are set to clean our clocks. Their slave labor is kicking our ass, and our reaction is to try to turn our own workforce more into theirs (fewer worker and environmental protections, fewer social safety net programs, etc., etc.)! Well, they are starting from a fourth world basket-case. We’re starting from being the premier industrial power. My yuans would be on them… a rising work force will kick the ass of a declining, depressed work force. (I think so, anyway).
The other milestone is a tad more grim, though not wholly unrelated: the 1,000th American combat death in Iraq. While over 1,200 American service personnel have already died (needlessly) in Iraq (putting the Iraq adventure well within our top ten all time military adventures in human cost.) Combat casualties excludes total, of course, which would include vehicle and aviation accidents, suicides that managed to get reported and the like. Cakewalk indeed.
I say not wholly unrelated because, of course, it is Chinese economic might that is now paying for our Iraq adventure, because President Go Shopping insisted on cutting taxes for those most able to pay for this adventure. Which means (in case you haven’t figured it out) that China (along with Saudi Arabia) has (ahem) the ability to… express interest in our foreign policy decisions (along with other things).
Just saying.