The Wall Street Journal reports:
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on a visit to Hong Kong and the neighboring city of Shenzhen, had some harsh criticism for his own fellow Americans: Stop blaming the Chinese for their problems.
As the debate rages over China’s trade and currencies policies, the 68-year-old Bloomberg, now in his third term as mayor of New York, was tough on China’s critics in the U.S. He spoke to reporters Saturday in Hong Kong after addressing a meeting of leaders from top cities around the world, dubbed the C40, focused on climate change and environment.
“I think in America, we’ve got to stop blaming the Chinese and blaming everybody else and take a look at ourselves,” he said.
A day earlier, Mr. Bloomberg visited several businesses (incluing a solar panel maker) in Shenzhen, a manufacturing hub that borders Hong Kong.
China’s big push into solar and other environmentally friendly energy technologies has begun to attract negative attention. Last month, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said it would investigate China’s policies over complaints that the country was using tactics that violated its World Trade Organization commitments to shut other countries out of the burgeoning market for clean energy.
Mr. Bloomberg attacked the notion that using Chinese-made technology to promote green energy in the U.S. was politically objectionable. “Let me get this straight: There’s a country on the other side of the world that is taking their taxpayers’ dollars, and trying to sell subsidized things so we can buy them cheaper, and have better products, and we’re going to criticize that?”
Earlier, in an interview, the mayor was deeply, undiplomatically critical of provincialism and populism in U.S. Congress.
“If you look at the U.S., you look at who we’re electing to Congress, to the Senate—they can’t read,” he said. “I’ll bet you a bunch of these people don’t have passports. We’re about to start a trade war with China if we’re not careful here,” he warned, “only because nobody knows where China is. Nobody knows what China is.”
The mayor said his biggest impression from meeting his mayoral counterparts from China (the C40 includes about a half dozen heads of major cities in China) was their focus on environmental issues.
In the past, he said, “they have focused on jobs, jobs, jobs, economic development at all costs. Now all of a sudden they are realizing their rivers are becoming undrinkable, their air is killing people.”
The one thing Mayor Mike won’t dare mention is that the problem is the off-shoring of America’s industrial capacity and so-called “free-trade”.
Coldtype, the dichotomy you’re trying to draw is not a hard one. The former CEO of Intel had an article in BusinessWeek 3-6 months back where he pointed out that for every job that Dell, Apple, and HP have here there are 10 in China. The point behind this was that these firms always had a “China policy,” “Japan policy” and the like. He said, we needed to ensure they have an “America policy” too. He said, you can call it protectionism, or whatever you like, but we need it.
The fact is that the American consumer is a vital market. Our lawmakers could demand that a certain portion of goods are made here. The libertarian Paul Craig Roberts suggested something like a value added tax that had built in biases for domestically produced value. Say a 10% tax on foreign value against a 3% tax on domestic. He thought that might avoid WTO conflicts.
A final note of hope. Two or three years back domestic auto manufacturing plants were rated for their output against labor and other costs. The top 10 were all Ford, Chrysler and GM with number ten being a joint venture between GM and Toyota. The domestic manufacturers, operating under the UAW were more productive than BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, Honda, or Hyundai/KIA plants here, primarily in the South and non-union.