The United Steelworkers Union has dared to complain about China's cheating practices on alternative energy products such as wind turbines, solar panels and batteries, filing a 5,800-page petition under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Google said it might shut down its China-based Internet search engine if Chinese censorship continues.
The Chinese government passes short laws on complex industrial and financial subjects while leaving unlimited discretion to bureaucratic regulators (like the Obama administration). In authentic socialist practice, the regulators can use their discretion to advantage their friends and punish their enemies.
China has a long record of disciplining companies that fail to conform to Chinese regulatory demands. Chinese regulations presume to dictate ordinary managerial decisions of non-Chinese companies such as what equipment may be bought and from whom.
China has a communist government, so the Communist Party is in the driver's seat. China can violate with impunity all international law and trade agreements, slap taxes and regulations on U.S. plants in China, compel U.S. corporations to give their trade secrets and manufacturing know-how to Chinese competitors and force Americans to keep silent about the unfairness of it all.
GE's Immelt was gung-ho for trade with China in 2002. He then told GE managers: "I talk China, China, China, China, China. You need to be there. I am a nut on China." But GE got only half the China market that Immelt was counting on.
In 2010, after GE had handed over technology in everything from rail locomotives to antipollution equipment in order to gain access to the Chinese market, Immelt was singing a different tune: "I really worry about China. I am not sure that in the end they want any of us to win, or any of us to be successful."
After major U.S. corporations, including our biggest technology companies, gave away their most valuable industrial secrets, they are asking themselves: Was it all worthwhile?
Some people foolishly call our relationship with China "free trade." But there is nothing free or fair about it. It is trade war between an aggressively protectionist communist government and a U.S. that is shackled by foolish and out-of-date illusions about free trade.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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