I was in the bookstore today, and I noticed while browsing the current affairs section (for a laugh, I love seeing all the "Obama is the worst thing ever" books) I noticed several books on China. Reading the titles and descriptions of each, they all treated China as some alien threat. Using buzzwords like communism and even some McCarthy era "red menace" terminology, they all claimed to explain the "threat" of China. I have actually read a few of these books, but some of my favorite are the counterpoints to these xenophobic, racist claims. Which is what they are, since the claims
tend to be built around communism, alien cultures and imaginary threats of someone else invading or just having money.
The basic claims nowadays, compared to the Cold War version, comes down to economic warfare. In an increasingly international marketplace, conservatives love to whine about globalization. As the United States has shifted from an industrial to a consumer based economy, conservatives do what they do best: fear change. And make a fuss about it. Originally it was a fear of spreading communism, and while you may see that word used often enough the complaint now seems to be about China's successful industrial age capitalism. Talks about the Chinese economy and industrial base, complaints about their increased need for resources starting to finally compare to ours, complaints that they will overtake us or steal "our" resources and "our" jobs as if the US owns prosperity.
Aside from the idea that America owns prosperity, that the US deserves all the wealth, there is a deeper point. Politicians go on and on about China stealing jobs, implying they do not deserve economic growth and only we do. It is an old, mercantile and imperialist attitude, that the rest of the world exists only to serve our wealth. The real issue, though, isn't even the inherent arrogance and xenophobia surrounding this fear mongering about China, is a basic misunderstanding of how economics and its developments work. China is the greatest industrial nation still around, and it doesn't matter. The US economy is not industrial based and it hasn't been for a while. The jobs we lose have been replaced by other jobs, such as service industry and managerial jobs, such as stock brokers and middlemen, developers and engineers, while the Chinese economy is akin to our World War II economy, building machines, factories everywhere and a small consumer economy growing but quickly. They make but are only beginning to consume, and while the economic struggle for resources may cause issues, the job differences will not.
In fact, China gets the short end of the stick. They have stagnated their own change into consumerism with an artifically deflated economy, with an oligarchical and conservative government also struggling to stay in an industrial age keeping their currency kept low by purchasing bonds to keep much non liquid, to keep prices low and wages lower. Chinese companies make some money, but the workers make almost none, though more than they would otherwise. They have a growing class of middlemen, like our middle class, but they too are kept smaller than they should. And most important of all, while they make the goods, they do not profit much from them. For an example, look at Apple Computers. All of their goods are made by various East Asian companies, yet Apple themselves, an American company, bring home all the profits. Apple was the most profitable company on earth last year, and less than ten percent of the money went to manufacturers out of country. Their executives, their supply and distribution in all countries, brought back all the money.
The US doesn't get cheated by Chinese industrialization, China is being cheated by our economy. When the west industrialized it controlled its own profits, but with China, they don't get much of the money at all. China is on the bad end of the deal. The "threat" of China is manufactured, invented the by the same people who constantly blather about Muslim terrorists while 2/3 of terrorist attacks are from domestic sources. These people need us in fear, and this is just one more line of attack. The US middle class has suffered at the hands of US executives, who bring in the money they used to, more in fact, but no longer pay the middle class employees fairly. US wealth has grown with the shift in economies, but mostly at the top. The problem is not a lack of jobs, but unfair pay, unfair lending, unfair credit. We haven't lost anything to China, we have only lost out to other Americans, who wave a scary, non white and alien entity at us to fear.