Crunch time on Chinese trade
Published on 11/11/10
The Post and Courier Editorial
British Prime Minister David Cameron, visiting Beijing this week, refused a request by Chinese leaders to remove a paper poppy from his lapel. Maybe he was making a point that will come to the fore during the G-20 meeting in Seoul beginning today: Defending the home front is more important than kowtowing to Chinese sensibilities. That could mean getting tough about China's gaming of the international trade system.
In Britain the humble poppy is a symbol of the nation's huge losses in Word War I. British men wear paper poppies every November as a tribute to British sacrifices. But in China the poppy is a symbol of Chinese humiliation in the 19th century Opium Wars, when Britain forced China to import the drug made from Indian poppies.
The Opium Wars grew out of a Chinese policy of excluding foreign imports and demanding payment for Chinese exports in silver, a practice that threatened to bankrupt Britain. Today Chinese authorities use non-tariff trade barriers and control the value of Chinese currency to promote exports and deter imports. China has accumulated huge surpluses, held mostly in dollars.
For Britain and the U.S., China's trade policies have become a danger to jobs, living standards and national wealth.
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