By on October 10, 2019

The issue of China’s totalitarian government intimidating American businesses into silence over protests in Hong Kong and human rights violations in China has come to the fore, with three nearly simultaneous incidents. The National Basketball Association didn’t quite censure the Houston Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey for tweeting “fight for Freedom” and “stand with Hong Kong,” but league commissioner Adam Silver’s attempts to mollify Xi JinPing’s regime, to preserve the NBA’s profitable ventures in China, have been described as craven. E-gaming company Blizzard Activision, which is 4.9-percent owned by the Chinese Tencent company, stripped a tournament champion of his title and winnings and banned him for a year for expressing support for Hong Kong in a post-event broadcast. When the animated South Park comedy show satirized censorship in China, the Chinese government simply erased South Park from the Chinese internet as though it never existed. On that side of the great firewall of China, South Park has become like Nikolai Yezhov.

To their everlasting credit, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, South Park’s creators, unlike the NBA and Blizzard Activision, didn’t kowtow, instead releasing an “apology” that mocked both Chinese government censors and the NBA.

It’s abundantly clear that China will use the threat of punishing American companies by restricting access to the Chinese market in order to exert intimidating influence here in the United States.

What does that have to do with cars?

Few western industries are as involved in China as automakers are. Of the domestic American companies, General Motors is particularly invested in China, with its joint ventures there making an important contribution to GM’s global sales numbers. One of those ventures builds the Buick Envision SUV for the American market. China does not allow foreign businesses to operate there without a Chinese partner, whereas Chinese enterprises, including those tied to the Chinese Communist Party or the Peoples Liberation Army, can 100-percent own American companies.

Since it is now obvious that the Chinese regime will use business entanglements with American enterprises to try and censor criticism of China in the U.S., the question must be asked, what will happen when a General Motors employee openly criticizes China or expresses support for protesters in Hong Kong?

There was a time when the United Auto Workers was outspoken in international matters. The UAW exerted significant political pressure that ultimately resulted in Japanese automakers agreeing to voluntary restraints on exports to America in the 1980s.

Times have changed though. Even as the UAW’s current national strike against GM is in its fourth week, the importation of the Envision from China and GM’s use of imported parts hasn’t seemed to be an issue in the negotiations.

Still, one can safely assume that at least some of GM’s 173,000 U.S. employees in fact do support Hong Kong’s liberty and are not happy about human rights abuses in China and they might be willing to speak out. I don’t expect Mary Barra or Mark Reuss to start speaking out on behalf of Hong Kongers, but it’s within the realm of possibility that some rank and file GM employees might use social media to express criticism of Xi’s regime. The UAW does have a long history of social activism.

Last  year, fearful of repercussions, the Marriott hotel chain fired a hourly employee for just “liking” a tweet that opposed China’s occupation of Tibet.

Of course it’s hypothetical, but should a GM employee speak out against China do you think that the regime and an American firm dependent on doing business with China won’t act as they have with the NBA, Activision, South Park, and Marriott?

 

[Image Source:  Studio Incendo/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)]

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69 Comments on “What Will Happen If a GM Employee Criticizes China?...”


  • avatar

    GM should worry about getting their workers back on the assembly line. What their workers say about china has little or no consequences in the real world.

    • 0 avatar
      ravenuer

      Yeah, just like NBA players, heh?

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Well…professional athletes aren’t allowed to have a political opinion that offends anyone in the first place (ask Colin Kapernick…or John Rocker, for that matter). But it’s hard to compare a professional athlete, who is usually a very public figure, to some guy working on the line in Flint – people listen to athletes, but the hourly worker doesn’t have much of an audience.

        So why would China go Defcon 1 over an hourly employee saying something it didn’t like on Facebook? I don’t see why they would. An executive might be a different story.

        • 0 avatar

          As mentioned in the post, last year Marriott fired an hourly employee for just “liking” a tweet that supported Tibet independence. China guards its feelings zealously.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Which is why the nom de guerre is so essential… or people can stop acting like 12 year olds and stop playing with 21st century Game Boys at work.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            How important is Marriott to China’s economy versus, say, GM? In the end, China’s more important to Marriott than vice-versa. Probably the same with the NBA.

            GM (or any other company that employs tons of Chinese folks making cars there) might be another story. In fact, I bet there’s no shortage of employees of major foreign investors spouting off publicly about China, and China might not be as able to bully those major investors.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Why is GM the only company being singled out here? Every company in the business has operations in China.

  • avatar
    Thomas Kreutzer

    This is one of the main reasons why corporations and government entities have professional media people on their staff. Messaging needs to be carefully vetted, and the possible repercussions considered before hitting the airwaves. Once it’s out there, you have to deal with the fallout.

    Today, of course, every idiot with a smartphone has access to the world wide web and can broadcast their wackiest ideas before brushing their teeth in the morning. Depending upon who they are, their thoughts can catch fire before they finish their shower and a backlash can be on the way by the time they leave for work. That’s why people need to think before they post.

    The difference between South Park and the NBA is that Trey Parker and Matt Stone planned this in advanced. Their message was crafted and they probably knew what the fallout was going to be. They decided to take a stand and given that China probably isn’t a huge revenue stream for them they went ahead and did what they wanted.

    The NBA, however, is a different story. An executive or a player at one of their franchises said something – something that wasn’t vetted. And, of course, China is a huge revenue stream for the NBA so naturally, they are going to back pedal as quickly as they can.

    So what about the car companies? Other than a few leading lights inside the industry, most car company employees and execs aren’t media darlings who regularly get cameras and mics unexpectedly shoved in their faces. As long as corporate has them on notice in regards to their tweets, twitters and blogs, it seems unlikely they will screw up and, if they do, chances are they will be fired.

    Is that a cap on free speech? Maybe, but people have always borne the responsibility of owning up to what they say. Nothing new about that…

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      Exactly. Try bad-mouthing your employer in a Western country, and see how far you get. The crushing weight of corporate or government will splat you like a mosquito. If you tell the truth, you’re a traitorous whistleblower and you’re screwed. If you’re wrong, the wolves start to drool with bloodlust.

      Critical free speech at work about your employer? Right. Try it.

      This is mere click bait of the TTAC tone-deaf variety.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      “The NBA, however, is a different story. An executive or a player at one of their franchises said something – something that wasn’t vetted”
      you’ve got to be kidding, right?
      i mean, you can actually twist this this way to try and get a rational reason for businesses singling out certain employee speech as wrong and therefor punishable.
      vetting?
      seriously?
      all the times employees speak out against american values or history without being “vetted” and still corporations say it was free speech but now vetting is your red line?
      china is your sensitive button?

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Free speech doesn’t mean you don’t have to deal with the consequences of your speech.

      Also, you’re free to present your own opinions, but as soon as you use your employer as a means to get your opinion out, you need to understand you’re putting your career on the line.

      If I held a press conference at my place of employment, I’d be canned before it got started.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Its funny how some countries, people, etc really hate being called out for things that are very true and very real. I really hate that anyone has to be careful about dealing with China and hurting their feelings, they dont deserve it.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    >>General Motors is particularly invested in China, with its joint ventures there making an important contribution to GM’s global sales numbers.<<

    but do the Chinese sales actually generate profits? I always thought GM planned to make money off the Chinese ventures by exporting product to the US.

    then Trump happened and put the kibosh on that scheme

    Now GM looks to be on the worst spot, stuck w/ profitless Chinese operations that will be replaced by indigenous Chinese companies once they no longer need GM – because that’s what the Chinese do

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      About 17% of GM’s reported EBIT in 2018 was from Chinese operations. For the volume that isn’t much, but it still wouldn’t be fun to lose it.
      The money losing division for most automakers right now it their AV/mobility wing.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        True, but GM (and the auto sector in general) is responsible for putting paychecks in a substantial number of Chinese workers’ pockets. It’s a consideration.

        I think China would be far more likely to lean on GM for something one of its’ executives said, versus some working stiff on the line in Flint, or a GM dealer in Lost My Hat, Arizona.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      Yup! A new company called Bruick may soon be making Royals, Refuges, and Additional Performances, LOL! You know what they say about sleeping with serpents…

      And even if that doesn’t happen, I fully expect Chinese influence over what people in the U.S. say to increase. Now, it’s just public figures. But it won’t be long before their government starts monitoring social media here. Then, employers of individuals will start getting letters from the Chinese Bureau of Information or whatever, and then…

      It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see us heading towards this. Many with financial interests choose to ignore it, but soon you won’t be able to. That’s what’s so disappointing about the lack of spine of the NBA and stars like LeBron James. They’re all over “social justice” when there’s no risk in doing it. But when faced with a country who won’t put up with it, and which controls a big pot of money, their spines turn to jello. The only knees the players took for today’s game in Beijing was to [censored].

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Perhaps true, but…

        1) LeBron James can’t fix what’s wrong in China – he can only try to fix what he sees as wrong here.

        2) A headline like “GM fires single mom line worker in Flint for an anti-China tweet” wouldn’t happen in China, but it sure would here, and that would be a HUGE black eye for GM, just as it’s a black eye for the NBA to do what it did.

        • 0 avatar
          Superdessucke

          “1) LeBron James can’t fix what’s wrong in China – he can only try to fix what he sees as wrong here.”

          A bunch of horse hockey!! LeBron is a huge star in China. His star power worldwide also moves a multitude of goods (shoes, jerseys, etc.) made by Chinese workers. His statement in support of Hong Kong could have an impact. And if China chooses to shun him, that’ll hurt China’s economy.

          Sorry, he has the pull to do it. He’s too much of a coward though. I guess it’s much easier to pick on U.S. police officers who cannot fight back and profit off the victim narrative where he says in interviews that he can’t walk down the street without facing withering discrimination.

          “2) A headline like “GM fires single mom line worker in Flint for an anti-China tweet” wouldn’t happen in China, but it sure would here, and that would be a HUGE black eye for GM, just as it’s a black eye for the NBA to do what it did.”

          20 years ago, I’d have probably agreed with you. Now, my trust of the media is very low. And also, media companies are bought up all the time. China is already heavily invested in U.S. film production and distribution. That’s probably why all of these SJW loudmouth movie stars are silent over what’s going on in Hong Kong. They’re never at a loss for words when Trump does something to offend. Why the silence here?

          Anyway, what’s to stop Chinese companies from eventually acquiring U.S. mainstream media outlets too? Not that this would add much more bias at this point, but your story about the sacking of the single Flint mom might end up on the cutting room floor, if you know what I mean.

          • 0 avatar
            Superdessucke

            Here you go. How heartening! Way to stand up, Apple…

            https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/apple-removes-hong-kong-map-app-chinese-criticism-1246743

          • 0 avatar
            Hydromatic

            “Sorry, he has the pull to do it. He’s too much of a coward though. I guess it’s much easier to pick on U.S. police officers who cannot fight back and profit off the victim narrative where he says in interviews that he can’t walk down the street without facing withering discrimination.”

            Because he can easily see himself and others like him being harassed or gunned down an irate cop, whereas the overarching issue of creeping Chinese influence and its corrosive impact on democracy is more or less a distant concern. People tend to be passionate about what affects them most.

            At the end of the day, it’s all about what’s politically acceptable to some folk. Perhaps if Colin Kapernick took a knee against China, his chances of remaining active in the NFL would have been a heck of a lot better.

        • 0 avatar

          Perhaps LeBron James could use his own leverage to have Nike make his branded shoes in the United States rather than China. Of course, then he’d have to share more of that $200/pair and I don’t think James is about to do that.

          • 0 avatar
            Superdessucke

            Yup! Good point Ronnie. He could tell China to go bleep itself until they start recognizing basic human rights and insist that Nike bring production of its shoes here, or they won’t have his endorsement, until China shows it can do that.

    • 0 avatar
      alfaromeo

      I think so.
      Cadillac makes more sales in China than in U.S. China is Cadi’s biggest market now.
      And without Chinese market, I believe Buick would have been shutdown back in 2008 along with Pontiac.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Another example of why we should not be treating China as an ‘equal’ partner or engaging in trade agreements with, or allowing Chinese investments in our nations.

    The Rule of Law does not apply in China. The Chinese government does not believe that it needs to follow ‘the rules’. It is an authoritarian state that uses its government controlled/directed economy as a foreign policy tool.

  • avatar
    threeer

    We created this monster by flocking to China, mesmerized by cheap prices and high profit (not that profit, by itself is a bad thing) and will continue to bow and bend at the whim of the Chinese as long as dollar signs are attached…freedoms be damned. Let’s face it, we’re addicted to China, and if their leadership told every American company doing business there to cease all non-state sponsored communications, they’d do it in about 0.2 seconds. We’ve lost our backbone and the not-so-slow creep of Chinese influence will not be met with any meaningful resistance. Like frogs in a slowly warming bog of soup, we’ll not even notice (or care) that we can no longer speak openly, or access free and diverse information (such as the very internet we’re expressing opinions on right now). The NBA’s reaction should not surprise anybody and is likely a sign of the “normal” that is to come.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      We, as in the people of the United States, did not create the situation. It was those in positions of power and prestige from about 1988-98 who are responsible and incidentally it was those people who profited by huge margins while 99.9%? got the shaft. Then in tech it was the H1-Bs, and they have decimated wages. I find it curious that the President with his “MAGA” platform has not slashed H1-Bs since they are largely employed by large tech companies who openly hate him and engaged in extremely legally questionable behavior to attempt to sway voters on their platforms in 2016. To me its a no brainer, hurt my enemies, look like I care, ‘Muricans will cheer and eventually may see better wages. Yet… not. Curious, that.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        Respectfully disagree. It’s a three-legged stool. 1) Government. Our government has created an environment not conducive to being able to compete with China and has traditionally done zero to stand up to them. 2) Companies/corporations. Companies have flocked to China in search of lower expenses and higher profits. 3) The consumer (“we”). We’ve “voted” with our dollars by continually buying cheap Chinese goods, regardless of the true expense to our nation’s economic health, our ability to influence and shape the world and our continued dependence on China.

        A country that cannot provide for itself soon becomes slave to those that can. We’re already largely there. All three legs have a share in what got us to this point. “We” aren’t immune to having played a role in this.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Great points. I really need to think on this in order to produced a coherent response. Maybe this afternoon after I get home, have too much to do at the moment to do the proper research for citations.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          +1, threeer. We sold out in the name of profit and consumerism. It doesn’t get any more American than that!

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            yep. we amble our double-wide asses down the aisles of Wal-Mart, buy the cheapest option, then go home and complain about how everything is made in China.

            if we truly cared about making things here, places like Harbor Freight wouldn’t even exist. and they’re especially galling; a few years ago their ads extolled their virtues as a good ol’ American business. meanwhile they sell s**t tools made you-know-where and hide them behind names like “Pittsburgh” and “Chicago Pneumatic.”

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            It’s more complicated than ‘we sold out’. We elected leaders that determined the US is better off if we are a low wage, low cost country. It’s clear now that was the wrong move. We should be a high wage, high cost country. Not cost in terms of taxes, but in terms of price of goods and it’s relationship to earnings.

            That would mean corporations paying more, and that’s not acceptable.

            The monied class made a choice. They’re mostly immune from the day to day consequences of that choice.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            “..If we truly cared….”

            We don’t and neither do you. I mean how patriotic can you be? Except it isn’t just about being cheap. Do you value your time? The stuff you can quickly round up at Walmart and Harbor Freight can save you a half day, vs running all over town and still not finding what you need, and or Chinese is your only choice anyway.

            If you only use your compressor, generator, welder, etc, (for minutes) a couple times a month, the contractor, “USA”, etc, brands are a waste.

            Yeah I patronize the “Mom-n-Pops” a lot, but mostly because you can’t beat their service, attention to detail, selection, and you don’t have to walk a half mile. I don’t mind the exercise, time allowing, but you just pull up to the front door of their small store, and you’re often the only customer there.

            An other thing most forget is flea markets. You save even more, and it’s fun, outdoorsy, etc. Except you’ll find quality (used) that went away decades ago, or someone (originally) paid a lot (too much) for, and it obviously equals less junk sent from China.

            We just want “value” above all, regardless of price or trouble (getting it).

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            (Bad aim – reacquiring)

        • 0 avatar
          Superdessucke

          And the liberal media bashes Trump’s tariffs, saying they’ll lead to higher prices for consumers. Well, honestly, so what? We need to buy less cheap Chinese crap anyway as you say, IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            Astigmatism

            This isn’t a story about Americans buying cheap Chinese crap. (And, FWIW, an iPhone 11 isn’t cheap by any measure.) This is about companies that want to _sell to_ China. The NBA is in China because it has a billion consumers who could all become Rockets fans. GM is in China because ten million more vehicles were sold in China last year than in the US.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          There was a point in time when Wallmart touted the products they offered that were made in America and often the number of jobs tied to making the product and what city/state it came from. The average consumer didn’t care that the US made item meant fellow Americans had a job, they would rather save $2 and buy the Chinese product. So yeah the US consumer is the root of the problem. If the average US consumer was willing to pay that extra $ for a product made in the US that is what the retailers would stock.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            This, and it’s not just “willing to pay” – it’s “able to pay.” Wages haven’t really kept up with the cost of living, so cheap consumer goods aren’t just a nice-to-have – they’re a need-to-have. Americans would buy more American-made stuff if it was in their budget. But American-made stuff costs more, so it’s aimed at a different consumer.

            Example: priced out a Shinola watch lately? Someone trying to raise three kids on fifty grand a year isn’t going to drop $500 on an American-made Shinola watch when he can head to Wal-Mart and buy a lookalike for $20.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            None of this is anything that Karl Marx did not predict over 150 years ago. Capital has no loyalty. Corporations work to maximize profit. This means moving production to territories with low wage costs and lax laws. It also means moving Head Office or corporate registrations to low tax territories.

            Globalization and free trade agreements maximize corporate abilities to transfer production and revenues.

            Entering into trade agreements with dictatorships and 3rd world nations allows corporations to maximize their profits and results in the proverbial ‘race to the bottom’ for workers.

            The only counter to this is government intervention. Which of course free market proponents and ‘capitalists’ resist. Using their money to influence politicians and advertising to influence voters.

            Do not blame the workers for purchasing cheap goods. Unless they have access to more discretionary income, then purchasing cheap products is a survival mechanism.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            “ The only counter to this is government intervention. Which of course free market proponents and ‘capitalists’ resist. Using their money to influence politicians and advertising to influence voters.”

            American government was once funded by tariffs, I don’t think you’ll have a hard time convincing Americans to raise tariffs on foreign products in exchange for reduced income tax rate. Capitalism is typically supported within the bounds of ones own country, allowing products to be produced in another country with significantly lower labor rates at the detriment of your own country is not in a sense free market.

            I buy 80% of my clothes as American made, I made conscious efforts to limit my purchases from any 3rd world country and hate that there is no choice for smart phones. There’s something to be said for North Carolina made furniture that is in my home, as well as the Wisconsin built washing machine and dryer that I know will reliably function for 20 years +. The IH freezer in my garage that hasn’t skipped a beat since it was built in the 50s.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “American government was once funded by tariffs,”

            in an era where there were no paved roads, no water or sanitation (leading to regular outbreaks of pleasant stuff like cholera and typhoid,) no electricity, etc. etc. etc.

            “The IH freezer in my garage that hasn’t skipped a beat since it was built in the 50s.”

            that’s nice, but survivorship bias is a fallacy for a reason. For every one of those freezers like yours which still works, hundreds or thousands broke and were sent to the dump.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            “ in an era where there were no paved roads, no water or sanitation (leading to regular outbreaks of pleasant stuff like cholera and typhoid,) no electricity, etc. etc. etc.”

            And that’s why fuel taxes and registration taxes exist.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @Hummer: “allowing products to be produced in another country with significantly lower labor rates at the detriment of your own country” is in fact part of the exact definition of a free market. A ‘free market’ means exactly that, zero ‘artificial’ meaning governmental constraints.

            “Capitalism is typically supported within the bounds of ones own country” is a complete misreading of what capitalism is. Capitalism requires international free markets and globalization. Capital has no loyalty and knows no boundaries. And it has no conscience.

            When you speak of ‘buying American’ or enacting tariffs or trade barriers, you are espousing ‘protectionism’ which is an anti-capitalist viewpoint.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Hummer,

            Freezer from the 1950’s? I am glad I am not paying your electricity bill each month.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            That stupid notion that old compressors are inefficient is incorrect, my freezer uses significantly less energy than my parents early 2000s Maytag freezer.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Arthur there’s nothing wrong with trading with other first world country tries living similar standards of living, but maintaining those standards of living means that we cannot push all production or means of production to countries with significantly lower standards of living.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Hummer,

            My notion and I stand corrected.

            (That would make an interesting science fair project – one of my kids won a blue ribbon in middle school for comparing energy use in a “mostly full” vs. “mostly empty” upright freezer.)

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            I think somewhere in the 80s they switched refrigerant, but had to use heavy cycle compressors to be able to keep the temperature down to the same degree as the older fridge/freezer temperatures. The insulation on older chest style freezers such as mine are also much thicker. Resulting in the compressor being able to kick off for extended periods of time while maintaining temperature.

            Some people on the binder forum have also put meters on these old fridges and freezers and found that the draw is lower compared to modern freezers in addition to the run time being much lower.

            Only issue I have with it is that it isn’t frost proof, which is a first world problem imo.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            I think somewhere in the 80s they switched refrigerant, but had to use heavy cycle compressors to be able to keep the temperature down to the same degree as the older fridge/freezer temperatures. These ones from the start of the newer style coolant were much more inefficient and I believe that is the focal point when people speak of high energy freezers/fridges.

            The insulation on older chest style freezers such as mine are also much thicker. Resulting in the compressor being able to kick off for extended periods of time while maintaining temperature.

            Some people on the binder forum have also put meters on these old fridges and freezers and found that the draw is lower compared to modern freezers in addition to the run time being much lower.

            Only issue I have with it is that it isn’t frost proof, which is a first world problem imo.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          “Our government has created an environment not conducive to being able to compete with China”

          I completely agree.

          “Companies/corporations. Companies have flocked to China in search of lower expenses and higher profits.”

          I agree, but the PRC starting with Deng Xiaoping’s major reforms purposely created an environment where they could leverage their burgeoning population. As I will elaborate below, they are not the only ones at fault.

          “The consumer (“we”). We’ve “voted” with our dollars by continually buying cheap Chinese goods, regardless of the true expense to our nation’s economic health,”

          This is a bit more complicated as I will elaborate below.

          “A country that cannot provide for itself soon becomes slave to those that can.”

          I brought this up a while back, should there be a Chinese embargo for whatever reason much of the West is screwed. For reasons of national security alone, tariffs are necessary to protect what is left of US industry in the event of major conflict.

          —————————–

          After WWII, a trade treaty called GATT was negotiated and signed whose aim was to reduce international tariffs. Since 1947, eight total rounds have been taken place with the average nation’s tariff declining 17% by 1999.

          “The GATT, and its successor the WTO, have successfully reduced tariffs. The average tariff levels for the major GATT participants were about 22% in 1947, but were 5% after the Uruguay Round in 1999.[4] Experts attribute part of these tariff changes to GATT and the WTO”

          In 1986, the Uruguay Round of the framework of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) began. This agreed framework came into effect in 1995 and led to the creation of the WTO. Although there were several outcomes of the treaty chief among them was the reduction of tariffs, to about 40% less. One of the arguments at the time was it would lower costs and barriers for United States’ products overseas, especially in the case of China. Perhaps if the manufacturing base would have stayed in the United States this may have been the case but the opposite occurred. This was predicted in late 1994 by Sir James Goldsmith:

          youtube.com/watch?v=wwmOkaKh3-s

          One thing to bear in mind regarding this round of GATT was when it began the world powers were still sharply divided but by 1994 the Iron Curtain had fallen and over a billion new people were available in the so called “free market”

          “The round led to the creation of WTO, and extended the range of trade negotiations, leading to major reductions in tariffs (about 40%) and agricultural subsidies, an agreement to allow full access for textiles and clothing from developing countries, and an extension of intellectual property rights.”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Agreement_on_Tariffs_and_Trade

          The huge reduction in tariffs combined with the sudden availability of nations like China -who had begun serious economic reforms around 1977-1980, created a situation where China was open for business with no labor unions and a labor rate which could simply not be competed with as the PRC offered it’s population as near slave-labor compared to the West. The United States, unable to impose tariffs or restrictions, saw its industries slowly leave only to open manufacturing operations in countries like China and sell goods back to the United States. Goldsmith put it succinctly: “the poor in the rich countries, will subsidize the rich in the poor countries” and this is exactly what has occured.

          The other major economic phenomenon which occurred shortly before the eight round of GATT was the Nixon Shock, where in 1971 President Nixon left Bretton Woods and we have seen nothing but unchecked inflation since.

          Revolving credit has increased from $218 billion to $818 billion since 2000 alone.

          https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CCLACBW027SBOG

          CPI from 39.800 units to 256.358 from 1970 to today. In a similar period, it only increased from 21.480 units to 37.770 from 1947 to 1970. Even in only a twenty year period, 1970 to 1990, it increased 88.2 units to 128.000 as opposed to 16 units 1947-70. This is a five fold increase and this was nearly 30 years ago.

          https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CPIAUCSL?utm_source=series_page&utm_medium=
          related_content&utm_term=
          related_resources&utm_campaign=categories

          So the American people were hit with a double whammy since 1970, incredibly high inflation as reflected in CPI coupled with the wholesale export of the industries which would have employed them from 1995 to today. Even if American goods were available vs their foreign counterparts, can citizens actually afford them? (sidebar: try finding US made products in most cases, they don’t exist)

          I’m reminded of Ricardo’s Theory of Profit, whereas wages increase profit decreases and vice versa. We have seen this demonstrated in the simultaneous decline of wages and increase in profits 1995-2019 through export of American industry to the Far East, but I ask, did the American people ask for or vote for this, and who ultimately does benefit from such disastrous policies?

          “In his Theory of Profit, Ricardo stated that as real wages increase, real profits decrease because the revenue from the sale of manufactured goods is split between profits and wages. He said in his Essay on Profits, “Profits depend on high or low wages, wages on the price of necessaries, and the price of necessaries chiefly on the price of food.””

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Ricardo

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree and we are so dependent on China that if they decided to shut down all exports for a period of time in retaliation our economy would probably stop. The US has become too dependent on China. This is dangerous from a defense standpoint. As soon as China has all the technology they need from the US they won’t need us except as a market for their products.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    No sympathy from me.

    It isn’t like China has been this way for 70 straight years or anything.

    Make a deal with the devil and all that.

    At least it feels like maybe we’re realizing that trade deals with corrupt authoritarian nations or wars elsewhere don’t bring the democracy and freedom we expect. Pretty clear Mexicans aren’t getting toward wage parity with the USA and Canada after NAFTA. pretty clear China has no intention of becoming a more free society or opening their economy or currency to the world in a free market manner. Pretty clear other parts of the world will never be democratic no matter how much blood and money we waste there.

    My hope from all this is maybe we’ll see the folly of our ways and stop doing it. Would be nice.

    As far as GM or other American businesses in bed with China. You get what you deserve here. You knew it could happen and now it might actually be happening. Too bad. So sad. Live by the dollar sign die by the dollar sign.

    And stupid government policies that made it tempting in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Here’s the thing, though – “improving the lives of people in foreign countries” may be the boilerplate behind trade deals, but in the end, it’s about money. We got in bed with China because it gave us an economic advantage. If we hadn’t, someone else would have.

      Is it disappointing that China is still ready to roll tanks on protesters, just like it did in Tiananmen Square? Absolutely. Meanwhile, our trading partners in Europe and Canada watch the crap that’s going on here, like mass shootings, hospital-stay-driven bankruptcies, and a host of other crap they find distasteful, and turn up their noses, just like we do with China. But they do business with us anyway because there really aren’t any better partners out there.

      In the end, trade isn’t really about “raising everyone’s boat” – it’s about money. If the boat gets raised at the same time, then hallelujah.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    This will affect more and more of us as time goes on. Don’t worry about companies doing business in China, worry about Chinese companies doing business here. There are no restrictions on them buying up your employer and shutting down anything that makes the CCP look bad.

    Next time you go to the movies, pay attention during the 90 seconds of company logos. Did you notice Tencent or Wanda listed in there? Congratulations, you just paid to watch 2 hours of CCP-approved entertainment/propaganda. The Russians have given us the CCN-style propaganda network RT, I don’t know what’s taking the Chinese so long to duplicate that effort.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Unless there is a Boston Tea Party moment, it’s business as usual. There are signs that this issue has legs, and that should be worrying to US companies in China, but we’re a fickle and easily distracted culture.

    If this issue does carry on in the press for months, it means large US companies will have a choice to make – continue to bow to Beijing for bucks or companies marketing themselves as patriots standing on principle.

    The choice they make will depend on what pays more. Large companies have flexible morals, and in most cases, so do their leaders.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    F*ck China.

    I detest China.

    China is by far, by the widest of margins, the most vastly evil governments, in all of the world today, and what makes this worse, by a magnitude of 100x, is the degree by which companies and other nations are bowing to China’s authoritarian demands, for fear of economic distribution.

    This must stop.

    China must be broken, by pressure or brute force, and dramatically reigned in.

    No more forced technology transfers.

    No more blatant, copious espionage without consequences and blowback.

    No more absolute, brutal trampling on the rights of particular groups (modern day gulags).

    No tolerance for China’s model of a total, complete, Orwellian state, assessing “credit and social scores” to those they deem most compliant, like well-trained dogs, amongst citizenry.

    China must be dramatically reformed, and that will take outside, unrelenting, and possibly, harsh force.

    China is an existential threat to inalienable human rights and dignity everywhere.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I agree with everything you said, but I also believe the China model will be the future. I know plenty of fine Chinese people, but even the best of them buy into what the CPP is feeding them, hook, line, and sinker. They acknowledge the global perception of Chinese oppression, but every single one still agrees that too much freedom is a bad thing. The CCP is just too good at suppressing dissent internally, and buying silence elsewhere.

      As for the West, our addiction to the almighty dollar and our bickering about petty “isms” and historical injustices will be enough to do us in.

      • 0 avatar
        whynotaztec

        Your last paragraph X 1000

      • 0 avatar
        Spartan

        TMA1,

        Yep. It’s hard to fight the external adversary when we’re consistently fighting each other internally. Combine that with foreign actors ensuring we continue to fight, who are allied with our external adversaries, and it’s a recipe for disaster for the USA. And what’s worse is we’re all typing this on a Chinese manufactured electronic device. **facepalm**

        Once Americans stop fighting each other and get on the same page, they’ll realize what’s actually happening. Until then, it’s a slow but steady death spiral for the USA.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    There’s not much we’re willing to do to change conditions in China, but we should certainly fix our own house. There should be zero tolerance for US corporations discriminating against Americans for exercising their constitutional rights. Google should be fined a billion dollars a day for every individual they censor for their political views. People fired for unsubstantiated allegations should get board seats. People who organize boycotts should be identified. If it is a righteous cause, this won’t create a hardship. We can’t change China by acting like China.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    GM is not an “American” company; GM is not a “U.S.” company.

    GM is a multinational (global) company.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    You’re correct GM is not a US company but it is not as global as it use to be. GM either will become Chinese owned or it will be broken up and parts of it will be sold off which is what has been happening to GM since 2008. How the mighty have fallen and will continue to fall.

  • avatar
    subuclayton

    These car companies, eyes wide open, made a deal with the Devil and it will either cost them their corporate soul or a helluva a lot of money. But probably both.

    Handwriting is now on the wall. Chinese are now making cars nearly comparable to ours for much less money and foreign automakers have no long term future. There is no growth left and they still have to shut up and hand over their technology.
    Time to analyse future. There are other countries. It is becoming impossible to do business in China without complying to demands of evil tyrants. Suggest you quietly cut your losses and leave China. Better to do it that way than have Government shut you down. Then take a long shower. You will feel much better.


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