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Op-Ed: Americans' ignorance of China is a real problem

By Curtis Stone (People's Daily Online)    15:56, April 17, 2018

People find it ironic that an ardent defender of free and open markets would threaten to close the door of opportunity for millions of Americans who want to tap into the massive Chinese consumer market.

In an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal last week, Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Alibaba, wrote that he is struggling to understand why waging a trade war with China would be a good thing for the American economy, particularly at a time when China is shifting its economy from the world’s largest exporter to the world’s largest consumer.

“With average urban income growing at almost double digits and an emerging middle class of 300 million, Chinese consumers are already driving massive demand for imports from all over the world,” Ma said, who then added that the country plans to import $8 trillion of goods over the next five years, citing the Chinese government’s prediction.

As Ma pointed out, the China-U.S. relationship has, on the whole, been very good to both sides, and as many others have said, waging a trade war with China goes against reason. “It is therefore ironic that the U.S. administration is waging a trade war,” Ma said.

Users on Chinese social media were quick to praise the Chinese businessman for standing up to the U.S. administration’s protectionism. “This is how a Chinese entrepreneur should act!” said one popular comment on Chinese social media, which received over 10.3 thousand likes at the time of writing.

But the big question remains: Is America going to forfeit the opportunity called China?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question could be “yes.” There are far too many Americans who believe the “us versus them” narrative that puts America at the center of the world, and blame China for the problems of America.

The ugly truth is that many Americans’ understanding of China is biased and limited, made worse by an effort to try to demonize China and create fear and paranoia about China’s rise—a fact acknowledged even by Michael Swaine, a senior associate at the Washington-based think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who warned about an “unbalanced demonization effort underway” against China that spans agencies, news organizations, and “belief” tanks.

For example, a local newspaper in the U.S. recently published a letter to the editor that attempted to defend “free speech” by urging the city of Newton in the Greater Boston area “to firmly reject communist propaganda” after it was discovered that a stand of newspapers included People’s Daily, which, the author claimed, is “one hundred percent communist propaganda,” citing Wikipedia, before parroting the same old sound bites that China’s growing influence is a threat.

Actually, People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, has transformed a lot since its founding 70 years ago, having developed into a media group consisting of 29 publications in addition to the newspaper that started in 1948. Reaching 700 million people on a daily basis, People’s Daily is one of the world’s largest media groups. And contrary to popular belief, its global reach is not intended to “spread communist propaganda,” but to help connect China and the world and help people better understand China, a country that presents enormous opportunities for the world.

The level of prejudice and ignorance among some Americans about China—the second largest economy and the biggest trader in the world, is alarming to say the least. Too many Americans have a dangerously out-of-date view of China and their understanding of China and its evolving role in the world needs to advance with the times.

This is not to say that the bilateral relationship is perfect. Both sides acknowledge problems in trade that need to be resolved, and the two sides should work together to enhance the bilateral relationship rather than engage in a mutually destructive trade war. But misunderstanding and miscalculation can lead to disaster. Americans should not let outdated bias cloud the view and, in the end, block them from enjoying the benefits of cooperation with China. 

>>>Read More:

Letter to the Editor: The consequences of US-China trade war

Neither country can come out a winner if there is a trade war between US and China. Although China may not win in the short term, America may well be the loser in the long-run as the table turns again. Full Article

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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