U.S.-China Trade Relations Based on False Ideas of Progress and “Harmony”

June 7, 2021

In March of this year, delegations from the Peoples’ Republic of China and from the United States met in Anchorage, Alaska. Following the opening remarks, there was a sophomoric standoff between the delegates from the PRC and the U.S.  Each side took turns depicting the faults of the other side. It was of course all couched in “diplomatic speak” – that cold, precise language of gentlemen trying to sound above the fray, yet perpetuating the very “fray” that they are supposedly “above.”

This meeting is one of a long chain of meetings intended to foster cooperation between the PRC and the USA, which meetings stretch back to President Richard Nixon’s visit to the Peoples’ Republic of China in 1972. Although he met at that time with their legendary revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, “normalization of relations (1) with China was not fully achieved until 1979, when Jimmy Carter and China’s new leader Deng Xiaoping reached an agreement including, as an essential component, that the United States would fulfill its promise to cut off recognition of Taiwan.” At that point, the communist identity of the Beijing regime became diluted in the American context. After 1979, the PRC was referred to as “China” and not as “Communist China.”

Shortly after that recognition, Chinese Premier Deng began establishing various “empowerment zones” in China. Those zones invited foreign investment and became centers for multinational businesses to access Chinese markets. During the next 20 years, the Chinese economy exploded as companies came in to access Chinese markets and to hire Chinese companies and labor to produce goods for world consumption.

By the year 2000, the USA under President “Bill” Clinton was ready to take the next step and welcome Communist China, without the word “Communist,” into the World Trade Organization network governed by WTO rules of trade, Most Favored Nation (2) status for member states and a system for adjudicating trade disputes between and among the members.

Pres. Clinton put an idealistic spin on his support for China’s entry into the WTO. He said at that time (3), “By joining the WTO, China is not simply agreeing to import more of our products, it is agreeing to import one of democracy’s most cherished values, economic freedom.” However, the Administration of Pres. Donald J. Trump believed that this admission of the PRC was a colossal mistake (4) that cost the USA millions of job losses and a huge and ever-burgeoning trade deficit with China.

President Clinton, in addition to affirming the economic benefits of introducing more open markets into China, believed that this increased economic freedom would eventually lead to a more free or liberal political landscape in China. For this writer, his assumption is most questionable. For the USA, it has not been economics that led to our ideas of rights and liberty. Rather the ideas of liberty and rights were the source of our economic growth.

Self-governance rooted in local politics and individual fulfillment has driven our economic growth and freedoms. Our perceived need for regulation of the railroads and big corporations at the turn of the 20th century was because their “success” was impairing our freedoms. So Pres. Clinton’s deepest assumption that economic growth will drive society in the direction of freedom is not supported by the American experience. 

Further, China’s membership in the WTO was not only to benefit multinationals but was a giant step towards a global economy and establishment of a world government. The UN’s Agenda 2030 (5) now exists to take the WTO - combined with various so-called sustainability issues related to global climate change and resources - into the beginnings of a global governing structure.

We now understand that Pres. Clinton’s support for the PRC’s membership in the WTO was at best naïve and over-simplified, and at worst a manipulation on behalf of one-world government advocates working behind the scenes. The tensions that now exist between the PRC and the USA, both in the Trump administration and now with the Biden appointees, show the economic opportunities offered to the PRC over recent decades were unduly optimistic.



  1. https://billofrightsinstitute.org/essays/richard-nixon-opens-diplomatic-relations-with-china
  2. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/mostfavorednation.asp
  3. https://www.wsj.com/articles/when-the-world-opened-the-gates-of-china-1532701482
  4. https://www.wsj.com/articles/when-the-world-opened-the-gates-of-china-1532701482
  5. https://sdgs.un.org/2030agenda


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Jeffrey Ludwig is a teacher of history and philosophy and has taught at Harvard, Penn State, Juniata College, and the City University of New York as well as at the secondary school level. He has published numerous articles at americanthinker.com, frontpagemag.com, israelnationalnews.com, and americanchurchmag.com   He also served as pastor of Bible Christian Church in New York City. His latest book is entitled "The Catastrophic Decline of America's Public High Schools." You can get it from Amazon here...