China has consistently cheated on trade rules and intellectual property rights. And while increased trade with China has contributed to American economic growth, it has also cost far more American jobs than respected experts predicted.
Chinese imports as a percentage of US economic output doubled within four years, Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist David Autor reported in 2016. “We would conservatively estimate that more than a million manufacturing jobs in the US were directly eliminated between 2000 and 2007 as a result of China’s accelerating trade penetration in the United States,” in markets ranging from clothing to jewelry, toys to furniture, he wrote.
Hopes for democratization and human rights have also been dashed. China has become ever bolder in its suppression of human rights and any demand for anything like free elections. Chinese President Xi Jinping has even discarded the term limits imposed on his predecessors.
With economic growth slowing down, China’s leaders are evidently relying on expansionist nationalism to rally popular support. They have built and fortified islands in the South China Sea to claim sovereignty over its sea lanes and have expanded their capacity to nullify US weapons systems.