Affirmative Case: Repeal Section 421 Tariffs on Chinese Imports
Fact 1: Section 421 Tariffs Discriminate Against Chinese Imports
Fact 2: Section 421 Tariffs Intended to be Temporary
Fact 3: Section 421 Tariffs Remain Authorized by Congress
Impact 1: Lower Evidentiary Standards Decrease Presidential Accountability
Impact 2: Lower Evidentiary Standards Enable Ineffective Tariffs
Plan: Repeal Section 421 Tariff Authorization
— See case pdf with evidence at link:
“Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic and/or diplomatic engagement with the People’s Republic of China.”
There is no more important bilateral relationship than that between the United States and China. Yet the Congressional Research Service warns that ties have “become increasingly complex and often fraught with tension.” Relations appear likely to become even more fractious with the election of Donald Trump as president. Every four years the People’s Republic of China (PRC) becomes a presidential election issue, but Americans deserve a better explanation of the importance of U.S.-China political and economic relations than candidates’ sound-bytes.
The Complicated Relationship with China. China is an emerging great power and perhaps eventual superpower that is challenging Washington in several key areas. The economic benefits for the United States of its relationship with China seem obvious, but many Americans wonder if the difficulties outweigh the benefits.
The PRC possesses the world’s second largest economy and has become both commercial partner and competitor with the United States. Trade between the two nations is beneficial because of comparative advantage; that is, each country is relatively better at producing some items than the other. This economic concept is the foundation for trade throughout history.
However, international commerce today is about politics as well as economics. Trade and investment disputes have multiplied between the two governments while China remains the fount of extensive cyber-espionage targeting U.S. business secrets. Continuing the relationship depends on the ability of the two governments to work through these often contentious disputes.
– See more at: http://www.ncpa.org/pub/economics-of-the-2016-2017-debate-topic-us-relations-with-china-mixing-cooperation-with-competition#sthash.X9Qp2bar.dpuf
Public health concerns can restrict individual liberty. Typhoid Mary lost her liberty and freedom of association due to a microbe she carried, even though she was in good health. Similarly, Chinese companies raising seafood safe for U.S. consumers are creating a public health crisis: microbes resistant to antibiotics.
“How Antibiotic-Tainted Seafood From China Ends Up on Your Table,” (BloombergBusinessweek, December 15, 2016), describes the traditional “sustainable” Chinese use of animal waste to feed fish. Since the beginning of agriculture, animal waste has fertilized crops (it’s the organic way!). But the addition of antibiotics to boost animal size and disease resistance shifts the microbe ecosystem in animal waste. Some microbes gain resistance to antibiotics, and are then flushed into Chinese fish ponds, adding antibiotic resistance to microbes in fish later shipped (or transshipped) to the U.S..
The individual fish are okay to eat, but the antibiotic microbes migrate from Chinese pigs to fish to U.S. consumers, ecosystems, and hospitals.
In “China tackles antimicrobial resistance,” (Science, Aug. 31, 2016), the costs and source of the problem reported:
According to a May report from the Wellcome Trust in London, antimicrobial resistance in China could cause 1 million premature deaths annually by 2050 and cost the country $20 trillion. Antibiotics are currently widely available without prescriptions in China for both human and livestock use. The country accounts for half the world’s annual antimicrobial drug consumption. “Antimicrobial resistance is a problem created by human behavior—largely through the inappropriate use of antimicrobials in health care, as well as in animal husbandry,”
The Science article reports the Chinese government is taking the problem seriously and taking steps:
As part of a national action plan unveiled on 26 August, the Chinese central government said that it would mobilize the efforts of 14 ministries and departments including health, food and drugs, and agriculture. By 2020, the government aims to develop new antimicrobials, make sales of the drugs by prescription only, ramp up surveillance of human and veterinary usage, and increase training and education for both medical professionals and consumers on their proper use.
However, political pronouncements may or may not lead to actual reforms. Economists focus on incentives (economics is mostly about incentives, the rest is commentary). So what incentives will the announced Chinese “national action plan” create? It’s unclear. The size and scope of the problems are discussed in detail in “How Antibiotic-Tainted Seafood From China Ends Up on Your Table“:
…Livestock pens are scattered among the thousands of seafood farms that form the heart of the [China’s] aquaculture industry, the largest in the world.
Beside one of those fish farms near Zhaoqing…a farmhand … hoses down the cement floor of a piggery where white and roan hogs sniff and snort. The dirty water from the pens flows into a metal pipe, which empties directly into a pond shared by dozens of geese. As the yellowish-brown water splashes from the pipe, tilapia flap and jump, hungry for an afternoon feeding.
Chinese agriculture has thrived for thousands of years on this kind of recycling—the nutrients that fatten the pigs and geese also feed the fish. But the introduction of antibiotics into animal feed has transformed ecological efficiency into a threat to global public health.
Antibiotics banned for the U.S. food industry and essential for world health have been overused in China’s “sustainable” animal waste to fish fertilizing system:
At another farm, in Jiangmen, a farmer scatters a scoop of grain to rouse her slumbering swine, penned on the edge of a pond with 20,000 Mandarin fish. The feed contains three kinds of antibiotics, including colistin, which in humans is considered an antibiotic of last resort. Colistin is banned for swine use in the U.S., but until November, when the Chinese government finally clamped down, it was used extensively in animal feed in China. Vials and containers for nine other antibiotics lie around the 20-sow piggery… Seven of those drugs have been deemed critically important for human medicine by the World Health Organization.
The Bloomberg article also reports that tens of millions of tons of Chinese fish are likely transhipped through Malaysia and other countries, relying on loose or fraudulent paperwork on country of origin, and banned Chinese seafood still makes it to the U.S.:
But antibiotic-contaminated seafood keeps turning up at U.S. ports, as well as in restaurants and grocery stores. That’s because the distribution networks that move the seafood around the world are often as murky as the waters in which the fish are raised.
See also “U.S. seafood import restriction presents opportunity and risk,” (Science, December 16, 2016), however these new NOAA regulations are related to mammal protection and bycatch, rather than fish farming and antibiotic abuse.
“New DNA results answer consumers’ demand for trust in seafood,” (Phys.org, March 15, 2016) reports:
Two-thirds (67 percent) of U.S. seafood consumers say they want to know that their fish can be traced back to a known and trusted source, with 58 percent saying they look to ecolabels as a trusted source of information. Globally, 55 percent doubt that the seafood they consume is what it says on the package. These findings are from the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) latest survey of more than 16,000 seafood consumers across 21 countries.
The article notes both that the U.S. is the world’s largest seafood importer, and that much of the imported seafood is mislabeled for consumers:
Oceana’s nationwide survey in 2013 found one-third (33 percent) of U.S. seafood samples genetically analyzed were mislabeled.
The Marine Stewardship Council documents seafood origin and sustainability for ocean-caught fish:
Brian Perkins, MSC Regional Director—Americas, said, “The MSC’s DNA results prove you can trust that seafood sold with the blue MSC ecolabel really is what the package says it is and can be traced from ocean to plate. Last month, the U.S. government announced proposed rules that would require tracking to combat illegal fishing and fraud. Many businesses are left wondering whether they’re selling seafood that was produced legally and sustainably. MSC certification means consumers and businesses can be confident that MSC ecolabeled fish has been caught legally and can be traced back to a sustainable source.”
The Marine Stewardship Council 2015 Annual Report has numerous references to China seafood certification:
The MSC’s program director in China, Dr An Yan, was named the most influential figure in the Chinese seafood industry, in a 2016 survey of hundreds of seafood executives in China. The number one spot went to Ivy Wang, chief China representative at the Atlantic Canada Business Network, for “putting Canadian lobster on so many Chinese plates” – 97% of Canadian lobster is MSC certified.
More focused on fish farming certification is the Aquaculture Stewardship Council: “ASC announces partnership for development in China” (September 14, 2016):
The agreement will accelerate the growth of the ASC programme in China. Tao Ran has been contracted to lead the strategy implementation and to expand the adoption of ASC farm standards. The firm’s aquaculture staff will also work seamlessly with the ASC team to promote the availability of ASC certified seafood for consumers within China, and in the many countries that buy aquaculture products from China.
This innovative partnership will allow ASC to seize the historical opportunity of the Chinese government’s policy for a “market-oriented mode” in economic development. The agreement includes a long-term strategy to support the development, improvement and adaptation of ASC standards and engage and assist ASC Chain of Custody (CoC) certified companies. The agency will play a key role in both building new partnerships and strengthening existing ties with the Chinese seafood industry, affiliated associations, NGOs and key government agencies…
Though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “has the primary federal responsibility for safety of seafood products in the U.S.” and other federal agencies are involved, private seafood certification systems are a popular alternative. For details, see presentation “U.S. Aquaculture Regulations: A
Comparison with Seafood Certification Schemes,” (November 13, 2013), and FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper No. 553: “Private standards and certification in fisheries and aquaculture” (FAO, 2011):
Private standards and related certification schemes are becoming significant features of international fish trade and marketing. They have emerged in areas where there is a perception that public regulatory frameworks are not achieving the desired outcomes, such as sustainability and responsible fisheries management. Their use is also becoming more common in efforts to ensure food safety, quality and environmental sustainability in the growing aquaculture industry.
Apart from U.S. regulatory or NGO certification advances, new research may address the global health problem of microbes gaining antibiotic resistance. In “Does this 25 year-old hold the key to winning the war against superbugs?,” (The Telegraph, September 25, 2016):
“We’ve discovered that [the polymers] actually target the bacteria and kill it in multiple ways,” says Lam, who leads a half-a-dozen-strong research team. “One method is by physically disrupting or breaking apart the cell wall of the bacteria. This creates a lot of stress on the bacteria and causes it to start killing itself.”
Her research, published this month in the prestigious journal, Nature Microbiology, has already been hailed by scientists as a breakthrough that could change the face of modern medicine.
Scope of public health danger is briefly (and breathlessly) outlined in a short video embedded in Telegraph article:
Superbugs, the drug-resistant infections, are set to kill over 10 million people across the world by 2050.
Debaters can address a major source of drug-resistant bacteria at their source in agriculture and aquaculture practices in China. New Chinese government regulations may or may not reform the industry. Restrictions on antibiotic use in Chinese fish farms exporting to the U.S. would have a more immediate economic impact. Improving US/China engagement on addressing overuse of antibiotics could save millions of lives over the coming decades.
In April, 2016 China’s government launched a new effort to restrict and control its society. “Clampdown in China Restricts 7,000 Foreign Organizations,” (New York Times, April 28, 2016) begins:
China took a major step on Thursday in President Xi Jinping’s drive to impose greater control and limit Western influences on Chinese society, as it passed a new law restricting the work of foreign organizations and their local partners, mainly through police supervision.
The 7,000 foreign NGOs have until the end of the year to take steps required by the new law, but these steps were unclear until this week.
“China Unveils List of Activities Permitted for Foreign Nonprofits, ” (Wall Street Journal, December 21, 2016) reports the latest developments:
BEIJING—After months of uncertainty for foreign nonprofits, China released a list of activities the groups will be allowed to pursue under a controversial new law, with a surprising number of activities falling in potentially sensitive areas such as legal services.
Civil society institution are central to US/China engagement, and include international debate societies, educational associations, and thousands of international environmental, business, religious, and cultural associations.
These non-government organizations (NGOs), along with tens of thousands of international businesses operating in China, build personal and cultural connections between people and societies that are fully or partially independent of governments.
Rotary Clubs meet weekly in communities around the world, including China. Rotary China explains:
Rotary is a global movement of business and community leaders from different walks of life – who come together to have fun, network and do good in our communities. …
Rotary encourages like-minded business and community leaders to share ideas, about how to build our clubs and expand our service project impact.
Rotary has just 15 chartered clubs in China. Yet there are over 100 Rotary Clubs in Washington State and 15 clubs in or within 100 miles of Bucharest, Romania.
Another business and community service organization, the Lions Club, has a long history in China, and by 2015 “there were 26,000 members in 758 clubs.”
Lions Clubs of China were shut down by the communist government in 1949, but returned in 2002, leading with a signature international program to restore eyesight, SightFirst.
SightFirst is working with its partners in China to increase low-vision services, including pilot centers in Liaoning and Guangdong provinces, to assess if blinding trachoma is a public health problem in China. SightFirst in China is also working to develop a regional training program model in Liaoning Province that better links eye care services in urban areas to those in rural areas.
With these spectacular results, the formation of new Lions clubs in China was not long in coming. In 2002, with the full support and endorsement of the Chinese government, Lions Clubs International issued charters to new clubs in Guangdong and Shenzhen with about 60 members each. Lions have grown rapidly in China. By 2015, there were 26,000 members in 758 clubs, ranking China among Lions’ fastest growing regions worldwide.
Kiwanis International, the third major business service organization, similarly leads an international health initiative:
Ganzu, China: For the past 10 years, salt manufacturers and health workers such as Dr. Ray Yip have worked together to solve the problem of iodine deficiency in China. Thanks to support from UNICEF and Kiwanis International, 95 percent of the population has access to iodized salt.
Kiwanis International also runs a Key Clubs program for high school students:
Key Club is the oldest and largest service program for high school students. What makes Key Club so successful is the fact that it is a student-led organization
We’re excited to announce a new Key Club nation: China! This takes our “international status” to a whopping 33 countries!The first chartered Key Club in China, which is located in Nanjing, already has more than 90 members!
So far, the club has organized several activities, such as charity fundraisers and performances, and tutors English to children from low-income families.
Apart from service clubs are educational organizations, like China high school debate supporter Sunrise International Education, whose goals are:
Sunrise is a social enterprise dedicated to reforming global education, in middle schools, high schools and universities, through experiential learning. Founded by two American education entrepreneurs in 2011, Sunrise pioneered an innovative model of student engagement, cultivating grassroots student communities and creating a bridge between them and institutions worldwide.
The National High School Debate League of China (NHSDLC) is a Sunrise program offering experiential learning:
The NHSDLC is a project of Sunrise International Education, a social enterprise dedicated to promoting American style extra-curricular education and cross cultural exchange in China and East Asia. Sunrise International Education also organizes the Association for Global Debate, the China Youth Business League, Yale Model UN China and InterPLAY China. [More links at website.]
The National High School Debate League of China (NHSDLC), for example lists its civil society activities:
We organise over 75 tournaments a year in cities all over China with 10,000 students competing. Our regionals vary in size from around one hundred students in smaller cities to more than 300 in the largest cities. The best students from each city qualify to compete at our yearly National Championship in Beijing; this year’s Championship had over 400 students participating, making it the largest ever in China
So… here is hoping that high school debate societies continue to flourish in China, along hundreds of other international education, and business service clubs, and associations.
In “The Legacy of China’s One-Child Policy,” (Time, Dec. 13, 2016), Hannah Beach reports on the sad reality of China’s misguided 1979 policy of limiting most families to one child.
Some costs of China’s family planning, which limited most urban families to a single child, are well known. Because of the abrupt lowering of the birth rate, China will grow old before it grows rich. The nation is already facing a labor shortage.
Fears of worldwide overpopulation and natural resource depletion influenced 1970s textbooks and classroom instruction around the world. Videos from ZPG (Zero Population Growth) shown to high school classes highlighted year-by-year population growth that accelerates rapidly with the Industrial Revolution in 1800s (similar YouTube world population video here). (Actually, the birth rate stayed much the same, but the death rate fell dramatically. Costs of food and clothes fell as farms and factories were able to produce far more at lower costs. Plus transportation costs fell some 80%, so food, raw materials, and people could travel less expensively around the world).
Here is abstract from ZPG report from 1985 critical of the Reagan Administration for ignoring the benefits of China’s one-child policy:
The Reagan administration refuses to recognize the achievements of China’s population program and the practical and humanitarian considerations which lead to China’s adoption of vigorous family planning policies. … The national census of 1982 revealed that China’s population doubled between 1949-1982 and in 1982 exceeded 1 billion. Severe famine and economic chaos were forecasted for the near future if population growth was not severely and immediately curbed.
But forecast by whom? Economist Julian Simon in his book The Ultimate Resource, emphasized that though every new child was at first a burden (as well as a joy) to parents, new mouths to feed soon became new hands able to produce and new minds to create and innovate. In open societies (unlike China under communism) people can produce far, far more in their lifetime than they consume.
Environmentalists and population-control advocates also feared the world was running out of resources, and demand for the oil, coal, natural gas, copper, zinc, aluminum, and other natural resources would soon exceed supplies that could be found. For more on 1970s overpopulation and natural resource fears see the 1977 Global 2000 Report to the President, and 1972 Limits to Growth study from The Club of Rome. (Students are encouraged to research both scholars who believed in natural resource depletion and other scholars (often economists) who believed markets and innovation would continue to innovate and discover new natural resources.)
Along with government population control, international ownership and planning of scarce world resources was advocated. For example, the 1975-1976 national high school debate topic:
Resolved: That the development and allocation of scarce world resources should be controlled by an international organization.
Hannah Beach in Time reports another legacy of China’s population policy:
But for the 13 million or so unregistered Chinese, most of whom were born in contravention of family-planning regulations, the one-child policy’s devastating effects still endure. …
Since their births were not officially recorded, many of these individuals live in the shadows of Chinese society. They could not go to school or get a passport. All too often, their parents were fined prohibitive amounts or forced out of their jobs. Although some have managed to fight the system, others spend their days mired in endless paperwork. Their goal: to get their very existence recognized by the Chinese state.
An alternate path for China’s unregistered is to exit the country that does not recognize their rights as Chinese citizens or human beings.
In “Start-up cities” for refugees: a long-term solution to the migration crisis?,” Pieter Cleppe argues new charter cities could help millions of refugees around the world. New charter cities could help millions wishing to escape China. And there is no better example than the charter city that gave economic freedom to millions of impoverished Chinese refugees:
What was Hong Kong other than a city governed by Western officials and populated largely by refugees from Maoist China? If it was possible for the British to provide a safe home for millions of people on the run in much more challenging times, why wouldn’t it be possible for the whole of the developed world – not just Western countries – to give any refugee the most precious thing the developed world can offer them: the protection of the rule of law, which has propelled the US, Canada, Europe, Japan, and parts of East and Southeast Asia to the levels of wealth they enjoy today.
Desperate for economic reforms so China could catch up to the West (and with Hong Kong, Taiwan, SK, and Japan), Chinese government officials since the 1960s have implemented disastrously destructive economic policies.
More on charter cities for refugees: “A Place for the Stateless: Can a Startup City Solve the Refugee Crisis?” And a longer history of charter cities “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Ending Poverty” (The Atlantic, July/August, 2010). Economist Paul Romer suggests “A Charter City in Cuba?” to address a US problem, and poverty for Cubans:
An existing treaty between the United States and Cuba currently gives the United States administrative control over a piece of sovereign Cuban territory straddling Guantanamo Bay that is twice the size of Manhattan.
Imagine that the United States and Cuba agree to disengage by closing the military base and transferring local administrative control to Canada. Canada works with Cuba to draft a charter for this special zone and promises to enforce its terms. Under this charter, a new city blossoms. It does for Cuba what Hong Kong, administered by the British, did for China; it connects Cuba to the global economy.
Some students debating the Mexico/Venezuela/Cuba debate topic from a few years ago researched Romer’s proposal for a new Hong Kong in Cuba.
See also “Could Refugee Camps Be Startup Cities?”
Back to China’s One-Child Policy
Nicholas Eberstadt in the Wall Street Journal (October 29, 2015), calls China’s population control policy: “The one-child mandate is the single greatest social-policy error in human history.”
The Chinese government’s draconian one-child policy followed soon after Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, and was a response to incredible poverty across China following decades of top-down economic planning.
The one-child policy created an utterly new social system for China, notes Eberstadt:
And China’s cities are now producing a new family type utterly unfamiliar to Chinese history: only children begotten by only children. They have no siblings, cousins, uncles or aunts, only ancestors (and perhaps, one day, descendants).
China’s population problems aren’t yet fixed. It’s current two-child mandate still has government officials trying to regulate families, limiting those without wealth or political connections to just two children.
On the positive side, there is this recent article: “Researchers may have ‘found’ many of China’s 30 million missing girls,” (Washington Post, November 30, 2016):
Academics often talk about between 30 and 60 million “missing girls” in China, apparently killed in the womb or just after birth, thanks to a combination of preference for sons and the country’s decades under a repressive one-child policy.
Now researchers in the United States and China think they might have found many — or even most — of them, and argue they might not have been killed after all. …
“If we go over a course of 25 years, it’s possible there are about 25 million women in the statistics that weren’t there at birth,” Kennedy said.
So, it is very good news that millions of Chinese girls long thought lost by academics may be found in rural areas and among the 200 million floating population (those who migrated illegally to work in Chinese factories).
However, many of these young people long fenced out of official Chinese society might well wish to depart regulated China and migrate toward opportunities in freer and more prosperous cities around the world.
The two readings are required. Your submission will be graded in part according to how carefully and thoughtfully you engage with these challenging articles. They are:
Make sure to include a bibliography citing any outside sources you choose to reference. Incorporating outside research into your writing, although not required, may improve the overall quality of your essay. Your bibliography does not count against your word total.
Entries will be judged on the quality of their writing (style and mechanics), their level of engagement with the topic, and the strength of their reasoning. Essays that make an argument and support it well will out-perform essays that only provide a neutral overview of both sides. Judges will not consider their personal feelings on the topic when evaluating the essays.
Earlier posts have discussed supply-chain networks that bind U.S. manufacturers with Chinese and Mexican factories producing intermediate goods and materials. “Trump’s Tough Trade Talk Could Damage American Factories,” (New York Times, December 2, 2016) examines the US/China trade debate, looking first at a successful and growing manufacturing firm in Michigan:
But many existing American manufacturing jobs depend heavily on access to a broad array of goods drawn from a global supply chain — fabrics, chemicals, electronics and other parts. Many of them come from China. At Mr. Reid’s factory, imports account for roughly two-thirds of the cost of making a recliner chair.
In short, Mr. Trump’s signature trade promise, one ostensibly aimed at protecting American jobs, may well deliver the reverse: It risks making successful American manufacturers more vulnerable by raising their costs. It would unleash havoc on the global supply chain, prompting some multinationals to leave the United States and shift manufacturing to countries where they can be assured of buying components at the lowest prices.
The article emphasizes that in addition to fabrics imported from China, Mr. Reid’s firm, First Class Seating, uses U.S. materials as well as employing US workers:
Mr. Reid takes pride in using American products. His designers here in Michigan dreamed up his sleek recliner. Local hands construct the frames using American-made steel, then affix molded foam from a factory in nearby Grand Rapids. They staple upholstery to hunks of wood harvested by timber operations in Wisconsin. They do all this inside a former heating and cooling equipment factory that shut down a decade ago when the work shifted to Mexico.
New and higher tariffs on materials imported from China would raise costs for First Class Seating, likely leading to lost sales to competitors still able to access Chinese made goods and materials.
In “Globalization isn’t killing factory jobs. Trade is actually why manufacturing is up 40%,” (LA Times, August 1, 2016), Daniel Griswold also emphasized the key role of imports for US manufacturing:
Imports also play a critical role in the success of U.S. manufacturing. Measured in terms of value, more than half of what Americans import each year is not for consumption but for production. Being integrated into global supply chains allows U.S. manufacturers to source more affordable parts, components, raw materials and production equipment, making their final products more competitive.