Before our country began sheltering in place this year, before the COVID-19 outbreak spread around the world and every American’s focus shifted to fighting a global pandemic, our country already faced another looming threat: China’s aggressive efforts to rapidly dominate the global economy.
In 2015, China’s leaders – the Chinese Communist Party – announced Made in China 2025, a 10-year strategic plan to rapidly develop the nation’s manufacturing sector, particularly through high-tech industries. Included in the plan is China’s vow to double its gross domestic product (GDP) in this 10-year timeline, ultimately becoming the world’s largest economy. We are now halfway through the 10-year period and China has not faltered in its efforts. A global economy dominated by the Chinese Communist Party endangers not only the United States and the free markets we value, it endangers our allies around the world, many of whom have significantly fewer resources than the U.S.
To combat the Chinese Communist Party’s economic ambition going forward, the United States must prioritize strengthening our own manufacturing sector. This can be done in part by establishing a new role within our federal government: chief manufacturing officer. Through increased coordination between government and businesses, a thorough review of federal manufacturing-related policies, as well as the development of a National Manufacturing Strategy, this officer would better equip our manufacturing sector to pursue a comprehensive strategy to strengthen our free-market enterprises.
Working to establish this role was one of my earliest endeavors in Congress and has become critically important in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has illustrated the cost of American reliance on Chinese manufacturing in our supply chains. It’s past time we regain control by identifying vulnerabilities in existing American supply chains and developing a strategic plan to strengthen them without Chinese sourcing.
Last month, I announced a plan for a National Manufacturing Guard, a volunteer organization of American experts from across the private sector that will train for supply chain and other manufacturing emergencies. If my legislation becomes law, the new guard will work to ensure the vitality of our domestic resources and infrastructure in the event of future emergencies so that the United States won’t be further exposed to China’s malevolence.
Over time, the trading relationship between the U.S. and China has skewed in China’s favor. While American leaders have recently tried to rebalance the relationship, China has proven itself to be a deceptive and untrustworthy partner. In January, China’s leaders pledged to purchase at least an additional $12.5 billion worth of U.S. farm goods in 2020 based on “market conditions,” as well as at least $19.5 billion over the 2017 level of $24 billion in 2021. Unsurprisingly, China’s leaders have not held up their end of the bargain, resulting in a significantly reduced level of U.S. agricultural exports to China so far this year.
Such a reduction has a direct impact on the agricultural community within Ohio’s 12th Congressional District. As a prominent producer of soybean and pork exports, any retaliation or purchasing games by China would have a direct negative impact on our district’s agriculture sector. My new position on the House Agriculture Committee gives me a seat at the table to stand up for the farmers of central Ohio who are being used as pawns in the vindictive games being played by the Chinese Communist Party.
China’s provocative actions won’t go away anytime soon. The Chinese Communist Party will continue to find new and inventive ways to take over the global economy, stopping at nothing to ensure China becomes the largest economic powerhouse in the world and threatening the livelihoods of Ohioans. With commonsense reforms like those outlined above, however, we can rise to the challenge and stand up for American workers before it is too late.
This piece is the second in a three-part series about Chinese aggression, written by Congressman Troy Balderson, who represents Ohio’s 12th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.