By Leonard Novarro and Rosalynn Carmen
While most mainstream media has been taking a combative stance against the 45th president of the U.S., some decisions and actions coming out of the White House should be reviewed impartially.
China and trade? Look at who was standing behind the President as he signed a slate of executive orders to bring the country out of the last eight years of doldrums and inaction. That was Peter Navarro, the new trade chief who has not minced words about China’s intent to bury the U.S. economically.
Seven years ago, we attended a luncheon hosted by the Hong Kong Association in San Diego. The entire event was extolling the benefits of relocating businesses to China. Two young men at our table told us how they funded their startup with U.S. grants to create a product they were taking to China to manufacture. Repeat: Starting a business overseas with the help of U.S. grants.
At the same time, there have been and still are a flurry of business enterprises here in Southern California hosting foreign students from Asia to help them start up businesses they can take back home, along with technological knowhow they have gained here. And some companies are still using the U.S. visa program to bring in cheaper labor from Asia to replace workers here. Right before President Trump took office, in a bipartisan move, Congressmen Darrell Issa, a Republican, and Scott Peters, a Democrat, proposed restrictions on this practice.
Trump has made his attitude about China no secret — a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports to the U.S., if the imbalance in trade does not change. As it stands, we buy ten times the products that China buys from us. President Trump’s purpose is to level the playing field. In comparison, President Obama was asked two years ago how to stem outsourcing. His response: There’s little we can do about it.
Lest one think that Trump is pivoting away from Asia, he isn’t. While he signed an executive order pulling the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he said he will negotiate individually with Asian countries when it comes to trade. And that includes China. One of his first moves will be to send Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA chief Mike Pompeo to South Korea and Japan, our staunchest allies in Asia. The topic of mutual cooperation will be on the agenda.
In short, this president has done more in the first week in office than any previous chief executive, with actions that included:
1. Signing an executive order to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. to thwart illegal (repeat illegal) immigration — as promised
2. Expanding the U.S. Border Patrol by hiring 5,000 more agents — as promised
3. Requesting a mechanism to deal with immigrants in this country illegally — as promised
4. Halting immigration from countries suspected of harboring terrorists — as promised
5. Convincing companies like General Motors to move their manufacturing plants back to the U.S. from overseas — as promised
6. Proposing benefits to offshore companies returning to the U.S. — as promised
7. Insuring tighter control over visas that encourage hiring cheap labor from Asian countries to replace American workers — as promised
8. Encouraging legal immigration of talent that will benefit the U.S. — as promised
In short, we should not be surprised by any of this because it was clearly outlined during the campaign, his inaugural address and in his past writings.
We have seen the stories about some of the “unofficial” red baseball caps emblazoned with “Make America Great Again” that were actually made in China.
Unlike the baseball cap that was the brunt of jokes last week, action this week was no joke.
Leonard Novarro and Rosalynn Carmen are the founders of the Asian Heritage Society and Asia Media Inc.