Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) on Wednesday marked the 20th anniversary since China was allowed to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) and begin the “great hollowing” of America’s “industrial base, economy, and working class.”
In a speech on the United States Senate floor, Cotton blasted Republican and Democrat lawmakers like President Joe Biden who, 20 years ago, supported China’s entering the WTO and normalizing U.S. trade relations with China.
“There was great rejoicing across Washington by lobbyists, politicians, and bureaucrats, and for that matter among corporate CEOs and Wall Street bankers, and, perhaps most of all, the communists in Beijing,” Cotton said of China’s entering the WTO in 2001:
But for Americans in the heartland in places like Arkansas, China’s entrance into the WTO was nothing to celebrate. That was the moment their leaders left them exposed to the predations of the Chinese Communist Party. [Emphasis added]
Millions of Americans lost good-paying, blue-collar jobs to the “China trade shock” in the years that followed. Countless small towns, main streets, and working-class neighborhoods were gutted and boarded up. Michigan lost 24 percent of its manufacturing jobs, Ohio lost 27 percent of its manufacturing jobs, and my home state lost 26 percent of all of our manufacturing jobs since China joined the World Trade Organization. Families were shattered and communities crumbled. The opioid crisis then killed thousands of those who were left behind. [Emphasis added]
Twenty years ago was nothing less than the beginning of the Great Hollowing of our nation’s industrial base, economy, and working class. [Emphasis added]
Cotton noted how it was U.S. lawmakers and WTO members who have enabled China’s massive economic growth over the last two decades — becoming the world’s largest exporter and expanding its economy by nearly 1,200 percent. He said:
[China] today makes one out of every four automobiles in the world — more than the United States, Japan, and South Korea combined. It makes one out of every three merchant ships; in the United States, we make virtually none. In addition, China produces 40 percent of mobile phones, 70 percent of televisions, and 96 percent of shipping containers on which global commerce moves.
Cotton said China has a “worrisome … stranglehold over the production of essential materials,” by “producing more than half of the world’s steel, two-thirds of its active ingredients in our generic drugs, and processes 85 percent of rare-earth elements … which are used in everything from” smartphones to fighter jets.
China is also making huge investments in markets like semiconductor production and Artificial Intelligence, Cotton said.
“The stark fact is that China controls nearly a quarter of global trade,” Cotton continued. “A stunning 70 percent … seven out of ten counties in the world trade more with China than with the United States.”
Meanwhile, Cotton urged Congress to pass his legislation, the China Trade Relations Act, to eliminate China’s permanent normal trade relations status with the U.S. and to “return to the pre-WTO status quo that recognized China as a non-market, communist country…”
“If we do this, we can begin to fix the historic mistake that our leaders made 20 years ago, when they welcomed China into the WTO with open arms and open wallets — and unleashed that dragon upon the world,” Cotton said.
From 2001 to 2018, U.S. free trade with China has eliminated 3.7 million American jobs from the economy — 2.8 million of which were lost in American manufacturing. During that same period, at least 50,000 American manufacturing plants closed down.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter here.