Web Comments

In the same boat?

By Zhang Jin ( chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2010-03-29 17:37
Large Medium Small

We are in the same boat.

It was the message that Hillary Clinton conveyed to the Chinese people during her maiden visit to China in her capacity as US Secretary of State in February 2009.

Her remarks appeared to soothe mounting worries that China's colossal holding of US Treasury bonds could jeopardize the value of Beijing's foreign exchange assets, which China accumulated bit by bit through the years.

Related readings:
In the same boat? US may tread softly on key currency issue
In the same boat? US likely to label China 'currency manipulator'
In the same boat? US should look closer to home on currency issue
In the same boat? Chinese Premier: trade and currency wars harmful

The reasoning was: China must continue buying US debts so that the US government could keep its people and companies spending. Only by doing so can China's exports to the world's largest economy be resilient enough to keep its factories running and thus retaining jobs for hundreds of millions of the country's migrant workers.

As Mrs Clinton has wished, China did not cut US bonds in the past year and remains the world's largest creditor of the US government. The US economy grew at the fastest pace in six years during the final quarter of 2009. Consumer spending, which accounted for 70 percent of US economy, also rose 1.6 percent. All these gave US President Barack Obama solid reasons to cheerfully tell his people that the worst is over.

Now that the US economy is back on track, it seems to be the time for China to increase its exports to create jobs for its unemployed workers, who Premier Wen Jiabao said earlier this month numbered 200 million.

But when Chinese workers rolled up their sleeves to turn on the machines, US lawmakers stopped them and said China should be labeled a currency manipulator who gained unfair trade advantage by undervaluing its currency. Sorry, we have to protect our workers now, they say.

That is why the latter part of the story told by Clinton a year ago did not happen.

The true meaning of her remarks was: Yes, we are in the same boat, but only when times are bad for me.