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U.S. needs to watch China closely

September 9, 2010
The Daily Mining Gazette

U.S. policies toward China too often are guided by our government's reluctance to annoy that country's rulers over any issue. To some in Washington, China's economic, military and diplomatic power seem to dictate such a strategy.

But at what cost to American working men and women? Chinese trade and currency policies, which are related, have affected many U.S. companies adversely.

At last, U.S. officials seem to be ready to stand up to Beijing. Last week, the U.S. Commerce Department determined officially the government of China unfairly subsidized $514 million in aluminum products exported to this country last year.

In other words, the Chinese have been using unfair trade practices against U.S. aluminum producers and processors, much as some countries did for years in what proved to be a successful assault on the American steel industry.

The United Steel Workers union, working with a coalition of aluminum companies, filed the trade case against Chinese producers earlier this year. It involves extruded aluminum products.

One signal the Chinese were up to something came in 2007, when that country's share of the extruded aluminum products market in the United States rose from 8 percent to 20 percent. Much of that market share was taken from U.S. companies.

Now that the Commerce Department - with White House approval, no doubt - has acted, some Chinese companies will be required to post cash deposits or bonds to ensure they do not engage in unfair trade practices.

We hope President Barack Obama's administration cracks down hard on the Chinese aluminum producers. While we recognize presidents of both political parties have worked hard to avoid antagonizing Beijing for many years, the requirements of diplomacy should not stand in the way of protecting American workers against unfair competition from any other country.



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