With US labor leaders holding talks (see here, here and here) with the ACFTU in China, we thought it would be worthwhile to examine the role of the U.S. labor movement in the reassessment of approaches to China. A later post will explore the questions raised by U.S. labor's emerging engagement with the ACFTU.
Why Labor Can and Should Lead a Reassessment of Approaches to China
1. Established approaches to China are obsolete.
China is no longer a cold war adversary, but it is now a global economic powerhouse. The current policies of labor and of the U.S. government have not adequately recognized today’s reality.
2. The jobs and wages of workers in the US and everywhere are at stake.
Unions and workers all over the globe are confronting the challenges posed by the emergence of China as a global economic powerhouse. No other industrializing country has ever attracted jobs at both the high and low ends of the production chain. From basic level assembly work to the upper tiers of industry and services, China is setting the global norm for working standards around the world.
3. A new China strategy is an economic necessity for labor.
China is a global problem for workers and their unions. Every day footloose corporations move or threaten to move jobs to China. The “privileged” position of workers in the global North is being rapidly undermined while the aspirations of workers in the developing world are being dashed as China becomes the wage setting country in many industries.