China–United States relations - Wikipedia
One of the contributing causes of colonial unrest was the exclusion of Americans from what was seen in the colonies as a very lucrative China trade. colonial era, the colonists happily accepted their relationship to Britain. economic history of those British mainland North American colonies that London and well ahead of their counterparts in South America and China. This leaves the question of where economic relations between the United States and China are going and where the US should want to take.
Early American Trade with China
One of the contributing causes of colonial unrest was the exclusion of Americans from what was seen in the colonies as a very lucrative China trade. The demand for Chinese products—tea, porcelain, silk, and nankeen a coarse, strong cotton cloth —continued after the Revolution. Having seen the British make great profits from the trade when the colonies were prevented from direct trade with China, Americans were eager to secure these profits for themselves.
The need to provide employment for people who had depended on the sea for their livelihood, the need to continue importing manufactured goods as yet unavailable from American sources, and the need to generate capital for development stimulated the development of a new kind of foreign trade. Direct trade with China was part of this trade. With the volume of foreign trade relatively small during the early years of the Republic, trade with China played a significant role.
The immediate difficulty which all traders faced was to find commodities to sell in China to offset American purchases in China that were mostly paid for in silver shipped from the Americas to China. Traders from these different American ports settled on different commodities and followed different routes to China to obtain these commodities.
In general, all traders engaged in the serial trading of goods, buying and selling in all the ports they visited. Traders from Philadelphia first sent their ships across the Atlantic Ocean to buy and sell goods in Europe. They then traded around Africa and across the Indian Ocean to China. AroundPhiladelphia merchants found a source of opium in Smyrna Turkey and they began to ship this commodity to China.
However, they continued to ship other goods as well. Ships from New York seem to have engaged in a broad range of trade strategies available and in the midth century, New York became the major port involved in the China trade. Commodities of the Trade Tea was the most important imported commodity Americans obtained from China through the end of the 19th century.
Initially, American imports from China largely consisted of cloth nankeen and silk as well as tea.
China–United States relations
Textile imports declined during the s. Silk imports declined although the reason is uncertain. As cotton textile manufacturing developed in the s and the quality of domestic cloth rose and the cost decreased, the U. Machine-spun cloth did not have comparable quality to the homespun, hand-woven nankeen which the Chinese continued to prefer for work clothes. It was not until the middle to the end of the 19th century that western-manufactured cloth provided the serviceability for a comparable price as did Chinese-produced cloth.
Foreign Office Files for China | Reviews in History
At that time western cloth began to be imported into China in increasing quantities. By the last quarter of the 19th century, cotton cloth and cotton yarn represented a significant portion of the total American exports to China.
Americans initially looked to ginseng as the commodity which would finance trade with China. This market quickly turned out to be very volatile.
Furs also held promise, but this market also proved to be undependable. Without a commodity which consistently found a market in China, the Americans had to use specie metal and coins to finance the trade. Without a source of gold or silver, Americans had to obtain specie elsewhere. They did this by engaging in a triangular trade. Goods were shipped to Europe, between European ports, or to South America and sold for Mexican dollars.
The specie was then shipped to China to purchase tea. By the s, a significant amount of the trade was financed by credit extended by London banks through their representatives in China. Some Americans also turned to opium as a commodity to finance the China trade.
India produced the highest quality opium, but the British East India Company held a monopoly on opium production in India until Turkey produced opium of lesser quality and on a far smaller scale than India. Americans began shipping opium from Smyrna by Turkish opium only made up a small part of the total opium imported into China. Despite all these attempts to find a commodity other than specie that could balance the cost of goods imported from China, Americans could not find one.
Having recently returned from China, where I had a chance to participate in a major economic forum and meet a number of senior officials, I have become convinced that the issues that preoccupy many Americans are either invalid or of secondary importance and the most important economic challenge posed by China is receiving far less attention than it deserves. While there is a case for the proposition that China manipulated its currency in an unreasonable way during the decade afterby no stretch of any imagination is China today manipulating the renminbi downward for competitive advantage.
In terms of the volumes of reserves expended and the extent of capital controls imposed, few countries in recent years have done as much to try to prop up their currency as has China. Yes, China subsidises various exports to the rest of the world in a number of ways.
But if the US succeeds in stopping the subsidies or blocking the subsidised products, the results will be to shift production to Vietnam and other low-wage countries rather than to create good jobs in the US.
Likewise, a reduction in Chinese trade barriers to products produced by American companies will indeed help these companies, but only a small part of the extra production will take place in the US.
American firms have valid complaints about requirements that they share intellectual property with Chinese partners when they invest in China, but if they were resolved the result would likely be more outsourcing of production to China, not less. If currency issues are invalid and commercial diplomacy is unlikely to have much positive effect on the US economy, what should be the focus of US economic policy with respect to China?
It is difficult to overestimate the extent to which China is seeking to project soft power around the world by economic means. In a little noticed development, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a Chinese-sponsored competitor to the World Bank, has announced that it will invest all over the world. And China will soon be the leading exporter of clean energy technologies.