China accuses the US of Olympic hypocrisy

 
US Olympic athletes from left: swimmer Ryan Lochte, decathlete Bryan Clay, rower Giuseppe Lanzone and soccer player Heather Mitts The Team USA opening ceremony parade uniform by Ralph Lauren has caused controversy

The London games have yet to begin, not a single starting gun has been fired, and already the US and China are slugging it out.

The issue that's got everyone fired up is not who is likely to be top of the medals table or who is the true sporting superpower.

But it is, in a way, about US fears that China is cheating, not on the sporting field but in the economic one, about fears America is losing out to a rival who does not play fair.

It's a row over the blazers and berets, slacks and scarves the US team will wear at the opening ceremony. You can see them here, and a slideshow here. Designed and paid for by the clothing firm Ralph Lauren, they are made in China.

Start Quote

How could he not get it - that manufacturing Team USA in a country that half owns us and has wrecked the domestic garment industry would be like choking on a chicken bone? ”

End Quote Stu Bykofsky Commentator
Congressional outrage

At a time when unemployment in America is 8%, members of Congress said they were outraged that the jackets were not stitched in America.

"I think they should take all the outfits, put them in a big pile and burn them and start over," said the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, last week.

China's official Xinhua news agency has hit back. "Some US politicians have displayed shades of hypocrisy" said the official Xinhua news agency, in a commentary (which is not the same thing as an official government statement).

"The Olympic spirit, which has nothing to do with politics, chants mutual understanding and fair play, so tagging the uniforms with politics by those US politicians exposes narrow nationalism and ignorance, and violates the original Olympic Spirit" said Xinhua.

But fair play is exactly what many in America worry about. They fear that China, through an undervalued currency, trade barriers and state subsidies to its exporters - in the form of cheap land, cheap loans, export rebates and other help - is hollowing out US industry and jobs.

'Gut punch'

Ralph Lauren was accused of delivering "a gut-punch to most Americans" by Stu Bykofsky, a commentator for the Philadelphia Daily News, who wrote: "How could he not get it - that manufacturing Team USA in a country that half owns us and has wrecked the domestic garment industry would be like choking on a chicken bone? There's something like 600,000 American textile workers looking for jobs."

File photo: US Republican candidate Mitt Romney Mr Romney has called President Obama the "outsourcer-in-chief"

The clothing company now says Team USA uniforms for the next Olympics, the winter games in 2014, will be made in America.

Xinhua put all this down to US sensitivities in what is an election year, saying it is "just another example of the fierce, and sometimes ridiculous, political fighting going on the Capitol Hill in the year of election, which is dominated by economic growth and job creation."

In the past week, President Obama's campaign has attacked Mitt Romney, claiming his firm Bain Capital was responsible for "outsourcing" jobs to China a decade ago.

Romney has fired back, calling President Obama the "outsourcer-in-chief", alleging that US government stimulus money helped create jobs in China rather than America.

Democrat senators now want to introduce legislation to ensure uniforms worn by US teams are produced in the United States.

Economic worries

But the row over jobs and trade has the potential to get much more serious. Romney has, in past months, said he will get tough on China over its trade and currency practices, threatening to declare it a currency manipulator as soon as he enters office.

The Obama administration has begun half a dozen trade complaints against China at the WTO, over rare earth minerals, and solar and wind power subsidies.

Volunteers waiting to greet arriving teams at Heathrow Airport in London The US and China are in a row even before the Olympic games begin

Beneath all the rhetoric lie fears in the US that America is in decline, and China is rising but not playing fair.

In The Beijing Times on Monday Jia Xudong, a researcher at a think tank linked to China's Foreign Ministry, said "due to ideological mischief-making, some Americans intentionally or unintentionally see China as the enemy... Wearing ideological blinkers they look at China, seeing China as a competitive rival, and practising trade protectionism."

But in China, too, there are economic worries. China's economy has been slowing for the past year-and-a-half. Figures last week showed growth at its lowest level since the financial crisis.

At the weekend, Premier Wen Jiabao warned "hardship" may continue.

Right now, China does not need more disputes with the US, but things could get worse. Both countries, concerned about their economies and where growth will come from, will continue to compete for every job and every dollar of trade just as seriously as their athletes fight it out at the Olympics, and that means more trade disputes and more political tensions.

 
Damian Grammaticas Article written by Damian Grammaticas Damian Grammaticas China correspondent

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 122.

    Back to economy. China is overstretching itself and will fail eventually.Already there are empty cities and factories lying idle.The mass of the rural hordes are dirt poor. A few Party members and the Beijing Clique get "fat"; but 1.2 billion people will never have a sustainable economy.They will fail economically. But what worries me is China's military build-up, which is like Japan in the 1930s. China is a corrupt bully, and its neighbours are fearful. America may have many faults but is a democracy which will survive. China will NOT survive in its present form, as the murdered of TS knew !

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 121.

    To the-moog

    Coz i saw you wasting time here trying to save Tibet, it's really fun for me to see people having this fruitless attempt.

    To rjb

    I'm a happy little man. You more look like the sad one. Say hello to the strong DL, coz we Chinese people dun feel the strongness at all.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 120.

    I wish the US would help Chinese citizens get around the great firewall, stick up for Vietnam and the other countries in the south china sea, and tell China they have to do something about North Korea or they will face sanctions as well.

  • Comment number 119.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 118.

    The REAL test of "strength" must be GOODNESS. And that is why the whole world, except the Beijing Clique, regard Tibet and HH The Dalai Lama as strong. The Beijing Gang are scared stiff of HH and of a deeply spiritual people in Tibet, who just want. The whole world loves the Dalai Lama, it is just a fact that even China cannot dispute. Why is he so loved ? Beijing could never understand why--it has to do with goodness,compassion,spirituality and love.HH forgives the Chinese-nobody else does.China regime is a disgrace.Chong Yue sums up all the hatred that we hear from Beijing--sad little man.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 117.

    To the-moog

    That's ok. but we are at least stronger than Tibet, so it's ours~

    To rjbcoach

    ..jabber jabber jabber...
    Yeah we are evil country, we killed 10 billion tibetans, we occipy it. What can you do?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 116.

    I wanted to discuss Damien's excellent article but the Tibet question is TOO serious to ignore.Some of the pro-Chinese comments here are a disgrace, a pack of lies. Tibet was a self-sufficient, happy and deeply spiritual independent country until the Red Invasion. Since then its people have suffered beyond belief : attempted genocide, more than 1m murdered, as many in prison camps, an influx of Chinese to try and kill Tibetan identity,trying to end Tibetan language and religion. China is pure evil on the face of the planet and it should be hounded out of the world community till it changes.

  • Comment number 115.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 114.

    to rjb

    Actually i really want to be a government agent. but our government dun give a dam* about comments on a bbc web page and those people doing talk shop on it. I am very proud and happy that China made use of this golden decade to grow it strength. Some westerners may be un happy, but I am.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 113.

    I signed in to comment on David's excellent article ( as are all his articles, tho I pity him having to live in possibly the worst country on earth---surely he deserves a new posting to a civilised country soon). But I got "hi-jacked" by the evil remarks by a Chinese agent called Chong Yue ( why are these people allowed on this site?).
    As for David's article on Sino-American trade "disputes/economy/etc, I agree that China CHEATS. It's currency is kept unreal, it bribes, bullies and thrives on corruption. Hope its economy suffers in years to come.USA may have lots wrong but at least it is FREE.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 112.

    to the-moog

    We are upset because we feel sorry for the ignorance of some westerners. In fact we are very happy regarding the progress in Tibet, especially when we see dalai lama growing old and there's no hope for the independence movement.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 111.

    The death of the olympics was made in China too. Anything good that flame stood for burned out as soon as it ran into Tibet. Now the only thing truly burning is the lives of tibetans that are setting themselves on fire in a desperate cry to the world to save Tibet and reward their path of peace. Not terror, oppression and violence - the path of the Chinese Government. If justice was allowed, China wouldn't be in the olympics. It wouldn't be on the UN. It wouldn't be allowed to get away with destruction of a peaceful nation. The flame is a poisoned chalice from beijing, a gift to london

  • Comment number 110.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 109.

    the-moog

    you are ignorant because you think you know where others get their knowledge and you are wrong. You feel free to trust anyone and write pro-tibetan comments here. Just be reminded that there are a billion anti-independence Chinese and 2 million their soldiers. With them, i dun worry anything at all.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 108.

    There were estimated 7m in the former independent Tibet.Many of them in Kham & Amdo were swallowed up into existing Chinese provinces. Altogether, it's estimated that the Chinese attempts at genocide have resulted, according to most internationally acepted figures, in the murder of 1.2 m Tibetans since the 1950 invasion. That does not include Tibetans "missing" ( such as the REAL Panchen Lama) and other political prisoners in Labour Camps and Prisons.
    But nobody knows the precise figures for ANYTHING in China, due to secrecy.We don't even know how many students murdered in TS. CHINA=DISGRACE

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 107.

    to the-moog
    I dun really understand why the tibetan issue is raised here; totally unrelated.
    The bottom line is, even you are unhappy about Chinese government's presence in tibet and you write a million words in BBC web page, that won't make any difference. No country in the world wants to help the tibetan independence movement. And even someone wishes to help, they can only talk shop.

  • Comment number 106.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 105.

    To the ignorant the-moog

    The entire population of Tibetans was only 1 to 2 million. And the number of missing ppl is surely less than number of Indians killed by americans.

  • Comment number 104.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 103.

    I've read about the factory life of Chinese workers and it is a tough life, making .50 an hour and long days. I don't begrudge the average Chinese worker. I think there is an underlining fear in the U.S. not about China being #1 but that the average worker would become more like the Chinese in making far less. The middle class has been shrinking for some time while fewer individuals retain vaster fortunes. That can be said for both countries.I think people have more in common than they have in differences: housing, food, schooling for their kids, clean environment, health care needs, etc.

 

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