Want To Beat China? Let in More Chinese!
Bipartisan consensus is rare in Washington. But while politicians today seem eager to draw battle lines around everything, from gas stoves to cars to suburbs, they all seem to agree on one thing: It’s time to get tough on China.
While many politicians and pundits from across the spectrum are pushing for Congress to ban TikTok, the popular social media app with ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), they’d do better to direct their fury at America’s strict immigration laws, not a platform for viral videos.
A complex set of formulas caps immigration from China at about 150,000 people per year. For a country with 1.4 billion people, that’s not even a drop in the bucket. Radically increasing or eliminating this limit would do much more to halt China’s rise as a global power than harming American users by banning TikTok. Many young Chinese would jump at the chance to move to the U.S.
Why would so many Chinese be eager to leave their homes to move thousands of miles away? For starters, the United States is much, much richer. Despite decades of unprecedented economic growth, China’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is still 80 percent lower than America’s. For all its development and flashy infrastructure projects, China is barely a middle-income country. As of 2022, more than half of the country lives on less than $10 per day, compared to only 3 percent of Americans and about 2 percent of Europeans.
Further, China has a repressive, authoritarian government. Despite China’s harsh penalties for dissent, many of its citizens have taken to the streets in recent months to speak out against state oppression. This suggests that many Chinese, especially young and educated ones, are unhappy with the Communist regime.
On top of that, only 7 percent of Chinese citizens are members of its ruling CCP. The party has made membership a highly competitive and coveted necessity for those wishing to advance in Chinese business or government. That leaves 93 percent of Chinese citizens without access to the country’s biggest source of money, power, and influence. For these people especially, America offers for opportunity for advancement.
This is a perilous situation for the regime in Beijing. Millions of working-aged people could escape its poverty and tyranny if restrictive immigration laws weren’t a barrier. From 1940 to 1950, well over a million black Americans left the destitute and oppressive regime of the Jim Crow South. That was more than 10 percent of the South’s African-American population. If just 1 percent of China’s working-age population took the chance to escape, the nation would lose nearly 10 million people.
Article from Reason.com