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This is how abysmal America’s pre-Trump China policies were: Wall Street Journal reporter Bob Davis recently gave supporters of China’s 2001 accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) ample opportunity to defend their positions on this landmark decision. And what were the most convincing rejoinders they could muster to claims that the benefits of WTO membership (chiefly, legally sheltering China from unilateral U.S. responses to its wide array of predatory trade practices) enabled China’s rise as a dangerous economic and military power – and that American trade policy needs to respond vigorously? Observations that the biggest gains have indeed flowed to China.

According to Davis, WTO admission advocates “can point to real gains from integrating China into the global economy. According to the World Bank, some 400 million Chinese have been lifted from extreme poverty—that is, from living on less than $1.90 a day—since 1999.”

In addition, “After the deal, foreign investment in Beijing mushroomed from $47 billion in 2001 to $124 billion a decade later. The lower investment and import restrictions required of China as part of its WTO entry also encouraged multinationals to rush in, as did the prospect of serving the vast Chinese market. China became the world’s manufacturing floor, and Chinese imports [sic] to the U.S. soared.”

Evidently, the WTO admission supporters tried to identify benefits for the United States, too. For example, “Today, technology companies tap the Chinese market to boost profits and defray research costs.” And “The low inflation associated with cheap imports, together with Chinese purchases of U.S. government bonds, has also helped to hold down interest rates, making it cheaper for Americans to buy not only clothes and electronics but also homes and cars.”

But apparently none could point to evidence of U.S. companies’ China earnings trickling down to the American domestic economy and its workers. Indeed, the reference to “defraying research costs” looks like a euphemistic way of describing how these businesses often moved white collar and professional as well as blue-collar manufacturing jobs to China.

Similarly, the low inflation and interest rate points amount to gushing that China’s WTO membership helped enable Americans to live way beyond their means. On that score, the only sane U.S. response should be “thanks but no thanks” – since the result was a decade of bubbles whose inevitable bursting triggered the terrifying global financial crisis and ensuing Great Recession.

The unprecedented bubble decade global trade imbalances fostered by the WTO’s enabling of China’s mercantilism, and their nearly cataclysmic results, also provide vital context to claims (chiefly by former U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky) that China “became the world’s second-largest importer, giving a boost to rich and poor nations alike.” For these imports and their growth were clearly dwarfed by China’s export surge. And although China’s post-2009 spending spree did help “the global economy from tumbling even more deeply into recession,” it’s unquestionable that the “kitchen sink” stimulus from the Federal Reserve and other major central banks played a far more important role.

But perhaps the most compelling evidence offered in Davis’ article for the abject failure of the China WTO decision came from former President Bill Clinton – who led the campaign to support Chinese membership by promising both an economic boom for U.S. exporters and irresistible pressure for a democratization of China that would bring more global peace and freedom. As Davis reports, the normally loquacious Clinton “declined to comment for this article.”