If you are actually concerned about China

Some people worry that China is a rising military threat, and support trade and investment restrictions for that reason. But the trade war will have only a tiny impact on China’s development.

If we actually wanted to slow the rise of China, then we’d take in 100 million highly talented Chinese immigrants. Consider the following survey:

Hundreds of millions of Chinese want to emigrate, and the feeling is especially strong among the more affluent. So why don’t we take those skilled people, and by doing so dramatically boost our economy and military potential, while weakening China?

Unfortunately, our nationalists have been trying to reduce immigration from China, thereby weakening America and strengthening China. Trump would call them “traitors”, that is, if Trump himself were not one of them.

PS. I’m with Congress, and thus I’m far tougher on China than Trump, who is a fan of authoritarianism:

U.S. lawmakers harshly criticized China’s Communist Party, drawing a sharp contrast with President Donald Trump’s congratulatory message to counterpart Xi Jinping on the People’s Republic’s 70th anniversary.

We should mourn the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Revolution.



28 Responses to “If you are actually concerned about China”

  1. Gravatar of Derrick Derrick
    24. October 2019 at 10:28

    How any conservative person could with a straight face stick with Trump after he congratulated China on communist rule is beyond me. To publicly celebrate the continued existence so antithetical to our own is baffling. Does that just negate the Vietnam War altogether then? There was the classic left vs. right friction 10 years ago – agree to disagree among sensible people. Now there is this. A subset of Americans willing to throw away decades of American values in the span of four years. This had better be one of those Twighlight Zone episodes where I wake up and we have some noble statesman in office.

  2. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    24. October 2019 at 10:48

    I absolutely agree we should be expanding our legal immigration.

    I also believe we should not have favored nations per se. I tend to believe that people who want to immigrate here, legally, are likely to add great value (i.e., not just the initial immigrants, but progeny). I have no idea what the “optimal” amount per year is—but I think as high as 10mil per year might work—but I do not know. I lean toward lottery–global–all countries—-under certain minimum conditions—-e.g., high school equivalent education, ideally some grasp of English—so tey can learn it more quickly, ideally more families than individuals (Yes, I do like family values). I definitely am not for targeting engineers/STEM (I like STEM of course)—we will get enough by a lottery method—because we will not get as many entrepreneurs that way. Lottery feels more like efficient market to me–rather than thinking we can “pick the best”

    However, you know, and I know and we all know this will not happen—at least in foreseeable future. Even though it is by far the best thing we could do for our country. Yes, Trump is part of it—-but he is a small stone in the ocean of resistance. I am not sure how we did it from 1850-1920—it was likely closer to if you get here you could stay here. Then Wilson (see, progressives can be dopes too) figured out we had too many foreigners. In the 60’s Kennedy (Ted) decided we had too many Europeans—idiotic.

    For me, everywhere—yes everywhere—-is where we want them from.

    The desire for people who want to come here is enormous. And our largest opportunity cost by far, that we ignore as a nation, is the value of people wanting to come here.

    Left and Right and down the middle—-we resist this. It is pathetic.

    This is not driven by pols—it is driven by citizens. Still, as bad as we are—and we are as bizarre as it seems —we are likely the least closed society out there (maybe some small countries are more open—but not by much)

  3. Gravatar of John Arthur John Arthur
    24. October 2019 at 12:08

    100 million is ridiculous but I rather have Chinese immigrants than some of the other ones that we get

  4. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    24. October 2019 at 12:20

    I think we need to prepare to balance China, along with India and Japan, over the long-run, just in case their growing power leads to them trying to become more assertive in ways that threaten our national interests.

    But, I favor 100% free trade and open borders and would love for China and the US to become more interdependent over time.

    So, I favor a carrot and (quiet)stick approach, with a respect for free markets.

  5. Gravatar of LC LC
    24. October 2019 at 14:48

    Scott, I am on business trip in China now and that survey captures sentiment exactly right. Plenty of bright, hard working young people would jump at chance to visit US and migrate. US and Chinese governments have made their lives harder with tariffs that make their income go down and expenses go up. Despite this, there is no animosity toward US. They still see more opportunities than antagonistic threat.

  6. Gravatar of bill bill
    24. October 2019 at 15:24

    I’d like open borders.

  7. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    24. October 2019 at 16:17

    Egads, another dream World Vision.

    The US cannot seem to build much more than 1 million net housing units a year. This is largely due to local property restrictions, most prominently property zoning.

    The US is so bad at building infrastructure that Local Hero Scott Sumner says we should not even try. He may be right.

    A reasonable prospect for the US is to try to obtain a declining population, shut down overseas military entanglements and installations, and establish a much smaller Spartan military. The quality of life in backwater nations can be quite high.

    By the way, the government of Shenzhen just announced it will build 1.7 million housing units by 2035. Hong Kong, which has the world’s most expensive housing, plans to build new units in the thousands.

    I prefer free markets. But if you are unfortunate enough to live in a developed nation where there is strict property zoning, then managed economies, such as Singapore or mainland China, begin to have their appeal.

  8. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    24. October 2019 at 16:38

    3. “It took Tesla just 168 working days to go from permits to a finished [Shanghai] plant.” (Bloomberg)

    Tesla was permitted rather quickly, as well.

    Shenzhen housing, Tesla, and the world’s most advanced 5G manufacturer Huawei Technologies….in China.

    You can fight the future and you can fight the tide.

  9. Gravatar of TGGP TGGP
    24. October 2019 at 18:15

    I don’t typically think of poorer countries as hurt by emmigration. The emmigrants get to send back remittances, and many of them return better off than they were before, and now able to do more in their own countries. If you actually thought they were hurt by emmigration, then on utilitarian grounds you’d want to restrict immigration from the poorest countries.

  10. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    24. October 2019 at 19:13

    @Derrick, you’re also an utter idiot. Ever heard of Reagan and China being on the same side against the Soviet Union and Vietnam on the Cambodia and Angola questions? God; you’re dumb. You realize fucking Nixon went to China, right? Your brain is a bottomless pit.

  11. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    24. October 2019 at 19:55

    Harding is openly admitting what many on the right are unwilling to admit openly. They obviously had a problem with a black President.

    Carson did very well in the Republican primary for a few months, illustrating that many conservatives will support a black candidate for President, as long as he’s an Uncle Tom.

  12. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    24. October 2019 at 20:49


    WTF?!?! If you are pissed about someone’s opinions or actions that’s fine. Argue away. But nobody comes here to read racist slurs.

  13. Gravatar of P Burgos P Burgos
    24. October 2019 at 21:09


    Larger flows of emigration from China would benefit Chinese people (by making them wealthier, improving their health, etc.) but would be bad for the CCP and it’s ambitions.

  14. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    24. October 2019 at 23:06

    Emigration should be win-win. Eastern Europe has huge rates of emigration of skilled workers due to open borders within the EU yet is also posting very good economic growth. Many businesses and connections are built by diaspora.

    Ben, zoning and housing prices are not an issue in the vast majority of America, only in the Bay Area and a few other places. Saying the government should restrict immigration to keep housing affordable is like saying the government should ration cars to keep the prices of BMWs down, ignoring that there are many other affordable car brands available.

  15. Gravatar of JMCSF JMCSF
    25. October 2019 at 03:02

    The US has many regions with low or zero growth where immigrants would provide a welcome boost to the economy. There is also a looming demographic crisis, not to mention massive unfounded liabilities. Immigration is also one of the effective ways of improving the quality of life. It takes no government program or subsidy, just willingness to work.

    Why any rational Republican is against this is beyond me. Open the floodgates I say.

  16. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    25. October 2019 at 06:43


    Do not ask for whom the rising tide of color tolls; it tolls for thee.

  17. Gravatar of Justin Justin
    25. October 2019 at 08:13

    This is a great idea. These 100 million Children of the Dragon Emperor would readily adopt to American norms and values. An America that’s 1/3rd hua qiao Han Chinese would be much better positioned in the geopolitical struggle of the 21st century. I think this would especially benefit African Americans, because the Chinese are famous for caring about America’s historical sins, and really feel for the plight of that community. Huge boon for free speech, academic assessment integrity, civic engagement, environmental protection and animal welfare, with that voting block too. Everyone wins.

  18. Gravatar of SG SG
    25. October 2019 at 08:16

    Scott, please please please ban E. Harding, this is ridiculous.

  19. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    25. October 2019 at 08:24

    Look; I only treat Scott exactly the way he treats his audience. If he condemns the Orange man but not the Black man for saying exactly the same thing, why should I take him seriously?

  20. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    25. October 2019 at 08:28


    Fully agreed, which is why I think Chinese are more assimilable than most immigrants. Certainly more than the dull, apathetic peoples from South of the border. Probably more than the Indians and Koreans, too.

  21. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    25. October 2019 at 08:33

    “Eastern Europe has huge rates of emigration of skilled workers due to open borders within the EU yet is also posting very good economic growth.”

    Emigration from China won’t make its institutions better as the EU has for Eastern Europe. The EU HAS improved Eastern European growth prospects, but has shrunk these states’ national power and votes. The Baltics, Romania, and Bulgaria are crippled by emigration.

  22. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    25. October 2019 at 13:39

    The Beijing regime already regards Chinese diasporas as the basis for influence operations. And, of course, the more recent the migrants from China, the more potential levers the regime has over them.

    The regime would not look at 100m Chinese migrants to the US as a loss, but as a huge potential strategic bonanza against its main strategic rival.

  23. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. October 2019 at 17:01

    Lorenzo, You said:

    “The regime would not look at 100m Chinese migrants to the US as a loss, but as a huge potential strategic bonanza against its main strategic rival.”

    I think that’s crazy. The Chinese Americans I know (and I know quite a few) align with the US, not China.

  24. Gravatar of Justin Justin
    26. October 2019 at 10:08

    Harding is a lunatic who shouldn’t be allowed to post here. The man uses racial epithets that would have him proscribed in any social situation and so it should be here. He’s not adding anything.

  25. Gravatar of John Arthur John Arthur
    26. October 2019 at 16:28

    Also Scott, your criticisms of Trump’s approach to the Chinese Government aren’t well thought out. You said that the Tarrifs needlessly antagonize a country with a larger economy than ours, but you want Trump to delegtimize and criticize that same goverment, which is broadly popular with the people. Do you get a “criticize Trump” itch you have to reflexively scratch from time to time? 🙂

  26. Gravatar of John Arthur John Arthur
    26. October 2019 at 16:30

    If you are somebody else’s blog, you have to abide by their rules. Profanity is not diplomatic, nor does it make your point come across.

  27. Gravatar of John Arthur John Arthur
    26. October 2019 at 16:42

    Scott: The biggest disagreement that I have with you on immigration is the lack of a “firing mechanism”. We can repeal bad policies, like tax policy and healthcare policy, but we cannot repeal “bad immigrants”. If we make a mistake with a certain immigrant, we cannot take it back. Otherwise, I would support an immigration policy closer in line to yours.

  28. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. October 2019 at 14:13

    John, You said:

    “Tarrifs needlessly antagonize”

    Did you read the “needlessly” part, or just ignore it? There’s good reason to criticize China over Hong Kong, although it can be done in a polite and diplomatic fashion. We can say we believe HK is part of China, but it would be better if they could choose their local government officials in democratic elections.

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