Eating Bitterness in Solitude

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BAODING, CHINA - A silicon chip worker at Tianwei Yingli Green Energy Resources Co. If US companies choose to manufacture in China, should we be surprised that Chinese regulators get to set the terms of engagement? (Credit: Feng Li/Getty Images)

A shout out today to a compelling piece in the New York Times by Keith Bradsher. He explores why many American companies would rather suffer in silence than complain when Chinese authorities steer green tech contracts to homegrown manufacturers, sometimes so aggressively, they run afoul of international trade laws.

“They have shown themselves to be retaliatory, and it really has the intended effect,” said a Western lawyer who advises many multinationals in China, and who insisted on anonymity because he said that he feared retaliation.

It can take up to three years for a World Trade Organization case to run its course. Labor unions may have more to gain - and less to lose - pursuing such complaints through the White House. Companies, on the other hand, have grown dependent on low cost manufacturing in China. That and retail sales in China are climbing at a rate of nearly 15 percent a year.

It's not hard to see how the political calculations come out the way they do. One "senior Western executive" sums it up thusly:  “everybody eating bitterness in solitude.”

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About Rachael Myrow

Rachael Myrow hosts the California Report for KQED. Over 17 years in public radio, she's worked for Marketplace and KPCC, filed for NPR and The World, and developed a sizable tea collection that's become the envy of the KQED newsroom. She specializes in politics, economics and history in California - but for emotional balance, she also covers food and its relationship to health and happiness.

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