Calling China to Task 

The PRC has ways to make a foreign capitalist rich
With plenty of cheap labor featured in their tempting sales pitch.
And as for natural resources, they have plenty of them, too;
Whatever it might take to build a car, an AI drone, or shoe.

Each year, their mines produce almost one-half of all the world’s coal,
But though reducing power-plant emissions is their long-term goal
The atmosphere in places like Beijing is often choked with smog
Which burns the lungs and fills the streets with a pernicious yellow fog.

Six years ago, from air pollution, ninety-thousand people died,
Their water is unsafe as well, a fact that cannot be denied.
Most foreigners investing in the country do not give a hoot
If building China’s new economy requires them to pollute.

Investors do not seem to care that Muslim Uighurs every day
Are rounded up, forced into camps and have their children torn away.
Nor do they seem to care that those who practice Falun Gong are banned
And sometimes vivisected when their heart or liver’s in demand.

To work in China, companies must give away technology,
A quid pro quo for which Red China offers no apology.
And trade rights, copyrights and patents are infringed upon as well,
And if someone complains they’re simply told that they can go to hell.

The same is true for those who are demanding more democracy,
Their lives are crushed by the same gang that claims the whole South China Sea,
And wants the right to extradite the folks in Hong Kong they don’t like,
And threatens Taiwan’s independence with a military strike.

They coddle up to Kim Jong-un and send defectors back to die,
They hack into the U.S. data base, a fact that they deny.
They infiltrate America with government and student spies
And offer million-dollar grants so colleges will close their eyes.

The Party restricts China’s internet and then strips Google bare,
While Huawei’s 5G system gives surveillance access everywhere.
They subsidize indigenous exporting manufacturers
Which frees them up to undercut their overseas competitors.

And if some brash and brazen bureaucrat in Washington D.C.
Decides it’s time to curb Red China’s economic policy,
And hold that squirrelly country to account for failing to play fair,
Then, suddenly, investors in Red China start to spit and swear.

For they have sold their sorry souls to China for a mess of pottage,
And only care about their jets, their yachts, and Adirondack cottage.
Stiff tariffs rock their boats, upset their plans—just listen to them whine!
If they were in a play their only line would be the bottom line.

I am, at heart, more of a Capitalist than a Socialist.
The one seeks wealth, the other seeks to take it with an iron fist.
To see them walking hand in hand in China, I can hardly bear it.
For Socialists in power will control and take the wealth, not share it.

Perhaps the tariffs will not work—I do not know—perhaps they will.
Yet something must be done (and yes, I know the fight will be up-hill).
So, let the tariffs do their work. If nothing else, they’re worth a look.
For China’s power is dependent on its propped-up pocketbook.



James A. Tweedie is a recently retired pastor living in Long Beach, Washington. He likes to walk on the beach with his wife. He has written and self-published four novels and a collection of short stories. He has several hundred unpublished poems tucked away in drawers.

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3 Responses

  1. D Robin

    Thanks James. You hit all the bases. Very factual and convincing about China’s many ways of gaining power.
    Consequently, the last two stanzas seem laking in conviction. In the music of the ideas stated, a crescendo of how important it is to have the sanctions work and the consequences of failure would have finished it off more soundly.
    But I am talking of making the poem work as rhetoric, not of the truth of your beliefs. It is better to have truth as a survivor than it be swallowed in rousing and nicely finished off noise.
    If you’ve not watched this vid, do take a look. It covers what you say here and goes into more specifics than you can in a poem of this size. In it, Joshua Phillip (vice-president of SCP and a fine poet) says that in the trade war, China is focused on the war.
    Good on you, fine fellow.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Good and perceptive comment. This is more of an op-ed than a poem, I suppose. It isn’t a screed, either. I honestly don’t know if the tariffs will help matters or backfire. Do you? I’m just glad something is being done to challenge China besides starting a war with them (proxy or otherwise). I hope the tariffs work (and I think they already are, perhaps in several important ways that may not readily apparent.) we will see.


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