From Tiananmen to Outsourcing: The Effect of Rising Import Competition on Congressional Voting Towards China

34 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2018

See all articles by Jiakun (Jack) Zhang

Jiakun (Jack) Zhang

Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance, Princeton University

Deborah Seligsohn

Political Science Department, Villanova University; University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

John Seungmin Kuk

Washington University in St. Louis; University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: December 1 , 2017

Abstract

Mounting import competition from China has increased unemployment in manufacturing and suppressed wages in local labor markets around the United States . This article investigates the political effects of this China trade shock, using a unique dataset of the district-level economic impact of Chinese imports to the United States. The liberalization of trade following China's accession to the World Trade Organization increased political polarization among American voters and encouraged legislators in economically hard-hit districts to take positions hostile to China. The result is that Congress is even more hostile towards China today than in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Massacre. After 2003, members of Congress representing districts more adversely impacted by import competition were more likely to vote against China, controlling for ideology and partisanship. By contrast, import competition was not a significant predictor of earlier congressional opposition to granting most-favored nation status to China (suggesting that voting on these crucial pieces of legislation was driven by non-economic concerns such as human rights). Far from being the political win-win its proponents envisioned, trade has eclipsed human rights and Taiwan as the main driver of hostility to China in Congress.

Keywords: trade, unemployment, wages, labor, politics, WTO

Suggested Citation

Zhang, Jiakun (Jack) and Seligsohn, Deborah and Kuk, John Seungmin, From Tiananmen to Outsourcing: The Effect of Rising Import Competition on Congressional Voting Towards China (December 1 , 2017). 21st Century China Center Research Paper No. 2017-09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3123307 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3123307

Jiakun (Jack) Zhang (Contact Author)

Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance, Princeton University ( email )

San Diego, CA
United States

Deborah Seligsohn

Political Science Department, Villanova University ( email )

800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085
United States

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

John Seungmin Kuk

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

1 Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1208
University City, MO MO 63130
United States

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
39
Abstract Views
229
PlumX Metrics