Friday, April 10, 2015

385. Did Americans See Chinese Products Forty Years Ago?

The News Article, Pearl River, Chinese Emporium in Manhattan, Will Close at Year-End, in The New York Times Business Section (April 8, 2015), reveals that many people haven't realized the existence of Chinese products in the early United States. The manager of the store told Hiroko Tabuchi, the writer of the news article, "Forty years ago, people didn't see Chinese products from China. Now you see it everywhere." (p.B2).

Actually, as early as 200 years ago the Americans saw and used Chinese products all the time since the colonial era. The Chinese products were brought in through the trade, started by founders of the United States. 

Everybody knows that now China is one of the United States' largest trading partners. The Unites States imports from China reached $446.65 billion in 2014. No one dares to say that it is a small number. However, certain time in history, number was not significant compared with the significance of the event. The opening up of the China trade by the founders of the United States was one of the examples of showing that number was not that important. Comparing with the 2014 trade number, the trade number between China and the United States in 1784 was too small to mention.

I made a presentation on George Washington and China Trade in Salem several years ago. A lady approached me and asked "what was the number of the trade with China in Washington administration after my presentation. I told her that the number was not very big. However, the number was not that important for starting American direct trade with China at the historical conjuncture. The trade between China and the United States kept the new born nation from economic chaos.  As for more information on the US trade with China and its impact on the United States in the eighteenth century, please read Dr. Dave Wang's article, "With China We Trade,"  with this link.

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