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The views and opinions expressed on this site and blog posts (excluding comments on blog posts left by others) are entirely my own and do not represent those of any employer or organization with whom I am currently or previously have been associated.

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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

January 28, 2005

Written by C.N.

Outsourcing in Reverse

As you probably know, there’s been a lot of controversy about outsourcing in the last few years and the perception that too many American jobs are being shipped overseas to Asian countries like India, China, the Philippines, etc. But how about outsourcing in reverse, a.k.a. ‘insourcing’ — bringing jobs and investment from Asia over here to the U.S.? The Christian Science Monitor has an article that describes just that. An excerpt:

Across the country, mayors are brushing up their chopstick skills in an effort to win Chinese investment. Individual counties and cities are setting up trade offices in Beijing and other Chinese cities. Some places are enlisting their Chinese-American citizens to translate and show visitors that their city cares about Asian culture. . .

There is no question the Chinese are coming . . Observers expect further investments in US companies involved in oil and gas production and appliances. . . “This is the first inning of a very long game,” says Don Straszheim, an economist who follows China trends in Santa Monica, Calif. Chinese officials don’t dispute that the future is likely to include some significant investments in the US. “The Chinese have adopted a policy to go global,” says Zhanling Yuan, an economic and commercial consul in New York.

As with virtually all other issues relating to Asian Americans, this development can have both positive and negative consequences. On the positive side, as China and other Asian countries invest more in the U.S. and ideally create new jobs for Americans, it will hopefully start to dispel the notion that China is only interested in draining the U.S. economy by taking jobs away. It would also certainly help balance out the trade deficit that currently exists between Asian countries and the U.S. And on the cultural side, it is likely to help China improve its image (and by implication, the overall image of Asian Americans) among U.S. citizens.

However, there are potential negative consequences as well. You may remember the Japan-bashing that occured back in the 1980s when Americans were feverishly accusing Japanese companies of trying to “buy” the U.S., and that what Japan could not accomplish militarily during WWII, they were now trying to do economically through buying up U.S. companies and property. Well, there is no reason to believe that the same suspicions would not be raised here as China invests more in the U.S. — just witness the fears about Lenovo’s recent acquisition of IBM’s computer manufacturing division.

We all remember the consequences of Japan-bashing back in the 1980s, most infamously Vincent Chin’a murder by two Detroit auto workers who took him for being Japanese and blamed him for the recession and decline of the U.S. auto industry. Is something like that going to happen again once China, still a political and military rival to the U.S., and Chinese companies start buying up more U.S. companies? Stay tuned . . .


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Outsourcing in Reverse" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2005/01/outsourcing-in-reverse/> ().

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