Apple is beginning to move out of China. It is an overdue reckoning.

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from The Washington Post,

The surprising news that Apple plans to move much of the assembly of its iPhones and other products out of China is important for more than just stock analysts. It is further evidence that Western companies are beginning to realize the risks of doing business in an aggressive, authoritarian state.

When China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, businesses flocked to the country. Its authoritarian nature was quietly part of its appeal. Without democratic pressures or dissent, the communist government could “get things done.” Large manufacturing facilities could be constructed in a fraction of the time needed in the democratic, environmentally conscious West. Low wages and weak labor unions whetted business’ appetites.

The massive offshoring of manufacturing jobs to China had enormous global effects. In the developed world, wealth transferred from production workers to consumers. It also flowed to the technical and financial elites who spearheaded the moves. Economic growth skyrocketed in China and other countries that supplied raw materials to the behemoth. In terms of narrow economic efficiency, it was a classic case of free trade creating many more winners than losers.

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