Jimmy Carter and China’s offer of 10 million migrants

There was a period in the 1970s when China and the U.S. were expanding trade ties and a sticking point was a requirement that a county couldn’t get low tariffs (“most favored nation”) status unless it was fully open to emigration, a measure that was intended to pressure the Soviet Union.

During a conversation with President Jimmy Carter, however, Deng Xiaoping called the Americans’ bluff:

Vice Premier Deng: On the amendment supported by Senator Jackson, it really has nothing to do with China. The Jackson amendment demands that the Soviet Union allow free emigration. Would you like to import ten million Chinese?

The answer was “Uh, thanks, but no thanks”. The U.S. did not want the offered migrants and, according to the lecture series that I recently finished, the sticking point was removed and tariffs on Chinese products were reduced.

(See “Modern Immigration Wave Brings 59 Million to U.S., Driving Population Growth and Change Through 2065” (Pew, 2015) for how the U.S. ended up bringing in 59 million migrants between 1965 and 2015.)

I was reminded of this when reading about the drama currently playing out in Europe. The European welfare states say that migration is a human right and also that every migrant who shows up has a right to housing, health care, food, etc. They also tell the native-born that low-skill migrants are making native-born vastly better off culturally and economically. But it is a different story when they’re offered some actual migrants… “Merkel appeals to Putin to intervene in Belarus border crisis” (Guardian):

In a phone call on a crisis that has escalated dramatically since Monday, when 1,000 people mainly from Iraqi Kurdistan arrived on the border, the German chancellor told Putin that the “use of migrants by the Belarusian regime was inhuman and unacceptable and asked [Putin] to influence the regime in Minsk”, according to the chancellor’s spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, who described the situation as “state-sanctioned human trafficking”.

The arrival of more than 1,000 people, many from Iraqi Kurdistan, at the Polish border on Monday brought the crisis to a head, with the EU accusing Belarus of a “hybrid attack”. Polish border guards said on Wednesday that two groups of several dozen people had breached the borders overnight. They were arrested and expelled, they said. Lithuanian border guards said they had prevented 281 attempts to cross the border illegally on Tuesday.

Charles Michel, the European Council president, said during a visit to Warsaw on Wednesday that Belarus’s actions were unacceptable. “Possible sanctions are on the table … and we want to make sure that we coordinate with all the member states in order to make the best possible choices and to identify what are the best possible tools in order to be effective. It must stop, this hybrid attack against the EU,” he said.

On Tuesday, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said western countries including EU member states, and Nato, were the “root” of the crisis. “They were pushing for a western-style better life and democracy the way it is interpreted by the west,” he said, referring to US-led interventions and alleged western backing for the Arab spring.

Asked whether Germany would take in migrants unilaterally, Merkel’s spokesperson said the question was “irrelevant”.


  • “Blue States, You’re the Problem” (nytimes, 11/9/2021), in which they ask the same question that I often ask here on this blog: since there are no Republicans in the Bay Area, why don’t the rich Democrats there who say that they want to house the unhoused build some housing for the unhoused?

One thought on “Jimmy Carter and China’s offer of 10 million migrants

  1. “On Tuesday, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said western countries including EU member states, and Nato, were the ‘root’ of the crisis.”

    He is not wrong. East German educated Merkel gave the impression to the world that unlimited immigration is possible when she let in 1.5 million refugees in 2015. She has never cared about anyone or anything but herself and her public image:


    I don’t think she has any remorse over Brexit (one of the consequences of her actions, and for which her mentor Helmut Kohl would have kicked her out of the CDU). Now that the CDU is down from 43% to 25%, she backpedals …

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