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Visit to China affirms worries



Published: Tue, August 16, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The House member is leaning against running for the Senate next year.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

NILES -- U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan returned from a 10-day trip to China, a country he has repeatedly criticized on the House floor for its trade policies.

Ryan, of Niles, D-17th, visited the country with nine other House members.

"You see job loss here and see it go to China, so I went to try to better understand what's happening," Ryan said Monday.

Ryan is the leading Democratic sponsor of a bill addressing what he calls China's illegal manipulation of its currency. The Chinese government subsidizes companies, permitting them to reduce the cost of their products when they are shipped to other nations, he said.

The bill would allow U.S. industries harmed by currency manipulation to seek relief under existing U.S. trade statutes, Ryan said.

Ryan said the U.S. government does nothing to stop this problem, causing major financial hardships for American companies and their employees.

"The future of the country is at stake," he said. "In 20 to 30 years from now, who will lead the world?"

Complex issue

China is a communist nation that pays low wages to its workers, limits free speech and religious freedoms, and has minimal environmental laws, Ryan said.

While many congressmen view this as a problem, few understand the complexities and importance of the issue, Ryan said. Only 50 U.S. House members have visited China, he said.

Ryan went to China at the invitation of U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo of Egan, Ill., R-16th and chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Small Business. Ryan and Manzullo are co-chairs of the House Manufacturing Caucus.

When Ryan spoke to Chinese business and government officials about the problem, he said he received mostly platitudes from them.

"They shuck and move and bob and weave," he said. "We communicated that they were hurting American businesses."

During his discussions with Chinese officials, they acknowledged the United States has two advantages over their country, Ryan said. Americans are more creative and work better in a team atmosphere, Ryan said he was told.

With that in mind, Ryan wants state and federal governments to not only stop making cuts, but to increase funding to teach the arts to children in school -- to stimulate creativity -- and for sports, and speech and debate -- to foster teamwork among young people.

Legislator's future

Also Monday, Ryan said he is leaning against running next year for the U.S. Senate.

Ryan said Senate Democratic leaders such as Minority Leader Harry Reid, and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, are urging him to challenge U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, the Republican incumbent, in next year's election.

Ryan said he'll make a decision around Labor Day.

"In the Senate, you can do more," he said. "It's like this area hitting the lottery. That part is good, very good. The downside is it would be a brutal 14 months."

Two other key issues are money and giving up his current position, he said. Ryan said he'd need $12 million for the race. Also, he couldn't run for a third term to the House if he got into the Senate race.

"The difficult part is it's risky," he said. "But it's never easy to tell Schumer and Reid, 'I don't know.' They wanted me in the race last week."

skolnick@vindy.com




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