While the Big 3 automakers are in Washington this week begging for a bailout, their counterparts across the Pacific in China are quietly doing the same thing, according to this New York Times story. The story notes that auto sales in China have been chugging along for six years with incredible 20+ percent annual growth rates, but they've been flat or down slightly this fall as a result of the global economic meltdown. The story notes that "The Chinese auto industry faces several threats simultaneously. Weakening economic growth, falling real estate prices and a yearlong plunge in the stock market have made consumers leery of spending money. Fuel prices in China are still high despite the recent decline in world oil prices. And Chinese auto exports, mostly to developing countries in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America, are starting to crumble." But the last line of the story is the real kicker. It's from an executive at state-owned Changfeng Motor, who makes the case that potential government support of U.S. manufacturing puts China at a disadvantage.
"If G.M., Ford and Chrysler get a lot of support from their government, it's not fair," said Gordon Chen, the international business manager of Changfeng Motor, which has displayed cars at the last two Detroit auto shows in preparation for entering the American market in 2011 or 2012.Wow. That's amazing on so many levels. Welcome to the global economy, folks.