Sophie says to her that many employers don’t like that. Her sister says: “you’re not my mother”. Sophie is studying general arts with a view to teaching Chinese to foreigners. She has no formal economics training but we have an interesting discussion about the value of the Renminbi (RMB), which she calls ‘kuai’. Renminbi means ‘people’s money’, and the official name for its basic unit is ‘yuan’. ‘Kuai’ is colloquial for ‘yuan’. Go figure. Sophie, says that if the RMB is re-valued upwards, China would be worse off. She says that America owes China a lot of money and they would be paying back less. She says that a lot of Chinese workers in exporting companies would be put out of jobs too.

She’s right, of course, on both counts. Her father, in his mid-40s, worked for a coal mining company but was laid off at the start of the financial crisis in 2008. He hasn’t got a permanent job. Her mother has a heart condition. I point out that there is a lot of evidence to suggest free markets and trade and floating fair-value currencies are all good for a country in the long term. Imports would be cheaper and China could concentrate on making higher-value goods and services. I know The Economist newspaper (there you go again) would be proud of me for my views. She reluctantly agrees. Or is just polite. I’m wondering, though, whether I’m right. Maybe this massive country, with people bustling everywhere, doesn’t really need the West after all. And I’d like to see Sophie and her family get their fair share of all the money America and everyone else owes.

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