Frank “Fangyi” Fan: Trade Tensions Between US and China


Photography and Text by Frank “Fangyi” Fan, Copyright 2018




US-China Trade War has been in the headlines of major newspapers and websites for the past several weeks. On March. 22, 2018, President Trump signed an executive memorandum which would impose tariffs on up to $60 billion in Chinese imports; in response to that, the Chinese government published a statement which would impose tariffs on about $3 billion worth of U.S. exports. If the two countries do not come to an agreement in the following months, a fully-fledged trade war between China and the US would be highly possible, which will have enormous underlying impact on the global economy. This series of photographs strives to examine the current state of the relationship between the two superpowers, from the perspective of a Chinese international student in Philadelphia.

Several pictures  were taken in Philadelphia’s, Chinatown section. The history of Philadelphia’s Chinatown could be tracked to the mid-late 19th century when Cantonese immigrants migrated to Philadelphia  to open laundries and restaurants around the neighborhood. Nowadays it has become a vibrant community of Asian Americans as well as a great destination for Chinese international students to have a taste of home. The cuisine in Chinatown is always one of the top reasons to attract visitors. Although the potential impact of the trade war on Chinese restaurants in the U.S. would be limited, the prevalence of Chinese cuisine implies the size and influence of the Chinese community in the U.S. The tension between the two countries would definitely play a role in the daily life of Chinese people living in the U.S. Besides the restaurants, in Chinatown, mom-and-pop stores that sell goods imported from China could also be easily found. Those stores sell everything from hardware products to household goods, mostly imported from China. Relying on the cheaper labor in China, those products compete in the market by having a more attractive price. If trade war arises, those goods would lose a significant share in the market for sure. Right at the edge of Chinatown, six months into its construction, the Eastern Tower Community Center has been attracting attention from visitors in Chinatown. Located at 10th and Vine, the new community center is just two blocks away from the heart of Chinatown, which hopefully would drive an entire renovation of the neighborhood and the local economy.

As the busiest port terminal in Philadelphia, the Packer Terminal was a great spot to experience the influx of imported goods into one of the major cities on the east coast. While I was there trying to take picture of the colorful containers, I was actually ousted by the security person there, who said that the port only allowed relevant professionals to enter. However, I did take a couple pictures to showcase the volume and variety of the imported goods stored at the terminal. Everyday, hundreds of trucks come over here to bring the goods shipped from overseas to all kinds of places in Pennsylvania. For every one of us, we experience the benefits of globalization on a daily basis. With that in mind, I hope that U.S. and China could settle down on the current trade conflicts since no one would want to see a trade war  actually happen.


About The Author: Fangyi “Frank” Fan is a Senior enrolled in the School of Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2018. To access additional articles by Fangyi “Frank” Fan, click here


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *