At the Intel plant, engineers earn $9,600 a year while line workers and lower level employees earn $125 a month.
China, however, is not solely relying on its legions of low-skilled, cheap laborers to attract jobs and develop their economy.
It is evident they are actively seeking to develop an advanced technology industry that will rival ours. China is mounting a concerted campaign to supplant the U.S. as the world's leading producer of advanced technology.
China appears intent on robbing the U.S. of the industries that allow us to maintain a high standard of living. The Chinese know that the country that leads the way in advanced technology will have the most dynamic economy and the most advanced military capabilities.
We have traditionally maintained our edge in innovation by essentially running faster than our competitors, churning out more scientists and engineers and investing more on research and development.Â
China is working very hard to develop the know-how to build and exploit new technologies. All the while America continues to cut funding for our schools and universities. In fact, a recent national report shows that Kentucky is ranked 50th in its support for elementary and secondary education.
The Chinese have vastly increased spending on research and development.
Nearly three of every five degrees awarded from Chinese universities are in science and engineering, compared with only one in three in the U.S. By 2010, China will award more doctorates in science and engineering than the U.S.
If we continue to allow Chinese gains in this sector to erode our advantage, I fear we will witness a fairly severe reduction in the standard of living we currently enjoy.Â
As lower skilled jobs move overseas, our economy has grown increasingly reliant on our advantage in high-tech fields to provide Americans with the means to earn a decent living.
Continued U.S. dominance of high-tech industries ranging from semiconductors to biotechnology holds the key to our continued economic growth.Â
It is blatantly apparent that China is making a national effort to compete against the United States in the areas of technology and science. America can't afford to sit back and watch.
We must turn back the Chinese in their bid to replace the U.S. as the world's leading center for innovation.Â We must upgrade math, science and technology education in grades K-12.
We must encourage young American college students to major in math, science and engineering. We must make the investments in our institutions of higher education that will allow them to produce graduates who will keep the U.S. on the cutting-edge.
And we must increase our commitment to federally funded research.
Everyone needs to understand that the rise of China in the global economy will affect all of us.
The steps we take in the coming years will be critical to the future of Kentucky's families, especially Kentucky's children.
The rise of China should serve as a warning to all of us that we are in a competitive global economy. China is pulling out all the stops to become the world's new leader of the 21st century. The United States must strive to remain at the top.