Reporter Journal / Chen Weihua

US drags its feet on metric system as rest of world travels in kilometers

By CHEN WEIHUA (China Daily USA) Updated: 2015-12-07 10:13

Great Britain, which invented the so-called Imperial System, has witnessed huge progress in using the metric system. Two US neighbors, Canada and Mexico, also the major trade partners of the US, use the metric system.

Myanmar officials announced three years ago the government's intention to convert to the metric system.

A superpower and the world's largest economy like the US not adopting the metric system not only means a major inconvenience for international exchange and communications, but it is a huge waste of resources for foreign exporters tackling the US market or US exporters expanding in the global market.

I am not sure if any members of the so-called high-level Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) had raised the adoption of the metric system as a criterion to reduce unnecessary barriers and costs of trade.

Lincoln Chafee, the former Rhode Island governor who has dropped out of the 2016 Democratic presidential race, was probably the only one candidate who campaigned for the US to go metric.

There is no doubt that the metric system has been and is the global norm of the 21st century. It is also an area where the US has clearly fallen far behind.

It is ironic that in order to make sense to US readers, the China Daily Stylebook requires its reporters to turn the measurement units in their stories into miles, feet and pounds. Of course, when Chinese fly on US airlines from Washington to Beijing, they are told that the flight is 6,913 miles, instead of 11,125 km.

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