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CURRENT EVENTS
Made in China
A Label for Economic and Military Disaster?

by Michael H. Thomson
December 14, 2003

Made in China_Michael H. Thomson- On TV recently I watched George W. Bush kowtow to the Chinese premier and sell out Taiwan. Now I wasn't greatly surprised by this and in fact it didn't make me angry - as it would have a few years ago - because I realize that the U.S. is not in a position to prevent Taiwan from being swallowed by The Red Dragon. It was inevitable, just like the "One China - Two Systems" swallowing of Hong Kong was inevitable.

What does make me sad - not mad - is that a great many Americans-distracted as we are by Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and those silly Europeans - are not paying the least bit of attention to China, which is quietly and powerfully on the move to become the next superpower...

They are not becoming a superpower by might of arms, but by might of goods. Have you inventoried your closets lately? How many Made in China labels are stuck to your clothes? When you cruise the aisles of our major department stores, have you checked the place of manufacture of the appliance you're shopping for? In many cases that major appliance is made in China. The United States is literally drowning in Chinese goods. They're high quality goods too.

Recently my wife and I bought a patio table from Sears. It was one of these assemble it yourself operations which I hate because I always end up being short one screw or nut. Remarkably, because of some of the best directions I've ever seen, I was able to put it together in less than fifteen minutes. There were no missing parts; however there were a couple of extra parts thrown in. Amazing! It was Made in China.

The U.S. Commerce Department has sent a delegation to China to investigate how China can manufacture TVs so inexpensively. Our domestic market is flooded with cheap Chinese TVs and its scaring our TV manufacturers. There's talk of imposing import duties on Television sets made in China to as high as 46 per cent. Will American consumers stand still for this? Probably not, we're too addicted.

Our trade deficit with China is closing in on 120 billion dollars. China is now the biggest contributor to the U.S. trade deficit. For years Japan held that position. China says that they will happily turn this situation around if only we (the U.S.) will remove our restrictions on cutting edge technology. The Commerce Department says this isn't going to happen. Keep in mind this is the same administration who recently caved in to the EU and lifted steel tariffs eighteen months ahead of time to the great dismay of our steel manufacturers.

I occasionally read The Peoples Daily, China's main newspaper. With the internet it’s easy to find by going to www.english.peopledaily.com.cn. It's actually a better read than the LA Times or The New York Times, mainly because the propaganda is not disguised. A day ago they had an article entitled "10 Reasons to Put Humans Back on the Moon". Most of the 10 reasons were ambiguous fluff until we get to reason number 8 which read:
8. Launch Industry: The Moon has minerals, and many proponents of human space exploration figure lunar mining is good enough reason to go back...
The Chinese have become the third country to put humans into earth orbit and they claim to be heading for the Moon shortly - less than five years from now. The current administration with the expense of Iraq, Medicare, and thousands of other tax draining expenditures has shown some concern about China’s Moon ambitions, but will probably do nothing substantive to keep us competitive. Others in government and out are giving some dire warnings. They believe China's space ambitions could have long term consequences for national defense.

In an article entitled Space Wars: Apocalypse Soon? by Bill Berkowitz posted at AlterNet.org. Berkowitz writes about several developments that lead him to believe our strategy towards China is changing:

Lt General Edward Anderson, a deputy commander of US Northern Command, at a conference in New Orleans was asked about the Chinese manned orbital mission. General Anderson told the conference that in his view, "it will not be long before space becomes a battleground." Anderson, who was also former Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the US Space Command, also stated that he thought China would be a major threat to our space capabilities i.e. satellite surveillance etc.

The vice president for strategy at Northrop Grumann Mission Systems, Rich Haver - a former assistant to Donald Rumsfeld - told the same group in New Orleans that "the Chinese are telling us that they're there, and I think if we ever wind up in a confrontation again with any one of the major powers who has a space capability we will find space is a battleground."

Berkowitz also states that Vice President Dick Cheney recently added Aaron Friedberg - a China specialist and Princeton University professor to his staff as deputy national security advisor and director of policy planning. Friedburg believes that economic conflict with China could lead to military conflict.

Future military confict or not, The People's Republic of China is affecting American's daily lives in a much different way than our old nemesis the Soviet Union ever did. The Cold War ironically contributed to American jobs. The economic war we are having with the Chinese has resulted in thousands of layoffs.

During the Cold War with the Soviets we never saw Soviet products in our stores or vice versa. It would have been unthinkable to help fund the Soviets military by buying Soviet refrigerators, TVs, or textiles, but that's exactly what we are doing with the Chinese. The Chinese military, which incidentally controls their space program, is the greatest beneficiary of revenue derived from trade with the U.S.

As a human on this island we call earth, I do not want to see China or any other countries fail to prosper. However as an American I do not want to see that prosperity come as a result of a lopsided trade balance. When we buy China’s refrigerators, TVs, and textiles, and they fail to buy our automobiles, computers, or agricultural products, thousands of American's go jobless. The bottom line: The U.S. needs to be much more aggressive in our trade relations with China despite the average American's addiction to Chinese goods. In that oft quoted, but highly appropriate phrase we should, "Wake Up America!"

Author's Note: During the writing of this piece, I was interrupted by the doorbell. Federal Express delivered a package sent by a dear friend. When I opened the package, it turned out to be a very fancy Christmas gift basket of goodies. Everything about the wicker basket of cheeses, spreads, etc., looked 100% American-even the name-Lake Country Gifts. At the very bottom of the basket was the label, "A product of China". I sampled some of the items, they were good!

Acknowledgements: The BBC; AlterNet.org; The Peoples Daily.

About the Author:
The author frequents a number of Chinese restaurants and has an acupuncturist from Bejing. However, when the first restaurant opens on the Moon he wants it to be a McDonalds!


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