I originally wrote this piece as an introduction to my reviews of shower curtains not made in China, but I figure I’d branch it off to a standalone article, as it applies to just about every product.
Turn the clock back to 1993. Read this speech by newly elected president Bill Clinton, made just four years after Tienanmen Square. Clinton signed an executive order granting China Most Favored Nation status, and berated past administrations for vetoing legislation that would have made it permanent. He expressed “concern” that China had an $18 billion trade surplus with the US, but also expressed “hope” that China would stop its proliferation of dangerous weapons and that economic reform would lead to greater political freedom.
In December 2001, only a little more than a decade after Tienanmen, the 105th Congress passed legislation granting permanent Most Favored Nation status to China, proving that America’s attention span is less than 12 years. In retrospect, isn’t it interesting how this legislation was pushed through on September 19, 2001, EIGHT DAYS AFTER 9/11? And isn’t it interesting how President Bush signed this bill into lay on December 27, 2001, during the Christmas holidays?
I’m not being a conspiracy theorist here. But those with vested interests in seeing money flow in from China certainly practiced the old saying “Never let a good crists go to waste”. If you could look at the personal bank accounts of the Clinton family, the Bush family, and the majority of members of Congress during those years, I will bet you will see red after you see a lot of black.
Let’s look at things today. Did China discontinue its provocative military expansion? No. And what was the trade surplus of China last year? Over $300 BILLION dollars.
How China Intends to Take Over Every Sector–and Americans are
In the 2000s, US corporations tended to outsource only small, trivial manufacturing to China. Clock radios. Cheap plastic toys. Plastic computer parts. As they’d done with countries like Taiwan and Japan in the 1970s, they found that they could exploit cheap labor, get their products made cheaply, sell them for the same price, and see greater profits. The countries that they outsourced to would see a rise in their living standards and the greater prosperity would lead to more liberalization of their political structures. And it worked. Countries like Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea raised their standards of living and are now vibrant democracies.
And so American corporations and politicians figured “It’ll happen to China too!” But Americans–ironically dating back to Nixon and Kissinger–put blinders on. They didn’t count on the Chinese Communist Party maintaining their complete control over every nuance of their society.
And so American companies were encouraged to outsource the “little things” to China. But over time, as corporate executives saw the stock prices of countries selling toys and widgets rising, they decided that they wanted a piece of the action too. And so industry after industry closed shop and sent all their manufacturing to China.
But did you notice something? Unlike with countries like Japan and Taiwan, China is intent on controlling manufacturing for every industry. It ingratiates itself to American companies by negotiating with executives like Tom Cook and Elon Musk, giving them “offers they can’t refuse”, all centrally planned by the Party. It uses protectionist tactics to block emerging economies like India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam from taking on all but the most trivial of manufacturing. We’re treating them like they’re a free and open society, and they’re treating us like they’re playing a game of Risk or Monopoly.
What happens when China controls “the little things”:
We saw what happened in 2020 when American had decided years ago that N95 face masks were just a commodity to be manufactured by the cheapest means possible. China controlled all of the production, and just weeks after they allowed COVID-19 to be unleashed on the world, they purchased the world’s supply of N95s and dictated to all mask manufacturers that their supply would be reserved for China. Do you remember the pictures of front-line workers in the United States trying to make their own masks using garbage bags and rags? American doctors, nurses, EMS personnel literally died because America was too foolish to maintain some manufacturing here.
One thing that terrifies me as I write this blog is how many industries the United States has done the same thing to. It’s nearly impossible to find a sports ball, or a clock radio, or a plastic keychain, or a coffee maker, or an air fryer that’s NOT made in China. And yes, a shower curtain. And if you think that these aren’t important, think again. Because if you control these things, you control entire supply chains of raw materials that are used to make these things. And worse, I’ve covered in other posts how China has all but monopolized the supply of food supplements and vitamins, and they are quickly moving to own the supply chain for food as well. That’s when it’s game over.
And so if you’re inclined to just go to your local Walmart and pick up a shower curtain regardless of where it’s made, just do one thing. Check the label. And if it’s made in China, go to the next product. You may not get the prettiest design, but you’ll be assured that not a penny of your money will go to help the CCP continue its dominance (and maybe it is literally just a penny, but that’s the point).