For me, there was a sense of familiarity in the news in the early days of the pandemic that the medical equipment for fighting the Wuhan virus sent from China to Europe and America was defective.
Welcome to my world.
In the past few years, I have bought a series of products made in China that have turned out to be substandard and have made me wonder why any company (Walmart, Amazon, Target, Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, Rooms to Go, etc.) would sell goods made in China without feeling a deep sense of shame and embarrassment.
These have included: a dining room set whose chairs began falling apart after seven months’ use; perfume whose scent lingered all of 40 seconds; a vinyl record player that stopped playing three months later; luggage whose pull-up handle refused to pull up after the third trip and whose inner lining peeled off on its own; a weight scale that fluctuated daily; a dashcam whose cam refused to cam after the fourth try; a really neat exercise machine whose parts flew off in all directions after five days; a nifty black, flexible, see-through curtain to keep out mosquitoes which began to disintegrate after six months and left me so covered with black soot that I was in danger of having a liberal accuse me of blackface racism; an outdoor motion detector which didn’t detect; a bag of catnip that my cat turned its nose up since it contained regular grass; a dozen of those little lights powered by the sun that come on at night and are for outlining the walkway to my house and flickered off after the second week.
I am not certain whether or not I am unique in being plagued by defective merchandise from China. I do not think so; I recently read of someone who bought a frying pan and the nonstick coating began to give off toxic fumes and smoke.
The Wuhan virus seems to be the longest-lasting thing China has ever made.
But there is more:
Children’s jewelry in the United States was made in China with cancer-producing cadmium. Actually, not just in the United States, but worldwide. China produces ¾ of the world’s toys. With poison.
I shudder to think what is really in the medication that I take — it comes from China. Every time that I take my medication, I feel that I am playing Russian roulette.
I have a friend who eats nothing but organic food because she does not want chemicals in her food. It comes from China. I haven’t the heart to tell her.
But, in regards to the Wuhan virus, the U.K. announced that the ventilators that were imported from China could kill the patients that were being hooked up to them, while the Dutch found that the 600,000 masks imported from China had defective filters. Meantime, the tests to detect the Wuhan virus that were imported to Spain from China, yes, they didn’t work either. And neither did the tests imported to the UK.
Well, at least they got defective equipment for their money; the Canadians went to pick up equipment from China and came back empty-handed. But this is the one that really tops it all: when the virus first hit China, Italy donated personal protective equipment (PPE) to help out; when Italy got hammered with the same virus, China sold them the very same PPEs back to Italy!
Another item: “sterile” surgical gowns made in China were found to be made in filthy conditions (What! The Chinese are not sanitary? Who knew?) Apparently, surgical gowns cannot be made in America, they have to be produced overseas. “It is the cruelest irony that this nation is now dependent on China for many of these products,” said New York governor Andrew Cuomo. “Gowns and gloves are not complicated components to manufacture.”
It makes one wonder that if we ever go to war with China, will we have to import military parts and munitions from China.
And if you wonder why I keep buying defective stuff from China, well . . . go to any Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Dollar Tree, Office Max, Bed Bath & Beyond, Rooms to Go and I challenge you to find something made in America. Go ahead! Do it! You’ll be hard-pressed to find items that are American-made.
There is no way that you can tell me that America cannot make these same products. America’s industrial capacity is legendary.
It is not that the items are not (or were not) made in America. It is just that the owners and CEOs and CFOs, and SOBs decided that it was cheaper to buy them from China. So what if they are defective? So what if they are poisonous? So what if they’re helping to build up the power of an arrogant, totalitarian, regime with an abysmal record on human rights and is hostile to America and all of its neighbors? So what if the owners and the CEOs and CFOs, and SOBs are contributing to the destruction of America’s industrial capacity to the point that the main part of the economy is now in the service sector?
I would like to say to them, “Jesus, are you so desperate to make an extra buck that you’ll help poison your countrymen? To help a hostile, totalitarian country?”
Conservatives love to praise corporate businessmen, but often overlook the fact that many of them are unprincipled sociopaths who would sell their daughter for a buck if they could get away with it.
To be sure, it is not just the corporations. A lot of the blame goes to our country’s politicians who gave concessions to the Chinese, looked the other way, and patted each other on the back as our factories were closed, those politicians who gave China “Most Favored Nation” status.
There is plenty of blame to go around. One can also blame the extortionist unions that force corporations to pay a worker $40/hr. for turning a screw clockwise and $55/hr. to turn the same screw counterclockwise, and have thereby motivated management to look elsewhere for reasonable labor costs.
Regardless, it’s time to boycott Chinese goods, and I am not the only one advocating this measure.
But there is another reason behind my refusal to buy goods made in China, aside from their built-in obsolescence and toxicity (although that in itself is more than enough reason not to). China steals our intellectual property via cybertheft, forces U.S. companies in China to transfer technology, engages in industrial espionage through its extensive espionage network inside the U.S., hacks our computers, dumps into our markets to put U.S. companies out of business, and subsidizes state-owned enterprises to compete with Western firms and manipulates its currency.
China’s human rights record is abysmal and has engaged in virtual genocide. It is bullying other, smaller, weaker countries that are its neighbors. It is a totalitarian state which oppresses its citizens. It has destroyed Hong Kong’s democracy.
On top of everything, a lot of Chinese scientific, published, research has been found to be fraudulent. Furthermore, China has developed a predatory journal industry; these are supposedly “scientific” or “scholarly” journals that will publish research from other countries for a hefty “publication fee.” These journals have no editorial staff, no peer review, no standards, no distribution, and will publish literally anything that is sent to them. I, and others in the scientific arena, are daily bombarded with emails inviting us to publish in their journals — and it doesn’t matter if the journal is not in my field. So, if I am a geologist, I will nonetheless be invited to make an “outstanding contribution” to a journal of gynecology.
Obviously, I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that everyone in the Western world would do well to boycott Chinese goods whenever possible and, if one has to pay a few cents more for a product, it is worth it for one’s peace of mind. And don’t expect politicians to do anything.
Armando Simón is a retired college professor with degrees in history and psychology. He is also the author of When Evolution Stops, Very Peculiar Stories, and A Cuban from Kansas.