The problem with China
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
There is a line in the second film of the Back to the Future series which has Doc saying, “No wonder there was a problem. This transistor was made in Japan,” with Marty responding, “What do you mean, Doc? All the best stuff is made in Japan.”
In 1950s, there term “made in Japan” signified shoddy craftsmanship, something that changed dramatically by the 1980s when Japan became the leading manufacturer of cars and electronics, we all ached to own.
Now, “Made in China” equates to the 1950s version of lack of quality – mainland China that is, and I never once imagined I would look back at “made in Taiwan” with affection, but I do.
This weekend, I found out why products out of China suck.
It seems that everything is being made in one city, a city that the good communists of China decided they needed in order to compete with Western Capitalists. Although short of natural resources, China has more than enough labor, and being the good communistic, anti-capitalistic state, Chinese leaders decided to create a capitalistic slum and invite capitalistic corporations in to exploit its people – but only those who work and play in this mega manufacturing slum.
China put us all on notice about its ambitions when it quelled its Democratic uprising in the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square when the Chinese Spring was largely ignored because western nations ached to get a piece of the Chinese market. Perhaps also the bribery the Chinese conducted in the U.S. Congress in the 1970s may have successfully kept Americans from being as involve with the uprising as we were in Libya or Syria, or even contemporary Russia and Iran. When it comes to business interests, American corporations know which side its bread is buttered on, and wouldn’t aggravate the Chinese government by making it live up to his communistic ideals.
Already trained by exploitation in Africa where we get most of the rare minerals for our commuters, international corporations turned this new Chinese industrial city into an economic whore any capitalist could be proud of – far better than anything before done by American business in places like Mexico, and as a result, created a system of inferior products that could be sold again and again to the same suckers here in America.
This is most relevant to my purchase of a can opener recently. One can opener I’d had for years finally bit the ghost. So I went to a local house wares store and bought another at full price, not thinking much about the label, made in China.
This lasted two days before it broke, too, which led me to purchase another at a different store, and yet another and another and another, finally getting it into my head that “Made in China” means badly made, and that if I wanted to get anything well-made I would have to get something made by good communists prior to Tiananmen Square.
Weeks after this, I finally found an old can opener in my tool shed, with an imprint from what must have been the late 1960s saying, “made in Japan,” and as Marty would later point out, all the best stuff is made in Japan.