|Caution: This is a rant. And sensitive readers might want to skip this article.
With every new revelation about what is happening in modern China I become more appalled. Our Canadian prime minister earlier this month stressed the importance of trade with China, but despite the disgraceful and illegal actions of Bush in his bullying trade dealings with Canada, I think trading with China is even worse than trading with the US, because it encourages the monstrously destructive and essentially unmanaged Chinese economy to continue with its devastating excesses.
Here are my 10 reasons not to trade with China:
- Misogynist Slaughter of Girls: The people of China are continuing their horrific program of aborting, abandoning and murdering girl babies, because of their ‘cultural preference’ for male children. The imbalance created by this despicable and government-sanctioned practice, which has resulted in the ‘disappearance’ of at least 50 million baby girls, is that over 110 million Chinese males will be unable to find mates. This is already producing an upsurge in violence and abductions, and as it continues it will get much worse.
- Water Atrocities: The environmental and social devastation of monster hydro projects like the Three Gorges Dam are well documented, but that’s just one of the ways water-starved China is going to any lengths to quench the thirst of its billion plus people and rapacious and negligently-managed industry. Over 700 million Chinese are already drinking tainted water, and new catastrophes like last week’s dreadful Harbin carcinogenic toxin spill are a regular occurrence, hushed up by the government unless, as with this latest spill, the poisons threaten to kill and poison neighbouring countries. The Northern Chinese ‘breadbasket’ is being turned to desert at a horrifying rate by sheer overuse and mismanagement, and WorldWatch reports that the Chinese water table is now dropping at a rate of eight feet per year. Three quarters of the water running through China’s cities is polluted to the point it is undrinkable and cannot support aquatic life. The country is essentially turning all its water into sewers and all its land into desert.
- Human Rights Abuses: China has the worst human rights record of any country in the history of the planet, with 80 million starved or killed during the Maoist scourge of the last century, and this abominable record continues unabated. One of the reasons we can buy Chinese crap so cheaply is the use of prisoner slave labour to manufacture it. Detention and torture of any group opposed or even thought to be opposed to the corrupt government is systematic and uncontrolled. Workplace conditions in many factories are deplorable, and massive government corruption allows it to continue unabated.
- Global Warming: Chinese pollution is essentially unregulated. The principal form of energy is coal, a major contributor to global warming, and China now rivals the US as the world’s greatest contributor to global warming. China has not signed the Kyoto Accord. Seven of the ten most polluted cities in the world are in China. Acid rain is devastating large areas of the country. The toxins released by Chinese energy and manufacturing industries float across the Pacific and cause untold death and disease all around the world.
- Indifference to and Negligent Management of Epidemic Disease: The number of Chinese with HIV could be as high as 15 million by the end of the decade, but the government continues to ignore the problem, shrugging it off as a problem of drug abusers. Its denial of dangerous and controllable diseases like SARS and Poultry Flu is legendary, and that negligence threatens to expose the world to a pandemic.
- Mining Abominations: Working conditions in China’s mines are among the worst in the world, and the death toll is huge. Another 135 died just yesterday in a coal mine explosion.
- The Loss of Western Livelihoods: Offshoring of manufacturing jobs to China, exploiting that country’s cheap labour and artificially suppressed foreign exchange rate has destroyed many Western communities. Wal-Mart alone is responsible for 13% of the US imports of Chinese crap.
- Shoddy, Often Dangerous Products: Anyone who has bought Christmas decorations, or inexpensive appliances, toys, clothing or any of a host of other manufactured products in recent years knows that almost all such products are now made in China, and that their quality is abysmal. In many stores you simply have no choice — you cannot buy products made elsewhere, as shoddy Chinese merchandise has so undercut the price of domestic manufacturers that they have been driven out of business or forced to offshore to compete. Most of this crap ends up in landfills within a year or two. And Consumer Reports investigations reveal that a disproportionate amount of this crap is also hazardous — dangerous or poisonous.
- Poor Fishing and Forestry Practices: Unregulated and corrupt logging and furniture manufacturing has devastated China’s forests, resulting in massive soil erosion and devastating annual flooding, and chronic sand and dust storms. And China is by far the largest contributor to the overfishing that has reached crisis proportions in most of the world’s oceans.
- Impoverishing Our Own Economies: In addition to the loss of our own families’ and communities’ livelihoods, many countries like Canada are complicit in this race to the bottom by willingly shipping our raw materials to China, and then buying back the products manufactured from these resources from them. This is just insane, a horrific waste of our natural resources and a squandered opportunity to create local jobs and save the fuel required to transport the raw materials out and the shoddy manufactured goods back in.
Continuing trade with such a country is simply unconscionable, and our elected leaders should be held to account for it. For our part, we need to stop buying anything from China, and insist retailers stop stocking Chinese crap and instead provide us with products from socially and environmentally responsible countries and companies — and especially, local suppliers.
The image, from the BBC’s award-winning The Dying Rooms, shows abandoned and starving baby girls in a Chinese orphanage tied to their high chairs.