Ten Reasons to Halt All Trade With China

DyingRoomsCaution: 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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. 
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

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41 Responses to Ten Reasons to Halt All Trade With China

  1. Justice says:

    I’m an Asian (actually a Filipina) and I hear you loud and clear with this. by the way, can i link your site with mine? email me if it’s a go ok? thanks.

  2. Berlin says:

    I am your Chinese reader, and this is the only article on your blog that I dislike. There is nothing wrong with the facts you have given, and I would agree with you on most of them. But fundamentally, you proposed a wrong solution.There are several things that I want to mention. First, I am bothered by the value-laden words such as “Chinese crap”. What often happens is that these crap-making factories or companies they sell to are western companies who came to China to cut down cost. Now you tell me who comes first, the chicken or the egg? As you rightly point out, we are virtually turning our country into a desert to produce the crap that you need to decorate your Christmas trees. To use the words of an American friend, “I am afraid that some day, China will be able to stop its cheap things to the US and we will not be able to maintain our living standards.” China makes sacrifices so that the rest of the world can buy cheap products. Alas, they break easily, but do you want your kids to play with the same toy (like a toy car) for the rest of their lives. Quiz: Which breaks more easily, a Chinese toy, or a Microsoft product? I won’t give an answer, but we virtually have to sell milllions and millions of toys and destroy our environment so that we can buy some western crap.Secondly, by cutting trade with China, you won’t help the situationn even a tiny bit. I think China wouldn’t mind if Canada decides to do that at all. Other countries compete to come in to this market. It’s more about economy than morality.Thirdly, the word “China” does not mean a single person who is playing these bad games. The word China means 1.3 billion people, many of whom try to make a decent living or even basic survival with the meagre resources we have. You think these crap-making factory workers do not want to sit down comfortably in a nice house, drinking coffee, and write blogs teaching people how to save the world?I just don’t see how cutting trade with China helps anything. But I guess you could cut it, before China does so.

  3. Sure, there are things about China we in the west don’t like (and in view of recent events, I’m sure the Chinese could make the same case about the west).The key question is: would halting trade with China make these things better or worse?China is not going to cease to exist if we cease trade with it. Nor is it going to cease to industrialize. But it will not be able to obtain raw materials and technology, which would in turn lead it to more aggressively extract resources and less able to implement health measures and anti-pollution technology. Nor either would a cessation of trade cause it to ease its treatment of dissidents or improve working conditions; to the contrary, a seige mentality is likely to make it worse.The thing is: can China be forced to capulate through blockade? Almost certainly not.Sometimes the measures that make you feel good morally are the measures that perpetuate the conditions you feel good morally about opposing.

  4. medaille says:

    This is a situation that I just don’t know how to feel about. China from all I can tell (or have read) is like America but worse. I’m an American, certainly not one happy with the way it is set up or being run, but China seems like it is trying to take the worst part about America and combine it with the bad stuff it already has. It seems like the big goal is not like trying to subvert China economically in order to get a social/cultural change, but more like how do subvert an irresponsible globalized economic player thus forcing it into a more localized economy that in all likelihood would be at least slightly more responsible. Both China and America are the major players that need their economy restructured. They both are destroying everything they touch and ruining it for everyone else on the planet. That said, the Chinese people don’t really seem to be in a position to accomplish their own change.How do you localize an economy being only an outside player to that economy?Frankly, I have no idea, but it is a really good question. I’m not a fan of regulation type laws because they are only a band-aid and require constant policing and energy/money expenditures to maintain. I tend to like ideas that promote cultural change to force a shift in habits as they require only an initial input of energy/money and then help to maintain themselves. This is kind of similar to the post you made not too long ago about innovation and the reduction of the creative class.Jon Husband commented:Every once in a while we realize that the machine we live in is pretty damn big, and pretty damnn machine like … I think you maybe more oftenm that many of us. Artists and creatives are there for decoration, will say (no doubt) many of the money-focused pragmatists. And the sad *truth* is that today there really is (for almost all people) nothing but money.If the money stops, you have to find other work pretty quickly. Having the Web come around was a real boon for a relatively small number of somewhat creative people, who got into web and video game design, and an increasingly image-filled first world may provide a bit more work for some graphic designers, but I’m reasonably dubious about the rest. The people focused on money and productivity LIKE being busy, organized, productive – cracking the whips, figuratively. It helps many peop[le keep themselves distanced from theor curiosity and creativity, and I think that’s kust the way many many people want things.On the other hand, I’ve never understood many of the main arguments for making the world such a competitive, progress-at-all-costs place. Where are we all going ? Sure we can live about 20 years longer these days … just so that (again figuratively) many more of us in the developed world can increasingly watch wars, quakes, floods and humanitarian crises on creatively-edited tv, or play connection-oriented scenarios using online dating capabilities in increasingly lonely places ? –End of Comment–I really like this comment because it helps point out that the problem is rooted in the way our society is structured and that it is not inherent in people themselves. I am constantly being reinforced in my belief that the way our society is structured needs to be altered to promote healthy behavior. If America is restructured soon (meaning before the collapse, while still a superpower) it can still use its clout to help alter other countries behavior. Europe, in my mind, isn’t so hung up on buying stuff from China for extremely cheap, but America is. A shift to localized economies in America will reduce demand for the crappy chinese products that can be found at the likes of Wal-Mart and Target.I think a trade ban would be good for all 3 countries (China, Canada, and America (assuming America also banned trade), but it would only be an in-the-mean-time solution.

  5. medaille says:

    In response to Berlins comment:As you rightly point out, we are virtually turning our country into a desert to produce the crap that you need to decorate your Christmas trees. To use the words of an American friend, “I am afraid that some day, China will be able to stop its cheap things to the US and we will not be able to maintain our living standards.” China makes sacrifices so that the rest of the world can buy cheap products. Alas, they break easily, but do you want your kids to play with the same toy (like a toy car) for the rest of their lives. Quiz: Which breaks more easily, a Chinese toy, or a Microsoft product? I won’t give an answer, but we virtually have to sell milllions and millions of toys and destroy our environment so that we can buy some western crap.This exactly whats wrong with this whole situation. China makes crap for Americans that people don’t really have any use for but for some reason buy. This makes the Americans worse off, because they have crap that breaks after one season of use, is aesthetically generic and bland, and has no value other than to make Americans feel better because they got a little high because they bought something. Granted this is what Americans would do themselves anyway if they had the choice. For some reason the Chinese want to emulate our lifestyle and are willing to bankrupt their own country to do so. Why do they want to buy our crap? Stop thinking of China as making sacrifices. They aren’t making sacrifices. They are delusioned the same way that Americans are. They aren’t getting anything of value for what they are giving up. It’s not poor china, they are being exploited for the Americans. It’s like poor China, they don’t even realize whats important in life. Please don’t get the impression that I think America is any better. Both need to be changed.

  6. James says:

    I like your comments, observations, and ideas. Enough countries and people to pressure China will change their ways of doing things eventually. I always do my best not to buy Chinese goods.

  7. John Wordy says:

    Come on dude. I bet you never set your feet on Chinese soil. Don’t be fooled by OUR “fact-oriented” media. China has problems just like we all have. But China is a great country. Stop trading with China? Are you kidding me? Wake up dude. It’s is You, the Canadians, need China more than China needs Canada. I bet 10 years from now, China could use trade sanctions todeal with your poor canadians. Anyway, China is returning to be a superpower, like it or not.

  8. Berlin says:

    In response to medaille

  9. Kevin Carson says:

    One suggestion: translate the Wobbly pamphlet “How to Fire Your Boss: Direct Action on the Job” into Chinese, burn it onto CDs, smuggle them into the country, and circulate them as samizdat. The average worker, every single day, encounters a thousand opportunities to raise production costs prohibitively with virtually no chance of getting caught. The only thing stopping us is the little “boss” inside our heads. Once the worker kills off that little guy, we don’t need state certificiation of labor unions and state enforcement of contracts to make our will known. It won’t even be a contest any more. If the CIA could disseminate how-to info on sabotage and direct action in Nicaragua, why can’t the American labor movement do the same in China?And another thing–about the corporate collaborators at National Endowment for Democracy: their bleeding heads on pikes, NOW!

  10. Kevin Carson says:

    Berlin,You say two contradictory things:”China makes sacrifices so that the rest of the world can buy cheap products.” “…the word ‘China’ does not mean a single person who is playing these bad games. The word China means 1.3 billion people, many of whom try to make a decent living or even basic survival with the meagre resources we have.”In other words, “China” is not making a sacrifice. Rather, the pigs running the Chinese state are acting in collusion with the American corporate pigs to sacrifice the Chinese worker.I don’t think Dave’s criticism was of “China” or of the Chinese worker, but rather of the two sets of pigs who conspire to make sure that both Wal-Mart and the Chinese party apparatus can continue to profit at the expense of honest laborers.

  11. Berlin says:

    Kevin, I agree with you on your point. It’s always the poor honest working people who suffer. Could you please not use the word pigs to describe those people? This is such an insult to pigs.

  12. Indigo says:

    I would love to stop buying products made with slave labor. Unfortunately, I actually need many of the products that are made in China which I cannot find alternatives for. I can’t find a toaster that is not made in China. I cannot even find a dehumidifier that was not made in China. In fact, I have found over the past year or so I have been trying to avoid products from China that it is quite difficult to manage a life without products from China. Now of course, I could write lots of letters complaining about this. And those hours of my time and negative mental focus might make me feel quite heroic. Unfortunately I think they would make absolutely no change in the situation that I cannot find many products that I need without buying products made in China. So what are the real options an individual has? In the 19th Century in Europe there was outrage about slave labor in America. There were moral objections, but the loudest cry was economic. It was impossible to compete with agricultural exports produced by slave labor. Despite the outcry, France did not end slavery in America. The Civil War did. Some say that war was fought over the moral evil of slavery, but some say it was Northern envy at trying to economically compete with slave labor, not moral outrage. Others say it was more about state’s rights and whether nations could secede from the union if they disagreed with federal policy. The bottom line is, it took a war, whatever its motivations, to end slave labor that was being carried out in a different locale (North v. South) even within one nation. Is the US supposed to invade China as our next “moral imperative?”

  13. Mariella says:

    Maybe you would like to read this article “Beyond Greed and Scarcity” by Bernard Lietaer, here he clearly explains how human race has turned to be what it is now, not because that is our nature, but because we are all (no exceptions) slaves of the money system we have created and its endless need (of the system)of our urge to buy and consume whatever crap we must invent just to guarantee the survival of our “master money”. http://www.transaction.net/press/interviews/lietaer0497.htmlHe explains the vicious circle of this absurd dynamic.

  14. Zephyr says:

    As always, Dave, you give us some good food for thought. You lay out quite the spread of ideas and information… which has seeded some interesting conversation here in the comments section. With all due respect, I think the reasoning process is flawed. And I think it’s been influenced by being somewhat isolated in Canada away from other peoples and ethnicities. You’re an activist, but I think you’d be wise to be a bit more gentle and informed when it comes to other peoples and their ways of life.Even Berlin would admit, in her first response, that she agrees in part with the critique of her own country’s ways. I am very saddened that people want to harp on those points in some hot feelings towards china, after she posted. The usa and canada also have flaws in their own policies and ways life. And we see north america’s critique of itself spoken of all over the english speaking internet. We each should be most conscious of our own nation’s weaknesses and mistakes. It’s wrong to go at each other’s throats. We should band together and work for the resolutions of all of our problems with one resolve.It’s not an us versus them issue, Dave – and the things cannot be resolved that way. I remember in the early 1990s – all the progressive people thought that economic sanctions on Iraq were such a wonderful alternative to war. What happened over those years? We have millions of children dying because of lack of water purification in Iraqi cities. And frankly Dave, you’d do well to have a bit more respect for a country which has a lot more people than yours does. It is true as someone mentioned above, that china is in the position to leverage trade sanctions – Canada is not. China’s government has chosen to keep the yuan pegged to the dollar in a way that produces markets for it’s goods. That’s not walmart’s fault.Now, on the issue of walmart, I have something to say as well. It is the bourgeoisie in the usa who are against walmart – the middle and upper classes. If you were poor – you would know what a benefit walmart is to a community. Grocery prices in my town dropped thirty percent when walmart came in a few years ago. Quality went way up – we get luscious ripe tropical fruits – melons avocados now, in our other supermarkets which were not there, years ago. All the little seedy mom and pop businesses left the downtown business district and now the downtown is full of art galleries, outlets for local craftspeople’s work – places to do your own crafts – a pottery workshop, an elaborate stationary store. Ethnic restaurants of every nation line the corners. This is all because walmart forced local business owners to be more creative about what kinds of goods and services they offered.To say that chinese laborers work for pennies an hour is hyperbole. You have to measure the currencies not in terms of exchange rates, but in terms of the cost of living index.

  15. Zephyr says:

    Sorry for not including paragraph marks. It becomes quite the torrent of words without them. I suppose I ought not to double post to do that, now.

  16. cindy says:

    I am the so called Overseas Chinese (3rd generation born outside China), and was brough up very devoted to China. But, now I am middle age and know more about China, I am not amused of what I see China is doing to the world. I am not talking about shoddy workmanship, but more about the way Chinese are conducting businesses such as this one http://www.marc.cn/2005/11/china-on-train-plane-buying-spree.html , for example. I was involved with a project in China (I was a very unimportant person) therefore I am not just talking for the sake of discrediting China. Just look at how they flooded the market with their textiles. There is only one focus: advantage for the Chinese. What about the rest of the world such as Indonesia, Pakistan etc that are also texitle producers? Unfair competition will not bring China any happiness eventually. Just look at this posting. I would never have expected Dave to do such crazy thing. Things finally got to him. The same is happening to this Overseas Chinese. One point in time I would buy anything Chinese. These days I have the problem to do so (of course when they come to food and medications I have not much choice).Competition has to be faired. As a member of WTO means ‘collaborate’ with the rest of the team for survival. And not go out and cut throat. And not US agains THEM. China still has plenty to learn. Most of all how to be ONE of them. Cindy

  17. Dave, I usually like your posts but have to strongly disagree on your comments on China. While your are rightly pointing to many of the problems that MUST be adresssed I think your reasoning is flawed. China’s economic progress has lifted tens of millions of people out of poverty. And if the world is to reach the UN’s Millennium goals of diminishing absolute poverty it is only because of China and India… Furthermore, China’s economic progress and its integration in world trade is improving the living standards of everybody, but particularly the poor in OECD countries. <br/><br/>Where I agree with you, Dave, is that western countries should not use double standards when dealing with/in China. If OECD based companies comply to human rights, abstain from corruption, respect environmental norms and uphold certain ethical standards they will have a much bigger impact on China than any embargo. However, that is where the problems lies… To make quick bucks many western companies bend their rules…<br/><br/>So to make things short: the problems you mention must be addressed, but halting trade with China will not solve them. My personal opinion: Halting trade is the wrong way!

  18. Name Withheld says:

    To my knowledge, China is not currently violating the sovereignty of another country, and murdering people all over the world. The US wins that award, which ought to bestow upon it the prize of no trade with Canada. Until the US pulls out of Iraq and generally gets out of the business of death, it should be considered the prime target for a boycott.

  19. For more insights about such modern paradox, check out Jeffrey Tucker “Striking for More Hours” post on Mises Blog and the following comments I exchanged with Michael A. Clem:http://blog.mises.org/blog/archives/003232.asp

  20. Conor says:

    Well… If you’re going in that direction, how about doing the same thing with Saudi Arabia? There’s plenty of reasons not to do business with them. I say let’s get rid of Capitalism instead! Although, neither of these ideas seem very plausible. We’re all complicit in our race to the bottom of hell (sigh).

  21. Erin Hendrick says:

    It’s plausible. I would begin by reducing your need for things, then for food grown in other countries, eventually eating only what’s grown nearby. entirely plausible, although hard to do when such abundance and gluttony is everywhere and looked upon as ok. You could also dumpster dive to decrease some of the negative effects of all the consumerism. see, none of these things are as sexy and *big* as just stopping something dramatically, so they seem harder to implement. They are also harder because they require actual action of individuals, not appealing to governments. Dave, hopefully you don’t regret writing this post. I like it when people just say what they think.

  22. Dave Pollard says:

    OK. Lots of comment on this post, which I guess was to be expected. Two points of clarification first, since several of you have raised the same points: (1) I am not tarring all the people of China with the same brush. I appreciate that the government is the main problem, but eventually the people have to rise up against a government that treats its people and the environment so disgracefully. I think external pressure could help give the people the courage to do so, while our current policy of currying favour and gladhanding with Chinese leaders is unacceptable and makes it harder for the Chinese people to organize to overthrow their government. (2) Ceasing trade with China is not the same as embargoing, which I agree would just hurt the people of China, just as it did the people of Iraq, allowing Saddam Hussein to get stronger. We need to stop importing from China, period. If a consequence of that is hardship to the Chinese people, then we need to work to help them. But the cost of moving a few hundred million Chinese out of poverty this way — slave labour, horrific waste of resources, environmental devastation, and the further impoverishment of those ‘left behind’ in the countryside — is vastly disproportionate to the gains it has achieved, and it is so unsustainable that when it crashes — and it will soon — the horrors that will be left behind are unimaginable. China in the 2030s — with a grossly disproportional male/female ratio, desperate shortage of energy and water, a massive food deficit due to desertification and overuse of land, horrific health problems, disease and deformities caused by untrammeled pollution, abandoned manufacturing facilities and a 70% unemployment rate when the US goes bankrupt and plunges into depression and can no longer buy from this artificially-created ‘low price’ market — fills me with dread. Look at the history of China and the threat of all these problems piled up one on top of the other and tell me how you can be so sure that the solution China has fallen back on after previous excesses — cannibalism of children — won’t become the desperate, only answer again. We have to stop this now to prevent that happening. Of course other countries are far from perfect, and no one is blameless. But we need to focus on the biggest threats to global security and well-being first, and China’s out-of-control economy and society, Bush’s out-of-control deficits, and Global Warming are, in my opinion, the three biggest, and they are related. If the West stops buying Chinese manufactured goods, by a combination of individual action and eventually government reaction, that will help put the brakes on all three of these threats. It’s not enough by itself, of course, but if anyone can suggest another, better way to achieve the same ends, I’d love to hear it.

  23. Dave Pollard says:

    Indigo: As you probably know, I definitely would not approve of military action against China to change its government or policies. We all know how foolish that course is. That is why I think we need to use the lever we have, which is our power as consumers not to consume. Boycotts work. And I’m very sympathetic with your problem of what to do when all the alternatives available for a product (e.g. Christmas decorations) are made in China. What I did was: (1) complain to the vendor (Canadian Tire Stores for my Christmas lights), (2) grit my teeth and buy the Chinese stuff, and then (3) take the products back when they break prematurely (I’ve taken Christmas decorations — all made in China — back to Canadian Tire three years ago, with receipts; their last response was “We hear you. A lot of customers are upset with these products. We’re looking for other vendors.”) It’s a start.

  24. Jon Husband says:

    One of the best comments threads I have read in a while .. different points of view, ideas exchanged and debated, and virtually no insulting or name-calling … and I learned a lot. A round of applause to all of you, and thanks to Dave for a deeply provocative and interesting post.

  25. jzhang999 says:

    As a Chinese, I felt sad that people have such negative thoughts and feelings about China, and I pitied these ignorant people. When was the last time you visited China? When was the last time you you critically take in what news said about China and chinese people? Chinese died in coal mining because we are still a developing country. Does that mean we have too stop what we are doing too survice? No. At least we are working towards civilization. China is only one of the many countries that manufacture low-cost products. Many asian countries are doing it because of the cheap labour. There are no local jobs available because local labours are too expensive to perform simple work. If you are advocating of saving the world by stop trade with China, you are far from saving the world, on the contrary, you are hindering human civilization.From the first of his reasons of stopping trade with China, I can tell how ignorant the author knows about Chinese family planning policy. The preference of male children happens mostly in countryside; and the important reason of that is not purely culturall. Rather, it’s because the fact that chinese farming is not advanced as western countries, we still need farming labours in eac household. China is a developing country, with the advance of technologies, the phenomenon will get better. However, in north american, there are similar probllems. Many African american famliles averagely have more babies in order to claim social welfare. The US social security will go bankrupt in ten, twenty years. American retiring age already raises to 70. People are taxed till death literally. If you are critizing chinese social policy, is western social policy better yet? About pollution, china’s pollution is not even as close as that caused by western countries’ automobile exhausts in the rush hour.Talking about the Loss of Western Livelihoods, I think the author is so afraid of seeing how fast China is growing. Japanese auto-maker Toyota soon will become the owner of the biggest US auto-manufcturer, GM. Why isn’t there anyone say anything about that? The local jobs are lost because locall labours lose competitiveness. Hey, nothing personal, it’s just business.All I’m trying to say is, do your research before writing something so extreme and negative. However, everyone is entitled to his own opinion. But if you are this shallow and ignorant, I may as well halt my visit to your web space.

  26. Berlin says:

    Very well said jzhang! There is nothing new in Dave’s criticism of China, but this Boycott idea is pretty new. “It’s a start,” says Dasve. Of what?Should we also boycott the cheap and shoddy food products from Canada after WTO accession allows these North Americans to compete with Chinese farmers, whose survival has already being an issue? Dave, this sort of trade warfare, being it on a national level or on an individual level, is going to take us nowhere. The world has become so much interwoven. But if you insist, we are not afraid to fight to the end.Dave, I would appreciate it if you could tell me how many Chinese things you have rejected buying, my Chinese friends and I may be able to match that by buying them as a way of showing support to our own country.

  27. Jon Husband says:

    There’s no stoppping progress … whatever direction it’s heading ! The modern world is ruled by money, out and out, and every country and every peoples are going to spend the next 50 years trying to get more of it .. until all the resources are used up … then we’ll alll just sit and watch TV ;-) Darwinian to the end.

  28. Mariella says:

    The problem is much too big, too wide,

  29. Dave Pollard says:

    Jon, Mariella, thanks. I don’t think there’s anything I can add to what I’ve said. The people of China need to face up to the nightmare situation they are creating for themselves, and take bold and courageous action. All we can do is give them a nudge. I confess I’m pessimistic they will be able to rise to this challenge — or even appreciate that they face it — until, as Jon says, it’s too late. Inability to grasp and deal with complex problems is our civilization’s Achilles’ heel, and always has been.

  30. Andrew says:

    Dave, I can appreciate what you’re concerned about. I agree with your call to insist that retailers provide us with products from socially and environmentally responsible companies. However, I don’t see how completely ceasing our trade with China will help change anything. We should be setting the standard here at home first; we’re the ones living the disposable lifestyle.

  31. medaille says:

    Mariella,While I can’t say anything about how the Chinese are going to change, I can say what I think the easiest way to change here in America/Canada. I think it starts with finding a fairly liberal city. Not a huge one, but adequate sized. This requires your party to have enough control over the city council in order to be effective, I think. Anyway, the goal is to create a self-sustainable community. The motivation for the community to obtain this is a general fear in the lack of reliable energy. For example, if in the near future, we have a natural gas shortage that causes power to be lost for a reasonable amount of time, people will take notice and action must be taken. It starts by creating a community owned power supply provided by renewable resources (either solar-thermal, solar-fresnel or wind, unless another more feasible course is available). The reason this is the first step is because it can cross the two different cultures (old and new) with relative ease. It is equally at home with those that fear lack of resources, those who want to free ourselves from foreign energy, and those who want cleaner energy. The only thing holding it back is economic matters, those will be less of an issue as time goes on due to the rising price of fuel as demand also rises, although this issue can be overcome if the abundance (supply) of the resource is inadequate enough to justify a slightly higher cost for improved reliability.The second step is aimed at improving the social ties within the community. It’s goal is to bring the community closer together and to give people a sense of power that is currently lacking in most communities. The goal is there to strip the power from the few and return it to the masses. There are several approaches that are run in parallel. The first is the creation of a student-work program, which removes children from school for portions of the day by letting them work for employers. This is different than OJT inthat the employers are working with the schools as opposed to the students picking the employers. This is an important difference in that a more refined consistency can be obtained with the lengthier relationship that’s developed between the school and the jobs. The point is not so much to get kids working but to allow them the opportunity to get a wide range of experiences in the “real world” and allow them to learn in a more natural manner (by experience not lectures). The school then grows to take on more authority in the community by offering training for practical skills that aren’t hard to learn but are valuable none-the-less, for example construction skills such as plumbing, basic wiring, weather proofing/ insulation upgrades,etc are skills that can save the citizens money if they can obtain the skills. This helps build the bond between the school and the community. Over time the school will hopefully dissolve into more of a learning facillitator, but that’s not required or pushed.Also, a committee will be started whose sole goal is to solve problems within the community. It will be a small committee that tries to run as leanly as possible. Most neighborhoods have some sort of committee already that doesn’t really do anything, but it already exists. This can be tweaked slightly to provide the functionality required to be useful. For example, a website could be created where problems that need to be solved could be easily posted. The committee would be in charge of determining the value of solving the problems vs. the cost of solving them and would go about to facillitate creating a better community by solving the problems. Maybe there could be a floating fee that would pay for this, or maybe a wind turbine or solar dish could be purchased and the energy produced could be sold to the power company (assuming the above supply station wasn’t already created) and this money could go about fixing problems.Over time, other goals could be achieved. Maybe an energy co-op is created where the community buys fuel in bulk and offers incentive programs for people to use mass transportation within the community (bussing can be added to any size city) and railways could be easily added to one side of a street every couple of blocks in smaller communities. This would reduce the total amount of money spent by the community on fuel. Food should eventually be produced locally, but that’s a tougher sell.The main thing to think about is that when trying to achieve a goal is to figure out what the obstacles are to achieving it and then removing them. Don’t try to change people’s consciousness directly. Create small changes in the community that get them thinking in a different manner. These changes have to be acceptable to both the present and future peoples’ way of thinking. This doesn’t have to require people changing their minds to be more responsible. It is acceptable to provide them with a selfish reason to go along with your plan. Over time, the changes in infrastructure allow more changes to be implemented. Also changes in infrastructure are semi-permanent and thus are less at the whims of survival instincts, but they can also take advantage of these survival instincts to create a positive change.A lot of the financial burden placed on the modern person is due to poor choices of infrastructure. For example, the automobile is a required part of society simply because communities fail to provide any reasonable alternative. Thus the entire community is forced to bear the burden of owning an automobile and all its associated costs. Taxes go up, because the community requires a stronger police force due to the failure to properly redistribute wealth to prevent massive inequalities between people. These burdens can be lowered by a community if they take matters into their own hands and reduce the urge to let “the market take care of itself.”———————-The symptoms are cultural in nature, while the problems are rooted in the monetary system as well as other systems. Unfortunately, the symptoms also work to prevent something as grand as the monetary system from being immediately overturned. So what you do is to make simple easy changes to the infrastructure that promote cultural changes within the people that promote healthy decisions. The bait is that it solves some of their problems or makes life a little better/easier in their current life, but also in their future life. The goal is to create a strong community that has a strong local economy, even if substantial portions are run by the local government (another term for community) as opposed to companies. A strong local economy isn’t measured in conventional terms. It is measured by the amount of goods provided by the community which could have been imported. A strong local economy ensures that the community is not lacking for needed items, and helps to isolate the community from the fear of scarcity that pervade a capitalistic society as well as troubled trends in the more global economies. A strong local economy makes the dollar less important. A strong local economy ensures that the products provided by it are produced in a responsible manner as they are living in near the place of production.It all starts with the security of the people. If they can be free to live their life without fear of scarcity for their necessities, they will put up with less crap.

  32. medaille says:

    here is a website containing a lecturer at my school’s speech. I found it inspiring in the way they created change in their community.http://biosci.umn.edu/~pregal/dewitt.htm

  33. laveri says:

    This article shows how ignorant u r,in Chinese we call this “SB”.I suggest u stop use your car anymore, since the gasoline is from some Mideast autarchies. Hopefully, not all Canadians are like u.

  34. A few commenters seem to be saying that since other countries are worse, the criticisms are invalid. This is not the case. There is a strongly corrupt business and military climate in China that is not a secret. I’ve heard Chinese people shrug and describe it as just “the Chinese way,” where the children of influential people are given degrees they didn’t earn, when officials accept bribes and exploit workers, or when a business owner lies rather than paint a less-than-perfect picture of his practices – these are accepted in the business community as par for the course. I can think of no business/military culture more dangerous, and it will only get more so as the stakes increase.

  35. cindy says:

    The remarks from Medaille says a lot about a country and her people: It all starts with the security of the people. If they can be free to live their life without fear of scarcity for their necessities, they will put up with less crapOf course China is not the only country that fits into this picture. I am pro-China and therefore I am critical of China. If China (more targeting the officials of China, but personally I would not limit to just that …) is a country that is as great as we want to believe, why then there are so many illegal immigrants of Chinese origins in so many different countries in this world? Why would their own people risking lives running away from home??? As for buying up any goods from China that Dave refused to have as suggested from Berlin: I think the point(s) she should take home is: it would be more productive to help China rid of all the TEN items listed in Dave’s article. They are all very real. At the moment the world is ooh and aaah about how cheap things are, after a while when the HOT has gone down, consumers will start looking at quality. And money eventually is not going to be the main problem with most consumers when they are made to keep buying replacements, or run-back-and-forth to return bad items! I have made this remark somewhere else before about soddy goods: it takes A LOT MORE TIME, ENERGY and RESOURCES to do damage control then to do it right the first time. My prediction is China will soon find herself in that position if not already. The only excuse I have for China is: it is a big country with huge populations. Cindy

  36. la says:

    I fail to understand this fascination with China. I think that we should trade with Latin America more (fair trade-not neoliberal trade). They are our neighbors. I think that it would be fairly easy to raise living standards in places like Argentina, Chile, Mexico, etc.The thing I don’t like about China is that no one really knows what goes on there and it is impossible to find out. The only voices that you seem to hear in the West are the voices of big business and I don’t trust them. Reminds me of the USSR in the old days.

  37. Berlin says:

    To La, there is a story about a man looking for a key under a lamp, he searched and searched but he couldn’t find it. People asked him, “Is it where you lost the key?” He responded:”No, but here is where the light is.” I think the same logic governs your thinking in the comments above. People should not be led to make decisions because they are convenient and easy for them. Turning away from China because you don’t know about it is like turning away from the key because the place is not well lit.I noticed that all Chinese leaving a comment here accused Mr. Pollard, the Knowledge Management expert, of ignorance. And I had tried hard to refrain from saying so, in order to get the dialogue going. I think Mr. Pollard and like-minded people should reflect on this. Why are we calling him an ignorant man? Mr. Pollard’s posts on imagination, innovation, knowledge management itself lends themselves well to his private reflections produced when he shuts his door, sit at a computer and just thinks and writes about it. One simply venture into such large topic about China and Chinese problems without really thinking about it. If you really want to say something meaningful and useful about it, then do some research. Do not just pick up bits and pieces from the already distorted media and then rant irresponsibly. If you don’t think that some research or some engagement with real Chinese worth your time or effort, then consider the option of shutting up and continue your elegant posts beautifully written about nothing. When is the last time a westerner pauses a little to listen to China, rather than thinking we don’t appreciate the importance of our problems? There is a disgusting arrogance in this stance.

  38. Berlin says:

    The reason Chinese like me are reading your blog is because we are willing to listen and learn. Are you?

  39. Neil says:

    Pollard has a some legitimate concerns but seems to take them too far. His article completely ignores positive change in China. Environmental problems are getting official attention in China in a way that they didn’t ten or fiften years ago. Check out Thomas Friedman’s articles from Oct. 26, 28 and Nov. 2 for a simple but substantial measure of this. Cooperation would see better results than confrontation or antagonism. Pollard also ignores positive change in male vs. female births. The Chinese government has been working hard to eliminate selective abortions. The Chinese male to female ratio is similar to that of South Korea and Taiwan. Also, from what from what I’ve seen of China, although most Chinese don’t have great working conditions, they are decent and getting better. The charge of ‘prisoner slave labour’ is serious, not backed up, and would be laughable to the Chinese. The poorest Chinese are out in the fields in central, West and North China, many of whom are supported by wage-labourer relatives in the cities.

  40. Wissbegieriger says:

    It is a complicated world, but from the first of this article of Dave Pollard, all sense of balance and means of progress seems to have been lost. Yes, China has its history — and so does for example Mr. Pollard’s Canada. Here is a Canadian Government paper from 2000 – detailing its own plan for fair response to its own child abuse in institutions. Then we can understand that all nations and peoples are on a path of growth. http://www.lcc.gc.ca/research_project/ica/report/restoring-en.aspRegards to all, and please understand that many persons do think more carefully, of all situations in Western cultures.

  41. I googled for “chinese crap” and this site came up as #1. :-)Interesting entry. I think that blaming China alone for global warming or overfishing is being a bit too political. But yes, the Chinese are known for exporting low-quality products, in the same way the Japanese are known for exporting high-quality products.See my recent article on these power strips which could be a fire hazard due to poor construction:Chinese power strip so poorly made it’s risiblehttp://www.theinquirer.net/?article=30671Regards from down under,Fernando

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