Using the Fear Factor to Hate China and Wal-Mart

Saturday, June 30, 2007
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The headline reads: “What to do when everything is Made in China?: A one-week attempt to avoid products from there meets with little success.” Of course this is a push on the part of the Buy American-Protectionist crowd to scare people away from China’s imported goods and thus support the move toward the regulation of trade with China.

The test here, according to the article, was for “patriotic” Americans to go shopping and buy goods not made in China. It failed not because of the small amount of goods they found that were made in the US, but because those goods that were made in America were not competitive in price vs their import alternatives. So the buyers immediately rejected them and moved on.

Before you think that this latest round of China-bashing is not a push for protectionist legislation, note that the tainted food issues are being used – on the part of government bureaucrats and special interest groups – to convince Americans that they must hate China, distrust its products, and thus reject what it imports. MSNBC runs this headline: “Tainted Chinese goods could lead to trade war.” The story, as one would expect, is breezy in its attitude toward plastic trinkets that can easily be returned to Wal-Mart, but it enforces the notion that food and toys (“the children” must be invoked, of course) are a whole different concern altogether. Two quotes:

“Quality is one thing, safety is a different matter, and if we continue to hear this drumbeat of safety (problems), that could clearly impact consumers’ perception of goods made in China,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in Chicago.

“The Chinese better take heed and crack down hard (on faulty goods) now or they will be faced with anti-Chinese trade legislation soon,” said Andrew Busch, global foreign-exchange strategist with BMO Capital Markets in Chicago..

Those who are obsessed with the US trade deficit and China’s stance on the yuan see this “China taint controversy” as the perfect opportunity to strike, and, as usual, they use “safety” as the driver to get the masses riled up enough to support their anti-trade, protectionist agenda. Invoking the notion of poisoned food and “the children” enhances the fear factor and serves the state’s parti pris. To be sure, anywhere that “China” is mentioned in the same breath as “trade,” a mention of the many evils of Wal-Mart can’t be too far behind. Wal-Mart’s crime is being a colossal retailer of low-priced Chinese-made goods that give Americans workable alternatives and save them money.

A group calling themselves is currently running an ad that essentially tells Mom and Pop America that they support terrorism when they shop at Wal-Mart. The ad states that “China ships weapons to the terrorists in Afghanistan,” the ad says. “Weapons the terrorists use to attack our troops. So before you shop at Wal-Mart, think about that. This July 4th, be a patriot.” See the ad for yourself.

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