Checking in from China

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steve clemons and mongolian singers performers 2.jpg
This is just a brief note checking in from China. I am currently in Beijing and heading to Wuxi City today.
The above picture was taken with some fantastic Mongolian Chinese singers and performers at a restaurant I loved.
As somewhat of an Asia hand, I am surprised at how much I have learned on this trip to China and how much I need to readjust some of my views of what China is doing to redirect its economy, environmental footprint, and strategic goals. More on that later. Need some more time to sort out what I have been absorbing.
But I must add that every Chinese leader I have met and with whom I have discussed economic issues knows that their job is to get folks employed and to create jobs. It’s an overwhelming focus of the government right now — and sadly, one just does not get that sense from American policymakers about American workers.
Increasingly, I am hearing rumblings that America is headed for a “GDP recovery” that is essentially jobless.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

23 comments on “Checking in from China

  1. Cynthia says:

    The defective Chinese drywall debacle has been making news for
    months now and the issues surrounding the defective Chinese
    drywall are confusing and worrisome. Here is a really good site that
    has been following the scandal with defective Chinese drywall since
    it began and continues to post informative articles on emerging
    news: www.chinese-drywall-answers.com

    Reply

  2. questions says:

    GET ME REWRITE!! Please read “mandated” for “namdated”. Thanks.

    Reply

  3. questions says:

    POA,
    American nut companies “added” as it were some extra bacteria to food (knowingly according to an article I saw today, I think it was), American dairy companies “add” some extra stuff to cows to alter milk production (remember that the FDA and science and scientists cannot distinguish between rBGH and the regular kind of BGH and so Congress has namdated that this caution be on the label of all non-rBGH labeled dairy products), and you can’t get much more American than Walmart — which subtracts price, but adds some labor issues.
    Instead of carping about “Chinese” building materials or toys or baby food, note that all companies have strong motivations to behave this way, many companies give in to the pressure, some don’t because their market doesn’t demand low low prices, some don’t because there are occasional inspections, some don’t because they factor in reputational issues. But, indeed, many utterly American companies give in to price/quality pressures.
    Maybe I’ll go make another YouTube playlist!!!
    http://wealsoran.com/music/uploaded_images/find-x-717492.jpg
    FOR FUN!!! Hope the link works!

    Reply

  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Let’s all hear it for sub-standard construction goods from China, and 1.3 billion people are laughing at us as we suckers buy this stuff at Home Depot instead of at a reputable place”
    It totally escapes me how you jackasses can take my statements as an indictment of 1.3 chinese people. But whatever, the accusation of “racism” seems to be the convenient bolt hole some of you like to scurry for when your chain gets yanked.

    Reply

  5. questions says:

    I’m working on the 1.3 billion people laughing at us issue. POA takes it seriously, Don Bacon’s view I can’t quite discern, though it looks more snarky than genuine. I can’t begin to see how it matters, but masculinity issues aren’t my thing.
    Manufacturing substandard goods is universal even when there is a strong governmental regulatory apparatus. The pressures of capitalism, publicly traded stock, dividend payouts, executive bonuses, low prices because of competition, monopsony because of a lack of competition (Walmart) — all of these conditions put pressure on individuals to cut corners, use cheap and toxic fillers. There’s no nationality issue here, there’s a systemic logic. If a company doesn’t engage in these practices, then it ends up at a pricing disadvantage. Read erichwwk’s post more carefully. He points to the structures that push individual behavior, and that’s where we should be looking. Same holds for Mexican labor in the US. There are structural pressures on individuals, and individuals respond with the best rationality they can muster. Sadly, individual rationality is not always in the individual’s best interest, as we are poor judges of our own best interests.

    Reply

  6. Don Bacon says:

    Let’s all hear it for sub-standard construction goods from China, and 1.3 billion people are laughing at us as we suckers buy this stuff at Home Depot instead of at a reputable place. Whatever. Big whoop. This is what makes America great. I’ll take egg roll with that. Let’s move on.

    Reply

  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Chinese goods, as it applies to the construction industry, suck. To say that is racist?
    Well, ok. Whatever floats your boat. But I gotta tell ya, if I’m a racist for lamenting the quality of Chinese hardware, than you’re an asshole for calling me one. Fair enough?
    When was the last time you heard of American sheetrock corroding copper piping? And, I must tell you, when I need quality plywoods that do not emit formaldahyde, I buy domestic. And, uh, care to tell me what American babyfood manufacturer is adding melamine to its products so that it gives a false reading for proteins?
    Yes, American manufacturers and corporations are not saints. But when one makes his living in the trades, we are increasingly dependent on stores like Home Depot if we want to bid competitively, and 99.9% of the goods in Home Depot are of Chinese manufacture. And garbage.
    Sorry if it makes me a “racist” to point this out.
    BTW, did you know I also am against illegal immigration? So I’m a bigot against Mexicans too eh? And I oppose frying Palestinians in white phosphorous, or shooting peaceful protesters in the head, so I’m obviously an anti-semite as well.
    And, I think Obama is a huge disappointment. Must mean I hate negroes, right?
    Did I leave anyone out?

    Reply

  8. erichwwk says:

    “Chinese hardware, almost without exception, is substandard ”
    “The problem is that it is becoming harder and harder to find hardware of a quality that is superior to the Chinese garbage”
    hmm….
    Could the problem be fraudulent American Housing, and the apparent contradiction reconciled by recognizing that ALL building inputs are “substandard” (re to ALL consumer products, NOT just housing products)because the weird financial incentives induce substandard housing re to other products?

    Reply

  9. Don Bacon says:

    POA,
    Railing against the Chinese people for all their dastardly deeds makes as much sense as railing against Americans in general for all the dangerous products and environmental hazards produced in the US of A. We don’t do that. We don’t talk of American manufacturers and American exporters, we speak specifically of Dow Chemical, for example.
    You’re a victim of US government propaganda. It’s the ultimate art of creating a diversion to prevent people from paying attention to all the toxic chemicals used right here in the USA by US corporations. Chemicals like sodium nitrite, for example, lead to the creation of extremely toxic cancer-causing chemicals in the human body, yet if you go to the grocery store and start checking ingredients labels, you’ll find that nearly every processed meat package in the store lists sodium nitrite as an ingredient (bacon, sausage, pepperoni, sandwich meat, hot dogs, bologna and even the chunks of ham in “Bean & Ham” soup). So where is the FDA’s urgent warning to Americans that they’re eating cancer-causing poisons in American food products?
    Give it up on the Chinese already. It smacks of racism. I may have to ask Steve to send you another note. 🙂

    Reply

  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Perhaps we should also blame our local grocery store chain for selling us dog food tainted with melamine, eh? I mean hey, how was the Chinese manufacturer ‘sposed to know melamine might just be poisonous if ingested? Makes more sense to blame the American retailer that had no idea the dog food contained melamine, doesn’t it?
    And hey, that melamine worked so well at killing American dogs, some Chinese babyfood manufacturer decided they’d try it out on American infants. Who do you wanna blame for that one, Don?

    Reply

  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Oh come on Don, how many poisonings will it take before you admit that it is unscrupulous businessmen on both sides that are responsible for this? Course, its always easier to offer the argument that I am attacking “the Chinese people”.
    Wise up, you’re smarter than that. Do you really think the Chinese exporters are not aware their plywood is poisonous? That’d be fairly amazing, seeing as how most countries have outlawed its importation because of its toxicity.

    Reply

  12. Don Bacon says:

    POA first wrote:
    Hey Steve, while you’re over there, ask ’em . . .Nice of them . . .maybe you could ask them . . .You realize they’re laughing at us, don’t you?
    And then POA wrote:
    Actually, its not the Chinese people that I dump on. . . . it is AMERICAN greed . . .
    And then back to Theme 1:
    the Chinese exporters. . .They know full well they are selling us shit.
    Yes it’s confusing, but what IS clear that while POA has a genuine beef against Home Depot and other outlets from which he buys substandard goods, he prefers to dump on the far-off Chinese and not the people he gives his money to. The Chinese aren’t selling him shit, Home Depot is, after all.
    The local sweet shop puts a rancid dish of ice cream in front of you — blame the cow!

    Reply

  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Actually, its not the Chinese people that I dump on. By all rights, it is AMERICAN greed that is allowing the importation of garbage goods into our construction industry. The problem is that it is becoming harder and harder to find hardware of a quality that is superior to the Chinese garbage. But I assure you, the problem is very real, and Chinese hardware, almost without exception, is substandard to a dangerous degree.
    And it is quite ridiculous stating that “I don’t think China is exporting low quality goods to USA intentionally”. We have known for years now that the majority of the Chinese plywoods emit toxic and dangerous levels of formaldahyde, yet virtually all the plywoods sold at outlets such as Home Depot are of chinese origin. And even if these plywoods were non-toxic, they are inaccurately dimensioned and of a very low quality, even if buying the supposedly higher quality grades. And the plywoods that are for cabinet use, with hardwood veneers, are often unable to take a stain because of the thin veneer that has allowed adhesive saturation. In layman’s terms, its shit. Garbage. To imply the Chinese exporters don’t know it is garbage is ridiculous. They know full well they are selling us shit.

    Reply

  14. Don Bacon says:

    I’m not a big consumer, but I love my new Dell Inspiron computer, made in China (and warranted) just like its predecessor that I wore out. Also my Giant street bicycle and my hiking duds — all quality stuff made in China. The importers who are bringing in low quality goods, from wherever, and they do exist, know exactly what they’re doing, or they should know.
    Quality control is a professional field with known standards and testing regimens for every type of product, and if importers don’t care about them then the onus is on them, not on the country of origin and all of its people. Let’s stop dumping on the Chinese people and move on.

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I don’t think China is exporting low quality goods to USA intentionally”
    Then you dobn’t work with Chinese goods on a daily basis. 99.9% percent of it, at least in the construction and hardware industry, is pure unadulterated low quality shit.

    Reply

  16. erichwwk says:

    ditto Andy. Since transportation is a lower percent of high valued goods than they are of low valued goods, the allegation that low quality goods are exported and high valued goods retained makes no sense as a LR repetitive tactic.
    I am glad Steve raised the issues of economic well being in terms of the metrics of jobs and GDP. I hope that US politicians are listening, as Obama has yet to articulate an economic vision that he understands the difference between creating wealth and creating well being, the difference between what Kenneth Boulding called “throughput” and the extent to which throughput was meaningful.
    I hope Steve comes back with a greater sense of government and the “why’s and what’s” of an economic system based on “whether it catches mice” rather than on dogma and ideology.

    Reply

  17. Andy says:

    I don’t think China is exporting low quality goods to USA intentionally. On the contrary, all the export factories produce higher quality goods and have strict regulations. And you know how expensive the US goods selling here? They are also paying low wages to our workers and selling the goods back to this workers in a much higher price. They have dominated the chemical commodity market and many other business area.
    PS: Hi, Steve. Welcome to China! I am the blogger who keep translatiing your blog into Chinese. What’s your plan in Shenzhen? If you gonna make a speech there, I will absolutely be your audience!

    Reply

  18. hidflect says:

    I like you Steve, I’ve been in Asia 20 years and am an “Asia hand” myself. I know it seems all cool and James Bond-ian but it is a dull, quiet job requiring decades. So… you ain’t no Asia hand!

    Reply

  19. josh says:

    Where’s your next stop? I’ll be in Chengdu Sunday…

    Reply

  20. Don Bacon says:

    Hey, Steve, also make sure you let all 1.3 billion Chinese know that we hold every last one of them responsible for the poor quality control of some of their drywall manufacturers. We’re not stupid and we know they’re laughing at us. At least some of us.
    But do tell them that we do appreciate them buying all those T-notes so we can live the good life, even though some of our big houses do smell a little odd.

    Reply

  21. David says:

    Great picture.
    Question: When is a recovery not a recovery? Intriguing to see who has to be helped in recovering, and who doesn’t, under the rules of modern economics.

    Reply

  22. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Hey Steve, while you’re over there, ask ’em if they shipped us poisonous and corrosive sheet rock on purpose, so that we could put an army of sheetrockers to work rebuilding the tens of thousands of new homes that are rendered uninhabitable.
    Nice of them to help us with our unemployment.
    Uh, but maybe you could ask them if they intend to pay the damages, and the health care for the families that have been poisoned?
    You realize they’re laughing at us, don’t you?

    Reply

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