by Peter Hessler published in The New Yorker
Read original on The New Yorker's website
Hessler's reports on the coronavirus pandemic whil...Show description
Posted 767 days ago
Since Hessler's first reporting on the coronavirus pandemic in March of 2020, titled Life on Lockdown in China, I have been fascinated by his writing. It's so different than how we have experienced the pandemic in America that I almost cannot fathom what it must have been like. I'm also impressed by his honesty and sincerity when showing these differences. He doesn't try to moralize or push on in any way, he simply says look at what I went through and look back on your own experience to find out what went well or what went wrong.
I have absolutely no problem with a strong China, on the contrary I love to see a country proclaiming itself as Socialist to propell itself as a leader on the world stage, but I do have issues with the loss of American manufacturing and the ridiculous choices of American consumerism. In the midst of a pandemic, when the American government issues a stimulus check, those things should be to buy American products, not to shop online for whatever is cheaper. I don't see this necessarily as the fault of the consumer, but the American government itself for allowing businesses to sell these products at times like this. The fact that Li knew when stimulus checks were coming out due to increased sales blows my mind. This makes me think of an article in The World Today with China looking to develop its own digital currency: China and Facebook race to be the first to fill e-wallets.
We could take a page out of this same book. I'm 100% with the stimulus checks, both because people literally need them and to abide by Keynesian economics to make sure we don't fall into a deeper recession. But giving people complete freedom to make silly purchases like this, that don't help America's economy, is aggrevating. I'm not against free trade, but I'm also not completely for it. There is a middle ground where the government, in the midst of a global pandemic and a terrifying depression on the brink of coming a reality, could make sure our own tax money goes where it needs to go.
The crazy thing is, is that I think most Americans agree with this. It's the American companies that try to build their profits by offshoreing crucial manufacturing and production capabilities. Take for example the woman who managed foreign trade that Hessler interviewed:
She said that U.S. clients had her sign contracts that prevented her from listing their names on her company’s Web site.“We can’t say publicly that we do business with this American company,” she said. “They don’t want people to know they’re getting this part from China.”
I think that a reason Trump was popular in this sense was that he was so blantant about this relationship. Obviously he is not the one to bring a cohesive arguement and plan to American government, but the sentiment that he tapped into for votes was a crucial one. I think Americans love to see China grow on the world stage, but not because we are being lazy. Although some of the entrepeneurs say that the tariffs are passed onto the consumer, maybe that's OK. Make it so expensive for the American consumer that they only purchase a Chinese product over an American one because the quality is better, or they like the brand, or whatever, not because it's cheaper. American products should be priced lower, and Chinese ones should have to beat it by a significant amount in quality-to-price ration before Americans consider purchasing it. Tariffs are a dangerous game, and they should not be employed to hurt China's growth, but rather to make sure America grows as well.