Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Coming China Wars by Peter Navarro

In his book, The Coming China Wars, Peter Navarro outlines the startling evidence of how China is becoming a world leader and the frightening side effects of their policies. This is an expanded and updated version of Navarro's findings. The book is broken into various areas of China's dominence or attempts to dominate with experts and scientific studies quoted to support the author's thesis. It would be a rare reader who wasn't concerned or even alarmed after reading the facts laid out by the author.

One of the first areas is familiar to all, the explosion of Chinese products on the American consumer market. Many even remember the recent scandals and recalls of items from pet food to toys. Yet, most don't stop to think of the implications of China winning market after market. Jobs are exported overseas, as manufacturers look for decreased costs of production. These costs are often achieved at the expense of horrific working conditions, little if any quality control, government disregard of counterfeited name brand products and little concern for environmental factors. That results in Chinese goods of inferior quality flooding markets. While many consumers are aware of fake brand name pocketbooks or watches and may see little reason to worry about them, the picture changes rapidly when the counterfeit goods happens to be the pharmacuticals that consumers count on to save lives or alleviate medical conditions. This was one of the topics I'd never heard of before reading this book that is truly frightening. Imagine relying on a medication to lower your cholestrol or diabetic condition, and after a tragedy, finding out that what you were taking wasn't the real product at all. Navarro mentions two areas that are particularly prone to these products. He speculates that small, locally owned pharmacies might be willing to buy products that are cheaper in order to compete with the large drugstore chain's discount purchases. He also points out that most of the medication purchased on Internet sites is in fact this adulterated medication.

Another side effect that is slowly becoming evident is the financial implications of purchasing such a large amount of Chinese goods. This results in large trade deficits for the American economy, pumping billions into the Chinese economy to fuel their projects. American jobs are being outsourced at an alarming rate. This cash drain has further implications. It leads to the need for the federal government to borrow vast amounts on the international financial markets. China then turns around and uses these dollars to buy up our debt. This scenario is being played out right now in the current financial straits that the country finds itself in. It leaves the country dependant on the whims of another country which can dry up the credit market at will, forcing policies to be initiated that are not in our best interest, or that diverts money from projects we need to do.

As a result of the lax industrial policies of China, the environment is suffering. Working conditions are horrific in Chinese factories, with many workers toiling away as little better than slave labor. Industrial accidents abound, and the victims are rarely compensated, just released from their job to make their way as best they can. Toxic ingredients are released into the air or water. China's rivers and water supply are so polluted that cancers and other illnesses are on a steep incline. Worse, China is becoming a major exporter of food products, spreading that exposure throughout the world. The need for large dams to provide the electricity needed is changing the natural rise and fall of rivers, diverting water and interrupting natural food chains. The toxic waste in the air results in large acid rain areas, both within China and in neighboring countries.

China seems to be on the rise in international matters. The country has an increasing need for energy, which translates into oil and natural gas. They have no qualms about exporting weapons and technology to smaller nations that could be terrorist nations in exchange for access to their natural resources. China also wants to corner supplies of various minerals. They come in and provide technology and infrastructure to small nations, which seems like a good relationship to the country that wants to modernize. But in return, the natural resources of the country are stripped and sent to China, draining the supplying nation of resources needed to become self-sufficient down the road.

There is also concern about China's military rise and future intentions. The large cash flows into the country fuel expansion of their military arsenal. Large stockpiles of missles, aircraft, nuclear submarines and other weapons is occurring. It is unclear what the intent of such a massive arms buildup is. There are various trouble spots that China is involved with that could trigger international warfare. Some of these include Taiwan, a conflict with India, the funding of Iran which might then attack Israel, a Russian conflict, or Korea. In addition, China has entered the space race, and seems to be making progress on this front also. Again, the secrecy that characterizes this country makes it difficult to discern their goals in this area.

The final chapter in the book outlines various steps that Navarro believes can stem some of the rising problems that China presents to the United States, and indeed, to the world. He provides items that consumers and governments can pursue in each of the areas outlined in the book.

I found this book compelling. It opens the curtain on issues that most Americans are unaware of, except in a dim recognition that more and more of what they buy seems to have a Made In China sticker on it. Even when noticed, most are unaware of the implications of allowing another country to have such a large cash drain from us, or that this cash then funds negative events in the environment, or military issues. The Coming China Wars is recommended for those readers concerned about the world and the realities that it is facing from a rising supernation.

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