Gordon Chang writes in the National Interest:
“Walmart, which essentially forces suppliers to manufacture in China, told consumers to “save money, live better.” Yet how can they live better if store shelves are bare?”
This looks like the end of China’s central role in global supply chains. A microbe in China—and the response of a totalitarian government—is killing it.
Americans are angry. “I was on the phone with leaders from several hospitals in New York, and they told me that they had contracts with Chinese companies where they were waiting on things like plastic gloves, masks, all of this stuff where they were on the ships on their way to the U.S., and the Chinese government said ‘no, no, no, no, turn around, we need this stuff,’ ” said Maria Bartiromo on her Fox Business Network show “Mornings with Maria,” on the 19th of this month. “How is anybody going to trust China in terms of keeping up their end of the bargain again in business?”
The influential television anchor is voicing a concern heard throughout America these days. Peter Navarro, who appeared on her Fox News Channel show on the 23rd, provided more reasons for cutting links with Chinese suppliers. “China put export restrictions on those masks and then nationalized an American factory that produces them there,” said President Donald Trump’s director of trade and manufacturing policy, referring to N95 masks, used for protection against the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The coronavirus has exposed a critical vulnerability. Americans at the moment are short of N95s. And that is not the only type of mask they need. Factories in China cannot open for, among other reasons, lack of industrial masks, so Beijing has taken steps to keep these Chinese-produced items in country. “Industrial safety masks have been banned from export from China,” Jonathan Bass, the owner of Los Angeles-based PTM Images, told me last week.