We hear and see a lot in the news these days about China and how it poses both an economic and a military threat to the United States. I feel like a lot of us tend to ignore these stories. After all, the United States has been the best dog in the world for over a hundred years, so why should things change. But remember that throughout human history, various empires have had their day, then either become minor nations or have disappeared. Nations like Babylon, Carthage, Egypt, Greece, Rome and most recently Britain.

Here in Chautauqua County, many of us will probably say: “How is China affecting Chautauqua County?” I really do not understand. Well, it does and here’s how.

Remember those jobs Chautauqua County doesn’t have? Well, many, but not all, have been to China and Chinese military-owned businesses. Every time we buy something that says “Made in China” we are in some cases looking for jobs that may have come to Chautauqua County or were lost by Chautauqua County. When we buy Chinese, we also help China buy another tank or missile destroyer.

Just as Germany and Japan were the elephants in the room in the 1930s, China is today. In the past, Americans, some of whom were raised in Pearl S. Buck’s books and the movies made from them, saw the Chinese as simple poor but industrious peasants whose lives were disrupted by warlords. marauding. Likewise, others have been impacted by AJ Cronin’s novel “Keys to the Kingdom” and the film based on it starring Gregory Peck where the Chinese, again, were simple peasants harassed by warlords but accepting the teachings of Christianity.

In the closing years of the 20th century, after China was recognized by the United States and began to enter the world economy, many Americans sensed that a new China was developing. As its economy eliminated communist central planning and began to operate in a more capitalistic fashion, many Americans felt it was only a matter of time before China would shed its communist totalitarian regime and become a fully-fledged democracy. functional.

During the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square, many of us held out hope that the Chinese were ready to overthrow communism, but the massacre that occurred and the crackdown that followed ended the hopes of many. .

Today, China announced its intention to replace the United States as the world’s leading superpower with the world’s most powerful economy by 2030. In 2022, China is the main supplier of all categories of American imports. We import 24% of our machinery and electricity imports from China, 8% textiles, 7% plastics and rubber, and 10% of our metal imports.

Many well-known American brands are made in China, including manufacturers of blenders, juicers, vacuum cleaners, laser printers, toys, gardening tools, combination locks, filing cabinets, safes and even tinfoil, artificial sweeteners for Diet Coke and Timex watches. The list goes on with 70% of the shoes we wear made in China and 72% of smartphones.

It’s just as bad when it comes to medical supplies and drugs. Ninety percent of our antibiotics are made in China or made with ingredients sourced from China. China is also the main source of generic drugs, provides 70% of the painkiller acetaminophen and is the main source of all types of medical devices.

America’s economy and citizens are indebted to China. Imagine what would happen if there was war and China had to cut our supplies of antibiotics, medical supplies and devices, and even shoes. We would be in a terrible position.

But it’s even worse. Every advanced weapon in the US arsenal depends on “Rare earth elements, 80% of which come from China. For example, each “The Virginia-class attack submarine requires 9,200 pounds of rare earth elements. Additionally, militarily important permanent magnets, silicon wafers for semiconductors, and specialty alloys are made almost exclusively in China.

China is able to compete with us because its industries are largely owned by the armed forces and they pay lower wages, have lower compliance standards for child labor, involuntary labor. and health and safety standards.

What is the United States doing to reduce our dependence on China? One of the positive lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it has highlighted how our dependence on China makes us vulnerable to Chinese efforts to overthrow our economy. In addition, China’s influence on the Pacific regions’ supply chain, highlighted earlier this year, is causing US industry and our military to rethink their source of goods and materials.

The U.S. military is now looking to invest $19 billion in projects to procure “The Next Generation” production capabilities for technologies related to robotics, computer program logic, and streamlined engineering and machining tools. The program includes not only the updating of facilities, but also the retention of the workforce.

There is a lot to do and we cannot delay because if we do, we are making ourselves more and more vulnerable to China. Imagine what would happen today if China took military action against Taiwan as it threatened. Could we move towards this aid to island democracies at the risk of a collapse of the Pacific supply chain by Chinese action coupled with the shutdown of antibiotics and other medical supplies as well as vital military assets? Currently, I don’t think so and that’s why we can’t waste time.

Thomas Kirkpatrick Sr. is a resident of Silver Creek. Send your comments to [email protected]

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