Death by China
Enter the dragon
By Steven Martinovich
Having checked into the four decade club this summer, I am old enough to remember admonishments at different times by adults that I should learn German – because they were incapable of turning out low-grade goods and were hard workers – or Japanese for the very same reason. The thought was that the factory floors and corporate boardrooms of West Germany or Japan would propel either of those two nations to global pre-eminence economically and make North America their unhappy subsidiary. Ah, how times change.
The latest bête noire of course is China and she probably has the greatest chance to achieve what the others before fell short of. For unlike West Germany and Japan, China is apparently willing to do anything it takes to grab the crown. That is the contention of Peter Navarro and Greg Autry's compelling Death by China: Confronting the Dragon - A Global Call to Action, an effort which is in equal turns a polemic and exposé, accusing the Chinese communist government of nearly every crime a state is able to commit. Their essential charge is that the Chinese are flooding the world with cheap goods and using the proceeds to set the table for complete global domination.
Death by China is divided into five broad sections which detail a dizzying array of charges by Navarro and Autry. They argue, not without evidence, that China has cornered the market with low-end goods that sees them dominate the store shelves of the world. Although many attribute that to low cost labour, the authors charge that's not the only reason the Chinese have risen to become the second largest economy on the planet. Massive corruption, counterfeiting, an incredible web of illegal subsidies, currency manipulation and state-enabled plundering of foreign intellectual property also play a huge role.
Nor are China's weapons purely economic, they report. Although the Chinese communists consistently claim they are modernizing their military for purely defensive purposes, Navarro and Autry state that the weapons systems that are being invested in – from aircraft carriers to space-based weapons – are actually designed to project power around the planet. That power is already being felt, they argue, as the Chinese commandeer raw resources from around the world in exchange for loans, infrastructure development and military weaponry which actually serve to subordinate their beneficiaries. Africa is rapidly being colonized by the Chinese – literally and figuratively – with the apparent aim of taking it over from within.
China's rapaciousness, however, doesn't merely harm the rest of the planet. Death by China reports on the staggering environmental impact that the Chinese grow at all costs philosophy is having on the nation. Thousands of lakes and rivers are contaminated beyond anything ever seen in the West. Tens of millions of acres of land needed to grow food are so toxic that the food grown on it can kill – that of course is in addition to the actual state killings the Chinese are known for. The air is so bad that untold millions suffer from respiratory problems and the pollution is so noxious that nearly 700 million Chinese drink water contaminated with human and animal feces. It is an environmental holocaust so epic in scope that one could wonder why Western environmentalists haven't made China their priority – except we know exactly why.
All of this is possible, the authors argue, because of us. It is we who buy the cheap Chinese television or blender. It is we who willingly moved our factories and research and development facilities in exchange for the false lure of one billion new consumers. It is we who continue to spend more than we make and sell trillions in debt to China. Every dollar and euro sent to China is used as a weapon back at the West. Not only are we buying the rope we're using to hang ourselves, but we taught our presumptive executioner how to make it so that we could save a few pennies a foot.
While Death by China is a laudable effort, it is sometimes undone by the tone that Navarro and Autry take. Efforts like these need to either need to be coated with a righteous anger, such as a Christopher Hitchens essay that threatens to explode off the page like a small nuclear bomb, or be coldly dispassionate and through a overwhelming volume of facts allow the reader to do that emotional lifting. Navarro and Autry have reason for their palpable anger but Death by China is not the book to employ it. There are also other questionable aspects, such as their take-it-or-leave-it assertion that climate change is anthropogenic, but it is generally a strong effort.
Death by China includes a section optimistically labelled a "survival guide" which purports to help the reader resist growing Chinese communist domination of the world. After reading this book, however, it's difficult to see how this tyrannical government won't come to dominate the world. Yes, some experts claim that the Chinese are facing a demographic time bomb just like much of Asia which will neuter their economy. And yes, other nations have been tipped as the next big thing only to fall back to earth. The difference this time, however, may be the sheer scope of the Chinese operation. Where others were content to dominate a few industries and achieve greatness through specialization, the Chinese communist giant seems determined to drive every last competitor out of business.
At least we'll save money and live better until then.
Buy Death by China at Amazon.com for $17.15 in hardcover or $14.29 on Kindle
Steven Martinovich is the editor in chief of Enter Stage Right.