Is it possible for America to thrive without Chinese manufacturing?

Originally published at: Is it possible for America to thrive without Chinese manufacturing? | Boing Boing


I’ve always said that people should pay more attention to ASEAN. China is so twenty years ago.


My assumption is yes, but “thriving” doesn’t mean distributing 98% of our wealth to 10% of the population, which using China for manufacturing allows us to do


So the only way the US can compete in tech manufacturing is for the country to embrace socialism?

You would have to bring down the cost of living + make sure there’s enough educated workers to make the stuff which means super cheap or free higher education. Both Biden and Trump had that opportunity that could fit within their own political ideologies to make that easier but all Trump got is an hollow Foxconn building out in the middle of nowhere and Biden is receiving constant nonstop whining from small town/suburban Karens about the youth being indoctrinated or whatever the current panic about education the right wing is trying to play.

The way China had paid for this edge wasn’t exactly cheap for them either. Yes they pay higher taxes but only the folks in Beijing can set taxes. At the local level the provinces can only raise money through leases which makes the impending housing bubble a nightmare scenario. Combining that with the commute that force most people work along the coast (which put alot of stress on parents who have their kids to be raised by their grandparents just to be able to work) + the demographics of the country, you got a country that actually teetering on a knife’s edge no matter what Xi wants the international community to believe.


The component segment in the video deserves to be its own video just apart from the rest of the discussion since the manufacturing of integrated circuits and even just discrete transistors is a real important issue right now being that Taiwan has taken up almost all the production capacity in that field. It’s concerning too since any time Taiwan is hit by a major typhoon or flood there’s major supply shocks throughout the world. Putting all our silicon chip production into one small nation isn’t a smart move regardless of the geopolitics involved. It really hurts everyone when a natural disaster can disrupt production for weeks or months at a time.

Plus, there’s also a hidden discussion in the video that the channel doesn’t cover: transportation subsidies. And I don’t mean tax breaks or duty-free treaties that lower the cost of imports. I’m talking about the fact that the US Navy basically is the world’s ocean cop which without the price of all goods would go up considerably. There’s a reason why the US Navy patrols the South China Sea and it’s not just to wave its ding dong at China. People don’t realize that without modern navies most open waters would be targets for piracy. It’s quite and interesting thing to imagine in the 21st century Black Beard hijacking a container ship full of iPhones. “Ar! There be the next gen iPhone there, mateys!”


Remove “tech manufacturing” and you would still be correct. For US citizens to be competitive on the global market, guardrails to capitalism (the thing we call “socialism”) is vital. Letting the top executives get away with “earning” 300 times what most employees get is not competing, it’s plundering from the top and demotivates. To be competitive, all those involved in the enterprise need to feel as if they are working together.


There’s an important discussion to be had about this, but I had to dump out of the video after he referred to a “substance farm”.

As the recent supply chain issues indicate, the West now relies upon a very fragile system for receiving its consumer goods, with several critical points of failure. Things will only get more brittle as the climate emergency continues to impose new constraints on manufacturing and shipping. In this, as in other areas, the post-war economic party is coming to an end. And yet most Americans still think the era of cheap and plenty and carelessness will go on forever.


The subject of this article and the subject of the video are somewhat different. The subject of the video is really “what will costs be if we move manufacturing back to the US” while the article is really “can we move manufacturing out of China so that we stop funding their authoritarian government”.

We could certainly move manufacturing back to the US, but that would require major changes as is noted in the video. We could also move manufacturing out of China and into another low cost country, preferably one that isn’t authoritarian and where this would improve the quality of life for the people living there. Again this would be a massive undertaking, with no guarantee of success.

If you’ve ever read about the relationship between the Chinese government and the manufacturers, such as Foxconn, you know that the government bends over backwards to provide everything that those manufacturers require: people, factories, etc. There really aren’t any other low-cost countries who can do that at the scale required.


Yup, shift production to India. A country far less authoritarian and more compliant with international law and trade conventions.


I dunno. I think the problem lies in the fact that we need to manufacture more junk to keep the economy afloat rather than our ability to keep phones affordable. I have a 5 yr old iPhone and it’s just fine for what it’s for, which I’m guessing it’s true for most folks in US.


It’s the logical next place. However, I wonder how keen Indians will be on opening yet another sector of their economy to cheap-labour industry that mainly benefits people halfway around the world.


Is there any part of their economy which isn’t doing that already?


The Indian government has certainly been pushing for manufacturing more consumer electronics in India for the home market. I don’t know how the Indian people feel about this.


The short answer to the question is yes. The only “strategic” items we get from that part of the world originate in Taiwan, not the Chinese mainland. Everything else can be replaced by someone else with a little supply chain discomfort. There are a lot of chip fabs being built in the US as well so our dependence on Taiwan wont be for to much longer.


The analysis of the phone component prices glossed over a big factor: The components are all made in China these days, so their price is also much lower than it would be if they were made in the USA. Why do you think those parts are made in China, after all? I think the price of a phone would triple if it were manufactured domestically of domestically produced components using domestically produced raw materials.
Can we blame the greedy capitalists who offshored all the labor and component manufacturing? Or do we have to blame ourselves for buying the lower-priced imports in the first place?


Yeah, the headline is making some large assumptions about how to define “America” and “thriving”.

compiled here:


One way or another we in the West are going to have to get used to paying prices closer to the true cost of these goods in the near future. I’m hoping this leads toward a push toward more durable and long-lived items as well as a more right-to-repair/DIY/Maker consumer culture.


Are all the components being made in China? I saw a more detailed breakdown that showed that a large percentage was being imported from other Asian countries (e.g. Vietnam, Malaysia). That breakdown was done several years ago, I’d like to see a more up to-date version.


We can blame both.

The group that really deserves no blame are the Chinese factory workers, they are living a pretty brutal life and are being explored by everybody.


One glaring component to the issue that the author of the video neglects is criminal intent on behalf of many Chinese manufacturers for decades.

Back in my father’s prime years, it was fairly common to hear complaints about crap Chinese manufactured products mostly because racism. These days, it’s because so many criminal manufacturers are consciously trying to foist junk onto international buyers, and little is done to crack down on that.

And don’t get me started on how surplus goods and expatriates from China are ruining economies around the world, like they’re currently doing in some areas of Africa.