Book Review: Death by China: Confronting the Dragon

There has been nothing more cowardly in my lifetime than the American government's dysfunctional response to the economic imperialism of China. The Chinese have shown a unique political sophistication in co-opting the elites of big corporate America with crony business deals; and politically pacifying Congress with a willingness to fund their deficit spending. But with the common man's concern rising, two accomplished academics, Peter Navarro and Greg Autry, have just published Death By China, a muckraker's call to confront the dangers of America's dance with the Chinese dragon in the 21st century.

The first chapter of the book is a grim expose on the dangers of Chinese food exports. The reader is taken for a stroll down the modern aisles of America's supermarkets, where Chinese imports increasingly dominate display shelves. Perhaps some nice seafood grown in the raging chemical stew of the Yangtze's river would be an attractive offering for your family tonight. Don't worry about the fish and shrimp dying from the world's most bacteria-infested waters; the Chinese simply pour massive amounts of banned antibiotics in the water to prevent that nasty discoloration of diseases. The same quality control mentality often holds for China's market share dominance in such staples as white meat chicken, apple juice, garlic, canned pears, honey and a myriad of other basic foods.

Feeling a little woozy after considering how much mercury and other poisons you have already accumulated in your body from eating these imported treats, you learn that Chinese communist drug makers now produce 70% of the world's penicillin, 50% of its aspirin, and 33% of its Tylenol you may have ingested. The Dragon's drug makers have also captured much of the world market in antibiotics, enzymes, primary amino acids, and vitamins. China has even cornered the world market for vitamin C -- with 90% of market share. Oh, by the way, China now plays a dominant role in the production of vitamins A, B12, and E, besides many of the raw ingredients that go into multivitamins.

As the authors report:

These statistics should disturb all of us for one simple reason: Far too much of what China is flooding our grocery stores and drug emporia with is pure poison. That's why Chinese foods and drugs always rank #1 of those flagged down at the border or recalled by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority.

Having captured the reader with sufficient "yuck factor," the book moves on to illuminate the Dragon's art of using "Weapons of Job Destruction" to eviscerate manufacturing employment here in the United States. Unlike most talented economists who love to anesthetize the reader with complicated formulas based on obscure logic and theories, Professors Navarro and Autry specifically illuminate how the Chinese bureaucracy systematically targets industries supporting middle class wages in America for conquest and transfer to China. The growth of these targeted industries is sponsored by government intervention through access to cheap wages, unlimited low-cost loans, an undervalued currency, and an absolute lack of any environmental consideration. If these concessions are still not compelling enough for transfer to China, the Dragon can provide an endless stream of prison labor at subsistence cost to close the deal.

The book details how the Chinese Communist Party seeks to achieve economic imperialism through its "eight pillars": 1. An elaborate web of illegal export subsidies; 2. A cleverly manipulated and grossly undervalued currency; 3. The blatant counterfeiting, piracy, and outright theft of America's intellectual property treasures; 4. Engaging in massive environmental damage; 5. Ultra-lax worker health and safety standards; 6. Unlawful import tariffs and quotas; 7. Predatory pricing and practices to push foreign rivals out of key resource markets and then gouge consumers with monopoly pricing; and 8. "Great Walls of Protectionism" -- to keep all foreign competitors from setting up shop in China.

Having defined that most of the challenges America faces in competing in the "Dragon's Century" are self-inflicted, Navarro and Autry outline a clear and achievable path for America to tame the Dragon's onslaught. This highly entertaining book serves as not only a riotous call to arms, but a roadmap for Americans to re-claim the 21st century as their own.