Boycott China Products

ed_roa's picture
There has been much talk about boycotting made in China products ever since the new super power has shown its ugly side when it laid preposterous claims to sovereignty on a group of islets and shoals in the Philippine territory in the South China Sea. The sabre rattling and the economic strictures covering Philippine imports and tourism have levelled up to what could be construed as bullying. There is much international concern over the developments in the South China Sea as it involves other ASEAN countries and that the waters in dispute are important sea lanes for even some of the super powers such as the US, Japan and other western countries who make use of it as the sea gate for their trade in the Far East.  
The idea of a boycott is effective because it goes directly to the heart of China’s strength, the power of their exports which stems from their cheap production costs and their currency advantage that wreak havoc on import dependent countries.
Boycott is an attractive prospect because people can easily participate in it and have a “feel good” experience about it; almost similar to having joined a rally, a people power march (EDSA, OWS, etc). It can also be a “work at home” type of participation.
However, for it to be effective it has to reach a critical mass, a global critical mass. It is not enough that only the Philippines with a few third world countries engage in it but also other countries who are bankrupt and near demise, who can be easy prey to unjust aggression by a bully nation; countries whose economic woes may be traced to China’s economic hegemony.
China is a world problem; because of its currency advantage, cheap labour combined with an innate Chinese ruthless business acumen, it has cornered most of the large scale manufacturing requirements internationally to the chagrin of the businesses all over the world.
We cannot have a China that is so powerful; even as early as now they have shown a propensity to lay aside common propriety, respect for other sovereignties in their quest for world dominance. The world cannot have an unfettered dragon rampaging and laying waste those that are in their path towards global supremacy.
The Philippines is seen by China as a pesky tiresomeness that blocks them from pursuing their ultimate quest. There are natural resources in our land that are vital fuel to the engine of the Chinese industrial juggernaut and acquiring them through any means is paramount in their minds. They are resorting to a complete bullying act; apart from sabre rattling they are applying economic thumbscrews to lessen our resolve to resist.
One of the problems that we have to wrestle with is the dependence of most businesses and industries on China. Can our manufacturing, engineering, service industries, construction, retail survive with a China boycott? Even now I know of some sectors who are already complaining that the Chinese are making it difficult for them to source their requirements from China. Apparently they know that we need them more than they do us. What is the need for a boycott when they refuse to provide our industries their needs? Even if the Filipino consumer sector is successful in boycotting China products would our industries large and small be able sustain being resilient and as unrelenting to starve the evil dragon. 
Will the Chinese miss a quarter of a billion dollars (someone’s estimate of our China imports) a year?  The figure is much too small and can be easily shrugged off by the Chinese. Shouldn’t the boycott campaign include the rallying of Americans and other western countries that are near demise as a result of Chinese domination in manufacturing? All of these countries would have a beef against the Chinese for undermining their economies as a result of currency manipulation and dirt cheap labour costs.  Governments should support a boycott by the citizenry.
In the same spirit as the Occupy Wall Street Movement the China boycott movement should rally enough adherents who are militant enough to resolutely do a boycott of Chinese made products. In the US it could be an issue that a political candidate may want to champion and would have as audience the “99” Americans who have been oppressed and victimized the most by the downturn of the economy, a situation that could easily be linked to the Chinese economic hegemony.
What sacrifices are involved here for the countries joining the boycott? Surely there will be quite a few. For a China boycott to be effective it has to enjoin the business community to do their own form of boycott. Necessarily, their businesses will be affected as most of them have China as primary sourcing origin for raw materials, the merchandise to sell, the machinery and technology (big and small) required by manufacturing and the IT hardware and software that is indispensable to most businesses. They will either have to do without or buy more expensive alternatives.  
For the citizenry it would mean having to forego little luxuries and buying more expensively.
 At the homefront:
For us Filipinos, this may just be a middle “class” or middle income group sentiment; a mere 10+ percent of the population (they will be the ones who will have to weather the storm), the rest of the population cannot be expected to worry about this problem, the rich 1% may not even feel inconvenienced and the poor, they will use and they will eat whatever is cheap and available regardless of where they came from. As in most cases, the rich would be indifferent, the poor does not have a choice; only the middle class may be challenged.
Business and Industry; for sure profitability will be cut and some businesses would probably close shop, investments and industries will be at a standstill, entrepreneurial activity will momentarily freeze. China would have made the decision for them by refusing exports of raw materials and products for they know that economic squeeze play would bring the Philippine economy down and its government to its haunches.
Government move; this will be a test of political will, of being resolute, of being firm, of being a persuasive leadership, perhaps something akin to the special powers of a “martial law” to have people and institutions conform to national directives. It would be a time that cannot afford to brook any form of dissent or protestations to government moves which in the situation may be draconian at certain times.
From an international perspective:
Can it be an international move (how many countries would join?) Would ASEAN be sympathetic? Would the distraught nations in Europe go along with a boycott?
It is necessary that the US will be in on it; would it be easy for the citizenry convince their government to support their boycott this being an election year? Would Wall Street and big business be supportive of this; time for Wall Street and the Corporate world to make amends to the “99”.
Public Relations and propaganda; is it time to play up the yellow peril warning internationally, can the suffering of bankrupt nations be attributed largely to China’s currency manipulation and have China’s cheap labour as the source of economic ills, loss of jobs, dissipation of manufacturing capabilities from the suffering nations. The Americans are vaunted propagandists and with the help of their extensive media network (inclusive of the internet) convince enough of the nations in the world to join up in defence of a country’s well being, a threatened way of life against the creeping yellow tide.
A military move
Would America make use of the only existing dominant power left with them; military prowess of the US is still way ahead of China. This may be used to persuade China to be more acquiescent to the demands of the civilized world to quit its swaggering imperialist stance and stop the bullying of small defenceless sovereignties?
Can a mutual defence agreement amongst smaller nations be forged with the assistance of bigger and more powerful nations?
Will the Philippines be the first to be aggressed by the Chinese militarily? What will be the American response to this aggression?
Would China’s trade allies be military allies as well?
Sacrifices to be made
It is going to be a long protracted struggle and pinned on the hope that other countries will get involved to summon up a critical mass that will snowball into a worldwide movement that China cannot ignore.
There will be dire consequences. Shortness on just about everything for the people and shortfalls to those in business and industry.
How much suffering can populations bear and for how long?
Boycott is an attractive move but is easier said than done. It has to be of global proportions and not only from a handful of small wimp nations that China can ignore if it so chooses.