Thursday, May 21, 2020


As the world was getting settled into the system of almost everything being made in China, COVID-19 sends a wakeup. There can't be just one central hub for manufacturing, no matter how convenient or enriching. The ramifications of this are enormous economically and geopolitically. 

China has long sought a position of global influence more in line with being not only the largest nation by population but also being able to track its national story for millennia. As the world's one stop shop for almost everything manufactured they were looking at, soon, being able to assume that mantle. Economic power has been shifting toward China as the market for cheap consumer goods turned their capacity for production and lower labour cost into a siren call to western corporations eager to sell high volumes, repeatedly to consumers eager for the low cost and throw away convenience. China also offered a means of moving production away from, in particular, North American production facilities in favor of the lower cost, lower regulated Chinese environment. COVID-19 has exposed the problems with focusing too much reliance on one economy for the production of what would become essential supplies.

There is malice being expressed as a result of the emergence of COVID-19 out of mainland China, but it is at best uninformed, and, also, unfortunately, it comes as faux blaming for political cover, by the always faux, Trump Administration. The reality is its a system that is not workable, globally. The truth is we can't have manufacturing capacity all tied to one country, or region for that matter because some supplies can't be interrupted. 

Malicious or not, the necessary reduction of reliance on China for all things manufactured has the same effect on China. A reduction of its global power just as it was about to assume the mantle of a true global superpower. There is going to be frustration and true angst in the power lines in China as its economic outlook changes. How well it adjusts will depend on the ambitions of the leadership and the attitudes of the world around us. 

If we turn to an atmosphere of blame and politically convenient bashing, the capacity that exists can be quickly turned to arming a hostile cornered feeling China. The world, by necessity will be a different place as a result of COVID-19. What that difference looks like, is up to all of us to craft.

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