This week, the U.S. slapped 25 percent duties on another $16 billion of imports from China. With that, $50 billion of Chinese goods now face the stiff tariff.
The categories of imported Chinese products hit with the import tax –279 in just the latest round – run the gambit from arcane to prosaic, including chemicals, plastics, semiconductors, motorbikes and electric scooters.
This is a good time to review the catalogue of mislabeled, counterfeit, dumped and stolen goods that arrive on our shores from the Middle Kingdom.
China regularly transships its goods through other countries such as Vietnam or Malaysia, falsely claiming they originated in that third country, to avoid paying import taxes.
After China was slapped with a fine for dumping shrimp in the U.S. at below market prices, ICE and Customs and Border Protection intercepted “Indonesian” shrimp that originated in China.
Chinese honey hit the trifecta of trade cheating – mislabeling, transhipment and dumping all in one product. After the feds determined honey from China was being sold below fair market value, Homeland Security seized tons of the suspect sweetener that had been deliberately mislabeled as coming from Vietnam. Chinese “honey” has been found to contain lead and banned antibiotics, not to mention artificial sweeteners and corn syrup.
Mislabeled imports can be hazardous to your health – even your life.
Chinese companies have been indicted for mislabeling dietary supplements that contain ingredients that cause heart attacks and strokes.
Then there are lithium ion batteries which, as Samsung learned the hard way, can burst into flame.
The FAA reported at least a dozen incidents of batteries exploding on airplanes just in the first four months on 2017.
China, coincidentally, is the world’s largest producer of lithium ion batteries. Rather than comply with safety regulations for shipping this hazardous cargo, China chooses to mislabel and transship.
The cargo manifest of UPS Flight 6, a cargo plane that crashed in 2010, listed several large, undeclared lithium ion batteries that originated in China. Chinese manufacturers regularly transship batteries through Hong Kong to evade regulations.
The perils of buying products made in China hit closer to home.
Who can forget Chinese drywall, an import so infamous it earned its own website. Imported drywall caused nosebleeds, headaches, sinus infections and asthma attacks and corroded wiring, plumbing and appliances after being installed in thousands of American homes.
The problem can also be in your backyard – literally. China is moving in on the synthetic turf (aka astroturf) market, shipping tons of substandard merchandise to the U.S. At least one homeowner found her cheap Chinese fake grass was falling apart, flaking off and rubbing off on her dogs’ feet soon after it was installed.
Speaking of dogs, that’s what is commonly (mis)labeled as rabbit fur on gloves, hats and other garments made in China. The reality of China’s fur trade will turn your stomach.
These horror stories are just part of the China Buffet of Fraud served up daily, a menu that includes sky-high tariffs 10 times higher than ours.
For theft of trade secrets, witness Zhang Xiaolang, the Apple engineer arrested by the FBI with plans for driverless cars as he boarded a plane bound for China.
And American companies that end up being robbed blind by Chinese joint ventures, as in the case of Fellowes, the paper shredder manufacturer whose Chinese “partner” took over their factory, stole their equipment and started producing knock-off replicas on its own.
And don’t forget the deliberate overproduction of steel and aluminum that China dumps in the U.S. below the cost of production.
After reviewing the record, there is no question President Trump’s tariffs are long overdue.
A reasonable person would be forgiven for asking a more fundamental question: Why do we do business at all with a crowd like this?