By Letter to the Editor on September 18, 2020.
You reach a certain age. Then you hear a voice: “Life is too short to drink cheap wine. Buy the best: Ignore the price.”
I think that the conundrum Canada is facing with China began long before Meng Wanzhou and the two Michaels, the result of our obsession to get everything cheap. We are drowning in the sea of cheap stuff “Made in China.” Once I went through mentally every item I had on me. I found only one that was not from China: a pair of Stanfield’s. The decline of the West began with our desire to pay less for our clothes. Our insatiable craving for everything cheap made China rich and powerful.
China is now the world’s No. 2 economy. In 2020, China is the second-biggest foreign owner of U.S. Treasury Securities after Japan. The United States owes $1.07 trillion to China. It is, with Japan, one-third of the U.S. foreign debt. Meanwhile, China is investing heavily in Africa and other Asian countries, expanding its hegemony. It can be tough on Hong Kong’s democratic movement and ignores the ire of the West. The West makes noises but China doesn’t care. Our obsession to pay less for our clothes made China strong.
Japan was once seen as the country of cheap stuff. Decades ago, a friend went to Niagara Falls and bought a miniature totem poll. When she was back in Japan, she found it was “Made in Japan.” Then Japan was still poor and needed foreign currency. They were obliged to make cheap stuff to satisfy American buyers. Cheap stuff is not traditionally Japanese any more than it is Chinese.
Chinese people are proud of the quality in their traditional art. Their potteries to jewels are expensive and exquisite. I think it’s time for us to go back to emphasizing quality rather than price. In a long run, it will be cheaper because quality products last longer.
Tadashi (Tad) Mitsui