When China produced televisions for less than manufacturers in developed countries, Wal-mart was there to act as the agent between China and the US consumer and consumers weren't complaining. In fact, they saved so much buying a Chinese television that they could afford to pay more off on their mortgages or their credit cards - but they didn't. No, they went out and bought another television and we all know where that mindset led them.
And let's not forget the hole in the ozone layer, global warming and the energy crisis. There's a cloud of pollution generated from the factories in Shandong Province that leaves China at knockoff time and rolls out over the China Sea, across Japan and continues towards the east coast of the US. Not only is China polluting the US with the plastic wrap enclosing its exports, but it is sending the chemical pollutants from its factories! Talk about weapons of mass destruction. We weren't, but I wonder how longer before China is accused of creating this gaseous ball by design rather than by accident.
There is great concern as the price of fuel steadily rises at the petrol pump. When this is not caused by manipulations by the OPEC countries, it is the fault of China who must consume increasing amounts of fuel to support its factories and the cars that are gradually replacing the bicycles on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai as its people succumb to the temptations of the capitalist ideology that the West sold them.
We, the developed countries, are not responsible. Our manufacturing industries have been terminally ill for many years as all possible production is moved off-shore to cheaper alternatives but this is not our fault. What survives at home are only those items that are produced through technology that China doesn't yet have or are so bulky that the cost of freighting the item from China diminishes any financial gain.
Our governments lost interest in promoting our manufacturing industry decades ago. While industries in developing countries were being subsidised to help establish them in the market place, manufacturing in developed countries was being weakened by more taxes and less tariffs.
Thirty odd years ago, our family business in Australia lost a long held contract to produce plastic cutlery for an Australian icon. The tender went to company in Taiwan that would produce the goods for the cost of the raw material alone. So who was paying the wages, factory overheads and providing the profits? This became a trend and, consequently, it soon became strategic for business in developed countries to join forces with the rising stars.
Where once 'Made in China' labels were rejected by discerning shoppers as indicators of inferior products, the joint ventures with China by some of the largest and most respected band names in the world have now given credibility to Chinese products. The quality of products has not changed simply because the company has relocated its factory floor to another country.
Even Scania, one of the world's leading manufacturers of trucks and heavy transport, has maintained an operation in China since 1965 and boasts over 2,000 of their vehicles on China's roads. In 1996, Scania started production of buses in China in partnership with Shandong Bus Corp Ltd. In 2007. Scania collaborated with another bus manufacturer to further its bus production in China, which includes school bus. As well as the local Chinese market, Scania has provided buses produced by the Chinese in Chinese factories to Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Great Britain and Australia. But, in each of these joint ventures, Scania has negotiated to maintain management control to ensure the vehicles continue to meet world class standards in performance and reduced carbon emissions.
The only thing that has changed is that the factory floor of established businesses, such as Scania, has been moved to China. So, the developed countries no longer produce the greenhouse gases that are said to cause global warming and rising seas; China is the culprit. China is responsible for most the world's manufacturing so China should ensure it makes sacrifices and a commitment to cut carbon emissions. This is like arguing that Japan should clean up any residual radioactivity from the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It's the businesses in developed countries that are using China as the world's factory; surely they should be held accountable for the environmental ramifications caused by their manufacturing, no matter where their factories are located.
Of course, many of these companies have accepted responsibility and met this challenge, including Scania, but the rhetoric continues to blame China and wants to make it liable for the environmental woes.
If China's rise as an economic power is threatening the leadership status of some developed countries and if its role as the factory for large businesses is threatening the environment and supply of energy resources then there may well be a predicament. However, the solution to these concerns lies amongst the decision-makers and leaders of the developed countries for whom China provides a manufacturing service. China doesn't have the problem unless the developed countries decide to resolve these threats with a military solution.