BOOK REVIEW: 'Death by China': China's 'Economic Miracle' Beggars Its Own Citizens, Threatens Environment, U.S. and World

Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
BOOK REVIEW: 'Death by China': China's 'Economic Miracle' Beggars Its Own Citizens, Threatens Environment, U.S. and World
What’s the definition of chutzpah? A boy who kills his parents and then begs the court for mercy -- because he’s an orphan

The People's Republic of China, as portrayed by Peter Navarro and Greg Autry in their pull-no-punches "Death by China: Confronting the Dragon -- A Global Call to Action" (Prentice Hall, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc., Saddle River, NJ, 300 pages, $25.99, notes, index) is not unlike that orphan boy as it yells "China basher"  at anyone who criticizes its neo-mercantilist, beggar-thy-neighbor economic policies. 

Navarro, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of California-Irvine, and Autry, the founder of several technology firms who has visited China many times and lectures on its tactics,  say that China --  the Communist country that acts like the capitalist Robber Barons of America a century or so ago --  is now the Number One danger facing America. Author (The Coming China Wars) and economist  Navarro exposes every form of "death by China"—from lethal products to espionage, imperialism, and nuclear proliferation through China's relentless attack on the U.S. economy.
Greg Autry
Greg Autry

Navarro and Autry write that: 
. China is attacking on every front, with every available weapon—from protectionism and currency manipulation to cyber attacks and espionage. Around the globe, China is also doing whatever it takes to capture crucial resources—even if it means promoting nuclear proliferation by the world’s most dangerous regimes. 
. Inside the United States, Americans are being injured or killed by the Dragon’s dangerous exports: poisoned food, spiked drugs, toxic toys. 
. Huge U.S. corporations have allied with China’s state-owned enterprises to destroy American manufacturing—and, ultimately and ironically, destroy themselves.
 . China's perverse form of capitalism combines illegal mercantilist and protectionist weapons to pick off American industries, job by job. China's emboldened military is racing towards head-on confrontation with the U.S. Meanwhile, America's executives, politicians, and even academics remain silent about the looming threat.  
. Thousands of Chinese cyber dissidents are being imprisoned in "Google Gulags." 
. Chinese hackers are escalating coordinated cyberattacks on U.S. defense and America's key businesses.
. China's undervalued currency is damaging the U.S., Europe, and the global recovery.
. How the media -- including such superstars as Tom Friedman and Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, James Fallows of The Atlantic Monthly,  and Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria -- distorts the China story. Included in "Death by China" is a  "Hall of Shame" of America's worst China apologists.
Peter Navarro
Peter Navarro

The advice  from the authors to seek out and buy American manufactured products  is frustrating to an American who wants to buy domestically produced products. When was the last time you saw an American-made computer or printer  or digital camera -- or anything?  

Take Apple, for instance. I have three Apple computers, a Mac mini, a 2007 iMac and a MacbookPro laptop. Apple is based in Cupertino, CA, in the heart of Silicon Valley, but Apples aren't manufactured in Santa Clara County: They're "designed by Apple in California and assembled in China" according to wording on the bottom of my laptop. My Mac mini is hooked up to a flat screen TV, providing me with a beautiful large view...Where is the RCA TV made: You guessed it, China. And where did I buy it? Walmart, of course, which is in effect a wholly controlled subsidiary of Red China Inc.
  The authors talk about shoddy products from China -- and there are plenty to choose from as the weekly product recall stories posted on this site amply demonstrate -- but my experience has been that most Chinese products are well made and dependable. You'll get my Macintoshes from me only by prying them from  my cold, dead fingers!

That said, "Chinese Copy" is a hoary part of our vocabulary. The latest mind-boggling,  example  to come my way is the Aug. 1, 2011 headline and story from USA Today: 

China takes knock-offs to a new level, copying entire stores

By Calum MacLeod, USA TODAY

BEIJING — In millenniums past, China developed the compass, gunpowder and papermaking, among multiple inventions that have shaped world history. In recent years, it has grown infamous as counterfeit central, from fake films to bootleg bags, and from Disney characters to DuPont chemicals.

Now some business people here are copying not just the products of hot Western brands, but the entire store, too. In the southwest China city of Kunming, officials found five Apple stores last month, including one near flawless "branch," yet none were authorized by the U.S. electronics company. Another fake Apple store operates in Chongqin City, the China Daily newspaper reported.

A photo exposé posted by an American expatriate blogger in Kunming recently became a global Internet sensation and prompted the government's own belated inspection. For those in the front-line fight against China's pirates, these bad apples taste all too familiar.

"You get everything from McDonald's and Starbucks lookalikes to whole hotels copied," says Chris Bailey, a China-based executive at intellectual property consultancy firm Rouse. "It's pretty normal, not just the look and decoration but … fake certificates too, and good enough to fool people," he says. And why so brazen? "The penalties don't outweigh the benefits."

Last week, an entrepreneur in the southern city of Zhongshan faced trial for running an Abercrombie & Fitch store, packed with fake merchandise, reported theZhongshan Daily newspaper. The U.S. clothing company has yet to open a China store. China's market remains chaotic and counterfeiters still reap large profits, says Beijing intellectual property lawyer Han Fei.

"The government must educate the public to buy less fakes, improve overall moral quality, and revise the laws to raise fines," he says.

China is well-known for counterfeiting. For decades, it has exported knock-offs of high-end designer bags such as Fendi, Louis Vuitton and Coach, as well as fake Rolex and Omega watches and cigarette brands such as Marlboro. Pirated DVDs of American films can be bought on streets and the Web. Even fake collectible U.S. coins are minted.

But with China's economic rise, there been a boost in demand for Western brands. Snoopy and the Playboy bunny logo are often stitched onto clothing. If consumers can't find or afford KFC or McDonald's, lookalikes include KMC and MKC, while several coffee chains mimic Starbucks' logo.

Plants in China's southern provinces near Hong Kong have been caught producing imitation Windows software, Duracell batteries, Chanel fragrances and even Viagra.

A major obstacle is China's shanzhai culture, whereby some Chinese delight in making cheap imitations, sometimes in parody, of expensive, famous brands. At its most innocent, shanzhai celebrates the Chinese office worker who last month surprised colleagues by turning up in his homemade Iron Man suit.

More seriously, fake Chinese products, such as food and medications, threaten consumers.

"There is too much tolerance of the shanzhai," says Paul Ranjard, a lawyer at Beijing's Wanhuida, a law firm and intellectual property agency. "It's infringement, but there is an ambiguous attitude" in Chinese society and its courtrooms, he says.

Even at Apple's flagship Beijing store, one of only four nationwide, there appears some grudging respect for the Kunming copycat.

"We were surprised, and had to laugh, as it looks just like our store, but I hope it is shut down soon," salesman Ge Heng says.
* * * From Apple Central in Cupertino, nothing but silence. What can you say when companies like GE, run by Jeffrey Immelt, and Westinghouse Electric, CEO Jack Allen, not only outsource precious American jobs to China (Chapter 6: Death by American Corporate Turncoat) they turn over intellectual property -- more than 75,000 documents in the case of Westinghouse as part of a joint-venture nuclear reactor deal.
  The authors say that Westinghouse is operating under "wishful fission thinking" by giving away their proprietary trade information to Red China. In my July 29, 2011 review of Joseph Nye's "The Future of Power" (link: -- Nye is widely studied in China and other countries for his insights on "soft power." --  I wrote about the imminent departure of GE Healthcare's X-ray global headquarters from the greater Milwaukee area to Beijing, China   "as it seeks to tap China and other emerging markets."
  Why Immelt can't tap these markets from the U.S., with a branch office in Beijing, is beyond me -- and Navarro and Autry, who say companies moving their manufacturing to China are, to get Biblical, selling their birthright for a mess of pottage.   The General Electric Co. unit is the first business of the industrial and financial giant to relocate to China, according to the news release, but you can safely bet that it won't be the last.

Of course, the irony of it is that 54-year-old Immelt is a key adviser to President Obama, serving on his job creation board! How could I make stuff like this up?!! In my review I asked rhetorically  if Immelt could be the real, present-day "Manchurian Candidate." I'll go further: Immelt and Allen, along with the guy who heads the company below, Caterpillar, should be tried for treason!

Immelt and Allen are not alone: Navarro and Autry cite the example (Pages 84-85) of an American Icon, Peoria, IL-based Caterpillar, which has closed five plants in Illinois, Indiana, and Georgia, laying off more than 2,400 well-paid employees. Where is the heavy-equipment giant building new plants: You guessed it, China. "From a single sales office in Beijing," the authors quote Jiming Zhu, vice president of Caterpillar, "to our cross-country footprint of today -- which includes eleven manufacturing facilities, three research and development centers, nine offices and two logistics and parts centers."  Good for China! Bad for the U.S. where Navarro and Autry add that Caterpillar last January announced it will eliminate 20,000 positions. 

OK, I've discovered the name of the  genius who's running Caterpillar, but first, how about this blog by Greg Hengler where the CEO of Caterpillar  -- the same dude who's exporting tens of thousands of American jobs -- gives President Obama an "F" on job creation:
"The CEO of Caterpillar, Doug Oberhelman, was on CNBC's "Squawk Box" and was asked to grade President Obama on a scale of 1-10 on business friendliness. The answer? Oberhelman gave Obama a 5 or 6. The nation is still mired in crisis level unemployment numbers, and the CEO of one of our nation's biggest manufacturers gave America's CEO--President Obama--a 5 or 6!"
In the end -- which may be nearer than we think -- it's not China "bashing" if it's true. Navarro and Autry  offer a complete plan for surviving the global power shift China has already engineered—and halting the Dragon’s onslaught before it’s too late. But I'm pessimistic: I think it's too late. The picture in "Death by China"  -- with the  world's most populous nation and soon-to-be largest economy   rapidly turning into the planet's most efficient assassin -- tells me we've gone beyond the point of no return.
 We're not alone, Germany, touted by many as a preserver of manufacturing jobs, outsources many of its iconic products, including BMW motorcycle components, to China and other lower paying countries. Chances are pretty good that your "German Engineered" VW is made in the same country as my Chrysler PT Cruiser: Mexico. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld would say!) But that's another book.


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