Anyone who is even remotely concerned about lead in toys and clothing, counterfeit medicine, and countless recalls (over 60%) of "Made in China" products should pick up a copy of this book.
Based on the title, The Coming China Wars: Where They Will Be Fought and How They Can Be Won, I have to confess that I was expecting a rather dry, economic and political statistical analysis-type of book that I would have to slog through; however, quite the opposite was true. I found this book a riveting read from the start, particularly the first half of the book which dealt with such topics as the "China Price", counterfeiting, "Made in China" labels, and environmental pollution of China's air and water resources.
Peter Navarro, a Harvard educated business professor at the University of California-Irvine, uses catchy chapter headings and quotes from periodicals as diverse as Automotive News, Financial Times, Asian Chemical News, and the Sydney Morning Herald, upon which he builds the substance of each chapter. Navarro also uses numerous examples to illustrate each point as well, which helps Westerners understand Chinese entrepreneur and manufacturing mentality.
In Chapter 2, China's Counterfeit Economy and Not-So-Swashbuckling Pirates, Navarro points out that under communist rule, everything belonged to everyone so Chinese entrepreneurs truly do not believe that they are stealing anyone's ideas at all.
In Chapter 3, Made in China - The Ultimate Warning Label, Navarro explains how the Chinese manufacturing process goes south very quickly, where cutting corners and using inferior or substitute materials to increase profits at the expense of human (and animal) health and safety becomes the norm--as the recent incidents involving the substitutions of toxic melamine to pet food and the date rape drug to a popular children's toy, Aqua Dots so unfortunately illustrate.
Navarro calls the manufacturing climate a "poison-for-profit" culture. He also states that many of these Chinese entrepreneurs are lacking a "moral compass". While this may seem arrogant or even preposterous to western thinking, one must remember that China was until recently a "Godless" country where religion was not allowed. In that framework, Navarro's statements are not so far-fetched.
The Coming China Wars is a fast, fascinating, and enjoyable, if not paranoia-inducing read, that as silly as it seems, had me racing around the house checking the country of origin labels on everything I had bought recently. Suddenly, it was as if the words China and Toxic were intrinsically linked in my brain. That's not to say it's always true or that the thought hadn't been lodged in my sub-conscience for some time already, but it was now firmly planted at the forefront of my thinking.
While some might find Peter Navarro's writing in this revised and expanded edition of The Coming China Wars a bit alarmist in nature and at times, even lacking in factual evidence to back up his statements (Navarro in his Acknowledgements section does credit his discussions with Chinese students that he has taught in his business school classes as a source of information), this book is just the wake-up call we need.
The Coming China Wars: Where They Will Be Fought and How They Can Be Won
FT Press; Rev Exp edition (May 4, 2008)
$15.99US; 0-13- 235982-0