It’s past time to take a close look at our reliance on China, a country that routinely covers up real threats to its people and the whole world.
U.S. intelligence believes “China has concealed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak in its country,” now should mark a change in our approach to Sino-American relations, according to a recent Bloomberg News report.
And while some are using the crisis to push globalization, they fail to realize (or choose to ignore) that our dangerous reliance on foreign countries has been exposed.
In an article titled “Economic Nationalism will make COVID worse,” NeverTrumper Bill Kristol and his The Bulwark website push the narrative that the crisis showcases the need for more global cooperation and a free flow of goods and services.
They claim: “it would be deeply irresponsible to exploit this crisis to push for a dramatic shift in medical supply policy,” and that doing so would make it harder to treat the virus.
The Bulwark article also downplays China’s disastrous coverup and asserts: “now is not the time to antagonize Beijing.”
This, about a Communist regime that lied about the coronavirus from the very beginning, when transparency could have saved thousands of lives, millions of jobs, and trillions of dollars.
Their deference to China makes even Bernie Sanders look hawkish.
Spain purchased test kits from a Chinese company. They only correctly identified 30 percent of virus cases. In the Netherlands, a 600,000 face masks recall due to the low quality of the China-made products. With over 110,000 cases and more than 13,000 deaths, Italy is experiencing severe shortages of essential medical supplies and equipment.
Why should the United States – the world’s only superpower – follow these trends?
A study by the Department of Commerce revealed 97 percent of antibiotics in the United States come from China and 80 percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients needed to produce drugs.
A 2019 report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission notes: “China is the world’s largest producer of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The United States is heavily dependent on drugs that are either sourced from China or include APIs sourced from China. This is especially true for generic drugs, which comprise most prescriptions filled in the United States. Drug companies are not required to list the API country of origin on their product labels; therefore, U.S. consumers may be unknowingly accepting risks associated with drugs originating from China.”
“The way this could spill over is simple and terrifying,” explains David Dayen.
“For decades, world leaders have allowed multinationals to chase lower labor costs, thereby centralizing production and fixing supply lines. We’re now seeing the tragic fragility associated with that decision. Chinese disruptions don’t just hit Chinese manufacturing, they hit everyone’s.”
In addition to leaving us more vulnerable at times like these, our China deference has also left our nation poorer in peacetime.
Between 2001 and 2018 the U.S. lost 3.7 million jobs due to the growth of the U.S. trade deficit with China according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute. Surging imports of steel, aluminum, and other products from China threaten hundreds of thousands more American jobs.
So how do we bring millions of jobs back to the United States, secure ourselves from foreign threats, and create a self-sufficient medical supply while keeping drug and medical supply prices reasonable for the average American consumer?
Steps are already being taken to increase domestic production with President Donald Trump announcing an upcoming executive order which will insist on American-made medical supplies and pharmaceuticals.
Senator Tom Cotton and Congressman Mike Gallagher have introduced a bill which would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to create a registry of all drugs and corresponding APIs that are produced outside the United States, require that all federally qualified health facilities purchase pharmaceutical products that have no APIs produced in China, have all drug companies list the APIs and their countries of origin on the labels of imported and domestically produced finished drug products, and provide incentives for manufacturing in America.
To address the costs of moving away from China, the Trump administration and Congress should consider giving grants to pharmaceutical companies willing to commit to building domestic production facilities. They should also give tax breaks to manufacturers and new medical buildings and equipment should be singled out for further reductions.
This would help lower the overall startup cost of drug manufacturing, enable the private sector to expand, stabilize the U.S. economy, and would be a major investment in our long-term capacity and self-reliance from China and other countries.
Some analysts are advocating for adjacent territories and nations such as Puerto Rico and Mexico to be incentivized and given the task of becoming the central location for U.S. drug manufacturing. This would allow us to invest economically in these countries which in the long term would help us to lessen our reliance on just China for pharmaceutical and medical supplies.
Mexico has enormous growth potential and its location makes it an attractive investment destination. Although it brings with it risks in the form of corruption and organized crime, it could also help secure our southern border as Mexico advances economically and gives its citizens better-living conditions, and therefore less reason to cross illegally into the United States.
At any rate, as we look at the global pandemic happening it should awaken us to our dangerous reliance on other countries, and we have been afforded an opportunity to change this that we must take.
It is long past time to develop a plan to end China’s dominance of critical pharmaceutical supplies, their leverage over our economy, bring back domestic manufacturing, and with it our jobs and our security.