Steven Ivory: China Knows What Size You Wear

TikTok logo – American flag

*Some in Washington want to ban TikTok on grounds that the app, birthed in China, gives its creators undue access to the personal data of American users. Congress fears this data ultimately finds its way to the Chinese government.

As if China doesn’t already know plenty about us.

Sometimes, espionage isn’t necessary. You can learn a lot about a country, its people, and its culture simply by paying attention. As a Big Box store for the entire planet, it’s the business of China to know its market, and America is its most voracious customer.

When examining what the U.S. buys from China, it’s easier to ask what don’t we get from the place. Electronics, clothes, furniture, various machine and automotive parts, teas, spices, and some canned foods make up the billions of dollars we pay annually to China for goods.

The kooky truth: “Made in China” is American as apple pie. Those three words ceased being merely a phrase forever ago; they’re now a logo for our wants and needs.

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Made in China bar code
Made in China

When I was a child, “Made in China” was stamped on the bottom of so many toys Santa Claus bought us that I believed the North Pole was in China. In time I’d learn that Santa is a myth.  Santa’s “workshop,” however, is real, and it’s located in China.

How’s this for America’s dysfunction: China nears the top of our arch-enemy list, yet our society thrives and depends on goods made in that country. And we owe them about a trillion bucks in loans.

We import so much from China (and Japan and Mexico) that “Made in America” often seems little more than a hokey selling point. The concept of “America First” sounds mighty patriotic, but when your megaphone is manufactured in the People’s Republic, the cry rings hollow.

I should acknowledge that there are facets of American industry that benefit from our massive import of Chinese goods. In 2019 a Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco survey reported that more than 50 percent of what we pay for things “made in China” actually goes to U.S. companies.

China map with cardboard boxes and airplane
China map with cardboard boxes and airplane

According to the study, while a product might be assembled in China, its design and parts often come from the U.S. The idea is that the cheap cost of making the product in China allows for higher retail mark-ups stateside, the profits of which go to U.S. companies and workers. Or something like that.

In any case, when you consider how long America has financially patronized China, our government’s current bluster against the country looks, at the very least, disingenuous.

In March, members of Congress interrogated TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew regarding the app’s possible covert gathering of user data. Chew retorted that TikTok has invested some $1.5 billion in protocols to safeguard U.S. user data. I’d bet money in Vegas that most of the politicians doing the ranting were wearing something made in China. A month earlier, unbeknownst to them, a Chinese reconnaissance balloon casually toured U.S. airspace.

President Biden ordered it shot down, but by then China already had my shirt size. It’s got your number, too. Based on what we consume, China knows our habits, what we like and don’t like, our varied interests. It’s business is you. I’m not a huge online shopper—I can count on one hand what I’ve purchased via the web—but most of those things, including a hideous short-sleeved button-down Hawaiian number I didn’t order, were made in China.

By the way, if Congress bans TikTok in America, folks will lose their minds. For a portion of its estimated 150 million U.S. users, TikTok is their crack.

Via Depositphotos

You needn’t subscribe to TikTok; TikTok will find you. Almost daily somebody forwards me a video, or I end up going down the rabbit hole viewing TikTok clips found on other social media.

Deny TikTokers the ability to post videos of their dancing pets, their make-up tips, and comic bits; disturbing episodes of random violence, crazy pranks in malls, ridiculous national challenges and vocal performances, the insane public “Karen” meltdowns, adventures of animals, both domestic and wild, and a multitude of booty dances (the world has never seen such a jubilee of bootydom, enormous, heaving backsides, each pulsating cheek with a life of its own), and there’ll be rioting in the streets—the protests posted or beamed in real-time, on TikTok.

But without TikTok, users also wouldn’t have access to some very tangible political views, social/cultural clarion calls, and important daily news.

I’m no fan of the government of China. It’s a merciless, wicked dictatorship that controls its citizens with a heartless fist. But as a nation, we’ve been deep in this for a long time now.

Sad to say, but at this point, like any other self-respecting dysfunctional American, when I buy stuff online that ends up coming from China, I just want them to get my order right.

Steven Ivory
Steven Ivory

Steven Ivory, veteran journalist, essayist, and author, writes about popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio, TV and the Internet. Respond to him via STEVRIVORY@AOL.COM

The post Like it or not, ‘Made in China’ is American as apple pie: Steven Ivory: China Knows What Size You Wear appeared first on EURweb.