Should we boycott goods that are made in China?

The answer is a resounding No. Brad DeLong has a wonderful post about why that line of thinking is irrational, self-defeating and bad for everybody. Not bad — terrible. His article focuses on products made in India, but with every sentence — every word — I kept thinking about China. Read it and see why.

The Discussion: 19 Comments

One thing about boycotts is that there are easy ways to get around them, one well known one is to ship the components half assembled to another country and then complete the assembly there, France did this a lot with British beef, they imported live cows from Britain slaughtered them and then sold them as French beef, particularly in the case of veal. The US and Britain also do this with auto parts, they ship the engines in from places like Mexico (they have this HUGE VW engine plant) and then assemble them to sell as American or British made.

If you were to boycott Chinese products, then they would simply export the parts to indonesia or Mexico and then assemble them there to be sold as Indonesian or Mexican goods.

September 29, 2004 @ 2:11 am | Comment

well…don’t know how can anyone can boycott made in China goods
since over 60% of everything in every stores are labled MIChina, in some extreme case some $stores (where you can buy anything in the store for a buck) are like 99% MIChina. For me I just don’t buy dressed shoes MIchina.

September 29, 2004 @ 8:17 am | Comment

We can’t and we shouldn’t. The last thing we want to see is the progress made in China (and India and elsewhere) destroyed because we mistakenly believe boycotting them is patriotic.

September 29, 2004 @ 8:27 am | Comment

Boycotts are a blunt instrument, they hurt consumers and they hurt manufacturers.

If by some remarcable measure you could boycott Chinese goods and you did manage to hamper China’s economy, all you would be doing would be to push people in China, or India, or even Mexico, back to the land. You would destory decades of progress and because democracy, or at least personal freedoms go hand in hand with economic and social development, you would possible push either country towards a less fair society.

Boycotting Chinese goods would lead to forced returns to the land, a decline in economic and social reforms, and possibly even a return to the 1970s style of leadership.

It would also push consumer prices up, no more walmart DVD players for $40 or sportsware for $5. Say hi instead to increased prices, job losses in the retail sector and retaliatory measures in the WTO.

If we want to imporve the situation in a country we should open up to it and not shut it out.

Free trrade, an end to sbsadies and assistance becomeing a market economy will drag freedom rights and maybe even descentralisation of power (eventually) up with the economy.

There are no rich, developed dictatorships in the world any more.

September 29, 2004 @ 9:27 pm | Comment

There are no rich, developed dictatorships in the world any more.

Well, I guess Singapore comes closest to meeting that definition. Otherwise, I agree with everything you say in your comment.

September 29, 2004 @ 9:31 pm | Comment

Richard, chile:

All grown-up yo’ are, at last!

One less MI-China – or Cambodia, or Laos – product purchased, one less job, however low the pay.

One Cambodian woman was quoted in a story that, if the factory she was working in was closed – during an `uproar’ about sweat shops – she would be forced back into prostitution.

IN a low-paying job, she still has some dignity….

September 29, 2004 @ 11:33 pm | Comment

Asia by Blog

Asia by Blog is a twice weekly feature, posted on Monday and Thursday, providing links to Asian blogs and their views on the news in this fascinating region. Please send me an email if you would like to be notified of new editions. Previous editions ca…

September 30, 2004 @ 1:16 am | Comment

Richard, I disagree. It’s a benevolent dictatorship!

Boycotting Made in China or India goods looks like a good idea from a distance, but if you live in these countries and see how few options they have, the reality is boycotts really only hurt the factory worker, not the governments who condone sweatshops. The pull of cheap manufacturing and lower prices will always win out.

September 30, 2004 @ 1:20 am | Comment

Economics 101: Trade is Good For You.

It’s a matter of rational self-interest, really. Boycott MIC goods, and you’ll have a trade war on your hands. China’s foreign currency reserves are largely in American dollars. While they can by no means ‘win’ a trade war (whatever that means), they can make America hurt every bit as bad as they do.

Even failing this, the American economy is very much linked to the Chinese one. If the Chinese economy goes kaput, Wall Street is sure to follow.

October 4, 2004 @ 11:37 pm | Comment

Simon’s E. Asia Briefing: 2004-10-27

The following is a digest of highlights from the past month’s Asia by Blog series over at The round-up has four key areas of focus: China, Taiwan & Hong Kong (Politics, Economy & lifestyle, History sport & culture, Information), Korea…

October 26, 2004 @ 7:08 pm | Comment

If it doesn’t work, get a new one. That’s the attitude of today’s society. It’s cheaper to replace than to repair, so as for us poor ex-technicians that work in a factory, well, we’ll always work in a factory, building cheap crap for the rich ’til the day we get outsourced. America has lost its pride. It’s too late for a boycott, we’re already greased up for a poundin’.

February 4, 2005 @ 7:16 pm | Comment

We are boycotting all busineeses doing business with or in China because it contributes to the rape, torture, murder, and genocide of innocent children, women and men. That’s more important than profits.

February 28, 2005 @ 11:47 am | Comment

The beautiful thing about money, is that you have a choice to “vote” with your dollars. Everyone has the right, if not responsibility, to be an informed consumer. The simple equation for me, as a consumer, and somebody who has done business in China, is that the government and the private sector are all too cozy together, so all profits are going directly to the state, and the state is gearing up to practice hegemony on a grand scale. Before the century is out, this power will make US and other recent empires look like the minor leagues. My “vote” is to support Honduran, and Mexican, and Indian and Brazilian, and European and American labor where I can, in order to maintain a balance of power that everyone’s grandchildren can hopefully live in a world that maintains personal freedoms as superior to those of the collective state.

May 16, 2005 @ 9:41 pm | Comment

All this talk about “progress” in Communist China possibly being reversed by a boycott is nonsense. China is a brutal, expansionist, repressive dictatorship which considers the USA its number one enemy(and is preparing for a war that it plans to win against us). The profits it enjoys are channelled directly to the advancement of an agressive, repressive, murderous military, not to the freedom of the Chinese people. Witness Bill Gates cooperating with the Chinese government; the people won’t be the beneficiaries–the government will. We are giving them the rope with which they will hang us(to paraphrase); I encourage buying from the USA–or anyone other than China or Iran(and a small number of others). It’s way past time that we wake up and take responsibility; I don’t care how many Walmart DVD players and cheap toys we have to send back.

June 27, 2005 @ 7:50 pm | Comment

There are many reasons to boycott China and the reasons can be adopted to different types of people. 1) if you wear tied dye T-shirts and often find yourself at protests you don’t know anything about – boycott China because it occupies Tibet; 2) if you had some college or know and do read some newspapers (mostly arts and entertainment) but you are still dumber than your friends, there is a somewhat more sophisticated reaons to boycott – boycott China because they torture, enslave and murder (I am sure that happened) workers who make the products. 3) If you are a flag waiving, pork grinds eating american from the “heartland” – boycott China because they take away good american jobs in favor of those fucking gooks; 4) if you are an economist – boycott China so raise the yun to the appropriate level, thereby increasing the interest rates in China, thereby limiting the supply of loans from China to the US, thereby correcting out interest rates (which must be done), ending the real estate bubble and increasing US export sector growth (most of this painful, but must be done); 5) if you are a wanna be politician and run for and won some useless junior class vice-presidential election of your high school – boycott China in order to facilitate their involvement in nuclear disarment negotiations with North Korea, discourage them from taking claims on land and natural resources in Central Asia and Japan or to thwart technological innovation in the Chinese army (since clearly US and China will have to go to war because of something stupid like Taiwan or some oil field in the South China sea); and finally 5) if you are just a racist – boycott China because you don’t want the world of blond and blue eyed stallions turning into ugly, short, slanty eyed, small dicked, dark nation of half-wits with no imagination, no inventions of their own, copycats who thrive on genius of others and most importantly appear to not have a soul (they probably don’t notice it, but others do).
Well, I think that is sufficient. If there something I forgot, please add. I would be interested to read it

November 25, 2005 @ 10:11 am | Comment

Would it kill you to quit being arrogant and get the idea that we have fucked up our economy by our self’s. We have gotten to goody goody to stop helping others. We are the US “the best place to live” well this would be true originally but since we have a diet that amounts to more than our treasury and that we have been ferreting away our cash to help and support other countries.

February 15, 2006 @ 10:23 am | Comment


I agree with you. I am a worker in an exporting factory from China, and personally, what I do with my wages after I get out from work is spend it on genocide, atrocities, and the like. I take my wages and say to myself, “Oh great, another paycheck! How best can I spend this to obstruct human rights?”

This isn’t just me, either. All of the hard-working factory workers in China think like this. Just because we are poor by American standards doesn’t mean we don’t know how to have a little fun! And by ‘fun,’ I mean “rape, torture, murder, and genocide of innocent children, women and men.”

So I have to agree with you. Boycott us. Because the people who will be hurt the most by a boycott, the lower class Chinese factory worker who works 14 hours a day, is a godless, genocidal, raping, torturing, murdering machine, and doesn’t deserve enough money to put food on the table for his family.

May 16, 2006 @ 6:49 pm | Comment

why any body want to boycott made in china you would not hurt the leading party only the little workers and only stop the party from making concession as there been doing now for many years, Eventual the old guys will disapear and new young blood will replace them with a much more healty and money making attitute.

May 17, 2006 @ 2:28 am | Comment

why any body want to boycott made in china you would not hurt the leading party only the little workers and only stop the party from making concession as there been doing now for many years, Eventual the old guys will disapear and new young blood will replace them with a much more healty and money making attitute.

May 17, 2006 @ 2:31 am | Comment

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