What we can do about Tibet, your closet clutter, your unemployed neighbor, and Global Warming

Certainly, the situation described in Anne Applebaum’s recent article in the Washington Post rings true, but what can we do, here sitting in America, to effect change in Tibet?

Yes, we can protest in front of the Chinese embassy, and we should do that. But what if you don’t happen to live in DC?

We can do a lot to help Tibet. China depends on it’s trade with the United States, and Walmart is a the primary vehicle that trade with China uses to get to USA.

From a report at EPI:

Last year, the retail giant Wal-Mart imported $26.7 billion of Chinese goods into the United States. The cost of those goods to Americans went far beyond the sticker prices, however. Wal-Mart’s reliance on Chinese goods cost the United States over 308,000 jobs in 2006 – or about 77 jobs for every Wal-Mart store in the United States.

Wal-Mart was responsible for 9.3 percent of. U.S. China imports…

So a very simple action–boycotting Walmart–would quickly turn into an issue inside China. Just don’t buy all those Chinese bicycles/DVD’s etc, etc. Pretty soon Walmart will stop buying from China. China needs markets more than they need an empire. (Just ask Russia about that.)

It would be easy–all that the US public has to do is decide to confront wrongdoing, by not buying stuff from Walmart. It would also be good to do without so much stuff, that we really don’t need, do we? It would do something good for the planet, too.

Just do it.

(note: some edits, including link to EPI study were added 30 March 2008)

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What we can do about Tibet, your closet clutter, your unemployed neighbor, and Global Warming

8 thoughts on “What we can do about Tibet, your closet clutter, your unemployed neighbor, and Global Warming

  1. Simon says:

    No, it’s not that simple. Every retailer in the USA gets its things from China, not just Walmart. And to be honest, China has us over a barrel– they are the creditors for a big chunk of our national debt. If we piss them off too much, they dump our dollars, and our recession right now becomes a depression, really, really nasty.

    Tibet deserves our sympathy, but it’s best managed through increased engagement, not self-defeating measures like this.

    Besides, we in the USA have our own issues with this kind of thing. Hawaii is basically an occupied country itself– the Hawaiians were never asked whether they wanted to be conquered and annexed by USA sugar merchants, but it happened nonetheless. Same with e.g. California and Texas, land taken from Latinos (then actually part of Mexico) and now again reaching a Latino majority.

    I think we need to encourage China to treat the Tibetans fairly and respect their culture. But we’re dreaming if we think that we ourselves have clean hands on this.

  2. No, it’s not that simple. Every retailer in the USA gets its things from China, not just Walmart.

    Yes, but Walmart has the critical mass to be an inviting target, because it does such a large volume of business that it would get hurt if it suffered a sudden downturn, and it could negotiate deals with factories in other countries, if it came to that. In any case, I am not suggesting that we just buy our Chinese stuff from another store; just that Walmart would be the focus.

    And to be honest, China has us over a barrel– they are the creditors for a big chunk of our national debt. If we piss them off too much, they dump our dollars, and our recession right now becomes a depression, really, really nasty.

    Hmmm… doubtful, in that they would hurt themselves more, if they sold all at once. In any case, having some of those things that are right now made in China made in USA would help our economy.

    I think we need to encourage China to treat the Tibetans fairly and respect their culture.

    I totally agree, but asking China nicely won’t move anything. Make them chose between their empire or their markets. I bet the choice will be easy.

    But we’re dreaming if we think that we ourselves have clean hands on this.

    It is obvious the USA, as a country, doesn’t have clean hands, which is exactly why it is essential to start a movement that has a large popular base that can take on an important issue like this.

  3. fangzhou says:

    “Large popular base” : yes, very good. Achievable through spreading the word.

    But you cannot alienate the Chinese people too much. That’s why I was pointing out in a recent post that a clear distinction should be made between the Chinese people and the Chinese regime. Otherwise, the propagandists in Beijing have all the hammer words to strike a the “sentiments of the Chinese people”. I just read today a spokesman of Chinese Foreign Affairs saying : “Every reasonable person should avoid provoking the hostility of a quarter of Earth’s population.”

    Now that’s pure threat and manipulation that has to be countered. The focus has to stop being China. The focus needs to be on the thugs ruling China. Tibetans outside China’s borders should apply this as well. The ennemy is the regime.

    If they fail to do this, the Communist Party will play this as an ethnic conflict, which it is not.

  4. I agree, it is very important to separate citizen from state in this matter. One of the most troubling aspects of this situation is the rhetoric being used to reinforce a fragile nationalism here in China. The graphic, recurring depiction of crimes against Han Chinese in Lhasa and the lack of any discussion of Tibetan grievances goes nowhere in addressing the underlying causes. Not to mention a blatant smear campaign and misinformation against the “Dalai Clique.” That stems from the government, not the people.
    But, as in the U.S., China needs its citizens to have a more proactive voice to balance out the government line. Both governments PR machines are perfectly capable of dialing the notches of national sentiment, and that is dangerous.
    http://milesfromhome.wordpress.com

  5. Too Simple, too naive says:

    What a wonderful idea! Are you sure you are not working for K-mart or Target?

    Similar to the USSR and U.S relationship during the Cold War, both China and U.S have economical “nuclear weapons”. U.S buys goods from China and China buys U.S bonds. If U.S stops buying goods from China, China will dump the U.S debts. The outcome is lose-lose. Just like a nuclear war will destroy the world, a trade war between China and U.S will destroy global economy.

    By the way, do you know how the profit from Chinese goods sold in U.S is divided? Take a pair of $30 sneaker for example, factories in China only make a $3 profit. The rest of profit goes to U.S companies like Nike and Wal-Mart. Made-in-USA sounds good but will you buy the same pair of sneaker for $130? You might be rich but most of us are not.

    Glad you are not running the country for us…

  6. U.S buys goods from China and China buys U.S bonds. If U.S stops buying goods from China, China will dump the U.S debts.

    Oh really? I think they would sooner relent and give Tibet the autonomy it deserves. Would they really want to cause their economy to collapse, and thereby lose any legitimacy they have with the Chinese people.

    The Chinese people have had enough of a very bad government, that is not accountable to anyone.

    It’s time for a change. If Poland, East Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, and many South American countries have all kicked out their despots, why can’t China?

    Doesn’t a civilization such as China deserve a first class government?

  7. Well this process has started in any case; we just need to do what is right, and boycott firms that do business with the current Chinese regime, as it appears they will be boycotted by the Chinese anyway. To what extent are these boycotts being helped by the present Chinese regime? Smells like astroturf:

    From the New York Times:

    BEIJING — Armed with her laptop and her indignation, Zhu Xiaomeng sits in her dorm room here, stoking a popular backlash against Western support for Tibet that has unnerved foreign investors and Western diplomats and, increasingly, the ruling Communist Party.

    Over the last week, Ms. Zhu and her classmates have been channeling anger over anti-China protests during the tumultuous Olympic torch relay into a boycott campaign against French companies, blamed for their country’s support of pro-Tibetan agitators. Some have also called for a boycott against American chains like McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

    On Friday and Saturday, protesters gathered in front of a half-dozen outlets of the French retailer Carrefour, including a demonstration in the central city of Wuhan that reportedly drew several thousand people, according to Agence France-Presse. On Saturday, about 50 demonstrators carrying banners held a brief rally at the French Embassy here before the police shooed them away.

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