Food Fight With China

It seems that China has decided on the "No, you suck!" defense in response to increasing concerns about tainted and poisonous food stocks and consumer products. The emerging giant is chafing at its newly earned reputation as a shipper of bad stuff, after Chinese "protein" providers admitted to lacing feed stock with petrochemical byproducts that were blamed for killing many U.S. pets ,and raised concerns about human-grade meat from animals raised on Chinese feed meal. As if that weren't bad enough, word came out that some Chinese toothpaste and health products contain the same chemical as antifreeze.

China's first response? What's the big deal? Its latest response? Dissing American raisins and health supplements.

Economic reforms aside, this is par for the course for totalitarian governments accustomed to telling people what they should think; they tend to view truth as a commodity to be traded according to this week's policy goals. I have no idea about the relative merit of China's complaints about our killer raisins, and whether or not they contain too much sulfur dioxide (a preservative) or bacteria (ubiquitous), but it sure looks like the usual saber-rattling that occurs between countries when trust in trade products breaks down.

Of course, poison protein meal isn't the only hot-button issue troubling U.S. consumers and legislators about China. There's a persistent cry that China "manipulates" its currency to the detriment of U.S. business. This also sounds like sour-grapes pandering from elected officials looking for a scapegoat for outsourcing and the decimation of American manufacturing and R&D facilities. Meanwhile, giants as varied as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) , Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) , Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) , Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) , GM (NYSE: GM  ) , and Ford (NYSE: F  ) race to set up operations around the world.

The problem is that this isn't just an issue of cheap. It's an issue of culture and opportunity. Corporate giants aren't just chasing cheaper costs -- they're chasing brainpower, expanding markets, and local cultural expertise that can help them compete in foreign locales.

Global trade is not a zero-sum game, despite what politicians on either side of hot-button issues would like constituents to believe. There's a lot more to be gained by playing nice together than there is by lobbing darts. Let's hope the grown-ups prevail in this latest spat.

At the time of publication, Seth Jayson owned shares of Intel, Home Depot, and Microsoft, which are all Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. See Seth's latest blog commentary here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (7)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

DocumentId: 529306, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 4/20/2014 12:38:47 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 2 days ago Sponsored by:
DOW 16,408.54 -16.31 -0.10%
S&P 500 1,864.85 2.54 0.14%
NASD 4,095.52 0.00 0.00%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

4/17/2014 4:00 PM
F $16.00 Down -0.07 -0.44%
Ford CAPS Rating: ****
GOOGL $543.34 Down -20.56 -3.65%
Google (A shares) CAPS Rating: ****
HD $77.09 Up +0.51 +0.67%
Home Depot CAPS Rating: ***
IBM $190.01 Down -6.39 -3.25%
International Busi… CAPS Rating: ****
INTC $27.04 Up +0.11 +0.41%
Intel CAPS Rating: ****
MSFT $40.01 Down -0.39 -0.97%
Microsoft CAPS Rating: ***

Advertisement