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article imageOp-Ed: America is being made in China

By Larry Clifton     Nov 21, 2011 in Politics
China, the largest population in the world, has somehow combined the cheap labor of communism with adequate high-tech ingenuity to build a global industrial empire.
The Chinese are simultaneously replacing independent American manufacturers and the largest American union camps at an alarming rate.
Increasingly, it is state and local governments paving the way for an America Made in China in order to take advantage of China’s sweatshop labor. Roadblocks to any U.S. economic recovery in some cases take the form of contracts for complex U.S. bridges and roadways awarded by state governments to Chinese companies.
For 75 years California’s Oakland Bay Bridge stood as a testimony to American ingenuity, built with American materials by American companies using American workers until the 1989 Bay Area earthquake damaged and weakened the structure.
Now, much of the bridge is being rebuilt or renovated, including the addition of a new eastern span with a complex 525-foot tower that has Made in China stamped all over it.
California allowed two American companies overseeing the bridge renovation to subcontract the construction of the main steel components for the $7.2 billion project to state-owned Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Company in China. The massive steel sections were built in China and shipped to California aboard Chinese vessels.
While it’s understandable that Democratic lawmakers in California shunned American steel companies and union steel workers to save taxpayers’ money, the problem is growing worse each year. The Chinese are lending the U.S. government unsustainable debt at high interest rates while states like California indirectly award Chinese companies multi-billion dollar road and bridge projects to take advantage of what amounts to Chinese slave labor.
Americans are assembling the components and surfacing the roadways on the Oakland project.
California’s legislature has been dominated by Democratic Party for many years and Republican Arnold Swartzenegger was governor when the project was approved.
“They’ve produced a pretty impressive bridge for us,” Tony Anziano program manager at the California Department of Transportation told an AP reporter during a tour of the project. California got around hiring American union workers for the massive project by selling bonds because accepting federal funding would have required the state to buy American steel and utilize union workers which could have cost the state an additional $400 million.
“We believe this bridge is very important. When people see it, they will ask, 'Who built it?'” said Zhou Jichang, Chairman of state-owned Zhenhua and its parent company, China Communications Construction Co. “This will really raise our brand image.”
The company had never built a major bridge before California awarded it the multi-billion dollar contract. Zhenhua had previously manufactured cranes, mainly used in ports.
Chinese laborers like 55-year-old steel polisher Pan Zhongwang is a typical Zhenhua worker. Zhongwang often arrived at 7 a.m. and worked until 11 p.m. when the project was underway in China and lived in a work dorm. Zhongwang earned $12 per day, according to a New York Times interview.
A couple of weeks ago the 28th and final deck section for the Self-Anchored Suspension Span was installed in the Made-in-China East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
There are other harbingers of the coming “Made in China” America.
The new 30-foot-tall Martin Luther King memorial in Washington was created in China by a Chinese sculptor out of Chinese granite. Are there no talented African American sculptors in America worthy of such an honorable task?
The King memorial consists of 150 carved granite blocks weighing about 1600 tons that were shipped from Xiamen to Baltimore along with 10 Chinese stone masons to oversee the installation.
In New York City, Chinese companies have been contracted to make major repairs to the Alexander Hamilton Bridge that spans the Harlem River. The Chinese were also selected to build a train station near Yankee Stadium. The list goes on, including a Chinese contract to furnish the glass in the first 20 stories of the 1 World Trade Center. Imagine peering through Chinese glass at tender American history.
Unions spend a lot of time and money hating Republicans and conservatives and Wall Street hate socialism and its close cousin communism.
I get that.
The question is how are we going to compete with people who will work seven days a week from 7-to-11 for $12 a day?
It’s no longer a rhetorical question.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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