4 Reasons the U.S. Shouldn’t Over-Rely on China
February 2, 2024

The overreliance on Chinese goods and PPE presents significant concerns for the United States, and Congress should approach this issue with skepticism.

Here are four recent news trends that show why Americans should be cautious about over-relying on Chinese-made goods:

  1. National Security Implications: First and foremost, we should be building up a domestic manufacturing sector because relying disproportionately on imports from China is a threat to our national security. The House Homeland Security Committee and Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have raised concerns recently in a letter about security vulnerabilities in the U.S. maritime sector, particularly related to CCP cybersecurity and supply chain risks. When it comes to American medical manufacturing specifically, American PPE manufacturing will be vital for national security to ensure a stable supply of essential equipment during crises or conflicts so that we are not relying on impacted markets out of Asia, like we were at the onset of COVID-19 and faced supply shortages.
  2. Supply Chain Vulnerabilities: The U.S. is vulnerable to disruption and potential strategic trade interdictions by the Chinese Communist Party due to the concentration of production within China for certain critical global supply chains. With supply chains upended around the world and facing threats like climate change and violence in the Middle East, we can’t afford to be over-reliant on one shipping route for essential goods. This concentration leaves the United States and other countries at risk, especially in the case of essential products like PPE.
  3. Trade and Economic Risks: Tensions over trade, investment, and technology between the U.S. and China have contributed to the deterioration of relations. The deliberate design of China’s trade, industrial, and technology promotion policies to enhance the communist party’s hold at home and its global influence poses risks to the U.S. economy and trade relationships. One example of this can be seen in extremely low-priced PPE coming out of China, as discussed in this piece from NPR: “China started selling even cheaper gloves and is rapidly taking over the U.S. market. “Basically, they’re selling at what we believe to be an artificially low price,” says Izhaky. “It’s really hurting the whole global industry, other than the Chinese.” U.S. companies will be unable to compete because China is intentionally creating an uneven playing field.
  4. Ethical Implications: Whether they intend to or not, organizations relying heavily on imports from China may be seeing lower prices because of unethical practices like forced labor. Chinese companies in textiles and seafood processing have had their imports to the U.S. restricted because their goods are made with forced labor by Uyghur minorities. Bipartisan leaders urged the Biden administration to do more to crack down on the import of goods linked to forced labor and wrote a letteradvocating for increased enforcement. We can and should do better than relying on goods that are cheaper because of the human rights abuses that go into their manufacture.
In light of these reasons, Congress AND consumers should carefully consider the implications of the overreliance on Chinese goods and PPE. When we take measures to address these concerns, we not only safeguard national security, economic stability, and public health, but we invest in American jobs and a more robust and resilient economy.