Discussions of the challenges that China’s economy poses to the United States tend to center on issues such as currency devaluation, market access, and cyber-espionage. No doubt these all matter, but just a few pages into Jeremy Haft’s new book, Unmade in China: The Hidden Truth about China’s Economic Miracle (Polity, 2015), will leave every American thinking that China’s real threat is to his or her kitchen pantry. Haft, CEO of SafeSource Trading and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, has written a terrific new book that turns many of our conventional understandings of China’s economy on their collective heads and introduces in graphic detail the real economic issue Xi and Obama should be discussing in their bilateral dialogue: the safety of China’s supply chain, particularly in the food and drug industries.
According to Haft, we don’t need to be worried that China’s economy will surpass that of the United States, that everything on our shelves is “Made in China,” or that China’s currency manipulation is killing American jobs—these are myths born of misunderstanding and misuse of data. Instead, as Haft amply demonstrates, Americans should be worried about the poison in the everyday medicines they consume, the fish they eat, and the pesticides used on the apples in their children’s apple juice. Even when products say “Made in America,” critical elements or processes may be sourced from China, rendering the label worthless from a safety perspective.
I had the opportunity to interview Jeremy and he provides the quick and dirty lowdown in the following podcast. But for anyone with a deep interest in China—or just a desire to figure out how to ensure that what you are putting into your body isn’t contributing to hasten your demise—Unmade in China is a must read.