A Year without Made in China
（美）萨拉·邦乔妮 Sara Bongiorni
CHAPTER FOUR Manufacturing Dissent 第四章 和而不同（四）
China hasn’t finished the job of dominating the world’s clothing sector. I pick my way through the racks and take notes of who is making what. The Made in USA label pops up regularly among the hangers, along with labels from Singapore, Turkey, and Mexico. I can’t decide if I should consider Made in Hong Kong items Chinese or not. I remember the British pulling out of the place a few years ago, but I’m not sure what happened after that. There are skirts and dresses from Taiwan, which is definitely not part of China, according to the Taiwanese, but most certainly is if you pose the question to the Chinese. There are racks of sweaters from the Northern Marianas Islands whose labels politely inform you that it is a United States territory.
Some labels are coy. The label on a skirt announces that it was “Assembled in USA,” but leaves me to guess where the fabric came from. Other labels give mixed signals about their origins. The label on a sweater says it was “Knit in Mongolia” and “Finished in China.” So where was the sweater made? What does made mean anyway?
Each time I see a label from some place other than China, I wonder whether the worker who stitched the label into place in the collar or the waistband has lost his or her job to Chinese competition in the intervening weeks or months since the garment left the factory. It’s a sad thought and, from what I understand from reading the papers lately, not an unreasonable one.
I peek at a heavy-set woman flipping through the racks a few feet from me. She’s swishing the hangers along the rack at a staccato pace and vigorously snapping gum as she inspects the merchandise. She looks like a no-nonsense sort, and I think I know what she would tell me if I were bold enough to tap her on the shoulder, beg her pardon, and ask her what she thinks of all these Chinese clothes, and whether it bodes well or poorly for our collective American future.
“Aren’t you worried about where it’s all headed?” I’d like to ask her. “Where do you think the Chinese will turn next—car production? Jet manufacturing? What will they leave for the rest of us? Do you ever worry that you’ll wake up one morning with a closet full of discount designer clothes and a hundred pairs of Chinese heels but no job, no future, no prospects?”
First she’d ease up on the gum. Then she’d look me up and down with the same cold-eyed discernment she’s now using on a rack of Donna Karan skirts, trying to decide if she should summon store security. She’d quickly realize I wasn’t dangerous and handle me without calling for backup.
“You worry too much,” she would say.
My inner devil’s advocate might offer a quick counterpoint. Maybe she worries too little.
I leave the store without buying a thing.
Some notes on the perils of a China boycott:
The junk drawer in the kitchen has been stuck shut for months. Kevin confesses that he bought a Chinese part to repair it and then lost the part before he had a chance to fix the drawer. Immediately, he regrets his candor.
“I guess I shouldn’t have told you that, since now you’ll be onto me if I pick up another Chinese part to try to fix it again,” he says dolefully.