December 8, 2023

Wikipedia says the phrase “Chinese junk” refers to wooden Chinese ships dating back to 300 B.C. Today China is busily building steel warships. In 1945 the U.S. produced 72% of the world’s steel, but by 2014 only 5.3%. In contrast, by 2022 the Chinese company China Baowu is the world’s top steel producer, producing 51.9% of the world’s steel.

President Xi Jinping pledged to build a “fully modern” force rivaling the U.S. military by 2027. A U.S. Defense Department report released in November 2021 states China has the biggest maritime force on the globe, with 355 ships, which is projected to increase to 420 ships within four years and to 460 ships by 2030.

Coincidentally, I am sure, besides the heavy involvement of Chinese companies in logistics, electricity and construction in the Panama Canal, Chinese companies have positioned themselves as the controlling influence at both ends of the canal threatening its “fair access for all nations.” Remember that the Panama Canal is the shorter, safer gateway between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, which is the ideal passage for quickly moving warships.

How is China affording to do all this? Well, United States imports from China were $575.69 billion in 2022 alone.

I would like to share my experience with a few of these Chinese imports. Let’s begin with the electronic circuit boards for Chevrolet Suburban taillights. When I purchased the used car the brake lights did not work, and when the turn signal was activated the dash lights would blink. I thought, I am going to be a while figuring this one out. Examining the taillights, while the car was old, I noticed that the bulbs, foam padding and circuit boards all looked brand new, and – were made in China. I decided to purchased OEM (original equipment manufacturer) taillights from a salvage yard. Once installed, not only did the brake lights work, but the turn signal/flashing dash lights issue was resolved as well. That means the new Chinese parts that were on the car when purchased – were actually “Chinese junk.”

When another Suburban would not crank, a shop replaced the fuel pump and electronic fuel relay. The car ran fine, but then would just cut off. This happened multiple times, and the repair shop could not determine the problem. Examining the car’s relays, I noticed all were black except for one. It was brown. I discovered it was the fuel relay – and guess what? It was made in China. I replaced it with a salvage yard Canadian-made OEM fuel relay, and the car has run flawlessly for three years.

Trying to fix an AC problem in a classic station wagon, a shop removed the electronic heater control valve and broke it. The shop replaced the part, beginning at least a two-year saga. I continually had antifreeze leaks at that position of my cooling system. The shop replaced the part, retightened clamps, fixed other things they thought could be the problem, costing hoards of money, and on and on we went. Finally, I decided to fix the car myself. I bought new heater control valves at the auto store, and everything would seem fine and tight. Then it would start leaking again. After continual tightening, the part would eventually crack and fail. I even tried old-style hose clamps, but had the same problem. Then I obtained a 35-year-old part at a salvage yard that looked pristine. After mere months of being on the car, the new auto store parts were warped and deformed. Being a scientist, I decided to analyze the two parts. The table shows the results:

The first thing to note is that the new and old parts are not made of the same polymer. The polymers are similar, but as you can see, the melting points are 65 0F different. You might think, “Well this really doesn’t make any difference, because the car’s temperature normally would not exceed ~250 0F.” At first glance that would seem true, except for the fact Nylon-6 has a softening point of 239 0F. That means when the car gets hot enough, the polymer of the new part begins to soften. Under the pressure of the clamps, the part would deform and allow hot antifreeze to leak. Finding the hose clamps loose, I would tighten them, but the polymer continued deforming until the part broke leading to catastrophic failure. Examining the part, I found that – it was made in China. I recently learned that China produces no Nylon-6,6 at all, so that means all Chinese parts in heated pressured water systems made of Nylon-6 will fail, because they are made of the wrong polymer. Chinese junk!

In another instance we purchased a Chinese-made metal foldout cart for our ministry to carry equipment in the campground. When the cart arrived, we realized that the Chinese manufacturer had not vulcanized the rubber of the tires; therefore, they continually outgassed a strong chemical aroma. The cart stank so bad we could hardly stand being in the Suburban with the cart. Upon its first usage, it rolled about two feet and the front wheel support bent sideways destroying the cart. Once again, “Chinese junk.”

It is true that Japanese imports of the 1970s were considered of low quality, too, but Japan decided that rather than trying to out produce the U.S., they would focus on quality and become competitive from a quality standpoint. In addition, until recently, Japan was prevented from any military buildup due to the treaties after World War II. In contrast, China seems to be more interested in undercutting U.S. businesses, putting them out of business, making short-lived inferior products, only to make a fast buck.

So, while China builds its naval armada, U.S. consumers are funding their effort by buying Chinese junk, over and over again.

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