Back in the year of our nation's Bicentennial, senior slump in the waning days of high school was relieved a bit by a substitute history teacher who apparently took great joy in teaching us Catholic school boys and girls a few select "swear words" in Chinese. To this day, I have no idea if his claims of Cantonese scholarship were true or, if so, what he taught us meant what he said it did or actually translated to something like "You are a soggy egg roll!"
Thirty-one years later, China-- the People's Republic of, that is-- is still a Communist dictatorship but it has emerged as an economic force to be more than reckoned with. Certainly, we can all hope that as the more "green" rolls in the less "red" it will become. But given how the Chinese government crushed the Tiananmen Square protests back in '89, the day China becomes a democracy may be yet another century off.
In the meantime, one thing is damn sure: More Chinese goods-- and of higher and higher value and complexity-- will make their way to our shores. News reports of recalled toys have informed us that something like 90% of the toys now sold here are made in China. And a visit to any chain store or souvenir shop for that matter will clearly show that most stuff of any sort that costs less than 10 bucks is made there too.
But what many Americans don't realize is China is also making bigger stuff for export too. Major appliances are here already-- and, yes, cars are next. Consider this piece from Forbes.com about how the Chinese OEM Chery recently rolled its millionth-- yes, millionth-- vehicle off the assembly line.
As noted by the Forbes reporter, thanks to deals with Italy's Fiat and Iran's Khodro, the Chinese firm has vowed to double the number of its offshore plants in three years. And under the terms of an earlier deal, Forbes reports, Chery-made Chryslers will soon reach the U.S. and be priced "at around half of the current price of Chrysler's cheapest model."
It may start with bread-and-butter cars like a Chery hatchback but you can be sure Chinese-made sedans and SUVs will follow-- not to mention pickups and on up the GVW scale. There could well be a Chery in your future. No matter how foreign that may sound right now.