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My Point of View: Do what we can to reduce dependence on China

My Point of View by Angie Hoffman

Angie Hoffman

 

Since first announcing his candidacy for presidency in 2015, Donald Trump has repeatedly stressed the importance of bringing back manufacturing to the U.S. from China. Although there’s the obvious benefit of gaining more jobs here at home from such transitions, the coronavirus has further revealed why this position is crucial. Total dependence on another country for critical supplies undermines both our safety and sovereignty as a nation. Unfortunately, it has taken a virus to make this point fully apparent. 

COVID-19 has hit China hard. This is evidenced by the fact their carbon emissions have dropped by 25%, a dramatic reduction largely due to many Chinese factories ceasing operation. Although Greta Thunberg may have something to be happy about here, the full effect of the resulting supply chain disruption hasn’t been felt yet. Shipments from China have significantly dried up for the time being. What will this mean for the U.S. and for Freeborn County? What can we do to prevent this situation in the future?

The list of items we rely on China for is lengthy and diverse. If we were dependent only for T-shirts, tennis shoes, trinkets and such, that would be one thing. But they currently control our supply of medicine. That’s something to think about. Considering drug manufacturing is an area where even Congressman Adam Schiff has voiced concern in the past, I’m hopeful we can find bipartisan agreement to take back control of our own pharmaceuticals in the future. Another major concern is that our military is dependent on China for rare earth elements, which are key for our technologies, communications and weapons. This is not a smart position to be in. 

Bringing this subject down to the local level, how might the China supply chain disruption affect Freeborn County? One potential aspect is that, much like the effect of the recent toilet paper run in Albert Lea, which wiped out local supplies (pun not intended), it’s possible we could see more examples of sold-out merchandise as certain inventories temporarily run out. This may not be limited to imported products because many materials and parts used in U.S. production also initially stem from China. 

Hopefully this unprecedented situation will prove to be only a blip that serves as a catalyst for better positioning our nation’s supply chain. In the future, we can’t allow ourselves to be so dependent on any single other country. This macro issue directly affects us here at home.

I want to take a moment to comment on the fear and panic some here are feeling regarding the coronavirus and the broken China supply chain. Is it wise to always be calmly prepared? Yes. Should we take precautions? Of course. Is there a need to be fearful? I would argue, no. If there are steps you can take to make yourself feel more confident, take them. Check on those within your circle of influence. No one knows exactly what to expect, but I do know that if things get hairy for awhile, there is no other place I’d rather be than here in Freeborn County. We are fortunate to live in a community that is generally very kind and connected; no doubt this would prove to be a huge asset should we ever face any type of crisis. We are our own best resource; we are hard workers, we are creative and we have each other’s backs.

Politically, it’s crucial for us to continue supporting our district’s U.S. Congressman, Jim Hagedorn, who strongly backs our president’s goal of making the U.S. globally competitive again, and who works tirelessly to bring jobs, businesses and manufacturing back home. On a state level, we need to keep leaders such as Rep. Peggy Bennett, who sees the value in creating a business-friendly environment here in Minnesota. Similarly, we need to elect a solid, common-sense candidate to the District 27 Minnesota state Senate seat, such as Gene Dornink, who is campaigning for the Republican endorsement. Last, but not least, it’s critical to pay attention to what our county and city leaders are doing to help grow and attract manufacturing to our area. Get involved if you see a need. (Heck, maybe now is the perfect opportunity for any locals who are so inclined to come together and start a manufacturing business.)

Let’s do what we can to reduce our dependence on China, diversify our supply chains and bring the manufacturing of all essential items back home to the U.S.  Seeking self-sufficiency as a nation isn’t isolationist or racist, as is sometimes claimed; it’s strategic common sense. For Americans, America must come first.

Angie Hoffman is a member of the Freeborn County Republican Party.