Spat over sport

The US Olympic Committee’s decision to use China-made clothing designed by Ralph Lauren, a sponsor of the US Olympic Committee, for the London Olympics has drawn loud condemnation from Senate majority leader Harry Reid, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (both Democrats), House Speaker John Boehner (Republican) and several other Senators and Congressmen. Senator Harry Reid even called on the US Olympic Committee to burn China-made uniforms.
With the London Olympics barely a week away, I was appalled at reading the news.
China’s growing economic power and the US’ supposed decline (following the 2008 banks collapse and the rise in jobless rate) are perhaps the most discussed topic in international politics today.
The latest fury from the US lawmakers over the Made-in-China uniform may be seen as an election ploy by the either side: Democrats and GOP.
During my trip to the US twice in the past seven months, I found apparel shops briskly selling Made-in-China stuff. Not that it’s a new phenomenon. The Americans are almost used to it. They walk into shopping malls and ungrudgingly pick up Chinese made products.
Now, why is this anger on the eve of London Olympics?
Is it a case of sheer envy? Is it because the US finds it difficult to accept China’s rise as a global power? Or, is it the US feels the Chinese are poised to lead the world and they are at a risk of falling behind?
Well, with the US presidential poll due in November, patriotism is running high among both the camps. Now, the question is what role nationalism should play in the country’s foreign relations.
By showing US unemployed workers that they (both the Democrats and the Republics) feel their pain, they could get their votes in November. However, in reality, the same politicians must know that blaming China for America’s economic woes will not alleviate ordinary Americans’ suffering.
Seizing Made-in-China uniforms for the US Olympic team as a political issue and using it is utterly irresponsible rhetoric to inflame public opinion.
For a country that spent billions of dollars and lost several thousand young men and women scrambling to win hearts of more than 50 million Iraqis and Afghans, such gratuitous China-bashing is sheer hypocritical.
The loss of blue-collar workers in general and workers in the textile industry in particular, is caused primarily by technological progress and market forces, and not by China. Even if the US team’s uniforms were not made in China, they would have been made in Thailand, Indonesia or Vietnam, but not in Virginia.
Sport unites all and the playing arena shouldn’t be politicized.
Both the US and China should work together for global good. For the humanity, it’s imperative that the US and China cooperate, rather than rage against each other’s perceived faults.

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