People Make Guitars; Not Governments

Thursday, May 1, 2008| by Will Chen

If you've read my previous editorials, you know I'm a fan of affordable imported guitars. This site is dedicated to them! Unfortunately, it appears due to rising Chinese inflation, increasing pressure to relax the forced devaluation of the Yuan, and the falling US dollar, Americans may see a bump in the price of imported (Chinese) guitars in the very near future.

Global economics are not my forte; however I try to keep on top of the high level global news specifically regarding Chinese/US relations. I believe the Beijing Olympics will be an initial litmus test. Leading up to the Olympics, there has certainly been a fair amount of negative press regarding the heavy handed Chinese response towards Tibet as well as Chinese Sudan relationships. It's becoming increasingly difficult to read between the propagandistic lines on both sides of the fence. The Olympics will bring visitors from all over the Globe infusing millions of dollars into their economy and who in turn will tell the stories of their experiences. As much as China will try, they will not be able to control the outflow of information. Will they spin tales of a rapidly industrializing nation full of friendly faces or a starving nation forced into slave labor?

One thing is undeniable. The manufacturing boom in China has served to improve the quality of life of a huge portion of their population. While there is still a vast poverty stricken rural population, there is a rapidly growing middle class who will eventually price themselves out of the blue collar labor market which may in turn move production to rural areas.

On the other hand, China has been trading infrastructure for natural resources for almost a decade now with Northern Africa. With the less than ideal climate for agricultural development, perhaps China will eventually begin off shoring their manufacturing allowing them to reclaim a portion of their population back into the agricultural sector to ensure there’s enough food for the approx 1.5 billion population. Additionally, they will gradually increase automation and move through the same socioeconomic cycle which morphed America from an agro/manufacturing driven economy to an information/service based economy. A manufacturing base in Africa will allow China to deliver product to market at a rapid pace to the European market which might be a strategic goal. Many historians trace the roots of the guitar back to Northern Africa. It would seem somehow right to see a "Made in Africa" badge on an electric guitar someday.

Enough politics already, this site is about guitars! And to that I say, people make guitars not governments. And while we can all postulate the conditions under which such individuals are working, the truth is only a minute population have been granted the opportunity to actually visit these plants. Being an American, it would be extremely hypocritical to judge another country’s socio/political practices after the atrocities we've committed though our abbreviated history. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone...


-Will Chen Editor in Chief

Check out Amnesty International’s coverage of the effect of the Olympics on human rights in China.

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