Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mitt Romney and Counterfeit Valves from China

I previously shared this quote of Romney from the second U.S. presidential debate (full transcript here):
We can compete with anyone in the world as long as the playing field is level. China's been cheating over the years. One by holding down the value of their currency. Number two, by stealing our intellectual property; our designs, our patents, our technology. There's even an Apple store in China that's a counterfeit Apple store, selling counterfeit goods. They hack into our computers. We will have to have people play on a fair basis, that's number one.
I argued that even under a generous interpretation of his comment about the Apple store, it was not particularly relevant to whether the "playing field is level" for the U.S. and China. In short, most accounts and my own many experiences do not support a belief that many "fake" Apples stores in China are selling counterfeit Apple products (more about Romney's earlier comment and the many "fake" Apple stores I have seen in China here).

In the third and final U.S. presidential debate both candidates made a few comments about China. Romney again raised the issue of counterfeit products (full transcript here):
We have to say to our friend in China, look, you guys are playing aggressively. We understand it. But this can't keep on going. You can't keep on holding down the value of your currency, stealing our intellectual property, counterfeiting our products, selling them around the world, even to the United States.

I was with one company that makes valves and - and process industries and they said, look, we were - we were having some valves coming in that - that were broken and we had to repair them under warranty and we looked them and - and they had our serial number on them. And then we noticed that there was more than one with that same serial number. They were counterfeit products being made overseas with the same serial number as a U.S. company, the same packaging, these were being sold into our market and around the world as if they were made by the U.S. competitor. This can't go on.
It is notable that Romney mentioned counterfeits, but did not mention any counterfeit Apple stores this time. I'll admit, I am pleased to know that Romney must have read this blog. It is worth noting that he did not use the tech-related examples involving either Google or Microsoft that I thought could be useful for his uneven playing field claim. As I mentioned before, this may be because it would not be beneficial for such companies to be publicly mentioned by a leading political figure in the U.S. If they were, it could increase perceptions in China that they are arms of the U.S. government.

Instead, Romney used an example of counterfeit valves. I have no familiarity with the valve trade nor do I have any experience with fake valve stores in China. I will just say there is nothing in his account that strikes me as peculiar or especially unlikely. In fact, it reminded me of a wholesale counterfeit toy store I saw in Guangzhou which had several customers in the U.S. I can only assume Romney chose an example of valves instead of my example of cuddly stuffed toys because most of the toys in the store I highlighted were of animated characters from Japanese games, TV shows, and movies. If only the store had sold counterfeit stuffed Disney toys my post might have made it into a presidential debate. Oh well.

That's all for U.S. politics here for now. Like before, I doubt this particular comment in the debate will be what matters most to American voters as they consider their vote in the upcoming election. But I assume many Americans would agree that China selling counterfeit goods is not good for the U.S.

After all, someone could seriously hurt themselves using a counterfeit bayonet.

1 comment:

  1. Valves aren't as sexy as iPhones, but having a fake valve in an industrial plant changes lives.