Coronavirus and global supply chains

The coronavirus outbreak in China is already threatening the supply chains of some major corporations.

These include Apple, a company whose products I use everyday. Foxconn, a Taiwanese company with plants in China, makes many of the components and assemblies of the iPhone line. Foxconn production in China has been severely impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Since the 1990s, major US companies have rushed to make their supply chains as global as possible, with much of their production moving to China. In recent years, we’ve seen evidence that this headlong scramble for the far-flung, global supply chain may have been carried out in haste–especially where China is concerned.

Xi Jinping has long shown an autocratic streak. Much of the technology being transferred to China ends up as Chinese military technology, which is subsequently aimed at the United States and its allies. (China is a pure example of the “military-industrial complex”.) We have also seen trade disputes between President Trump and President Xi. And now we have the coronavirus.

The world is certainly more interconnected than it was a generation ago. But dreams of a truly borderless world remain unrealistic at present. The coronavirus gives us yet one more reason to be cautious in regard to globalization.