Whether watching the news, listening to the radio, or reading the daily paper, you’ve probably heard enough about the US-China trade war over the past 18 months to last a lifetime.
As an entrepreneur and businessman who has lived in China for the past 11½ years and worked for an openly-Christian organization that provides economic development and public benefit services for mostly rural, poor, and low-educated Chinese laobaixing (common people), my perspective may be quite different from what you are accustomed to.
For the past decade I have overseen two separate, but symbiotic, hand-cut greeting card companies. Evergreen Cards Ltd. is based in Shanxi Province, China and focuses primarily on producing the products that we sell. Evergreen Cards USA is based in the US and focuses primarily on selling and distributing the bulk of our products direct-to-consumers throughout North America. Both companies have been in operation for more than 15 years.
Please allow me to share a very different narrative about both the “on-the-ground” and global realities that these two small companies face each day. Most of the realities have nothing to do with the current trade tensions between the two countries, but people’s perceptions and emotions on both sides of the ocean have nonetheless been impacted by a number of “myths” that continue to be repeated day-in and day-out. (Please note that the comments below are specific to our two companies and are not true for all US-based or Chinese-based companies operating in China.)
Tariffs imposed by the US on goods imported from China will drive up the price of all Chinese-produced goods for US consumers.
Reality for Evergreen Cards: Although we currently are not required to pay duties on our greeting cards upon arrival in the US, we recently have had to slightly raise our retail prices in North America due to continued inflationary pressures on the cost of raw materials, increased international and domestic shipping costs, significantly increased social insurance benefits and other mandatory fees (in China), and the need to raise the amount we pay our staff and card-cutting ladies.
Commercial combat, forced technology transfers, and stealing of trade secrets by companies in China is directly responsible for hurting all internationally-connected businesses operating in China.
Reality for Evergreen Cards: We hand cut all of our greeting cards and bookmarks (no high technology); we personally create or purchase the rights to all of our card designs and have local Chinese workers train our new card-cutters (no trade secrets); and we have no Chinese-based competition (as hongbao—red envelopes—are the customary and cultural items used in China rather than greeting cards). In trying to provide economic development projects for disadvantaged and sometimes poorly educated rural people who desire to work, our strongest headwinds of recent days are more related to ill-will being sown by Western media towards the purchasing any Chinese-produced goods (irrespective of real-people considerations).
Chinese people no longer need any economic support or help as they have already become rich off the backs and generosity of the rest of the world.
Reality for Evergreen Cards: While the above statement may be true for a very, very small percentage of the Chinese populace, as of October 2019, approximately 40.1% of China’s 1.43 billion people still live in rural locations and more than 10% of China’s entire population still survives on about USD 1 per day—including rural Yangqu county where our Chinese company is based. Our card-cutting ladies, many of whom have physical disabilities or a disabled family member, work hard to try to provide for themselves and their families. They deserve their dignity and our respect, not our animosity.
Chinese people hate America and just want to take advantage of the West.
Reality for Evergreen Cards (and for me, personally): Though I occasionally run into a few disenfranchised or bitter Chinese people who may feel this way, I can honestly say that in my nearly 12 years here, I could count them on one hand. Rather, what I typically encounter—nearly every day—are numerous locals who are enamored (most unjustifiably so) with all things/people American; people who are trying to provide for their families, many who are struggling to survive; people who need to know that they are valuable and loved by their Creator; dear people—many who have no hope but desperately need to receive an outpouring of grace and to know that there is hope for today, tomorrow, and eternity.
If you’ve read to here, I want to thank you! We are all in need of a redeeming touch in our lives. And, we can—through God’s power—make a difference!
Editor’s note: If you’re planning to send Christmas cards this year—consider sending Evergreen Christmas cards. With over 20 card designs—available in four-pack assortments, as single cards, and in packages of ten—there is much to choose from. They also have Christmas bookmarks in a variety of designs. Visit their online shop and benefit families in Shanxi by choosing from among their many exquisite, hand-cut Christmas cards!
Evergreen Cards online: www.evergreencardsusa.com (Ship to US or Canadian mailing addresses.)
And in the interests of full disclosure, ChinaSource is a satisfied, repeat customer of Evergreen Cards!
All images courtesy of Evergreen Cards.
Are you enjoying a cup of good coffee or fragrant tea while reading the latest ChinaSource post? Consider donating the cost of that “cuppa” to support our content so we can continue to serve you with the latest on Christianity in China.