Does the world depend too much on China?

March 18, 2020
by Philip F. Jacobus, CEO
In speaking with my friends at hospitals, everyone is shocked at how dependent we are on China. Drug production, equipment manufacturing, spare parts, all sorts of products are manufactured there and the coronavirus highlights that.

Hospitals are feeling it more than anyone. Masks, needles, gowns, sanitizer and even soap are all in short supply and all manufactured in China.

And don't forget about spare parts. I know some hospitals that could not find parts for their equipment, (fortunately they found vendors on

I have heard hospital execs blame our politicians, both democratic and republican, and suggest they should all be fired. I have also heard other more moderate comments referring to this as a real wake up call.

I remember a time when all countries, for the most part, manufactured everything locally. As conglomerates grew and absorbed smaller companies through consolidation, China became an efficient place to do business (if you are Chinese). And as a result, China now manufactures for the world.

Maybe this is an opportunity for the rest of us in the world to go back to manufacturing locally; and maybe we will all be willing to pay a little more for locally made products??

I remember my first visit to China in 1977. The X-ray machines were few and far between and many were made in the former Soviet Union and were 40 years old. I made a living selling used medical equipment in China.

In just 30 years China became a dominant player. I remember a manufacturing executive for a major diagnostic imaging company explaining to me that China didn't have the infrastructure to support the manufacturing of high technology. Yet in just 20 years they built roads, bridges, airports, factories and everything that was needed to become the premier manufacturer in the world.

Admittedly the Chinese government exercises great influence over people. The way they dealt with the coronavirus proves it. Still, why can't countries around the world go back to manufacturing locally, employing people locally and reducing the dependence on other countries?

I'm not against cooperation or companies working together. The automobile manufacturers have proven that local manufacturing works. More industries should follow that lead.