Cheap Chinese Crap

Our local shopping centre is making a real effort all of a sudden, and that’s a good thing. We want our little piece of Auckland to stay busy and vibrant.

Their latest promotion went like this: spend $20 anywhere else in the mall and get a $10 voucher for the dollar store. We each got surprisingly good chair massages that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, and then trundled over to Chocka Bucket (saying something is “chocka” or “chocker” to mean full up is a common thing here). So, the promotion worked… the mall businesses got more money.

But what to buy? It’s not quite fair to say everything at Chocka Bucket is cheap Chinese crap… but almost. Their wares span the range of things you might find at a Wal-Mart, only less choice, poorer quality/condition. We ended up with a bunch of little things including those pictured above.

And then comes the political/ethical question. The Chinese juggernaut rolls slowly outward, recently engulfing the Solomon Islands with a new military agreement. Should I be taking some stand against Sino-hegemony?

And more nuanced: is there a difference between the box cutter, which is what it is, and the other items which blatantly rip off Western IP? If it hadn’t been “free” I wouldn’t have touched it… but of course it wasn’t actually free and I did touch. What allegiance do I owe to Gillette and Kiwi, and the specific flavour of capitalism they represent?

Now I may look better with my smooth chin and my shiny shoes… but how will I feel?

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