May
14
2019

25% Tariff proposed on Chinese RPG/gaming pieces. Also: is that stuff coming out of a concentration camp? Could you confirm that ‘No,’ please?

This is grey zone at best, I know. Sorry. – ML

So. They’re talking about a potential 25% tariff on Chinese goods used in the RPG and board game industry. Tabletopwire:

Board games and dice are included under the subheading: 9504.90.60. “Chess, checkers, backgammon, darts and o/table and parlor games played on boards of a special design and parts thereof; poker chips and dice.”

Toys are under 9503.00.00. “Toys, including riding toys o/than bicycles, puzzles, reduced scale models.”

That would absolutely cover a large number of things that I normally buy via Kickstarter, and there’s a very good chance that these products will thus become more expensive in the future. And quite possibly, not made in the People’s Republic of China. I have seen a few intemperate comments made in reaction to this news, and I am sympathetic. I’m also an unreconstructed free trader, even in these days of the New Protectionism.

I note that last bit because of this next bit. I am, to be honest, growing a bit concerned over just how much the gaming industry is relying on Chinese manufacture. Not because of trade considerations; I’m more concerned about the system that we’re currently subsidizing. Also to be honest, I’ve studied the history of industrialization, and I get that working conditions in industrializing countries can be wretched in the beginning. But I am concerned at the way that the Chinese feel privileged to destroy the intellectual property for American creators; and I am downright nervous about the idea that I might at some point be giving money to a product made by inmates of a religious concentration camp.

Put another way? As I said on Twitter, this morning: “I would like RPG and other game designers to start talking more about their specific oversight of the Chinese factories making their games.” Because I am not comfortable with the level of transparency usually being offered now.

Moe Lane

Written by in: RPGS | Tags: , ,
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13 Comments

  • ibguy says:

    >> growing a bit concerned over just how much the gaming industry is relying on Chinese manufacture
     
    Ahem: 3D printing….
     
    Just sayin’.

    • Moe_Lane says:

      True, but there are also the books. Well, the books that the Chinese government don’t destroy after the fact, and doesn’t THAT just raise some hackles.

      • acat says:

        While I could snark “regular printing” .. anywhere beyond 50 pages, it gets .. prohibitive.
        .
        (so .. “the collected short fiction of Moe Lane (2017 edition)” would work, but .. 2018 would be dicey)
        .
        I do feel drawn to point out that FedEx/Kinkos still exists**, and that, for most gaming products, laptops and tablets are sufficient ..
        .
        Mew
        .
        .
        ** as does Blockbuster, oddly enough

  • nicklevi86 says:

    As if any of the big players in games or otherwise have any interest in questioning Chinese ethics. It’s a Worker’s Paradise™ donchaknow?
    .
    Free trade is all well and good when the trade is truly free, and the Chinese Exchange ain’t it.

  • Luke says:

    Well, at least they have something to occupy them while waiting for their organs to be harvested.
    .
    .
    OK, that was dark.
    Also, much too true for comfort.
    .
    I recall being told in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre that we simply *had* to extend Most Favored Nation status to undermine and moderate the Red Chinese government.
    It didn’t work.
    Further, the Chinese have kept their tariffs high on our exports, while enjoying the comparative advantage of our minimal tariffs. They have leveraged this imbalance in a Mercantilistic fashion to strategically take control of various chokepoints and leverage governments worldwide. (Including controlling the rare earths market, the Panama Canal, and California’s Long Beach port, as well as using its Belt and Road initiative to economically dominate Asia and large portions of Africa.) Nearly all of which, are at our expense. All while hollowing out our industrial core with leverage we’ve freely provided.
    The fictional Doctor Fu Manchu would be proud.
    .
    If all else is equal, free trade and comparative advantage are wonderful things that benefit everybody.
    Sadly, we live in a flawed world, and it is rare for all else to be equal. Slave labor and unequal market access is nearly as unequal as things can get.

    • acat says:

      Every time I try to reply to this post, my collar buzzes and I wake up in a different part of the house ..
      .
      Strange. Almost as though there’s a conspiracy to keep me from saying anything about Bill Clinto *BZZZT*
      .
      .
      .

      • Luke says:

        Is it still political if we condemn the Bushies as well?
        Asking for a friend.

        • Luke says:

          To be fair, I don’t fault anybody who bought into “The End of History” and was initially suckered.
          .
          It’s the defense of the ruinous (and obviously failed) policy that gets my goat.
          Those involved need to be asking themselves “My God, what have I done?” Instead of preening about their “expertise”.

    • Luke says:

      As long as I’m ranting, let me express my absolute disgust at the various mouthpieces who are so very concerned about the Chinese government oppression of a Muslim population that had been actively conducting guerrilla warfare against the State, but had very little to say about the peaceful Falun Gong and Christians being rounded up and imprisoned in the Laogai over the past two fricking decades.

      • nicklevi86 says:

        The fastest growing Church community in the word is still the Chinese underground. I sometimes wonder what it will look like if that ever reaches critical mass…

        • junior says:

          There’s apparently a lot to suggest that China’s in a much shakier state than anyone realizes. One can only hope that if that is true, that we don’t end up seeing a bloodbath in the country with the world’s largest population.

    • junior says:

      Trump kicked them out of the Long Beach port. So they don’t have that anymore.

      There’s a very good chance that if Trump “wins” the current trade war – either through Chinese concessions, or the collapse of China’s economy – that Winnie the Pooh (that’s Xi Jingping, for those who are unaware of that particular nickname) – will end up losing his grip on power not long afterwards. Add to that the various suspicions that the Chinese economy is a house of cards just waiting for the right gust of wind, and…

      Keep your fingers crossed.

      • Luke says:

        I saw that. I’m a news junkie who tries to keep up with the doings of our geopolitical rivals, and I hadn’t heard they’d gotten control of it until the story of Trump forcing them out. (Evidently the media’s takeaway from us screaming bloody murder about Bush II allowing the sale of our vital ports to UAE was “don’t tell the rubes “.)
        .
        My fingers are crossed, and I’m aware that China is in some pretty desperate straits.
        That said…
        There are a few problems.
        The first is simply Smith’s observation that there’s a lot of ruin in a country.
        Another issue is that authoritarians who show weakness, die. Xi likely doesn’t see this as a selling point.
        Third, China’s One-Child policy has led to a situation where there are a huge number of restless young men who have no prospect of getting married and having kids. That’s not a good thing for social stability, or for the countries who border China.
        Fourth, there’s the whole Bretton Woods “tie all the economies together, so tanking one, tanks them all. For greater peace!” (Conspiracy theorists *love* Bretton Woods, because the arguments in favor were so stupid and shallow that the *real* motivation had to be something else. Generally some form of one-world government. In fairness to the whackjobs, lots of the people involved with Bretton Woods made statements which directly support the view of a secretive cabal seeking world domination. It’s just that those cunning plans seem to have been of the same intellectual caliber as the stated reason.)
        .
        Then there are concerns specific to Chinese culture.
        China has an honour-based culture, and “losing face” is a very big deal.
        Now, throw in the concept of “the mandate of heaven”, and the prospect of losing it in a climbdown.
        “The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. Thus it has ever been.” The Chinese accept this to be true, in much the same way they accept that the sun will rise tomorrow. Xi is commonly seen as the one thing keeping China from devolving into another Warring States period, a viewpoint Xi has actively encouraged. If Xi falls, the Chinese psyche is primed to react… Poorly.
        Religion in China is a muddle (at best!) but ancestor worship is a major component. Toss that onto the pile of military-aged men with no prospects of reproduction.
        .
        Trump is playing with fire.
        I believe it’s the least-bad option, but there is a lot of risk involved.

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