Not made in China?

Over the holidays, Sh. & I saw handmade bowls at the home of friends who had received them as well-intentioned gifts, emblazened with “Not made in China!”. Sure, these were made in Canada by some artist who probably thought they were clever, but was the glaze made in China? The clay? The brushes, or any part of the packaging they were sold in?

It’s unclear what point this is trying to make: is the artist suggesting that we buy things made in Canada because Chinese labour or environmental standards are bad? Because Chinese products are necessarily of inferior quality? Because having work done in China puts people in Canada out of work? Because it’s okay to fund aid programmes which encourage the development of industry in China, but not to patronize those factories once they’re built? North America has been importing ceramic housewares from China for a very long time (we even call it “china”), at what point does this artist believe it became a problem?

There was enough room on the bowl for a more lengthy explanation, or at least a reference to another source, but I guess that wouldn’t have made for a witty punchline.

I’m not saying I disagree with all the potential reasons this artist could have for making these bowls, but they’re a fine example of why I hate debate of important issues by bumper sticker sized slogans.