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In an industrial area west of Chicago O’Hare International Airport, more than 6,000 miles from China, Michael Smerling is steeling himself for a devastating blow from the coronavirus outbreak.
在芝加哥奥黑尔国际机场以西一个距中国6000多英里的工业区,迈克尔·斯莫林(Michael Smerling)正在为冠状病毒暴发带来的毁灭性打击做准备。
Smerling makes knapsacks, travel pouches and outdoor gear for companies like Bed Bath & Beyond, Nordstrom Rack and Amazon. For now, the warehouse of his company, LCI Brands, is packed with merchandise.
斯莫林为Bed Bath & Beyond、Nordstrom Rack和亚马逊(Amazon)等公司生产背包、旅行袋和户外装备。目前,他的公司LCI Brands的仓库里堆满了货物。
Perhaps not for much longer. His company’s Chinese suppliers have been shut down as the authorities try to stop the outbreak, essentially freezing vast swaths of the world’s second-largest economy, after that of the United States. Last week, Sperling laid off eight people, about a fifth of his full-time workforce.
“It was the hardest decision I’ve made in my career,” Smerling said.
If the coronavirus plunges the world into recession, China will be the biggest reason. Economists caution that its shutdown threatens the economies of Japan, South Korea, Europe and even the United States. Huge corporations like Apple, Microsoft, AB InBev and Pfizer have already seen an impact.
如果冠状病毒让世界陷入衰退,中国将是最大的原因。经济学家警告说,中国的停工威胁到日本、韩国、欧洲甚至美国的经济。苹果(Apple)、微软(Microsoft)、百威英博(AB InBev)和辉瑞(Pfizer)等大型企业已经看到了影响。
Even those warnings understate China’s reach. An economic disaster just four decades ago, China now touches the lives of billions of people around the world. China matters to Smerling, Chilean farmers, Thai tour guides, Indian automakers, Mongolian truck drivers and countless others who depend on its economic might.
迈克尔·斯莫林是户外和旅行用品生产商LCI Brands公司所有人。他在中国的供应商已停工。
迈克尔·斯莫林是户外和旅行用品生产商LCI Brands公司所有人。他在中国的供应商已停工。 Lucy Hewett for The New York Times
LCI为Bed Bath & Beyond、Nordstrom Rack和亚马逊等公司生产背包、旅行袋和户外装备。
LCI为Bed Bath & Beyond、Nordstrom Rack和亚马逊等公司生产背包、旅行袋和户外装备。 Lucy Hewett for The New York Times
When China stops, they feel it.
“An economy is an object in motion,” said Rodney Jones, an economist specializing in China. “A lot of things work in connection: supply chains, shipping, transport, movement of goods. There is no one standing over it telling it which component goes where.”
“经济是一个运动的物体,”专门研究中国的经济学家罗德尼·琼斯(Rodney Jones)表示。“很多事情都是相互关联的:供应链、运输、交通、货物移动。没有人能居高临下地指挥哪个组件去哪里。”
“The idea that we can stop an economy and restart it is crazy,” he added.
China has become a voracious consumer of the world’s rocks, oil, food and other raw materials. Before President Donald Trump launched a trade war against China, it bought more than one-quarter of America’s soybeans. Australia’s mining industry, which employs more than 200,000 people, depends on China.
In Mongolia, coal mining for China makes up nearly half its export revenue and provides jobs for people like Battogtokh Uurtsaikh, who is wondering what to do next.
在蒙古,中国的煤炭开采业占其出口收入的近一半,并为巴托格托克·乌尔恰克(Battogtokh Uurtsaikh)这样的人提供了就业机会,他们不知道下一步该做什么。
Battogtokh drives 70-ton truckloads of coal from a huge mine in the Gobi Desert to the border with China. The schedule requires him to navigate a potholed, two-lane highway clogged with other coal trucks on one or two hours’ sleep.
For Battogtokh, it is the only way to provide a better future for his children. China’s demand has made the job one of the best paid in the country. In a good month, he can make as much as $1,600.
In January, Mongolia closed the border. Battogtokh’s plan to pay back a truck loan this year is in jeopardy. The last of his money, he said, went to the bank as payment for two separate loans worth $7,300.
巴托格托克·乌尔恰克从戈壁沙漠的煤矿开着卡车,将70吨重的煤炭运往中蒙边境。今年1月,蒙古关闭了边境。 Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times
Battogtokh, who has a 7-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter, needs another job. “Their future depends on what I am doing now,” he said.
China’s appetite goes beyond raw materials. It rivals the United States when it comes to shopping. People in China are the world’s largest purchasers of automobiles, smartphones and luxury goods.
Life Together, a South Korean manufacturer, once earned 40% of its sales from China. A maker of lotions, facial masks and other beauty products, the company had been counting on an even bigger boost from, a big Chinese online retailer, where it was supposed to begin sales on a trial basis this year.
韩国制造商Life Together曾有40%的销售额来自中国。这家乳液、面膜和其他美容产品制造商本应从今年开始在中国大型在线零售商京东试销,它一直指望这能给它带来更大提振。
Song Woonseo, the founder of Life Together, and his team spent six months developing the right skin care products. Then the coronavirus hit.
Life Together的创始人宋云瑞(Song Woonseo,音)和他的团队花了6个月的时间开发出合适的护肤品。然后冠状病毒来了。
韩国首尔一个几乎空无一人的购物区。绝大多数中国游客都待在家里。 Jean Chung for The New York Times
“Then it felt like things were crumbling down, big time,” Song said. The deal is now up in the air. “We are in limbo,” he said.
With logistics snarled in China, Song said, his other China-bound products are sitting in storage.
“On top of that,” he added, “we can’t even produce things that we had to because we haven’t been able to receive materials and parts from China to do so.”
China’s consumers make up a powerful force outside the country’s borders, too. They spend more than $250 billion a year on travel, considerably more than Americans.
Now, the vast majority are staying home. In late January, China suspended tour groups and travel package sales.
“I have zero clients,” said Saichon Chuenchoo, who has worked as a tour guide in Thailand for 25 years.
“我一个客户都没有,”在泰国当了25年导游的赛冲·朱恩楚(Saichon Chuenchoo)说。
赛冲·朱恩楚是曼谷中文旅游团的导游。自从冠状病毒暴发以来,他一直没有工作。 Lauren DeCicca for The New York Times
China’s growing wealth has made it an essential market for a range of businesses, big and small, that make specialized high-end products. That dependence on China has now become a liability.
Glasbau Hahn, a firm in Frankfurt, Germany, makes glass display cases for museums like The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
德国法兰克福的汉氏展柜(Glasbau Hahn)公司为纽约大都会艺术博物馆(Metropolitan Museum of Art)等博物馆制作玻璃陈列柜。
Isabel Hahn, a member of the family that owns the company, said that payment for a project in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou had been delayed. Glasbau Hahn’s vitrines have been installed, but other work at the museum has stopped. The firm won’t get paid until the project is complete.
拥有该公司的家族的成员伊莎贝尔·汉恩(Isabel Hahn)表示,中国郑州市一个项目的付款被推迟。汉氏展柜的玻璃橱窗已经安装完毕,但是该博物馆的其他工作已经停止。只有这项工程完成后,公司才会得到报酬。
Glasbau Hahn also won’t get paid for a project in Nanchang, where it expects to deliver vitrines to a museum on schedule, but the construction site is closed indefinitely.
Hahn said the company can absorb the financial hit, but she added, “We have to keep an eye on our liquidity.”
海鲜餐厅的员工在曼谷的拉差达火车夜市揽客。 Lauren DeCicca for The New York Times
Some places are still waiting for the full impact.
Chile counts China as its biggest trading partner, with copper its largest export. But the South American country has tried to diversify, and cherries have become important exports. During China’s Lunar New Year, Chilean farmers ship large containers of cherries to China, catching a window when the United States is out of season.
“The agri-food sector has been up-to-date the most exposed one,” said Rodrigo Yañez, vice minister for trade in Chile. Copper exports have already been hit by trade war between the United States and China and the lower commodity prices that resulted.
“受影响最大的是农业食品行业,”智利贸易部副部长罗德里戈·亚涅斯(Rodrigo Yanez)表示。美国和中国之间的贸易战,以及由此导致的大宗商品价格下跌,已经对智利的铜出口造成了打击。
For all its growing purchasing power, China remains a force in manufacturing, the industry that propelled it to prosperity. Smerling, who owns the travel gear company LCI Brands, has long depended on China as a supplier, even though the trade war between the United States and China made it more expensive to buy from there. His company was hit by three rounds of tariffs last year.
尽管购买力不断增强,中国仍然是制造业的一股重要力量,正是这个行业推动了中国的繁荣。尽管美中之间的贸易战使得从中国采购成本更高,旅游用品公司LCI Brands所有人斯莫林长期以来一直依赖中国作为其供应商,他的公司去年受到了三轮关税的打击。
Now Smerling can’t even reach some of his suppliers. Information is sparse, he said, and he doesn’t trust that everyone is being forthcoming.
“We don’t know what is truth, what is propaganda and what is boldface lies,” Smerling said. He believes at least one supplier is misleading him so that he will put down a deposit with the company. “Everyone,” he said, “is desperate for money.”
曼谷的昭披耶河上一艘几乎无人的观光船。 Lauren DeCicca for The New York Times