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Red China - De Minimis

De Minimis” is a Latin legal term meaning “the law does not concern itself with trifling matters." But 700 million trifles are not a trifling matter.

Over 700 million packages, with 60% of the packages originating in China, entered the United States duty-free and inspection-free in 2021 under the de minimis custom law. The total value of the shipments was estimated to be over $70 billion. Tariffs are waived for packages valued under $800 if the package is addressed to an individual customer. In other words, 2 million packages a day enter the U.S. with no inspection or paid duties.

As a society, we have no idea what our avowed and self-proclaimed adversary, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is injecting into the American bloodstream. We do know the CCP is poisoning America with fentanyl, social media, biological diseases, and illicit vaping tobacco products. The U.S. trade deficit with China is over $300 billion per year. 3 million American jobs have been shipped overseas due to Chinese intellectual theft, slave labor, environmental contamination, currency manipulation, and tariffs assessed against American goods.

Tariffs and trade agreements are meaningless if 700 million items can enter a country without trade enforcement. In 2016 Congress raised the de minimis rule level from $200 to $800 with support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. The reason was that it would lower costs to American businesses, workers, and consumers. Not mentioned was the cost of lost American jobs and businesses and the strengthening of the CCP in its quest for world domination.

Chinese-owned fast fashion online retailer Shein is an example of the CCP's manipulation of the U.S. de minimis rule. Shein specializes in the direct shipment of clothing from 6000 factories in China to consumers in the U.S. and represents approximately 30% of the U.S. fast fashion market. Privately owned, Shein is now headquartered in Singapore, but it was founded in China by Xu Yangtian. The products are cheap and trendy. Most items are priced under $20, and many are under $10. But like all “too good to be true” stories, Shein has a dark side.

● TikTok, China’s social media giant, heavily promotes Shein and has been instrumental in its explosive growth. TikTok corrupts American culture, especially among our youth, with propaganda praising communism/socialism and denigrating the American culture of freedom. TikTok influences American elections. Needless to say, all personal data collected by TikTok on American citizens is sent to China.

● Clothing is made from cotton harvested by forced slave labor in Xinjiang (East Turkistan).

● Factory workers, who churn out clothing, are subjected to 12-13 hour work days 6 to 7 days a week in poor conditions. Remake, an advocacy group for fair pay in the clothing industry, gave Shein factories a grade of 0 out of 150.

● Minimal data on U.S. customs forms means the shipper's identity and the package's content can be opaque. Counterfeit products, drugs, etc., could be in the package.

● The environment is damaged with cheap clothing quickly discarded and filling up landfills. It takes 3000 liters of water to make one skirt containing plastic microfibers that pollute the oceans.

● Shein’s clothing is potentially toxic. Health Canada found one jacket contained 20 times the amount of lead safe for children.

● In ripping off designs from Ralph Lauren to independent artists, intellectual property theft is the standard operating procedure (SOP) for Shein. But then, intellectual property theft is SOP for all Chinese-owned corporations and CCP organizations.


China is waging unrestricted warfare on America. All organs of the state work to fulfill the CCP’s goal of world domination. And American capitalism, with government support, is selling the rope with which we will be hanged.

The purpose of business is to maximize profits in a framework of ethics and legality. The purpose of government is to represent the people and protect the country. Neither business nor government is doing its job.

China is cleaning our clock because our government allows them to do so. We should immediately institute a policy of reciprocity.

● If American online internet media cannot operate in China, then Chinese internet media like TikTok or online marketing firms like Shein should not operate in America.

● Eliminate the “de minimis” rule except for handheld tourist items. It will increase costs but will add jobs for Americans and increase national security.

● Increase tariffs on all China-made products until the balance of payments is significantly reduced.

● Penalize Wall Street capital flows to China.

● Increase counter-intelligence efforts against CCP espionage.

Peace Through Strength!

Author Laurence F. Sanford is a veteran of the United States Navy and the Central Intelligence Agency and now serves as Senior Analyst for the American Security Council Foundation. To learn more about the American Security Council Foundation and its work go to

  • Chinese Communist Party (CCP)

  • Committee on the Present Danger: China

  • Biden administration

  • national security

  • Green channel

  • Chinese Communist Party

  • Confucius Institutes

  • Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement

  • Chinese Students and Scholars Association

  • Canada

  • unrestricted warfare

  • Fulan Gong

  • One child policy

  • religious persecution

  • China space program

  • China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)

  • de minimis trade

  • Shein clothing manufacturer

297 views3 comments


Reciprocity? Might be a good idea--if all our folks in Congress knew who the Uyghur Muslims in China were . . .


We're stuck with China because they are financing our massive deficits. The first step needs to be getting our financial house in order.

But our elected politicians have no interest in that--on either side of the aisle.


What is the solution then? Are there any American companies willing to provide us with better clothing, for instance, at the same price as the cheap clothing filling our landfills? People buy what they can afford. Thanks to Bidenflation, that is even less now.

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