American consumers’ appetite for cheap goods that are made in China, peddled by online retailers, profit-seeking importers and big-box retailers has fueled the Chinese economy.

In spite of this, the Chinese government, particularly its military, is far from thankful for the money millions of Americans have spent on Chinese-made goods for many years. While many U.S. manufacturing plants have shut down and let workers go, many factories in China have flourished. American consumer dollars have helped to create wealth in China.

Rather than be appreciative, the Chinese government, like a snake that bites the hand that feeds it, has had the audacity to prey on many American consumers.

The personal data of 145 million American consumers who became victims of the theft of data from credit reporting agency Equifax is now in the hands of the Chinese military, the U.S. Department of Justice alleges in announcing the recent indictment of Chinese military members responsible for the hacking.

A federal grand jury in Atlanta returned an indictment last week charging four members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army with hacking into the computer systems of Equifax and allegedly stealing Americans’ personal data and Equifax’s valuable trade secrets.

Wu Zhiyong, Wang Qian, Xu Ke and Liu Lei were members of the 54th Research Institute, a component of the Chinese military, the Justice Department stated. They allegedly conspired with each other to hack into Equifax’s computer networks, maintain unauthorized access to those computers, and steal sensitive, personally identifiable information of approximately 145 million American victims, the Justice Department added.

“This was a deliberate and sweeping intrusion into the private information of the American people,” said Attorney General William Barr, in a statement released Monday Guam time.

The U.S. attorney general added, “the Equifax hack fits a disturbing and unacceptable pattern of state-sponsored computer intrusions and thefts by China and its citizens that have targeted personally identifiable information, trade secrets, and other confidential information.”

It remains to be seen whether the United States government will, in addition to pursuing the criminal case, impose sanctions against the Chinese government for this brazen attack on half of America’s consumers, including many of us who live on Guam. America's elected officials are preoccupied with petty politics and the upcoming election which then distracts them from seeing bigger problems than themselves and their inability to effectively lead.

We, the American consumers, have the power to fight back.

We should resist buying Chinese-made goods and avoid making other spending decisions that could ultimately come back to bite us.

If a T-shirt or a solar panel sounds like a bargain when made in China, is it really? Let’s go beyond the price tag and think of the implications our buying decisions will make.  

We have the power to choose as American consumers.

Let's buy American-made. It's the right thing to do.

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