Chinese Glass Causes Delay at Freedom Towers

President Barack Obama will travel to the site of the former World Trade Center today as part of a victory lap marking the death of Osama bin Laden.

In the flurry of American flags and patriotic symbols, he may miss the fact that the building set to replace the Twin Towers is being made with Chinese glass.

Part of New York City’s Freedom Towers, a memorial to the events of September, 11 2001, must be redesigned due to problems with glass manufactured in China, according to Glass Magazine.

“New York City’s Freedom Tower podium is going through a major redesign due to glass fabrication problems. Sanxin Façade, China, was contracted to fabricate the podium’s thick specialty lites,” according to Glass Magazine. “According to sources, the glass couldn’t be fabricated as planned, requiring architects at Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP, New York, to “scrap” the initial design.”

In 2009, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey shunned a bid by a Pittsburgh-based company to manufacture the glass. PPG Industries had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in plant upgrades in hopes of winning the $82 million contract. Instead, it was awarded to DCM Erectors Inc/Solera Construction, a New York City-based company that intends to subcontract the work to Zetian Systems of Las Vegas, which in turn will subcontract with China Beijing Glass to manufacture the glass.

The move outraged many Americans in the know; including many family members of 9/11 victims that said only American-made materials should be used in the buildings.

But the developers decided to forgo patriotism and national pride for the sake of a cheaper product.

However, China’s main asset to make its glass cheaper is not just a plethora of inexpensive labor, but a host of illegal and unfair trade practices.

From 2004 to 2008, the Chinese government spent $30 billion subsidizing its domestic glass industry. The result was a 67 percent increase in domestic glass production, elevating the Asian nation to the status of the world’s largest glass producer.

Much of the subsidized glass is imported to America. Since 2000, U.S. imports of Chinese glass have tripled and the trade deficit in glass products has exploded, leaving tens of thousands jobless. The study found that the U.S. glass industry has lost roughly 40,000 jobs since 2000.

“Imagine China,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told The New York Times in 2009, “building a huge structure intended to be an important national symbol and importing glass from the United States to build it. There is no way the Chinese would do that.”

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