The outdoor blogosphere is gaga over this story: SNEWS reporting that the Chinese government has “seized control of all Chinese-owned tent factories,” presumably to help the millions left homeless by the massive earthquake (one can never be sure of the motives of the government that gave us Tiananmen Square).

Only Chinese-owned factories are currently affected. A number of manufacturers we spoke with confirmed that in Shanghai, their factories were now under government control. However, SNEWS® also learned that tent production at a factory owned by Taiwanese citizens just outside of Hong Kong and another factory further north are not under Chinese government control at this time.

Almost all U.S. tent manufacturers we spoke with, including Mountain Hardwear, Coleman, Eureka, Marmot, MSR, GoLite, Kelty, The North Face, and Slumberjack, have confirmed that existing stock levels and preseason orders for fall 2008 product are essentially unaffected. One company, Sierra Designs, manufactures its tents in Vietnam and is completely unaffected by government controls in China.

Also affected by government seizure are camping furniture factories. Geoff O’Keeffe, president of Slumberjack, told SNEWS® that all preseason orders for camp furniture from his company are now on backorder.

The good news: Sleeping-bag manufacturers are said to be in the clear, because plain old blankets are easier to make and distribute (alas, this could’ve been Western Mountaineering’s big break).

Blogs that linked to this story:

  • Outside (Value add: “More importantly, though, state news agency Xinhua says that 749,200 tents have already been shipped to the quake area, but with homeless counts near 5 million —and with the summer rainy season fast approaching— health officials are openly worrying about disease control.  One report from Sichuan puts as many as 19 people living in a single tent.  Relief efforts continue, amid protests by grieving parents.”)
  • Gazette Out There (Value add: “Today Coleman announced today it donated 1,000 tents for aid to people displaced by the massive May 12 earthquake in Sichuan Province, China.”)
  • Backpacker magazine’s Daily Dirt (Value add: “To learn how you can help victims of the Sichuan earthquake, visit the American Red Cross earthquake relief page here.“)