Monday, April 20, 2009

The China Price

The China Price is an enlightening read into the lives of the people behind the label, and exposes the corrupt practices of some of the local manufacturers and western multinationals. Recently Financial Times journalist Alexandra Harney discussed her book The China Price, which discusses the experiences of everyday Chinese who toil in poor conditions to produce products often sold to the West. Alexandra candidly answered questions and used real life examples of the people she had met during her investigations. At one point Alexandra shared how some dishonest Chinese manufacturers run two factories. The first factory is clean and presentable for western inspectors. A second shadow factory is located nearby where working conditions are worse and production rates much higher, which means employees must work illegal over-time to meet demand.

The book also states in 2006 the China Government moved to strengthen legal protection for workers, but both the American Chamber and European Chambers of Commerce representing multinational firms warned that the law would greatly reduce employment opportunities for PRC workers and hurt China's competitiveness for foreign investment (p. 258-259). One day maybe firms operating in China will learn that the best way to sustainable global economic growth is to raise the bar for the well being of all people regardless of geography. That will require meaningful China innovation.

1 comment:

  1. Alexandra's book sounds great and I look forward to reading it. This is not a very flattering picture, but she obviously does make a great presentation and is skilled as a public speaker and commentator as well as serious scholar.