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Thread: Made in China

  1. #31
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    Catcher Technology, a supplier for Apple

    BIG TECH BACKLASH 6 hours ago
    Apple supply workers describe noxious hazards, unsafe conditions at China factory
    Christopher Carbone By Christopher Carbone | Fox News


    A report by China Labor Watch alleges that working conditions at an Apple supplier factory are not safe. (Reuters)

    Workers at a Chinese company that produces iPhone casings for Apple stand for up to 10 hours per day in over-heated spaces, handling noxious chemicals sometimes without proper protection.

    The conditions at Catcher Technology—described in a report by the advocacy group China Labor Watch and in interviews with Bloomberg News—show the ugly side of the tech boom that has powered China’s economy and helped push global stock markets to new highs.

    The CLW report also found that at least one worker had severe respiratory issues due to the factory, basic safety equipment is not always available, the factory does not specify the hazards of any chemicals that employees work with, worker dorms do not have emergency exits, the factory is polluting the environment with wastewater and the factory’s floor is covered in slippery oil.

    China Labor Watch reports that noise level in the factory is about 80 decibels or more, which is average for factories. Hundreds of employees reportedly work in a space where the main door only opens 12 inches and workers who are off-duty stay in dorms without hot water or access to showers.


    Catcher Technology, a supplier for Apple, has not kept its factory safe for workers, according to a new report. (Reuters)

    “My hands turned bloodless white after a day of work,” one of the workers, who makes a little over 4,000 yuan a month (just over $2 an hour), told Bloomberg. She turned to Catcher because her husband’s home-decorating business was struggling. “I only tell good things to my family and keep the sufferings like this for myself.”

    This isn’t the first time Apple has been called out regarding conditions in Chinese factories that make its highly-profitable smartphones.

    The tech giant spent years upbraiding manufacturers after a rash of suicides at its main partner, Foxconn Technology Group, in 2010 provoked outrage over the harsh working environments in which its upscale gadgets were made. Eventually, Foxconn made improvements to its locations and Apple started regular audits of all its main suppliers.

    However, Apple’s supply chain is so gigantic that adhering to better standards is extremely difficult. The company, which sells more than 200 million smartphones per year, outsources a good amount of its manufacturing as a way to increase profits.

    An Apple spokesperson told Bloomberg that the company has its own employees at Catcher facilities, but sent an additional team to audit the complex upon hearing of the CLW’s impending report. After interviewing 150 people, the Apple team found no evidence of violations of its standards, she added. Catcher, which gets almost two-thirds of sales from Apple, said in a separate statement it too investigated but also found nothing to suggest it had breached its client’s code of conduct.

    “We know our work is never done and we investigate each and every allegation that’s made. We remain dedicated to doing all we can to protect the workers in our supply chain,” the Apple spokeswoman added.

    Christopher Carbone is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @christocarbone.
    thread: Apple/Mac
    thread: China's Pollution Problem
    thread: Made in China
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  2. #32
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    kimchi deficits

    The kimchi you eat outside of Korea is probably made in China
    Kimchi and other food are sold at a market in Shenyang's Xita District, Liaoning province, China November 1, 2017. Picture taken November 1, 2017.


    Not made in its hometown. (Reuters/Sue-Lin Wong)

    WRITTEN BY Echo Huang
    January 19, 2018

    South Korea counts the art of kimchi making as part of its unique cultural heritage. But it’s now running a nearly $50 million kimchi trade deficit. That means Koreans are eating more non-Korean kimchi than they used to—and so are you.

    South Korea spent around $129 million in 2017 to purchase 275,000 metric tons foreign kimchi, more than 11 times the amount it exported, according to data released Wednesday (Jan. 17) by the Korea Customs Service. Meanwhile its exports of the spicy fermented cabbage only came to $81 million. The result? A staggering $47.3 million kimchi trade deficit, with about 99% of the imports coming from China.

    South Korea’s been running kimchi deficits every year since 2006, except for 2009, according to the customs agency, which began tracking the data in 2000. That only time South Korea managed to beat the kimchi deficit was in 2009, when the country’s kimchi import value went down because of the strong performance of the Chinese currency’s strength that year, noted the International Monetary Fund.

    The rest of the time, South Korean kimchi just can’t beat Chinese kimchi’s prices. As of 2016, the kimchi average export price was $3.36 per kilogram (2.2 lbs) compared with the $0.5 per kilo import price, according to the Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation, a Seoul-based multinational exporting group.

    South Koreans ate some 1.85 million metric tons of kimchi a year in 2016, or nearly 80 pounds a person. At home, South Koreans may still be largely eating home-made kimchi, or domestically produced stuff. But South Korean local restaurants have opted for the cheaper fermented cabbage. In Yanji, a Chinese city that borders North Korea, Jingangshan, one of the largest local manufacturers, alone produces 20 tons (22 metric tons) of kimchi every day, and most of that will end up on dinner tables in South Korea’s restaurants.

    Weak demand from South Korea’s main kimchi export destination, Japan, also made it harder for South Korean imports, noted the Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation. The firm cited reasons such as Japan’s relatively slow economic growth and its shrinking population in recent years. (Japan once accounted for more than 70% of Korea’s kimchi export market, according to one 2014 estimate. )

    Isabella Steger contributed reporting.
    80 pounds a person per year.
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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    80 pounds a person per year.
    I can believe it. IIRC, kimchi is S. Korea's main staple, along with rice. I'm not a big kimchi fan. The best kimchi I ever had was when visiting a friend who was staying in Daejeon, S. Korea. The kimchi had been in a steel pot in the fridge, and it was good, but it was the HOTTEST thing I've ever eaten. This friend was actually Korean-American and she had made it herself. It was so spicy-hot I was sweating, and the weather was cold!

    I'm not sure I'd want to eat much imported food from China. I wonder what the lead content is.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 01-31-2018 at 03:42 PM.

  4. #34
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    Trade War

    How ‘Made in China 2025’ became the real threat in a trade war
    By JESSICA MEYERS
    APR 24, 2018 | 3:00 AM | BEIJING

    An employee counts money at a bank in Lianyungang, in eastern China's Jiangsu province. In the event of a trade war with the United States, China could resort to devaluing its currency. (Ryan McMorrow / AFP/Getty Images)

    China unveiled its plan to dominate the world's most crucial technologies with little international fanfare, another vague, guiding principle in the labyrinth of Communist Party bureaucracy.

    Three years later, it's at the core of a trade dispute with Washington that threatens to upend the global economy.

    Made in China 2025 is a blueprint for transforming the country from a labor-intensive economy that makes toys and clothes into one that engineers advanced products like robots and electric cars. The Trump administration views it as an attempt to steal U.S. technology and control cutting-edge industries.

    Officials aimed to temper the initiative this month when they announced potential tariffs on $50 billion in goods. But Chinese leaders consider the plan key to the country's development and refuse to alter its course.

    "China is trying to achieve a clear goal and America wants to stop it," said Andrew Polk, co-founder of Trivium/China, a Beijing research firm. "And that's where the competition is."

    Here's what China 2025 is all about and what it means for the trade war:

    What's the objective?

    The plan funnels billions into 10 industries, everything from biopharmaceuticals to aerospace and telecom devices. It calls for 70% of related materials and parts to be made domestically within a decade. A separate document details China's strategy to lead in artificial intelligence by 2030.

    Officials modeled Made in China after a German initiative called Industrie 4.0, which envisions greater automation in manufacturing and "intelligent factories" that operate with wireless sensors. They didn't have much choice. The world's biggest population is aging and rising wages are sending low-tech factories to other countries.

    "The labor supply is decreasing," said Ashley Qian Wan, China economist for Bloomberg Economics in Beijing. "And that's going to be a big problem for China."

    Why does China care about this so much?

    When President Kennedy vowed in 1961 to send a man to the moon, more than 30 million people in China had just starved to death. People's Republic founder Mao Tse-tung closed universities for a decade while researchers invented the Internet in Silicon Valley. China sees itself as simply trying to catch up.

    The country developed its first bullet train last year, a 248 mph vehicle named Fuxing, or rejuvenation. Engineers also built the country's first homegrown jetliner, an initial step toward filling Beijing's crowded airport with planes from China rather than America's Boeing or Europe's Airbus.

    Officials portray the initiative as transparent and open to foreign companies. They dispel notions that it will monopolize domestic markets. America's dismissal of the plan reinforces a party narrative that the U.S. seeks to undermine China's resurgence.

    "We have good reasons to question the legality and legitimacy of many actions taken by the U.S. on the grounds of national security, like its plan to impose high tariffs on many industries of Made in China 2025," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters this month. "Clearly, they are targeting something else."

    Why is the U.S. concerned about it?

    The Trump administration frets about the way China aims to achieve its 2025 ambitions. American businesses have long complained about the sacrifices they make to operate in the world's largest market, including requirements to partner with domestic companies and hand over trade secrets.

    Officials fear these techniques will make it impossible for U.S. companies to compete in the world's most critical fields. They also worry massive Chinese government subsidies will lead to a global glut of products that push down prices and hurt U.S. businesses.

    "There are things China listed and said, 'We're going to take technology, spend several hundred billion dollars, and dominate the world,'" U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told senators at a March hearing. "And these are things that if China dominates the world, it's bad for America."

    A lengthy U.S. report on China's intellectual property theft — which led to the most recent potential tariffs — mentioned the plan more than 100 times. Officials are exploring multiple ways to restrict Chinese investment in key industries. The administration recently banned ZTE, China's second-largest marker of telecom equipment, from buying American technology.

    "Consensus is growing in Washington that the U.S. is in a race with China for technical leadership," Arthur Kroeber, managing director of Beijing research firm Gavekal Dragonomics, said he recently told clients. And some think "economic cold war is the answer."

    Is the Trump administration right?

    President Xi Jinping recently told a room full of global investors that China would further open its economy. Officials last week said they would phase out rules that require car manufacturers like General Motors to find a local partner before opening factories in China. They plan to end foreign ownership requirements on electric vehicle makers this year.

    This wouldn't mark the first time authorities vowed to shed their protectionist shield. The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China complained last year that foreign businesses were suffering from "promise fatigue."

    The problem is China's high-tech ambitions include "plans to use instruments such as subsidized credit and market access restrictions," said David Dollar, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former U.S. Treasury official in China. "It makes sense for the U.S. to oppose this practice."

    But Chinese officials see an irony in efforts that try to maintain America's chokehold on innovation. Hua, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, likened the U.S. to a "bully — only it can have high tech and others cannot."
    Neither side looks willing to bend. Recent talks to deescalate the trade dispute reportedly collapsed over the 2025 plan.

    "China views the overall system as inherently unfair because it was created by the current dominant power," Trivium's Polk said. "America should stop complaining and start designing its own industrial policy to counter China."

    Meyers is a special correspondent.
    Twitter: @jessicameyers

    Kemeng Fan, Gaochao Zhang, and Nicole Liu in The Times' Beijing bureau contributed to this report.
    A trade war might have profound negative effects on the martial arts supply industry in the U.S.
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  5. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    A trade war might have profound negative effects on the martial arts supply industry in the U.S.
    Yup. It's so stupid to go to Trade War with the country which produses almost everything i think it would be more bad for US than to China. China has many other partners. I've never thought of it, but i suddenly googled an article about chinese-greek relationship . Many chinese now prefer to invest in greek real estate:
    "According to the Bank of Greece, the total amount invested by Chinese and Hongkongers in Greece between 2005 and 2016 totalled €585.2 million, €346.3 million of which was invested in 2016. However, according to the Institute of International Economic Relations, the real transaction volume is much larger. "

  6. #36
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    shipwreck find

    This is a cool story for this thread.

    1 day ago
    Shipwreck mystery solved thanks to 800-year-old 'Made in China' label
    By James Rogers | Fox News

    800-year-old 'Made in China' label reveals shipwreck secrets

    An 800-year-old piece of pottery has helped archaeologists put together fascinating new details about a medieval ship that sank off the coast of Indonesia.

    The wooden hull of the ship, which sank in the Java Sea, has long since disintegrated, but its cargo offers vital clues about the vessel.

    Fishermen discovered the wreck site in the 1980s and archaeologists have spent decades analyzing objects found on the seabed. Salvage company Pacific Sea Resources recovered the artifacts in the 1990s and donated them to Chicago’s Field Museum.

    The ship, which was transporting ceramics and luxury goods, is now revealing its secrets thanks to new analysis of the cargo. Experts published their findings in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.


    An inscribed piece of pottery recovered from the shipwreck site ( © The Field Museum / SWNS.com)

    “Initial investigations in the 1990s dated the shipwreck to the mid- to late 13th century, but we’ve found evidence that it’s probably a century older than that,” said Lisa Niziolek, an archaeologist at the Field Museum in Chicago and the study’s lead author, in a statement. “Eight hundred years ago, someone put a label on these ceramics that essentially says ‘Made in China’ — because of the particular place mentioned, we’re able to date this shipwreck better.”

    The ship’s cargo included ceramics marked with an inscription that may indicate they are from Jianning Fu, a district in China. Experts, however, note that after Mongol invasion of China around 1278, the area was reclassified as Jianning Lu.

    “The slight change in the name tipped Niziolek and her colleagues off that the shipwreck may have occurred earlier than the late 1200s, as early as 1162,” they said, in the statement.

    The likelihood of a ship from the Jianning Lu era carrying old pottery is slim, according to Niziolek. “There were probably about 100,000 pieces of ceramics onboard. It seems unlikely a merchant would have paid to store those for long prior to shipment — they were probably made not long before the ship sank,” she explained.

    In addition to ceramics, the ship was also carrying elephant tusks, possibly for use in medicine or art. Sweet-smelling resin, which could have been used for incense or for caulking ships, was also found.

    Previous carbon dating of the tusks and resin had dated the wreck to between 700 and 750 years ago. However, improved carbon dating techniques tell a different story.

    "When we got the results back and learned that the resin and tusk samples were older than previously thought, we were excited,” said Niziolek. “We had suspected that based on inscriptions on the ceramics and conversations with colleagues in China and Japan, and it was great to have all these different types of data coming together to support it.”

    Dating the shipwreck to 800, rather than 700 years ago is significant, according to the archaeologist. “This was a time when Chinese merchants became more active in maritime trade, more reliant upon oversea routes than on the overland Silk Road,” she said. “The shipwreck occurred at a time of important transition.”

    Shipwreck sites offer a fascinating glimpse into the past. Last year, for example, experts announced the discovery of a centuries-old anchor in the Caribbean believed to be from one of Christopher Columbus’ ships.

    Also in 2017, archaeologists in Japan found a cannonball that could lead to the sunken remains of a treasure-laden Spanish galleon.

    In 2016 archaeologists said that they had discovered the 500-year-old wreckage of Portuguese ship off Oman. The ship, Esmeralda, was piloted by an uncle of explorer Vasco da Gama.

    The Associated Press contributed to this article.

    Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers
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  7. #37
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    US flags

    It's ironic that so many US flags are made in China. You'd think US flags made in the US would be a sell point.

    As Trump targets trade, a Chinese factory says it's been hired to make flags for Trump's 2020 campaign
    Tara Francis Chan 9h


    An employee making hand-held US flags at a textile factory in Jinhua in China's Zhejiang province. REUTERS/Stringer

    The owner of a Chinese flag factory told an NPR podcast he was making flags for Trump's 2020 campaign.

    It's unclear whether the flags were ordered by Trump's campaign or other businesses, but the factory also made flags for the 2016 election.

    As the US's trade conflict with China heats up and President Donald Trump's reelection campaign gets underway, a Chinese manufacturer says his factory has been hired to create flags for Trump's 2020 bid.

    The factory, which used to make red scarves for the communist Young Pioneers before China opened up its trade, now makes about 100,000 international flags a day.

    "We also make flags for Trump for 2020," Li Jiang told NPR's "The Indicator" podcast. "It seems like he has another campaign going on in 2020. Isn't that right?"


    Trump supporters in front of Trump Tower in New York City. Kevin Hagen/Getty Images

    NPR said Li was making "blue-and-white Trump 2020 flags," though his factory and many others in the Zhejiang province in eastern China also made flags for Trump and Hillary Clinton during 2016. According to NPR, the Trump campaign was ordering so many more flags than Clinton's side that locals joked they were the first to know the businessman would become president.

    The committee organizing Trump's 2020 campaign, Donald J. Trump for President Inc., last year stated a commitment to "buy American" and said it had "produced and manufactured all of our merchandise right here in America" down to the American-made stitching on its "Make America Great Again" hats.

    The committee said "we put America first and take great pride in selling 100% Made in the USA products to our supporters throughout the country."

    The committee's executive director, Michael Glassner, said in a statement at the time that the committee would sell American products "all the way through 2020 and beyond."

    It is unclear whether the organization is the one to have ordered the flags revealed to NPR and, if it did, whether it planned to give the flags away at rallies and events rather than sell them.

    Trump's campaign website advertised hats made in America as Trump railed against Chinese manufacturing on the campaign trail in 2016, though unofficial foreign-made merchandise carrying the "Make America Great Again" slogan also flooded shelves across the country.

    As for a potential trade war affecting sales, Li, who said he used to make about a dime off each $1 flag he sold, told NPR he was unconcerned.

    "We are not so worried because first of all, we have a big price advantage over our competitors," he said. "And our clients are very smart. They would always go to the cheapest place. If China is cheap, they go to China. If America is cheap, they go to America."

    Business Insider contacted the Trump 2020 campaign to confirm whether it had contracted flags to be made in China and will update this post when it responds.
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  8. #38
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    Made in Vietnam

    We kinda knew this already. Anyone who does business with China knows it too.

    FORGET ‘MADE IN CHINA’. SAY HELLO TO ‘MADE IN VIETNAM’
    Nguyen Ba Hoi produces neither smartphones nor steel for export. Instead, he’s focusing on developing his country into a centre for innovation
    BY KARIM RASLAN
    3 AUG 2018



    Forget “Made in China”. There’s a new global buzzphrase: “Made in Vietnam”.

    Indeed, the once war-torn nation is fast-positioning itself as a key manufacturing hub. One in 10 smartphones in the world – you may be reading this article from one – are produced in Vietnam.

    In 2017, Samsung products alone accounted for a quarter of the country’s US$227 billion in exports, in which steel and furniture also strongly feature.

    But the Vietnamese are also adding value in a surprising way, and this is especially apparent in Da Nang.

    Nguyen Ba Hoi produces neither smartphones nor steel for export. Instead, he’s focusing on developing his country into a centre for innovation.

    Students from the University of Da Nang test out various techniques and gadgets for their personal and academic projects. Photo: Mai Duong

    He’s spending his time in Danang’s modern and sleek “Maker Spaces”, co-ops where creatives can invent and test out new products, that are quickly popping up all over the region.

    “University students come here to learn about thermal equations or build a musical instrument in two hours. We’re also developing a device to help patients who have suffered a stroke – for now, it’s just a prototype.”

    Married and a father of two, Hoi shows me around the Maker Innovation Space on the University of Danang’s campus, one of two facilities he has established since 2015. It’s filled with 3D printers, laser cutters and all sorts of modern gadgets tech junkies relish.

    But he hasn’t always had it easy.

    “Both my parents were primary schoolteachers and part-time farmers. They raised livestock like pigs … their income was super low.”

    Hoi was born in the rural village of Binh Lan Ward in Vietnam’s central Quang Nam province, with a population of more than 1.4 million. The place seems humble even today; one-lane roads and single-storey shophouses surrounded by hills overlooking unending swathes of forests.


    A near-empty road in the rural village of Binh Lan Ward in Vietnam’s central Quang Nam province. The place seems humble even today: one-lane roads and single-storey homes. Photo: Mai Duong

    “I was born in a very poor area … I came here to Da Nang to study and worked really hard, so I could support my parents. I weighed 38kg and slept four hours a day to learn English … I wanted to go overseas to further my studies.”

    After obtaining a degree in electrical and electronic engineering at the University of Da Nang, Hoi attended Thailand’s Asian Institute of Technology where he pursued a master’s in microelectronics. He then moved to Munich, where he helped develop a black box system for Mercedes-Benz.

    Now an alumnus of Washington’s Catholic University of America with a PhD in biomedical engineering, the ambitious 39-year-old is happy to be back home.

    “When I hear about the latest technology, it’s always someone from Germany or the UK who’s invented it. So why not someone from Vietnam this time? This is what places like Maker Space can do: give Vietnam’s young people a chance to make a name for themselves.”

    Vietnam’s third-largest city of just over 1 million people, Da Nang is poised to play host to more entrepreneurial and technology-centric initiatives like Hoi’s, pushing to develop technology and innovation sectors domestically.

    The country’s largest information technology company, FPT Corporation, is looking to transform the coastal metropolis into a “smart city” by 2020, investing US$658,000 on pilot projects such as real-time management of traffic signals and an electronic patient recording system in hospitals.

    Innovation even permeates city management. As part of its push to become a “green city” by 2025, Da Nang has already eliminated 12,000 tonnes of carbon emissions by introducing hybrid cars and solar-powered water heaters.


    A sign encourages university students at Maker Innovation Space in Da Nang. Photo: Mai Duong

    While many of the region’s economies are slowing down – especially in light of the US-China trade war – Vietnam’s gross domestic product expanded 7.38 per cent in the first quarter of 2018.

    Despite US President Donald Trump’s hostility to global trade, more than 60 American companies, from Microsoft to IBM, converged on Da Nang earlier this year to look for opportunities in the Central Key Economic Zone, comprised of seven provinces.

    Yet, with only 9 per cent of the workforce holding university-level qualifications, Vietnam may face a barrier to expanding its industrial capability beyond manufacturing.

    But Hoi remains optimistic.

    Sitting with his parents – who are now happily retired from farming – he quips, “I love this philosophy we have at Maker Space: when you come here, you can innovate and fail very fast. But then you try again and then you succeed. Before we succeed, we must fail a lot.”

    On the wall of Maker Space is a sign that simply reads: “design the future”.

    If Vietnam can upskill its workforce, cut red tape and create more Hoi’s – Vietnam’s future will no doubt be an inspiring and impactful one for both its people and the rest of the region.
    Gene Ching
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  9. #39
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    Made in China 2025

    Commentary: The trouble with 'Made in China'
    Amidst a trade war with the United States, China toned down its "Made in China 2025" plan.


    Chinese and US flags are set up for a signing ceremony during a visit by US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao at China's Ministry of Transport in Beijing, China April 27, 2018. (Photo: REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo)

    By Chengxin Pan
    11 Sep 2018 06:15AM (Updated: 11 Sep 2018 06:20AM)

    VICTORIA: While US President Donald Trump seems to be cosying up with the likes of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin lately, his administration wasted no time in upping the ante in its escalating trade war with China.

    At the moment, no one knows how this showdown might end, but what is certain is that the trade war has a lot to do with Washington’s concern over Beijing’s Made in China 2025 plan, the real target of Trump’s punitive tariffs on Chinese imports.

    This might partly explain why China has recently toned down its rhetoric on this ambitious plan.

    FEAR AND ANXIETY

    First unveiled by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in 2015, this industrial policy aims to move China further up the value chain, particularly in advanced manufacturing sectors, such as next-generation information technology, artificial intelligence, aerospace, modern rail transport equipment, new-energy vehicles, new materials and biomedicine.

    While widely billed to be China’s drive to gain technological supremacy at the expense of the US and other advanced economies, one must not lose sight that this Chinese strategy first came about from Beijing’s acute awareness of its position of weakness.

    Despite China’s long-held title as the world’s factory, for a long time its high-tech industries have been dominated by foreign companies.

    With a shrinking labour force, rising labour costs and growing environmental consequences associated with lower-end manufacturing, the Chinese economy faces the “double squeeze” from both newly emerging low-cost countries and advanced industrialised powerhouses.


    China's Premier Li Keqiang delivers a news conference with French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China June 25, 2018. (Photo: Fred Dufour/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo)

    To keep growing its economy, to continue to cater to a better educated workforce, and to avoid the so-called “middle-income trap”, turning to technological innovation and developing its advanced manufacturing sectors seem a no-brainer.

    After all, China is hardly the first country to resort to industrial policy to lift its economic and technological competitiveness: Witness “Star Wars” in the US in the 1980s, and Industry 4.0 and High-Tech Strategy 2020 in Germany.

    Indeed, Made in China 2025 has been inspired by Germany’s Industry 4.0.

    Yet few draw inspiration from Made in China 2025. If some Western news headlines are anything to go by, the policy has sparked anxiety, fear, anger, and even hatred, in addition to the trade war.

    Some of the outside fear and anxiety is justified. Given China’s track record in intellectual property protection, and widely held beliefs in Beijing’s unfair trade practice, it is not surprising that the prospect of China dominating industries of the future has set off alarm bells.

    This has not been helped by a recent surge in patriotic propaganda in China (for example, the nationwide screening of the documentary Amazing China), which has been criticised by some Chinese observers as Boxer-style nationalism.

    ECONOMIC NATIONALISM VERSUS GLOBALISATION

    Indeed, the very term Made in China 2025 itself is probably ill-thought-out. One can discuss Industry 4.0 without ever mentioning the country behind it; not so with Made in China 2025.

    And the problem goes deeper than just branding, it reflects a contradiction between economic nationalism and the reality of the globalisation of innovation, research and development.


    A man takes photos of a party flag of Communist Party of China made with flowers, which promotes the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), in Shanghai, China September 30, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/Aly Song)

    Even as we accept the general rationale and imperative behind Made in China 2025 (and the rules of the World Trade Organisation don’t prohibit any country from adopting an industrial policy), Made in China cannot succeed if it is made in China alone.

    Encouraging indigenous innovation is laudable and necessary (given the many complaints about China as a technology copycat), but it should not be conflated with technology nativism and protectionism. As former chief judge for the World Trade Organisation James Bacchus argues:

    China isn’t going to climb the competitive ladder by discriminating against foreign goods and services (and) shutting out foreign companies.
    In the past few decades, China’s rise has in large part been a result of its integration into the global production networks. Its continued development now hinges on its even deeper integration with the global innovation networks.

    If it is for this reason that China has downplayed the Made in China 2025 slogan, it is a good thing.

    But Trump’s wrecking-ball approach to dealing with China is the other side of the same economic nationalism coin.

    For the same reason of global economic and technological interdependence, Trump’s punitive measures to stop China from upgrading its industry will not work. If anything, it could backfire.

    A MISUNDERSTOOD POWER COMPETITION

    Past technology bans by the US have ironically spurred China’s progress in areas such as supercomputers and aerospace.

    After the US announced a seven-year ban on US companies supplying key components to the Chinese telecom company ZTE, Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to redouble China’s efforts to develop its own core technologies.


    The logo of China's ZTE Corp is seen at the lobby of ZTE Beijing research and development centre building in Beijing, China, June 13, 2018. (Photo: REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo)

    Caught up in the tit-for-tat trade war, and for fear of losing the lucrative Chinese market, some American companies seem ready to help China’s high-tech push. Tesla, for example, recently announced that it would build its first overseas factory in Shanghai, a move accelerated by the looming tariff war.

    Trump reasoned that the US couldn’t lose in this clash because it already had a very large trade deficit with China. Wall Street wouldn’t be so sure.

    Nor would noted scholars such as Arnold Toynbee and Robert Gilpin, who have observed a long-term trend of the diffusion of science, technology and economic power from advanced to less advanced states.

    But such power transition is precisely what the US administration is determined to head off. On that note, the US–China trade disputes, a symptom of a larger and much-misunderstood power competition, may still have a long course to run.

    Chengxin Pan is Associate Professor of International Relations in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University. This article first appeared on Lowy Institute's The Interpreter.
    And now, this is quite topical.
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  10. #40
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    More prisoner notes



    You buy a purse at Walmart. There’s a note inside from a “Chinese prisoner.” Now what?
    Tracing a mysterious message across the world to understand how what we buy is made.
    By Rossalyn A. Warren Oct 10, 2018, 8:30am EDT
    Illustrations by Julia Kuo

    When Christel Wallace found a piece of paper folded up at the bottom of her purse in March 2017, she threw it in the trash. She hadn’t yet used the maroon bag, made by Walmart and purchased from one of its Arizona stores months ago.

    But after a few minutes, she got curious. She took the paper out of the wastebasket, unfolding the sheet to reveal a message scrawled in Mandarin Chinese.

    Translated, it read: Inmates in China’s Yingshan Prison work 14 hours a day and are not allowed to rest at noon. We have to work overtime until midnight. People are beaten for not finishing their work. There’s no salt and oil in our meals. The boss pays 2,000 yuan every month for the prison to offer better food, but the food is all consumed by the prison guards. Sick inmates have to pay for their own pills. Prisons in China cannot be compared to prisons in the United States. Horse, cow, goat, pig, dog.

    Christel’s daughter-in-law Laura Wallace posted a photo of the note to Facebook on April 23. The post first went viral locally, getting shared and liked several hundred times, mostly by fellow Arizonans. After a few days, local media outlets picked up the story; a week or so after that, dozens of mainstream publications like USA Today and HuffPost followed suit. One video report on the incident accumulated 2.9 million views.

    Shares of the note provoked shock and outrage. Even those who were skeptical of the note’s provenance were incensed, pointing to a wider issue. “Who cares if it’s a marketing stunt?” read one comment on Facebook. “If it made five people rethink buying cheap crap, then it’s a success.”

    At the time, a Walmart spokesperson told a reporter in Arizona it was unable to comment because it had “no way to verify the origin of the letter.”

    You may remember this story or one like it. It follows a long line of SOS-style notes found by shoppers. They crop up a few times a year, and each story follows the same beats.

    First, a shopper in the US or Europe finds a note in the pocket or on a tag of a product from a big retailer — Walmart, Saks, Zara. The note claims the product had been made using forced labor or under poor working conditions. The writer of the note also claims to be in a faraway country, usually China. The shopper takes a photo of the note and posts it to social media. It’s reported on by all sorts of publications from Reuters to Refinery29, where the articles reach millions of readers.

    Then the hysteria cools, and the story falls into the viral news abyss. There’s no real attempt at verification. There’s no meaningful corporate gesture. There’s no grand reckoning with the system of global production from which this cry for help is said to have emerged.

    As for Christel’s particular Walmart note, there are a number of possibilities regarding who wrote and hid it, and its contents are difficult to fact-check. A Chinese prison called Yingshan may exist, or it may not. Forced labor may be practiced there, or it may not. A prisoner in China may have written the note, or maybe a Chinese activist did, or maybe an American activist instead. The note may have been placed in the bag in a prison factory, or somewhere else along the supply chain in China, or perhaps in Arizona.

    The only way to make sense of this puzzle — one with actual human stakes that can help explain how what we buy is made — is to try to trace the journey backward, from the moment a note goes viral to its potential place of origin. Which is how I find myself in rural China, outside of a local prison, 7,522 miles away from where Christel first opened her purse.

    Guilin is a city in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of southern China, and a tourist haven, renowned for the tooth-like karst peaks that rise from the banks of the Li River. Its limpid lakes and limestone caves draw tens of millions of visitors every year.

    To reach Guilin, it takes me two international flights, two taxis, a one-hour bus ride through border control, and three hours on a high-speed train. I travel from London through Hong Kong on to Shenzhen and then Guilin via the Guangshen Railway. There, I meet Channing, a local reporter hired to help me find the prison.

    We’re in Guilin because of the first and only concrete lead in the Walmart note: the name of the prison. The note writer says the prison is called Yingshan, and several weeks of research has led me to believe it’s located in China’s Guangxi region, home to many manufacturing factories because of the area’s cheap labor and low taxes.

    The very few details I can find about Yingshan prison come from a 10-year-old report on prisons across China written by a human rights group. The report suggests the prison may be in the suburbs of east Guilin, and so the plan is to explore the neighborhood, talk to locals, and look for signs — barbed wire, security cameras, anything.



    But before we embark on our prison scouting, we have something else on the agenda: a visit to the city’s only Walmart store. It feels important, given the note was found in a Walmart, albeit one on the other side of the globe. Perhaps a Chinese Walmart close to where the note supposedly originated can provide clues, or at least context.

    The Guilin Walmart is a 10-minute drive from the center of the city, spread across two floors in a shopping mall, on a road lined with scooter repair shops. Walmart is the world’s biggest retailer; it owns 11,700 retail units in 27 countries around the world, including Brazil and South Africa, under various banner names. In China, Walmart owns 389 Walmart Supercenters, in addition to 21 Sam’s Clubs and 15 Hypermarkets.

    A note on Walmart’s Chinese site reads: “Walmart China firmly believes in local sourcing. We have established partnerships with more than seven thousand suppliers in China. Over 95% of the merchandise in our stores in China is sourced locally.”

    The Guilin Walmart sells athletic shorts made in Vietnam, girls’ T-shirts made in Bangladesh, and sports jackets made in Cambodia. But for the most part, the store’s clothing is made in China, some of it just a few hours away. There are England football shirts and women’s purses from Guangdong, World Cup Russia sandals from Fujian, Frozen and Mickey Mouse tees from Shanghai, and baseball jerseys and Peppa Pig sun hats from Jiangxi.

    Countries the world over encourage citizens to “buy local,” so why would China be any different? Still, necessarily, what is local to one place — local practice, local perspective — is foreign to all others. To those in the country, “made in China” means items produced by their fellow Chinese that contribute to the robust economy. Elsewhere in the world, particularly in the US, the phrase draws ire, conjuring images of goods mass-produced in factories with questionable conditions by workers who have supplanted their own country’s workforce.

    Walmart in the US has tried and tested the homemade idea. In 1985, founder Sam Walton voiced a commitment to “made in America” products, launching a program called “Bring It Home to the USA” to buy more US-made goods. Around that time, according to reporter Bob Ortega’s book In Sam We Trust, Walton estimated 6 percent of his company’s total sales came from imports; a Frontline report found that number may have been closer to 40 percent. Bill Clinton, then the governor of Walmart’s home state of Arkansas, described “Bring It Home to the USA” as an “act of patriotism.” The program failed.

    It’s easy to understand why. The “made in America” ideal comes second to finding the cheapest sources of production — this was true in the ’80s, and it’s true now. A study released in 2016 found that three in four Americans say they would like to buy US-made goods but consider those items too costly or difficult to find. When asked if they’d buy an $85 pair of pants made in the US or a $50 pair made in a different country, 67 percent chose the latter.
    continued next post
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  11. #41
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    Continued from previous post

    TO THOSE IN THE COUNTRY, “MADE IN CHINA” MEANS ITEMS PRODUCED BY THEIR FELLOW CHINESE THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE ROBUST ECONOMY
    Today, Walmart outsources the majority of its production around the world. According to a 2011 report in the Atlantic, Chinese suppliers are believed to account for around 70 percent of the company’s merchandise. A 2015 analysis from the Economic Institute, a progressive think tank, found that Walmart’s trade with China may have eliminated 400,000 jobs in the US between 2001 and 2013.

    This is something Walmart says it’s trying to change. In its 2014 annual report, the company pledged to spend an additional $250 billion on US-made goods by 2023, saying it believes “we can drive cost savings by sourcing closer to the point of consumption.” Research from Boston Consulting Group projected this could create a million new US jobs.

    At the initiative’s 2018 halfway point, though, it’s unclear how many jobs have been created or how much money has actually been spent. Additionally, in 2015, the Federal Trade Commission initiated a probe into Walmart’s mislabeling of foreign goods as “Made in the USA.” Walmart took action by removing inaccurate logos and making its disclosures more transparent, only to come under fire for deceptive “Made in the USA” labels yet again the very next year.

    Forced labor is commonly practiced in the Chinese prison system, which the Chinese Communist Party first established countrywide in 1949, modeling it on Soviet gulags. The kind of crimes that land someone in the Chinese penal system range widely, from murder and bribery to saying anything remotely bad about the government. Freedom of speech isn’t a reality for Chinese citizens, who can face decades in prison for publishing articles about human rights online.

    A tenet of the Chinese justice system is that labor inside prisons is good for the country. The government, as well as many of its citizens, believes it helps reform corrupted people — and China is far from the only country to use prison labor. The US legally benefits from labor in its prison system, and while not every US prison practices penal labor, hundreds of thousands of American inmates work jobs that include making furniture and fighting fires. In August of this year, prisoners from 17 states went on strike to protest being forced to work, characterizing the practice as “modern slavery.”

    Peter E. Müller, a leading specialist at the Laogai Research Foundation, and his team extensively document the human rights abuses inside China’s prison system. This work includes identifying prisons and camps that employ forced labor, tracking the inmate population, and gathering personal testimony from those who have experienced forced labor.

    He says prisoners in China, the US, and elsewhere are sometimes paid for their labor. (In the Walmart note, the writer describes forced labor and beatings, as well as low pay for long hours and health care deducted from payment.) The amount depends on the financial situation of the prison; the average pay in American state prisons is 20 cents an hour. Müller says the monthly salary specified in the note (2,000 yuan, or $295) is “unusually high,” but speculates that it may be because the prison “makes good money because of high-quality workers.”



    Human rights organizations, such as the Laogai Research Foundation and China Labor Watch, say the biggest problem in stopping the export of products made in prisons is that the supply lines are “almost untraceable.” Supply lines, in general, are very difficult to trace due to the enormous complexity of supplier networks, a lack of communication between actors, and a general dearth of data that can be shared in the first place. The result is a frustratingly opaque global system of production.

    Li Qiang, the founder and executive director of China Labor Watch, explains that American companies that manufacture abroad place their orders directly with factories or sourcing companies, and that those factories and companies can transfer the orders to prisons without the company’s knowledge. In fact, some of these relationships are formalized to the point where prisons that use forced labor have a sister factory that coordinates the prison manufacturing.

    It’s essentially a front, as sister factories will use a commercial name for outside trade, intentionally mislabeling products that are made in prisons. Prisoners are never physically sent to the sister factories; the main bulk of the production happens on prison grounds. Once nearly complete, items are then sent to the sister factories, where they are prepared and labeled for international delivery. This system isn’t easy for companies to monitor. Suppliers conceal these practices from clients, and supplier checks are not frequent, especially for large corporations like Walmart, which use a large number of suppliers and subcontractors.

    Qiang says the issue can feel intractable. “Even if shoppers in the US understand that the items are being made under poor working conditions, there is nothing they can really do,” he says. “Multinational corporations will not invest in improving their supply chain if there are few laws to protect workers whose rights are being violated, and no successful lawsuits against brands, companies, or their factories for violating them.”

    On a Tuesday morning in late May, Channing and I sit at a table in our hotel lobby. We browse message boards on Baidu, one of the country’s most popular search engines and social networking sites, to see if the issue of prison labor is discussed on Chinese social media, or if it’s a subject the government censors.

    In a matter of seconds, Channing is able to find discussion boards filled with suppliers looking to outsource labor to prisons. The conversations are quite ordinary — there is no coded language, and full addresses and contact numbers are included in postings. We also find dozens of posts from people offering the services of prisons they work with to mass-produce items for overseas companies, including “electronic accessories, bracelets, necklace bead processing, toy assembly, and shirt processing.”

    One post in Chinese reads: “Because our processing personnel are from prison, it has the following advantages. The prison personnel are centralized and stable, and they are managed by the prison. There is no need to worry about the flow of people and the shortage of labor. The processing price is low: Since the processing location is in prison, there is no need for manufacturers to provide space and accommodation; and the prison works in the principle of serving the people, so the processing price is guaranteed to be absolutely lower than the market price. If your company needs it, please contact!”

    In an effort to verify not only that Yingshan prison exists but also that it’s one of many Chinese factories that use forced labor and contract with manufacturers, Channing and I drive toward the suburbs in the eastern part of Guilin.
    continued next post
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  12. #42
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    Continued from previous post



    Channing asks our driver to drop us at a high school so we can remain undetected. Nearby, I’d marked a spot where I believed the prison to be according to the human rights report I’d found before arriving in China. But the prison isn’t there. In its place is a crossing, though there’s reason to believe the prison is closed — a dilapidated sign pointing left reads: Yingshan.

    We walk down the road and find the area under heavy surveillance. Security cameras are hitched onto poles on every corner of the pathway. The ****her we walk, the more literal the warnings that we shouldn’t be there. Three different signs hammered into a tree read: “DO NOT APPROACH.”

    Yingshan prison, described in a note found in a Walmart handbag thousands of miles away in the US, does exist — and we are standing in front of it.

    Though it had been difficult to find, it actually doesn’t seem so hidden after all. It is integrated into the neighborhood, just around the corner from a driving school, near leafy streets and apartment blocks.

    The prison doesn’t look like an archetypal prison you’d see in the US. If it weren’t for the two security watchtowers, Yingshan could be mistaken for a modern residential building. Thick bushes cover dark blue metal fences lined with barbed wire. The high walls are painted cream with decorative white lines demarcating each of the building’s five floors. Each window has a neat white frame, with a metal air vent attached.

    Several guards in uniform are standing in the parking lot of the building next door. We don’t approach them for fear of being detained. The Chinese government treats both domestic and foreign journalists hostilely. Reporters are often banned from entering the country, and they have also been detained for their work. Our safest bet for gathering information is to speak to people in the area who may have ties to the prison.

    Walking down a second pathway that runs alongside Yingshan, the village of Sanjia comes into view. Sanjia is a small village that abuts the prison grounds. In the village, crumbling homes stand alongside gated, modern ones painted gold. Locals say this is because the land is being bought out, and that the village is grappling with redevelopment.

    Each person we speak to has a personal connection to the prison. They know people imprisoned, have a family member working inside, or have worked inside themselves. They tell us that guards who work in Yingshan are housed with their families in an apartment complex next to the prison. We realize this is the building with the parking lot filled with uniformed guards.

    Zhenzhu, who asked that her surname not be used for fear of retribution from the government, can see the prison from her front door. A jovial woman, she has lived in the village for 14 years, moving to the area right after she was married. As we talk, we hear pigs squealing. Zhenzhu explains that those are her pigs, 100 of them, next door in a slaughterhouse she runs with her husband.

    When the building of the prison commenced in 2007, Zhenzhu was three months pregnant, and her husband was employed as a construction worker on the project. By the time their daughter turned 3, the building was complete. Zhenzhu has visited the prison before, to see an inmate; Yingshan allows visits from family members under heavy security. She says its walls are buried so deep into the ground that “even if the prisoners want to break out by digging an underground tunnel, they can’t dig through.”

    YINGSHAN PRISON, DESCRIBED IN A NOTE FOUND IN A WALMART HANDBAG THOUSANDS OF MILES AWAY IN THE US, DOES EXIST — AND WE ARE STANDING IN FRONT OF IT
    Zhenzhu recounts much of what her husband told her about his experience at Yingshan. For years following the construction, he would visit for maintenance checks and additional building; trucks were always driving fabric in and out of the prison. The trucks, he told Zhenzhu, were from factories located in the Guangdong province. Guangdong is home to an estimated 60,000 factories, which produce around a third of the world’s shoes and much of its textiles, apparel, and toys.

    Everyone we speak to, Zhenzhu included, says they’ve seen labor inside the prison or have been told about it directly by inmates. None were familiar with Walmart goods being produced there, but some could confirm that women’s fashion is manufactured inside.

    To those in the village, prison labor is not just common knowledge; it’s also necessary. They consider the prisoners “bad guys” who have committed horrible crimes. In their eyes, the labor is a good thing: It helps rehabilitate inmates and gets them to understand the value of work. But that work can come at a great cost. According to local hearsay and furthered by a published account from a woman who was married to a Yingshan prison guard, inmates have been known to kill themselves because of the poor conditions and forced labor.

    Zhenzhu leads us around the edge of the village, to get a side view of the prison. She points to the building we first passed and tells us that’s where the inmates eat and sleep. She then points to a building ****her in the distance on the left that looks almost exactly the same. It’s also painted cream, but with slightly larger white window frames; a yard obscured behind the prison wall separates the structures. The second building, she tells us, is for “the work.”

    The Walmart note followed a tradition of hidden messages found by shoppers. In 2014, shoppers found labels stitched into several items of clothing in Primark stores across the UK. The labels, written in English, read: “forced to work exhausting hours” and “degrading sweatshop conditions.”

    As the notes spread across social media, the fast-fashion company conducted an investigation and found the labels were fake. The company said the items were all made by different suppliers, in different factories, on different continents. They stressed it was impossible that the same labels, especially those written in English, would appear on all the items and that they believed the labels were part of an activist stunt carried out in the UK.

    Though no one claimed credit for the labels, activist groups had been waging campaigns to protest Primark’s labor practices in the time leading up to their discovery. War on Want led a 2013 campaign against the company after more than 1,100 people died as a result of the Rana Plaza collapse. Primark, along with J.C. Penney and Joe Fresh, was among the retailers whose products were made in the Bangladeshi complex.

    Almost all the messages that have been found in stores have come under public scrutiny, as they’re often suspected of being written and planted by activists. The handwriting, the language, and even the paper used for notes have pointed to activist work. For example, several notes and labels, like the Primark ones, were written in English. Many inmates and factory workers in China, as well as Bangladesh, come from poor backgrounds and are unlikely to have had the chance to learn English in school.
    continued next post
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  13. #43
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    Continued from previous post



    There have been, however, at least two instances in which actual workers have claimed the notes. In 2011, a shopper bought a box of Halloween decorations at an Oregon Kmart. She found a note inside the box, allegedly from a prisoner in China explaining that he had made the item under forced labor conditions.

    Two years later, Zhang — a man who asked newsrooms to only use his surname for fear of being arrested and imprisoned again — claimed to be the writer of the note. He said he planted 20 such notes during the two years he spent in prison, with hopes they would reach American stores. His handwriting and modest English language proficiency matched those of the note, but even then, it wasn’t feasible to fully corroborate his story. As the New York Times wrote, “it was impossible to know for sure whether there were perhaps other letter writers, one of whose messages might have reached Oregon.”

    The second instance came in 2014, when a shopper in New York found a note in a Saks shopping bag she received when purchasing a pair of Hunter rain boots two years earlier. The note, written in English, claimed to have been written by a man in a Chinese prison; it also included his email address, photo, and name, which led to the finding of the alleged author, Tohnain Emmanuel Njong. Originally from Cameroon, he said he’d been teaching English in China when he was arrested in May 2011 and wrongly jailed for fraud charges.

    In both cases, the final step of verification would be to confirm with the prisons mentioned in the notes that Zhang and Njong served sentences at their facilities and that forced labor occurs there. But since Chinese prisons refuse to provide comment on such stories, there’s little way of definitively confirming the prisoners’ accounts.

    In 2017, the validity of hidden notes came into question yet again. Shoppers in Istanbul found tags inside clothing items in a Zara store that read: “I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it.”

    It turned out Turkish workers, who produced the clothing for Zara in an Istanbul factory, planted the notes in protest. The factory where they had been employed closed down overnight, leaving them suddenly without jobs or a source of income. The workers wrote notes urging shoppers to pressure Zara into giving them the back pay they were owed. They then went to a Zara store in the center of Istanbul and hid the notes in the pockets of clothing being sold inside.

    “WHEN WE THINK WE’RE NOT GETTING MOVEMENT FROM COMPANIES, WE TURN TO CONFRONTATIONAL TACTICS LIKE THIS”
    The Turkish workers didn’t come up with the idea of the notes on their own. The Clean Clothes Campaign and its alliance partner Labour Behind the Label (LBL), an organization that campaigns for garment workers’ rights, helped plan the action.

    LBL and other campaign groups have organized “note droppings” like this in retail stores like Zara for many years. The notes describe how poor labor practices are behind the store’s items; LBL gathers information about these practices through its own reports and interviews.

    “Dropping notes is an extension of leaving leaflets in stores,” says LBL’s director of policy Dominique Muller. “When we think we’re not getting movement from companies, we turn to confrontational tactics like this.”

    LBL doesn’t worry that the notes they plant in stores could overshadow any potentially real notes found in stores. “These notes are just a drop in the ocean. They’re still new” — as an activism tool, that is — “and they will continue to have an impact.”

    As of this June, the Turkish workers had only received partial payment.

    Finding Yingshan brought some answers about the validity of the note. For one, the prison named in the Walmart note exists. We heard firsthand accounts from locals who said forced labor does occur inside the prison as the note described. What we were told about the work is that the hours are long, the work is done indoors, and the labor involves manufacturing fashion items, which might include bags like the purse Christel bought in Arizona.

    After Walmart issued its statement about there being “no way to verify the origin of the letter,” the company launched an internal investigation. It was found that the factory that made the purse didn’t adhere to Walmart’s standards, which stress the need for “labor to be voluntary” and state that “slave, child, underage, forced, bonded, or indentured labor will not be tolerated.” As a result, the company cut ties with the supplier, a decision the company only disclosed after it was contacted for this story. Walmart declined to clarify whether the supplier in question had contracted with Yingshan prison.

    In a statement to Vox, a Walmart spokesperson wrote: “Walmart has strict standards for our suppliers, and they must tell us where our products are being made. Through our investigation into this matter, we found the supplier’s factory sent purses to be made at other factories in the region that were not disclosed to us. The supplier failed to follow our standards, so we stopped doing business with them. We take allegations like this seriously, and we are committed to a responsible and transparent supply chain. There are consequences for our suppliers when our standards are not followed.”

    One last question did remain unanswered. Was the note written by an actual prisoner, or by an activist with knowledge of the conditions that produced the bag? Müller of the Laogai Research Foundation believes the note is indeed real.

    The description and details referenced in the note, he says, mirror much of what he’s heard in interviews with former prisoners. He says the language, the style of writing, and the use of the phrase “horse cow goat pig dog” — a common expression in China that compares the treatment of prisoners to that of animals — add to its authenticity. He believes the writer of the note certainly risked his life to send his message.

    Even if the note is real, though, what’s come to light during the reporting of this story is that the Walmart note won’t end forced labor in China. The government is not going to release a public statement condemning human rights abuses inside its prisons because of stories like this one. It doesn’t see forced labor as a human rights abuse; Chinese citizens who don’t support the practices risk arrest if they speak out, and so most won’t.

    The pitfall of pinning reform on awareness is expecting a bad thing to end if enough people know about it. Very rarely does mass attention on an issue result in a tangible shift in how things work. If merely sharing information were enough, the countless viral stories about forced labor recounted here would have already resulted in widespread reform.

    Still, the incremental change the Walmart note led to — however impossibly small, however seemingly inconsequential — is a step. It has to be.

    Additional reporting by Channing Huang.
    "we found the supplier’s factory sent purses to be made at other factories in the region that were not disclosed to us." = kill with a borrowed dagger.
    Gene Ching
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  14. #44
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    So politicized now...

    Kinda dumb to get in a legal battle with a courthouse.

    Company removes 'Made in China' desks after contract flap
    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
    IONIA, Mich. — Dec 12, 2018, 11:04 AM ET
    Email
    A company has removed Chinese-made office furniture it delivered to a Michigan courthouse following a six-month legal battle with officials who wanted American-made products.

    The (Greenville) Daily News reports that Custom Office Systems removed the unwanted desks — many of them faulty — on Monday from the Ionia County Courthouse. The Ionia-based company earlier this year delivered the desks in boxes clearly marked "Made in China" along with some American-made furniture.

    County commissioners in April went with Custom's $41,862 bid over a rival's $33,739 offer based on the promise that the furniture would be made in the U.S. Commissioners demanded the Chinese-made furniture be replaced with American-made products and in June voted to end Custom's contract and accepted the rival's bid.

    Custom apologized and blamed the mistake on an oversight with its U.S.-based supplier.
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    2025

    I think most Americans are more concerned with 2020 than 2025. We're self centered that way.

    Macroscope by Bloomberg
    The world can rest easy, as there is nothing to fear from the Chinese government’s ‘Made in China 2025’ industrial plan
    China will spend US$100 billion less than budgeted for R&D in the five years ending 2020, missing the government’s target
    PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 December, 2018, 4:50pm
    UPDATED : Sunday, 16 December, 2018, 4:50pm



    China’s industrial ambitions have the US on edge. But what has actually come of its plans for global technology domination?

    The road map, which seeks to advance domestic production of critical technology, has been a key bone of contention in President Donald Trump’s trade war. Other reports said China may replace the programme altogether and give foreign companies more access to its market.

    On the same day, though, the State Council said it had decided to boost “mechanised farming” and upgrade agricultural machinery (while also noting that farmers would be subsidised whether buying foreign or Chinese brands). And the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said it would roll out policies to upgrade manufacturing with “cutting-edge technologies.” Both announcements were in line with “Made in China 2025” goals.

    The reports make one thing clear: China isn’t going to rein in its industrial objectives any time soon. At the same time, it’s a long way from achieving those targets.

    By the numbers, China increasingly doesn’t need the world’s factories. The foreign content of its exports, based on the ratio of imported components, has been dropping for the last 20 years. Most basic inputs are now made in China.

    But that is also true for foreign companies. Consider ABB. The Swiss industrial giant sources locally almost 90 per cent of the parts it uses to manufacture transformers, robots and electrical equipment in China, and sells most of its output there, according to Morgan Stanley.

    “Made in China 2025”, published in summer 2015, laid out how and why China would need to move up the technology ladder and close the gap with developed countries in higher-end or intelligent manufacturing.

    The plan identified 10 key sectors and set out targets to raise domestic content in core components and materials. The global community has balked at the proposal, seeing it as a type of stealth import substitution policy. Its financial scale has sent shudders, with hundreds of billions of dollars in funds backed by state banks and other pools of government capital.

    But Beijing doesn’t have much to show for all this. China’s research and development expenditure, while growing, remains well below the likes of the US and Japan as a percentage of GDP.

    R&D intensity, a proxy for how effectively the country has spent its money, has barely budged in the past two years.

    At a recent business forum, a senior official with the financial and economic affairs committee of the National People’s Congress NPC) said China was likely to miss its targets for R&D spending as a portion of GDP in the five-year plan ending 2020. The nation will effectively end up spending US$100 billion less than it had budgeted.

    Speak to CEOs of German machinery makers, and they will tell you China’s expertise may have reached the second or third level, but it is nowhere close to the highest tier. Chemical companies in southern China say every local entrepreneur wants to make the compounds but when it comes to the high-end they cannot quite cut it, producing formulations that are often unstable.

    In 2017, hi-tech manufacturing accounted for just under 13 per cent of total industrial value-added. More than half of China’s technology standards for smart manufacturing do not match internationally accepted ones. That might hinder foreign players, but it also impedes the nation’s own companies on the global stage.

    A look at the state of the new energy vehicle, or NEV, industry suggests China is unlikely to race ahead. Domestic production is supposed to have an 80 per cent share of the NEV market by 2025. Yet for all the millions of NEVs China now churns out, it has yet to produce a global or even a domestic champion.

    Instead, subsidies have led to swathes of low-quality electric cars. Several would-be “Tesla killers” have come and gone. Ultimately, China brought in Tesla itself to manufacture locally.

    Despite the trade tensions and the apparent barriers, foreign investment in China has continued to pour in. In the first 11 months, it rose 1.1 per cent to more than US$120 billion and the number of newly approved foreign-invested enterprises increased by almost 78 per cent. Funds going into the high-sector climbed 30 per cent.

    Clearly, foreign investors aren’t too concerned by “Made in China 2025”. After all, other countries have industrial policies. The US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement has local content rules. India has exorbitant import tariffs. And the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US now targets all of the industries China has listed in its 2025 plan.

    China’s openness to foreign investment has served it well - and overseas companies such as BMW, Dow-DuPont and Apple that have profited there.

    The country has a better chance of climbing the technology ladder by exposing its companies to the rigours of world-class competitors than by seeking to shut them out with rhetoric-heavy and substance-light strategy documents. There’s little to fear from “Made in China 2025”.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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