CTD 447 Tong
Book Report 2
25 October 2011
Rivoli, R. (2009) (2nd Edition). The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Powers, and Politics of World Trade. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of China’s Apparel Manufacturing Industry
China leads in the apparel manufacturing industry like the United States leads in cotton production. However, China’s dominance is much different than that of the United States. China is competitive in the apparel manufacturing industry with its quick and cheap labor. However, their low price of production comes at a high price of workers’ quality of life. Thus, ...view middle of the document...
In turn, China depends on American’s supply of cotton to meet the Americans’ demand. Evidently, sourcing is a “race to the bottom” (89). The “enormous surplus of labor in China imperils workers worldwide, as international competition puts incessant downward pressure on wages and working conditions. Leading the apparel and textile industries to favor the cheapest and most Draconian producers who remain hidden behind the Chinese wall” (89). Unfortunately, China meets the demands of global trade by disregarding the workers’ quality of life. For decades, workers endured such ill treatment because they had no other choice due to the government.
The Chinese government’s attempt to control the population in cities had only created citizens to become victims of poverty, desperation, and sweatshops. The government’s enforcement of household registration, or hukou, “ensures a stable and cheap labor force for the urban industry while at the same time ensuring that rural citizens bring their labor but not themselves to Shanghai” (106). In other words, hukou and impossible regulations from “Custody and Repatriation” laws bred migrant workers for sweatshop labor, since they became “desperate and docile” (107). Cheap labor usually consists of workers who endure long hours of work, in horrendous conditions, with little to no compensation. Only those who are desperate and docile would submit to such treatment. Ironically, workers like young women discovered autonomy through working in factories. Even though the conditions and pay were awful, they still had a job and opportunity to work outside the male-dominated farms. Over time, women and other migrant workers’ found autonomy in the midst of unfair labor conditions. As a result, they could recognize their value and fight for themselves for the first time in their lives.
With the rise of workers’ sense of autonomy, activists began to help the workers’ fight by bringing awareness to the public and protesting to the corporations who outsourced to sweatshops. For...