This review was submitted by jhbchina.
As the Great Recession of the new millennium speeds towards its third anniversary since it started in December of 2007, unemployed US workers of all job levels are once again asking, “When will companies begin hiring again?” This second recession within 9 years will once again be followed by a more severe job-less recovery. The China Price does an awesome job of walking the reader through today’s economic practices of large corporations operating in China, and how the Communist Party, Chinese business owners, and the people of China adapt to it. Though I am not sure if that was the author’s intention, it is the true gem of this book.
As I began to read this book, after being in China for 6 plus years, many of the stories were similar to what I had heard or experienced. Then I began reading chapter seven, “Account and Accountability”.
The China Price is filled with stories about Chinese factories, their owners, and their workers trying to get by and make money. It has it all, child labor, long working hours, corruption, labor activists, safety and health, and pollution issues. It focuses on how the Central and local governments adjust policy to maintain the country’s stability. If one reviews the American labor movement, you would think you were rereading the US labor history just before the Great Depression.
Once you get to chapter 7, you then realize that capitalism has returned to its roots of 20th century. In this chapter Alexandra Harney does a spectacular job of telling the rest of the world, how the Central and local governments have outsourced the enforcement of their own labor laws to the same buyers that are trying to avoid these same laws back in their home countries. Hence, the lack of improvement of working conditions in China.
Herein lays the oxymoron of capitalism. The CEO’s and large shareholders of these companies don’t want to enforce Chinese laws, they don’t want to be regulated by any government, and they don’t want to pay fair wages to any employee, anywhere. They liked things the way they were in the early 1900’s. These companies know how China operates. They understand that Chinese factory owners will not follow the laws or regulations if they believe these rules will hold them back from making profits. These conglomerates take just enough action to appease the labor activists on college campuses and else where, only to protect their brand image. In the board rooms of these businesses their CEO’s have already begun forecasting their ROI from their next plant relocation to China. The China Price tells you how it all comes together.
Hence, if you want to know where your next paycheck will come from, learn how the China Price is making your current employer figure out how to get you off the payroll, as they consider their options of moving your assignment to China. And as sure as I am writing this review, they are! Read the China Price, and learn how improving working conditions in China will bring your job back home.