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Forums > Social Discussion > Made in China - supporting slave labour?

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:I am currently playing with the thought of having stuff made in China...

Now my (sub)consciousness tell me not to and transforms all those news from China into horrible scenarios of slave labour...

I mean China has an oppressive regime on top of it that I would support when following the path of cheap production in China... The occupied Tibet (amongst others), mistreat their people and the environment...

To exagerate: Sometimes the Chinese dragon transmutes into a monster to me...

India is maybe not much different, but at least they have a "democracy", "freedom of speech" and are somewhat less territorial (except for Kashmir)...

What do you think?


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Tao Star


Tao Star

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Location: Bristol

Total posts: 1662
Posted:hmmm, i think it could be difficult to avoid because there are so many products coming from there, and also it's often hard to tell where componant parts were made etc. but it's good point that had never even occoured to me before...

i'll have to think about this one!


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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted:Yep, By having your product made in China you'd be directly profiting from the labour of oppressed slaves.

A more morally significant decision would be either make the stuff yourself, or have it made in a first world company where you provide a living wage and the appropriate benefits to your workers. You may be able to justify your China decision by telling yourself that the workers might make nothing at all if you didn't support their economy and you're doing it under protest.

It all depends on which you value more, your morality, or your money.

Of course you could always have your stuff made in China, and then lie about it...more profit AND a public perception of "goodness"


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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:eek stout! I would get brain cancer within a week!

My mind is not wired like this - fortunately...

How about.... India or Thailand then?


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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada

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Posted:Brain cancer? Mind not wired like this?? Oh, you must mean the "lie about it" comment. just had to toss that in there smile It can't be the make it yourself, or paying living wages idea, can it?

I have a friend who has clothing made in India, and he says the problem is with the quality. The samples look great but the finished order is completley different. Colours are wrong, seams aren't straight sizing is off, things like that. He says what they're banking on is him having to accept the substandard goods on the assumption that he'll be leaving the country shortly, and can't afford the time to wait until the order is completed properly.

Another friend, who's actually Thai, tried having his stuff ( handmade glass beads ) made in Thailand last year and had the same comlpaints about quality. He had a pending order from a huge multinational corporation, and there was no way he could fill it himself, or pay living wages to have it done locally, so he set his sites on his homeland, which he was planning to visit anyway. Needless to say the deal didn't happen.

Tom, I've seen your website, am I correct in assuming you're planning on having jewlery made? Would quality be an issue, is this high end stuff?

From a moral perspective, Thailand would seem to be your best choice, they don't seem to oppressing anyone, anyone that is, who can pass the piss test.


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BansheeCat
BRONZE Member since Jul 2005

veteran
Location: lost

Total posts: 1247
Posted:You could get things made there, but select and work with, or even establish, a company that does not abuse it workers. Or a collective. There are some, and there would be more if people insisted on using them, and supported demanded and maintained their efforts to be ethical.

You are a lot more likely to be a force for posative change if you have some finacial influence within the country.

Then you just have to worry about the ethics of the fossil fuels used to transport them across the world...;-)

Realistically, having just done much research for manufacturing in plastics in Canada, vs Thailand, there is no possibility whatsoever that I could put out my product and have it be successful if I chose to all aspects of production here. The product would fail, priced out of the acceptable retail range.

I agree that maybe that retail range needs to change in order to reflect the actual costs of producing such thing under acceptable conditions. And I am willing to do that., But the consumers also have to be willing, and so far, that willingness is pretty limited.

But that change will happen slowly. So I may need to start it elsewhere, and just be careful about the manufacturers I chose to work with overseas.Maybe I can do something good influencing them, even if only in a very small way!


"God *was* my co-pilot, but then we crashed, and I had to eat him..."

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:Click

and

clickclick

 Written by:

Last week a story on NWI by Ian Williams of Channel 4 news looked at the poor conditions that many rural migrant workers in China face in the endless factories of coastal China. The factories are largely responsible for China's economic miracle but the migrant workers experience few benefits of the success. There are increasing concerns over the number of workers that are injured in the factories often as a direct result of their 7 day a week, gruelling work schedule. One lawyer is taking on the big companies and fighting for migrants rights to compensations for such injuries. The Chinese authorities appear divided on what to do with him.

(...)

In Shenzen, close to Hong Kong, there are thousands of factories and millions of migrant workers toil in deplorable conditions. The area is seen as China's economic powerhouse but the conditions are deplorable and accidents are frequent. Zhou says that on his tally there are around 10,000 accidents per year, usually involving losing fingers or limbs. He believes that this is an underestimation of the actual number.



... just after brief research... there is more concerning news about lost limbs in shenzen, some stating that there is an ridiculous large number of ppl being crippled EVERY DAY!

Quality is an issue, for sure rolleyes I have gained experience and sank quite some money into quicksand already... But I learned from this and know what to do in order to prevent...

Stout: Yes it was about the lying thing and yes it is jewelry AND other things that I would like to offer to the fire-spinning community (one and THE foremost reason I ask this question here)...

See on the EJC in Slovenia last year I offered my product to a wholeseller/ retailer who is selling quite well to the community (juggling equipment etc) and he looked at it, asked for the price and told me: "Well, I can have this made for xx $ in China, maybe I should sell them to YOU? But nice design anyways - let me buy this one off you right here and now..." eek

Certain rules apply in China, as they do in India or Thailand - I'm not the first and only one who is doing this/ thinking about it and not the only one who is considering to work as an agent in some of these countries, to minimise the losses of ppl trying to have something produced there.

Question also is: Would you be ready to pay MUCH more for a product that has a good quality standard and is made in the first world?

Fact: Almost ALL VLM's (Very Large Multinationals like Adidas, Puma, Siemens, BMW, Nokia, Billabong, just to name VERY few) have their stuff produced in the 3rd world (i.e. in China), hence sell it for a ridiculous price in Europe, US and Australia - financing the development of industries in China and India (and their 57th appartmenthouse in Shanghai for example)... and pls do not tell me about freight charges, taxes and wages for our workers umm

I'd be bold and say that every worker in the first world would pass on a wage increase, if the prices would stagnate too...;)


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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

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Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted:How about the make it yourself and do your own retailing option rather than trying to market to businesses who need to double YOUR price in order to successfully operate? Cutting out the middle man if you will.

I find with the stuff I make and sell for a living that this is what I have to do

Not only can I ask my prices ( within reason, of course ) but I find people respond to the " I made this, it's cool, you should buy it" sales pitch and are not as critical of price point as they would be in a store or online.


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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:See, Stout it depends on what you want to do in life and what your capabilities are... I'm not a good shopkeeper, that's what I know about me.



I love to be out there and do things, design, try something new, explore... as in marketing and accounting I am not good... shrug It's just not how I am...



*edited due to confusion of my own wording*

EDITED_BY: FireTom (1143603390)


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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada

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Posted:O.K. as long as you're not selling yourself short here...Marketing is pretty easy if you believe in your product, and accounting can be ummm, errrrr...simplified. wink

I was intrigued by your fire spinning community and EJC comments, and was thinking more along the lines of using venues such as festivals to do your retailing in, rather than opening a store.. The festival idea has the advantages of limited time spent selling, location changes weekly, lower rent with no commitment to the "off season", outdoors in the sun.

The shirts idea may fly, however the garment industry is risky at the best of times, and it all depends on what kind of shirt. T-shirts only have limited value, due to the nature of what they are,and wholesaling in this market is usually a volume game, which really translates to a significant initial cash investment. There's the risk factor to consider too.

But a decent fire spinning design, marketed in the spinning community, now there's an idea that has potential, assuming the E.U. spinning community is as large as I believe from my online meanderings. I have no idea what's already available though.

Proper button up shirts are another story, unfortunatley one I have no experience with however if you could find a few retired seamstresses, who don't need the money, then not only will you be supporting the local economy, but giving someone a little "fun money" and thereby directly improving their lives too.

Likewise, spinning jewelry, say a figure 8 bent out of wire ( titanium, SS, nichrome) to represent the path a poi takes while spun in a reel, or an atomic or..? with semi precious stones set to represent the heads in perfect split time. Poi earrings? a staff pendant? Tie that in with the mythical healing properties of some stones and you have a nice niche marketing tool. Low overhead too.

The trick is to strike a balance between lifestyle and profit. Set your ideals and work backwards and see how the numbers work out. Weigh the risks, expenses, and try to explore what else could go wrong ( like what would happen if you did take the third world option, and the shipment was substandard, or late )

And keep in mind, you plan on doing this for a living, which is quite a bit different from running a hobby business.


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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:Thanks for that Stout, we're moving offtopic here and I'm about to edit my above post, because I do not want to put myself in the light of pretending to be "on the good side" and market my products here.

Slightly confused upon my own words...

Back to topic:

From dpa.org

 Written by:

Workers' safety big casualty in booming Shenzhen

More and more workers are losing their limbs in industrial accidents because of lax safety, and are then sacked or poorly compensated
Victims of poor safety standards. This is what poor safety standards can cause. Losing their arms while working in factories in China's Special Economic Zone in Shenzhen, the young men have paid a heavy price as breakneck economic development takes it toll. -- AFP

SHENZHEN -- Mr Fu Xulin had been in his job making Father Christmas toys at a Shenzhen factory for only 24 days, when his hand was ripped off by a moulding machine.

He was rushed to hospital where doctors told him the hand could be reattached but surgery would cost around 100,000 yuan (S$20,500).

"My boss told the doctor to just cut my hand off because he didn't want to spend that kind of money,7quot; he explained.

The factory owner covered Mr Fu's 9,000 yuan (S$1,845) medical expenses and offered him 33,000 yuan (S$6,765) in compensation for his lost hand but then locked him in a room at the factory when he refused to accept the offer.

Without the help of lawyer Zhou Litai, his case would have likely sunk into oblivion like thousands of others in a country where labour standards have been trampled underfoot in the pursuit of economic development.

The lawyer, who has made a life's work out of standing up for the rights of workers from China's impoverished hinterland provinces, lives in a ramshackle house on the outskirts of Shenzhen, together with 30 accident victims.

"Although it is against the law, most victims of industrial accidents are simply dismissed from their jobs so they have no way to feed or clothe themselves afterwards, let alone take a case to court," he explained.

Since he began fighting for higher compensation for industrial accidents in Shenzhen's courts, he has fed and clothed about 80 penniless workers and landed himself deeply in debt.

"I feel happy that I have forced the local government to take worker's safety more seriously," he said.

But labour standards in Guangdong, which was the first province opened to foreign investment, remain poor and are steadily worsening as laid-off workers from state-owned factories stream into the job market.

"Labour conditions are getting poorer in China as more workers in the state sector lose their jobs and local governments cut corners to attract foreign investment," Mr Apo Leong, a labour activist with Asia Monitor Resource Centre in Hongkong, explained.

Other law firms will not touch the cases he handles for fear of being disbarred by the local authorities, and the lawyer is regarded with suspicion by the government.

But for young men and women living with him and waiting for their cases to come to court, he is their only hope. --AFP



More

 Written by:

Shenzhen: Italian supervisor beats workers protesting salary cut

The firms sales director says: An exaggerated incident. This is not a wage cut but a redistribution of the salary grid. The workers charge: They are racist. They treat us like slaves.



Shenzhen (AsiaNews) More than 3,000 employees of the DeCoro sofa company took to the streets of Shenzhen yesterday to protest against one of their supervisors, an Italian who they claim maltreated three of their colleagues in a dispute over wages.

Contacted by AsiaNews, Giovanni Prati, the firms sales director, said the scuffle broke out after three workers who were fired tried to get back into the factory by climbing onto a truck. Our supervisor was threatened and the incident broke out then.

According to the Hong Kong media, yesterday morning, the workers marched from the factory in Pingshan industrial estate to a highway. The protesters shouted slogans like Enough violence, Restore justice and Protect our human rights", however they were dispersed by riot police armed with shields and clubs.

One worker, Liang Tian, claimed that the company tried to make the workers accept a 20% cut in their wages on pain of dismissal. Liang said he tried to reason with the supervisor who however lost patience and hit him. "I was the first to be beaten. He pulled me up and punched me hard in my stomach. I was knocked out for a few seconds. He stamped on my face while I was lying on the ground. It was really humiliating. Another worker, Li Fangwei, said it was not the first time they had been maltreated: They regularly beat Chinese workers. They are like wolves. They are racists and treat us like slaves.


and more

 Written by:

13 August 2001

Young Chinese men are increasingly becoming victims of forced labour as economic necessity forces them to migrate to other provinces in China where they have been promised well paid jobs in brick factories or stone quarries.

An article by Bruce Gilley published in this week's Far Eastern Economic Review (16 August 2001) recounts how 27 men were forced to work as slaves, for 12 hours a day and no pay, in a brick factory in Dingzhou, China. One of the men who tried to escape was caught, dragged back to the camp and beaten to death in front of the other men. It was only on 22 May 2001, after one worker managed to evade the guards, that local labour officials were informed and arrived to arrest the manager and free the men. The workers had been enslaved there for more than one year.

This is not an isolated case. In February 2001, the local newspaper, Dahe Daily, reported that officials in Zhengzhou, Henan province, tried to free 30 slaves from an illegal coal pit, but were turned away by 20 armed guards and had to return the next day with armed police. The same paper later reported that another coal pit was closed in the area and 16 slave labourers, whose ages ranged between 14 and 73 were released.

In May 2001, five women, who were being forced to work without pay at an industrial materials polishing factory, escaped during an electricity blackout, according to a report in the Yanshan Metropolis News. The five migrant women had been working alongside 30 local women who were paid normally and free to leave.



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Mr Majestik
SILVER Member since Mar 2004

Mr Majestik

coming to a country near you
Location: home of the tiney toothy bear

Total posts: 4693
Posted:i think, quite simply and regardless of morals, western society cannot survive without abusing and oppressing people of other nations.

"but have you considered there is more to life than your eyelids?"

jointly owned by Fire_Spinning_Angel and Blu_Valley

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:That's still to be proven... (I hope)

But if it's true, then watch western society retard and die, because China and India can well survive without us - we handed them already what they need to know.


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Posted:FireTom: Mr. Majestik is close to the truth. Western society cannot continue to thrive...

A man named Lawarence Kohlberg studied phases of moral development. The 6 Stages are stated as:
1. Punishment and Obedience
2. Instrumental Exchanged
3. Socially Good/Bad
4. Law and Order
5. Legal Contract
6. Universal Principle

Each and every one of these stages offers different opportunites to answer the question of whether or not it is ethically/morally right or wrong to take advantage of foreign trade and exchange rates. There is no clear cut right or wrong answer. Either you want to continue to thrive or you don't, you want to be morally right, or wrong, etc. etc. etc. debate goes on


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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:umm Which justifies... ?

Is that really the alternative: either you want to thrive (and continue abuse) or you don't?

Do you mean that slave labour in China therefore is justified?

I have problems to understand where you're going to... pls dispense more input on your opinion.


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Mr Majestik
SILVER Member since Mar 2004

Mr Majestik

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Posted:i dont quite understand that either, i think it may be either we thrive on them or they thrive on us?

of course western nations can survive by oppressing large numbers of their own society too, but that can lead to riots and such things. (hello france, hello IR laws) wink


"but have you considered there is more to life than your eyelids?"

jointly owned by Fire_Spinning_Angel and Blu_Valley

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Posted:I didn't form an opinion, I simply supported the research given to me. Each level of ethical maturaty would form a different opinion. I will give you my opinion of each if that would help clarify.



If I were at stage 1 and because international law doesn't restrict commerce in this way, I would support making products in China.



Stage 2 would also support for obvious reasons: increased profit.



Stage 3 would have me on the iceburg of a moral delema which is where firetom may be in this issue. He is asking us wheither or not we believe he will be a good person if he does this.



Stage 4, similar to the first stage, as it applies to this decision.



Stage 5, raised in western culture I'm capitalist, I would be pro making my products in China.



Stage 6, since the world seems to accept this business practise universally.



(You asked for my opinion, reading back it clearly shows how I feel on all levels of the issue. If you go through the same stages, you may have a different perspective)



 Written by: firetom



Do you mean that slave labor in China therefore is justified?





Why don't you ask the man in China who is making your parts whether or not he is happy.



Mr Majestik:

China seems to be doing very well. Does that mean we are in the decline?

EDITED_BY: TheGreatSaint (1143706435)


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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:Great Saint: you actually read my quotes of press releases? umm so much for happyness... not to speak of chinese dissidents and demonstrators killed... critics held in prison or home-arrest, etc.

Thanks to all participating in this discussion and your input - for me the case is closed and solved: I could not live with the knowledge that I oppose oppressive, violent dictatorship on one side and support it on the other - no matter whether YOU would buy it or not. shrug


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Mr Majestik
SILVER Member since Mar 2004

Mr Majestik

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Posted:china is doing well, many of the people who live there are not.

"but have you considered there is more to life than your eyelids?"

jointly owned by Fire_Spinning_Angel and Blu_Valley

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:Very well put, Mr. Majestic... China is doing incredibly... superb!

Reasons are, because the West is pouring in money and know-how, workers in China, as the population in general is treated like crap, along with the environment...

Still, my boots were made in China... my PC will definately have some components inside, made in China... etc. am I therefore a hippocrate? umm

A strong moral and ethical stance is one thing, but bottom line is that we have to find our (individual) balance and a way to survive without surrendering our principles...

The general prognosis - if it comes to China (as far as the opinions point that I have been listening to in the past) - is that "they" will kick "our" butts in the very near future.

Sure "the Chinese" want (and have every right) to enjoy all the gadgets that the west has... but we have to keep in mind that resources on this planet are somehow limited.

Steel for instance is sold at daily market price already, due to demand. All other elementary items are rallying at the moment... including precious material.

All this is linked to higher demand in India and China...

Personally I have nothing against it, but want to point out that China is run by an oppressive, violent regime, that is not bound to citizen-satisfaction (whatever that means)... Unfortunately any superpower in the world seems to have issues with human rights and environmental protection... There seems to be some connection...

I personally just do not necessarily want to base any of my income on financing a regime that ideologically cannot support even the slightest...


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Tao Star


Tao Star

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Location: Bristol

Total posts: 1662
Posted: Written by: FireTom


Still, my boots were made in China... my PC will definately have some components inside, made in China... etc. am I therefore a hippocrate? umm

A strong moral and ethical stance is one thing, but bottom line is that we have to find our (individual) balance and a way to survive without surrendering our principles...




agreed. and going back to your first post..i think drawing that line at paying to have stuff made there would be a very good place to start!


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ickleMatt


ickleMatt

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Location: L.O.N.D.O.N.

Total posts: 242
Posted:When I worked in a reputable juggling shop (shalln't tell which one) we use to have a range of poi (the cheapest of the lot) which were made in China. When trying to sell some poi to a poverty struck school kid or student, we would go through the whole range from 20 down, until we got to the the chinese poi and it would be "... or you could buy these from China for 5..." It would always be interesting to see who would go for them.

The only reason I could sell the chinese poi was becuase I actually didn't want to sell them and rather they burnt in hell.

Personally if I was going to get some stuff made for me to sell then I would want to do it with a clear conscious and know that no poor kid is chained to a desk making them for 14 hours a day. I am sure it is possible to find manufacturers that have signed up to ethical guidelines, whether you know that they implement them or not depends on the strickness of the guidelines.

Actively search for ethical partners and then you can look that kid in the eye when you sell the product and know that the kid doesn't have a counterpart on the other side of the world suffering to earn its crust.


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Dunc
GOLD Member since Aug 2003

Dunc

playing the days away
Location: The Middle lands

Total posts: 7263
Posted:eek Presuming that all factories in Chine are dirty sweat shops is a serious prejudice I really didn't expect from you Tom.

Yes it has been bad (as has every other "developing" nation in the early years, not that it makes it acceptable of course) but it's getting better.



The power for change is with people like you!! China's economy cannot grow without having more imported money than exported. It's simple mathematics. If they want to grow they have to keep customers happy. If every company who sourced items from China (and lots of other similar places) prioritised and insisted on suppliers who provided a high quality workplace and maintained basic workers rights it would change virtually over night. The reason being it doesn't actually cost much, not much more than the comparitive beans you're paying for each component purchased.



The power is in your hands Tom, do the right thing and help continue the change. Huge corporations like Toyota can do it and so can you! Power is in the biggest AND smallest wallets of this world, use it wisely and the race will benefit. Use it unwisely and only a few will benefit.


Let's relight this forum ubblove

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Mr Majestik
SILVER Member since Mar 2004

Mr Majestik

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Posted:ok, dunc, i'll just sit here and twiddle my thumbs until all companies in china change there practices.....umm

"but have you considered there is more to life than your eyelids?"

jointly owned by Fire_Spinning_Angel and Blu_Valley

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:dunc - I get your point and partly agree... I do not brush ALL chinese factories over the same cliff, hence I am facing difficulties to follow the mainstream (capitalistic) approach.

Fact is that China has a "communist"... well no that is not a fact... again:

Fact is that (these days) China is run by an oppressive totalitarian regime, that treats its citizens and environment like dirt (by the way I would not have stuff made in the US either... wink )

Fact is that by taking money to China I am pouring even MORE money (along with the VLM-mainstream) into this system, that is seriously endangering the economy in my very own country (yes, the same or similar with India)

Understood that I could make a difference (there)... but there is a German saying that goes like: If you go to sleep with dogs, you will wake up with fleas... or something like this... I am trying to recognise my bigotry and NOT to pursue it... By saying... yeah, I am producing in China, trying to make a difference, hanging on to ethical values, expecting China to change their political orientation by developing their economy even more... I guess I'd be a smart liar, OR contribute to "Operation desert storm"...

What I mean is, that the US were sacking the Iraqui system with guns and seem to develop a very smart alternative in China: Instead of bombs, they throw B. Franklins, G. Washingtons or A. Linconlns (by the way THE most effective weapons of mass destruction EVER)...

So the international industrial community are throwing "greenbacks" and with this they are trying to "force" China (did I meantion that they have an oppressive communist regime?) into democracy and to obey human rights...

This is a verys interesting approach and I will be thrilled seeing it work!

My prayers go out for the politicians of China, who are suffering from severe increase of (swiss) account balances.. it must be extremely painful...

angel

wink


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