Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The China Price on China Law Blog

Check out The China Price on the China Law Blog! Read all about it here.

The China Price on Dennis Prager

I woke up at 1:30am last night to do an appearance on the Dennis Prager Show, a radio program. Dennis has some pretty clear ideas about China: he avoids buying Chinese-made goods whenever possible, because he believes it is a repressive Communist regime, he's worried about all those extra men produced by the one-child policy and the widespread abortions of baby girls. My view is that we would have a lot more impact on the conditions of Chinese factories if we thought more about how American companies treat their overseas suppliers. Listen to the story here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sichuan migrants need money

CHENGDU, China, May 26, 2008 (AFP) - After rushing back to their families following China's devastating quake, many migrant workers are returning to their jobs in the industrial heartland to funnel desperately needed cash home.
Still grieving and in shock after the tragedy that killed more than 60,000 people in largely mountainous and rural Sichuan province, the young men and women from farming areas feel they have no choice but to head back to work.
Sitting on a curb outside the main railway station of Sichuan's capital, Chengdu, 34-year-old Li was contemplating the fate of her family in quake-hit Mianyang as she waited for a train to take her back to her job hundreds of kilometres (miles) away.
"The family home is too dangerous to live in so everyone is outside, and they'll have to build a new house though I can't imagine how long that will take or how much it will cost," said Li, who only gave her surname.
Li works as a sewing machine operator in a textile factory in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, China's premier manufacturing region.
She and her husband, who works in a Hong Kong-owned electrical goods factory in Guangzhou, had rushed home 10 days earlier after not being able to get through to their families by phone for two days.
They would have to work and save even harder now, Li said, as she counted herself lucky not to have lost her only child, a 12-year-old daughter.
Many parents were not so fortunate when schools collapsed after the quake hit at 2:28 pm, during nap time.
Like many Sichuanese working in Guangdong, Li took annual leave to return home.
If workers wanted longer than their statutory two weeks' leave, they could take leave without pay, said Liu Kaiming, an expert on labour movement at the Shenzhen Institute of Contemporary Observation.
He added that many factories had helped Sichuanese get home, and were holding their jobs for their return.
Two weeks after the 8.0-magnitude quake, China's government is spending vast sums of money providing for the millions of people made homeless in the disaster.
But many are also depending on money being sent back by the millions of young Sichuan men and women such as Li who comprise one of the biggest groups of migrant workers in China's industrial revolution.
The money they send home is always a vital source of income for villages and towns across Sichuan, but even more so now after the disaster, said Alexandra Harney, author of "The China Price," a study of China's manufacturing boom.
"Most who have come home after the earthquake would be encouraged to go back to their factory jobs to ensure the flow of remittances continues as the need for that money has been exacerbated by the tragedy," she said.
Sichuan is one of China's most populous provinces, with nearly 90 million people, and one of the poorest as it is mostly mountainous and largely agrarian.
As a result, millions of Sichuanese have headed out in search of work, with five million in Guangdong alone -- accounting for almost 20 percent of the workforce there, Wang Liwei, of Guangdong's labour department, told official media last week.
Harney said the earthquake damage would have exacerbated the poverty of many people in the stricken region, and could potentially lead to an even greater exodus of Sichuanese looking for high-paying jobs.
"What drove them to Guangdong in the first place was a desperate need to make money and that need is now even more desperate," she said.
"If I'd lost my home and my family, I would know that I could find a place to live in a dormitory and earn a steady wage in a factory in Guangdong."

More ways to help Sichuan

Since I posted links to groups that are helping the rescue and recovery efforts in Sichuan, I have received a number of responses which, hearteningly, indicate that there is a lot of demand out there for more ways to give. One organization that looks really interesting is GlobalGiving, which makes giving money and time easy and transparent. They have been supporting Half the Sky's earthquake relief fund and created their own. Crucially, GlobalGiving makes sure that 85-90% of the funds you give are on the ground where you want them to be within 60 days, and they provide regular updates on how your money is being used. Very impressive stuff. Check out their website here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ethical Corporation Podcast

While I was in Shanghai, I did a podcast with Paul French, the super-duper Asia editor for Ethical Corporation. He knows his stuff. The podcast is available here.

How to help Sichuan

There has been an incredible international response to the earthquake in Sichuan, and that is heart-warming given the scale of the disaster. Fortunately, all of my friends from and in Sichuan, including Tang Manzhen, Deng Wenping's widow, are okay. But there are many more who really need our help.Here are a few of the places I am hearing about for donations. Of course, there are many, many more:

Half the Sky Children's Earthquake Fund
If you would like to donate to Half the Sky's Children's Earthquake Fund
you can do so through Global Giving:

Or directly to Half the Sky. You can donate by calling Half the Sky
(+1-510-525-3377) or on our website:'s+Earthquake+Fund

Also check out the National Committee on US-China Relations' excellent list of organizations here. This relief effort will no doubt be going on for years, so they will need all the help we can provide.

Earthquake Aftershock

The Carnegie Council magazine Policy Innovations did an interview with me while I was in Shanghai last week about the policy implications of the earthquake in Sichuan. The interview seems to be getting quite a few hits, which is great, though the subject matter is really sad. Read the interview and my responses here. More to come on places to donate money for the earthquake relief and rebuilding effort shortly.

Taiwan's China Post on The China Price

The China Post ran a story about The China Price earlier this week, picking up a story by Guy Newey that ran on the AFP wire. The story talks about how workers are becoming more empowered, learning about their rights and standing up to their employers. It's one of my favorite themes, and I am hoping more people will start talking about this issue. Slowly but surely, Chinese workers are changing China, and they will change the world. Read the story here.

The China Price on NPR

I was in China last week during the devastating earthquake, and it was an extremely sad, moving week to be there. It was extraordinary watching the Chinese television coverage, particularly as more reporters went deeper into the quake zone than I had expected. Wen Jiabao, in particular, made some very moving appearances in Sichuan, which were of course broadcast nationally. While I was there, I did an interview with Renee Montagne of Morning Edition on NPR. Listen to the interview here.

The China Price in AdvertisingAge

Last week, AdvertisingAge, the advertising industry's must-read, ran a piece I wrote offering some advice to executives sourcing from China who would like to know what's really going on in their factories. It generated a spicy little debate on the website, starting off with a comment from a man based in Shanghai accusing me of "cheap self-promotion" and concluding, as we hear increasingly, with someone trying to avoid buying Chinese-made goods entirely. Read the story, and its mouth-watering commentary, here.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Barnes & Noble Features The China Price

If you're in New York city or planning to be, the Barnes & Noble at 5th Avenue and 46th street have devoted an entire window to The China Price. I don't have a picture yet, but when I do, I'll put it up here so you can see how cool it is.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

China Price rising for computers

You heard it here first. The Financial Times is reporting today that the prices of computers are about to go up because of rising raw material and labor costs in China. I first wrote about this in my book, The China Price, and then in Slate last month. As Kathrin Hille writes in the FT, "The Taiwanese manufacturers have called for price rises following past surges in cost, but never managed to get their customers to agree. Now, however, several of the branded PC companies have agreed to share part of the burden, recognising that the entire supply chain is clamouring for price rises, according to executives at the notebook manufacturers." Read the FT story here.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

TimeOut Hong Kong on The China Price

"Harney has delivered the most important book on the mainland economy of the year." That's what TimeOut Hong Kong reviewer Nick Walker had to say about The China Price in the fabulous first edition of TimeOut Hong Kong (which is awesome, a major improvement to the Hong Kong cultural scene). He gives the book five stars out of six - and the only other book to merit that high a rating in the section is one by Kurt Vonnegut. Check out the review online here.