Thursday, August 13, 2009
The China Daily on The China Price
Much to my surprise, the China Daily has reviewed my book in a favorable light. The review, published in today's China Daily, argues that "Harney's book certainly has plenty of grim material providing grist for the China-critic mills. But Harney has too much integrity and objectivity as a reporter to altogether ignore the positive side of China's export economy." William Daniel Garst, the reviewer, liked the story of the girls of room 817 (pictured on my Twitter page) and agrees with my argument that the China price is unsustainable. He does take a more sanguine view than I do in the book, where I argue that while China is changing and worker expectations are rising, not much will change until Western consumers do. If anything, the financial crisis has deepened Western consumers' appetite for cheap goods. But recent books like Ellen Ruppel Shell's Cheap, which generated good press coverage, suggest that at least coastal American pundits are willing to discuss the question that lies at the heart of The China Price: are we really okay with prices this low, even if they mean unsafe working conditions, unsafe products and the decampment of our entire manufacturing sector to cheaper locales abroad?