May 11, 2017

What you’re buying when you’re buying something “Made in China”

It was once dubbed as Asia’s sleeping dragon, but these days, there is no doubt that the dragon has awaken. China has definitely risen to prominence, as it had become one of the world’s largest economies. 

Clandestine China

China values its secrecy, and has set up systems to keep whatever’s happening inside under wraps. While there’s a veil over what goes on inside the government and inside businesses, it’s like everyone from outside has a common understanding of what a “Made in China” tags means: it’s a highly affordable, widely available product, but with quality that leaves a lot to be desired.

From infant formula, denim jeans, to toy cars and aluminum pans, you name it–China has done it. Even the sewn-in label on your favorite high-end shirt probably says “made in China.”

image courtesy of Purse Forum

image courtesy of Purse Forum

Miuccia Prada is even proud to admit that her luxury items are manufactured by inhabitants of The Red Dragon.

What are you exactly paying for if you’re buying something made in China?

One, cheap labor because the workers are underpaid.

You think that’s bad enough? Add “overworked in inhumane working conditions” to the equation.

Ivanka Trump, the daughter of US President Donald Trump, came under fire recently because her eponymous clothing brand. A factory audit of her brand’s contractor revealed that the workers are underpaid. The people in charge of producing her high-end clothing clocks in 60 hours of labor a week, only to receive a measly pay of approximately $62. Not a fan of Ivanka’s clothing line? Don’t hold your breath just yet, because her contractor, G-III Apparel, is also in charge of making clothes for Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein.

Image courtesy of BBC

Image courtesy of BBC

Reports of underpaid and overworked laborers are not unheard of in China. Three years ago, factory workers under Yue Yuen–the largest manufacturer of Nike and Adidas sneakers, went on a major strike to protest for higher wages.

Two, products with compromised quality.

Remember the milk scandal of 2008?

Almost half a million babies got hospitalized from drinking milk contaminated with melamine, a nitrogen-rich chemical that supposedly raises the protein content of food products and is commonly used in manufacturing floor tiles and kitchenware. That seemingly smart strategy resulted in six fatalities.

 Doll factory image courtesy of LinkedIn

Doll factory image courtesy of LinkedIn

And what about Mattel’s toy recall the year before that? Authorities found lead paint in almost 10 million units of toys sent to US store shelves. Children don’t even have to put the poisonous toys in their mouths to feel the effects–the amount present in the toys were so large that simply breathing in the fumes can be toxic.

Three, environmental waste.

The industrial waste that textile factories produce on a daily basis contribute to the worsening water pollution in the country. Brands such as Zara and Armani are guilty of the deed, but they won’t do anything to address the problem because surprisingly, the Chinese government doesn’t have laws to regulate waste production.

Four, child labor.

Children as young as 15 are made to work 28 days a month and get physically beaten when they misbehave.

Children work long hours every day, and if they leave a second earlier before work hours are over, they take home nothing. In some cases, factories pay their child laborers only once a year.

What do you think of products made in China? Let us know in the comments section below.