The China Price: The True Cost of Chinese Competitive Advantage

The China Price: The True Cost of Chinese Competitive Advantage

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by Alexandra Harney
     
 

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In this landmark work of investigative reporting, former Financial Times correspondent Alexandra Harney uncovers a story of immense significance to us all: how China's factory economy gains a competitive edge by selling out its workers, environment, and future. Harney's firsthand reporting brings us face-to-face with a world in which intense pricing

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Overview

In this landmark work of investigative reporting, former Financial Times correspondent Alexandra Harney uncovers a story of immense significance to us all: how China's factory economy gains a competitive edge by selling out its workers, environment, and future. Harney's firsthand reporting brings us face-to-face with a world in which intense pricing pressure from Western companies combines with ubiquitous corruption and a lack of transparency to exact a staggering toll in human misery and environmental damage. This eye-opening expose offers, for the first time, an intimate look at the defining business story of our time.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Dreaded by competitors, "the China price" has become "the lowest price possible," the hallmark of China's incredibly cheap, ubiquitous manufacturers. Financial Timeseditor Harney explores the hidden price tag for China's economic juggernaut. It's a familiar but engrossing tale of Dickensian industrialization. Chinese factory hands work endless hours for miserable wages in dusty, sweltering workshops, slowly succumbing to occupational ailments or suddenly losing a limb to a machine. Coal-fired power plants spew pollutants into nearly unbreathable air. Migrants from the countryside, harassed by China's hukousystem of internal passports, form a readily exploitable labor pool with few legal protections. The system is fueled by Western investment and, Harney observes, hypocrisy. Retailers like Wal-Mart impose social responsibility codes on their Chinese suppliers, but refuse to pay the costs of raising labor standards; the result is a pervasive system of cheating through fake employment records and secret uninspected factories, to which Western companies turn a blind eye. But Harney also finds stirrings of change; aided by regional labor shortages, rising wages and intrepid activists. Chinese workers are demanding-and gradually winning-more rights. Packed with facts, figures and sympathetic portraits of Chinese workers and managers, Harney's is a perceptive take on the world's workshop. (Mar. 31)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
The Financial Times Limited
Anyone running a company that outsources manufacturing to China, or is thinking of doing so, needs to read this book.
—Morgen Witzel
Kirkus Reviews
Financial Times reporter Harney paints a vivid portrait of factory life in the country that sells consumer goods for the lowest price possible. With a manufacturing workforce of 104 million people, China dominates global production of consumer goods, selling everything from clothing to computer parts at half or even one-fifth the amount that it would cost to make them in the United States. The author, who lives in Hong Kong, focuses on the consequences of China's ceaseless pursuit of economic growth, from unethical business practices to pollution to an epidemic of occupational diseases. Drawing on interviews, she takes us into factories and their dormitories to show youths who have flocked from the countryside to take dangerous manufacturing jobs. We meet 17-year-old Li Gang, who worked 18 hours a day, seven days a week to earn $39 monthly as a zagong ("dogsbody"), the lowest-ranking employee in a plastic-bag factory; and Li Luyuan, 20, who sleeps in cramped quarters with a dozen other girls, trying to save enough money from her job producing DVDs and sweaters to buy a new home for her parents. These migrants are taking legal action to win better working conditions, posing a challenge to efforts to maintain the China price. Harney brings us into model factories, where rules on working hours and product safety are followed, and into the "shadow" factories (often operated under contract to the same owners) where anything goes in the drive to produce cheaper products. Despite efforts by companies buying consumer goods from China to enforce a code of conduct, most suppliers falsify time cards, hide the use of unapproved materials and otherwise engage in dishonest practices. Western importersknow it and often look the other way. In the face of growing labor unrest and pollution, Chinese officials hope to move the economy away from reliance on exports by fostering domestic consumption. Essential reading for anyone concerned about how dangerous pet food and children's clothing manufactured in China make it into American stores.
From the Publisher
"A vivid portrait of factory life in the country that sells consumer goods for the lowest price possible." —Kirkus Starred Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143114864
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/27/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Clyde Prestowitz
"With unusual insight and reportorial perseverance Alexandra Harney presents the inconvenient truths about China and globalization that flat worlders have overlooked. This book is very important and is a must read for those who want to understand how today's world really works."--(Clyde Prestowitz, President of the Economic Strategy Institute and the author of Three Billion New Capitalists)
From the Publisher
"A vivid portrait of factory life in the country that sells consumer goods for the lowest price possible." —-Kirkus Starred Review

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