Putting a Face on “Made in China”

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind whenever you see this label?

Cheap products? Inferior quality merchandise? Globalisation? Outsourcing? Human rights exploitation?

China Blue, a documentary with a title that seems more appropriate for a X-rated film, takes the viewer into a jeans sweatshop and provides perspectives from the factory’s boss and a teenage worker, Jasmine.

I shall leave you to explore the film’s webby for a thorough synopsis, information on the jeans business and some behind-the-scenes bites.

The documentary is almost an hour long, but ah chen guarantees it’ll be time well-spent. Considering the state of media control in China, Micha Peleg‘s efforts in producing the film is already worthy of support. Slip into the Levis’ you bought for CNY, and see how 17-year old Jasmine and her friends slogged to earn RMB$1 of your $100.

Edited: something’s funny with the embedded video, watch it here.

Ultimately I think we, the consumers, are the root cause of Jasmine’s working condition. I’m guilty of that. I want quality products at low cost, and I want my stock portfolio to yield a steady stream of dividends. Such expectations from consumers and shareholders keep the capitalism machine running, and 20years later, we’ll see documentaries titled “Uganda Blue” and “Haiti Blue” on PBS when companies shift their manufacturing bases.

So, are there any solutions for a more humane working condition for Jasmine? Allow me to finish “Creating a world without poverty” and see what I can pick from Muhammad Yunus’s brain. At the moment, Diana Saw, a Singaporean social entrepreneur is playing a part in alleviating the labour rights problem in developing nations. Do drop by Bloom Bags if you have the chance to go Cambodia.

I’m thankful that I chanced upon China Blue at Diana’s blog, Cambodia Calling. for I’m a more conscious consumer now. The next time I come across a “Made in China” apparel label, the least that I can do is to send my well wishes to the Jasmines out there.


One Response to “Putting a Face on “Made in China””

  1. Hi Ah Chen,

    Thanks for this post. I loved that you have the pic of the girls with the clothespins on their eyelids to try to keep them awake. It is a real misery–the lives of many, many people around the world, who produce things that we in the developed world consume without even thinking. We need to be more aware of an underclass who seem to exist just to make goods for rich consumers. They lead terrible lives of exploitation, often with no recourse to justice. Remember in China Blue the Chinese woman who was hurt in an industrial accident and whose boss told her, “I’d rather pay 10,000rmb to have you killed then pay your compensation”? These are real things poor people face. Money is power. As people from rich nations, we should all try to use what power we have to do good, rather than hurt others.

    Diana Saw

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