A letter from a Chinese laborer?

Posted by mmcmullan on 01/08/2013

When it comes to trade with China, one thing defenders of the status quo tout is the low prices that come attached to Chinese-made products.

Well, there’s reason for that – not only does Beijing pump money into strategic industries, refrain from worthwhile environmental regulation, and peg its currency to the dollar to artificially cheapen its exports, but it also can rely on a labor force with few codified protections. And unfortunately, sometimes that domestic labor is abused.

These discounts aren’t found on the price tags of Chinese products. If they were, they might cause a whole new kind of sticker shock.

So imagine the surprise of one woman who came across a letter from a laborer in a Chinese factory while going through the packaging of last year’s Halloween decorations. As reported by Yahoo! Shine:

Tucked in between two novelty headstones that she had purchased at Kmart, (Julie Keith) found what appeared to be a letter from the Chinese laborer, who had made the decoration, pleading for help.

The letter reads: "Sir, if you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persecution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever." …

"I was so frustrated that this letter had been sitting in storage for over a year, that this person had written this plea for help and nothing had come of it." Julie Keith told Yahoo! Shine. "Then I was shocked. This person had probably risked their life to get this letter in this package."

The letter describes the conditions at the factory: "People who work here have to work 15 hours a day without Saturday, Sunday break and any holidays. Otherwise, they will suffer torturement, beat and rude remark. Nearly no payment (10 yuan/1 month)." That translates to about $1.61 a month.


Analysts at human rights organizations weren’t able to verify the letter’s authenticity. But they did say the letter’s contents were consistent with their own independent research. Just some food for thought when you consider America’s ongoing trade debate on Capitol Hill.

Read the whole story here. 

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