In a country with almost no transparency, where graft is institutionalized and workers have little recourse to the rule of law, incentives to lie about business practices vastly outweigh incentives to tell the truth. Harney reveals that despite a decade of monitoring factories, outsiders all too often have no idea of the conditions under which goods from China are made. She exposes the widespread practice of using a dummy or model factory as a company's false window out to the world, concealing a vast number of illegal factories operating completely off the books.
Some Western companies are better than others about sniffing out such deception, but too many are perfectly happy to embrace plausible deniability as long as the prices remain so low. And in the Gold Rush atmosphere that has infected the country, in which everyone is clamoring to get rich and corruption is rampant, it's almost impossible for the Chinese government's own underfunded regulatory mechanisms to do much good at all. But perhaps the most important revelation in The China Price is how fast change is coming, one way or another.
©2008 Alexandra Harney; (P)2008 Tantor
"A vivid portrait of factory life in the country that sells consumer goods for the lowest price possible." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Packed with facts, figures, and sympathetic portraits of Chinese workers and managers, Harney's is a perceptive take on the world's workshop." (Publishers Weekly)
This book is very thoroughly researched -- unlike many journalists who write about China, it is clear the author both speaks Chinese and has a good understanding of the culture and history. Furthermore, it is a very balanced account - neither demonizing Walmart, the Chinese government, nor factory owners, but provides a good understanding of how each part fits into the big picture. Personally, I found the level of detail just right and the anecdotes very revealing.
...but not for a book. I would read this in the Sunday Times Magazine or the New Yorker, but as a full-length book the premise gets stretched pretty thin. The author's point is completely valid and the supporting detail is exhaustive, but listening got very tedious for me. I may be betraying my own prejudices more than I am reviewing this book, so if you would love to listen to a detailed analysis of the social and political consequences of China's rise as a world power, then this is a great audiobook to dig into.
This is a very good survey of the hidden costs of cheap Chinese manufacturing. The anecdotes are poignant and powerful. The prose is a little dry.
Another reviewer said this could have been shorter. He/she was right. Could have been a magazine lenth article. That being said, worth alisten if you are interested in the other side of outsourcing and want to get an idea of how life is like for the slave laborers that probably made 9/10ths of the consumer good in your house.
Also helps you understand how and why America got screwed in the last two decades
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