Praise Globalization for Problems and Opportunities


Foxconn Shenzhen Plant

Foxconn Shenzhen Plant

On one hand globalization is good because when transnational corporations outsource production, it create opportunities for jobs in developing countries. Yet on the other hand, outsourcing to factories in these developing nations is harmful because many times these laborers are exploited and getting paid next to nothing. In fact the very reason these transnational corporations, such as Nike and Apple, are outsourcing production is to reduce the cost of production. Professor Zhu who has an intrusion in The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, does a fantastic job of explaining how China is a nation full of contradictions. Although these working conditions aren’t great, there are still thousands of people waiting at the gates of Foxconn for jobs. Factory jobs offer Chinese people with an opportunity for employment and to escape poverty, at the cost of facing exploitation.

 

I was fortunate enough to Skype with Chelsea and her Chinese professor, Zhao Laoshy, from Beijing. She shared some similar thoughts with us about the factory work in China. She was not really aware of these factory circumstances until roughly two years ago, when the news announced that about ten people had committed suicide. This was huge news for laborers’ conditions and a turning point where people started to be concerned. However, after she heard of these ten suicides, she did not hear much follow up news. She doesn’t know if this was because she wasn’t searching for it or if the Chinese government censored it. She said she doesn’t really trust the Chinese press because it is not very reliable and censors many realities.

Zhao Laoshy had a college friend who works as a manager of sales and marketing in one of these factories. Her friend, who obviously was working in an office and not specifically in the factory everyday, was not surprised by the situation and believed it was quite normal. It seemed the friend was immune to these conditions stating that every factory in the area was like that and the factory with the ten suicides was not unique. Her friend discussed the statistics of this huge factory that employs thousands, and determined the ratio of suicides is in fact not that high. I was surprised by this comment and it was hard for me to grasp that a Chinese person could view these factory conditions as the norm. I then compared this to the comment Professor Margot made in The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, she discusses the enormous amount of Chinese manual labor and states it has an economic justification, since a person is more cost effective than a machine. After viewing The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs and talking with a Chinese professor, I believe economically speaking globalization creates more opportunities for these Chinese people, yet emotionally and physically speaking it creates more problems.

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3 comments on “Praise Globalization for Problems and Opportunities

  1. I am glad you used the term transnational corporation instead of multinational. What do you think the difference is? Why does the difference matter and what does it have to do with understanding globalization as an economic and political reality?

    • I believe a difference between a transnational and multinational corporation is TNCs are more complex. TNCs may control or own production outside of their home country and have a central corporate facility, but give some power to the nation’s individual foreign market. While MNC may have investments in other countries but don’t necessarily have product offerings in those countries.

  2. One aspect of your discussion i appreciated was how different viewpoints exist in China. Ms. Laoshy depends on media and word of mouth to learn about realities in her society just as we do to understand China, as well as our own society.

    I think you capture the essence of the dilemma in your first paragraph- the cost of upward mobility is accepting exploitation. Chinese laborers are not forced at gunpoint to work at Foxconn. But, what other choices do they have? How is that kind of persuasive power different from coercive power in Chinese history when people were forced into labor camps like in the “cultural revolution?”

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