Understanding Chinese Culture

I really enjoyed the performance because it effectively pointed out the lies of Mike Daisey’s story in a creative way. One of the most important issues I realized while watching was that, even though we think we have an idea, most of us Americans really don’t know what it’s like in China. We all use electronics and other products made in China but we often ignore the details of how these products were made, what the factories are like, or how the workers are treated. As the professor said, the issue is not whether or not Mike Daisey lied, but that Americans don’t understand China’s culture. We don’t see that these jobs are sometimes the only way to escape poverty.

A statistic that stood out to me was that 50% of all of the world’s electronics were made at Foxconn. Yet, many Americans have never heard of the city of Shenzhen. It seems ironic that we don’t know anything about a city where a lot of the electronics we use were made. Apple products have become central to many American’s lives that it’s almost like a religion. Still, most people don’t seem to care where these products come from or how they were made because it simply doesn’t matter to them. The fact is, most of us don’t understand what it’s like to live in a country where so many workers are treated so poorly to make products that are shipped off to place that doesn’t care about the manufacturing process.

I do not personally know any students here that are from China, but I think it would be very interesting to hear their perspectives on this issue. As I learned from reading “The Working Poor” for another class, bad working conditions are in all parts of the world, including America. The book pointed out that people who work hard should not be treated as poorly as they often are. I immediately thought of the foxconn workers who seem to be working very hard but not getting rewarded accordingly.


2 comments on “Understanding Chinese Culture

  1. Let’s assume that a majority of AMericans agree that the working poor should not earn so little (should earn more). If that is the case, then how and why do the conditions persist? I mean, you say they “should” earn more. Some would say that they earn what the labor market sets as the price of a large supply of labor for a limited demand for work. Is that enough to trump any normative or ethical concerns about “should?”

  2. The working poor all over the world are stuck in a cycle of poverty. In America, it seems more apparent to us because we know the pattern and how it happens. I assume there are similar patterns across the world. The sad truth, in my opinion, is that there will always be people on the bottom of the ladder. There is nothing fair or ethical about it but as long as we retain our capitalistic society, people will be stuck in positions at factories and such to maintain the level of production we need. The same would be true if companies like Apple and Nike brought work to America. The conditions would not be much better and would just increase the numbers of our working poor. More people would be stuck in positions they are over qualified for and the cycle of poverty would continue, just as it does in China.

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