Posts Tagged ‘ china ’

Made in China–ahem, Italy

The tragic fire at a factory on Sunday, December 1st, 2013, which cost 7 employees their lives, has barely begun to shed light on the industry’s illegal insurgence and Italy’s lack of capacity to do much about it.

Credit: wantchinatimes.com

Pronto moda is a case of what The Economist tags as “reverse globalization.” Cheap materials are shipped from China to Italy–as are the workers, as are the sweatshop concept and conditions. One city, Prato, just northwest of Florence, plays host to over 5,000 factories like the one that burned down on Sunday and some 50,000 Chinese workers buried in 16 hour work-days. Faux-designer products are pumped out at superhuman rates with the facade of labels from designer brands (although the “Made in Italy” label remaining true) and are sold for extremely cheap prices to locals and tourists. Before Italian taxes can even make their claim, more than half of the $2.7 billion profits find their way back to China undeclared.

Chinese utilitarianism and black labor practices are brought to Italy to take advantage of the necessarily perfect combination of an apt market for the pronto moda scheme and weak rule of law in Prato (as what may be an indication of the weaknesses sustained at the national level; consider Rule of Law 1 and Rule of Law 2 to observe Italy’s troubles). Workers, essentially indentured servants, are likely to be left with their promises of a return back to China unfulfilled as they work, bathe, eat, and sleep (in cardboard accommodations as was the case for the victims) within the same few square meters.

The devastating event made headlines in international media; however, the problem for Italian officials isn’t anything new to them. Roberto Cenni, Prato’s mayor, claims that they investigate hundreds of the 3,000+ illegal business every year. The proliferation is too much to handle, he claims, and the operations that Italy is able to shut down only sprout back up the next year. As China merely renders, capitalizes, and improves on what domestic organized crime has done in the country for so long, Italy is forced to drastically improve from the inside-out if it is to have any chance at beginning to address the complicated issues at hand in Prato.

Advertisements

Dispelling the Obamney-China relationship

In previous debates, either candidate touted promises of his ability to to be “tough on China.” The tough rhetoric slowed to a minimum on Monday night, October 23rd, at the third presidential debate. Feedback from China of discontent may have been the catalyst, yet during the debate neither candidate could afford to be so forthcoming as to acknowledge that it’s not only in the best interest of the US from an international relations perspective to cool the rhetoric, but also that the US is unable to assume a superior position over China or to bully it. This is not to say the US are subordinate to China; rather, it’s a relation of codependence as articulated by Thomas P.M. Barnett in his article “The New Rules: Hubris Drives Mistrust in U.S.-China Relations.” To simplify it as an economic codependence (our trade for their labor) would be a gross misconception. Barnett investigates the relationship in terms of military and security, the meaning of the democratization of China and its effects on the US, as well as the US’ waning global prominence in politics or economic consumption. Barnett opines that the nature of the US-China codependence escalates both cautiously (albeit relatively quickly) and defensively as neither country can afford to give the other an upper hand in a seemingly paradoxical struggle that is delicate yet bearable. One thing’s for certain: although neither candidate can admit otherwise for the sake of his candidacy, “tough on China” rhetoric is a romantic glorification of our position in relation to our cross Pacific neighbors. Cooperation, codependence, and co-struggling is a more realistic appraisal of the situation for both today and the near future.