The Riff - December 2009

'Made in China' Still Means 'Made With Exploited Labor'

| Tue Dec. 1, 2009 3:11 PM PST

Think of it as Extreme Makeover: China Edition. This week CNN aired a China-produced commercial intended to repair the country's image after a slew of PR disasters. In the past half-decade, Chinese cough syrup, children's toys, and milk (among other products) have caused sickness and even death in consumers around the world. The new ad brushes these concerns aside, showing quick shots of clothes made in China but designed in France and an iPod made in China but using US software. An American voice concludes, "When it says 'Made in China,' it really means 'Made in China, made with the world.'" See the ad here:

Let's take a minute to keep the Chinese propaganda machine in check. Chinese labor is known for more than the toxic side effects of its products. The country's production industry is also notorious for its toxic work environment—fueled by underage employees—that underpays workers and tries to cover up factory injuries. So despite what this ad claims, when the tag says 'Made in China,' it still means 'made with exploited labor.'