Glenn Hurowitz recently wondered who's going to help Tibet bring down China, like the Russians were brought down in Afghanistan and the British in India.
International pressure and protest seems to carry no weight among the Chinese. Their government is still arresting monks for "unauthorized gatherings", they're still shooting and killing Tibetans. They've also been shipping weapons to Zimbabwe's dictator, who's currently ignoring the results of an election that voted him and his party out of power. They buy 90 percent of Sudan's exported oil, and sells them small arms destined for Darfur. Darfur, where the Sudanese government is carrying out air attacks against helpless civilian targets. Oh yes, and they're now the world's top carbon polluter, though the US still remains the top carbon polluter per capita.
Yeah, that Chinese government, complete jerks, tyrants, to put it charitably. People are surprised that the Olympic torch protests seem only to have stirred Chinese nationalism, surprised that the Chinese don't understand why people are angry. Still, I think Glenn asks the wrong question. Because who is it that raised China up? The lack of self-awareness in this situation isn't exclusive to the Chinese, people everywhere have an amazing capacity to accept almost anything as normal.
Indeed, let's cut right to the heart of the matter: whom else will we buy our shoes from?
I looked this up once when I was working at my community college paper in 2005. There was an editorial insistence on doing a fashion insert, so I contributed something about sweatshops and the offshoring of clothing manufacture. (I know, total killjoy.) I found a copy of that article in my old files, and according to the research that I'd done at the time, the US had lost over 860,000 textile and apparel jobs since 1993, and China was making 80% of the world's shoes.
Sure, if you have (usually) more money to spend, you can find shoes made somewhere else. But not everyone has that kind of time or latitude. Funny thing, though, now shoe manufacturers are closing down in China. Now that "many factories have to meet social obligations" and workers have been agitating for better pay, manufacturing jobs are slowly starting to leave China as they once left the US. Read on...
By Nicole Belle — May 8, 2008