I shot this video last year when our house wasn’t completely finished. If you are wondering what Chuxiong is like, or even Yunnan, then this video can take you in a little deeper.
For clarification, when I’m talking about “check your facts, bro, Mr. SF Gate” — it is in reference to this San Francisco Chronicle article where Kathleen E. McLaughlin writes about how bad the Chinese workers have it in Shenzhen, China, building iPods with a monthly salary of a mere $80 USD per month. It turns out her article addresses the farmers in western China, and admittedly, her “facts” are correct.
I was simply pointing out that there are many other people in China who have it much worse, and don’t have the benefits provided by those factories in the bigger cities (specifically, discounted rent and canteen.)
In the video you can see someone cleaning and sweeping the sidwalks of this rich community in China, Yi Ren Gu Zhen, and she makes 300-400 RMB a month (roughtly $40 USD).
While I don’t agree with the current trend of US companies exploiting the cheap labor of Chinese citizens (which is seemingly condoned by the Chinese government), it’s a fact of life here. It’s an opportunity. It’s more money than picking carrots.
A lot of the people who work in those “sweat shop” factories come from the “nong cun”, or rural areas of China. They migrate to the eastern populated cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen and take jobs where they can make 2-4x what they can make on the farms. Some send the money back home, some don’t.
I’m aware of this because, well, I live in China, but also because my wife (who is Chinese, and is from the “nong cun”) has a relative who currently works making clothes, books, and even made iPods, all to be shipped to the USA.
Here, let’s make it personal, she’s the 19-year-old girl in the photo, back left (blurred so she doesn’t get fired.) On average, she said she works 12 hours a day, trying to accumulate as much over-time as possible.
My point is, China is a populated place, and when people start ranting about how bad it is for the people who make iPods, I say, take a look at the people who work in the fields and make up to 10x less.
Should iPod makers be making competitive wages? Yes! Should Apple kick back the huge profit they make on these iPods to the people who make them? Why not!
The problem is, it is not in line with the current economy in China, and if Chinese workers who made iPods were suddenly making more than local doctors, well, that’s a problem in and of itself.
Just another prospective on this issue. Do one of two things – pay them more, or cut the price of an iPod by 75%. Or stop buying iPods. And then we have ‘that’ discussion again.
Click here to watch the video.