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The China Price: The True Cost of Chinese Competitive Advantage Paperback – January 27, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
-Clyde Prestowitz, author of Three Billion New Capitalists
"Anyone running a company that outsources manufacturing to China, or is thinking of doing so, needs to read this book."
"The gritty, corrupt reality of the Chinese economic miracle is the great business story of our time and Alexandra Harney has got it."
-Karl Taro Greenfeld, author of China Syndrome
Top Customer Reviews
In "The China Price: The True Cost of Chinese Competitive Advantage" (336 pages), former Finantical Times journalist Alexandra Harney delves into the ramifications, primarily for the Chinese, of the ever-growing demand for cheaper products. Harney focuses her research primarily on Shenshen (a city that has grown from half a million to about 12 million in a matter of 2 decades) and the surrounding Guangdong province. Harney demonstrates how a lot of Chinese companies escape the "social audits" many American companies nowadays insist on simply by keeping parallel/fake records on hours worked by/wages paid to Chinese employees. Indeed, the plight of many Chinese workers is deplorable, and not helped by the weak (if that) enforcement of Chinese labor laws by the Chinese government, and the absence of a strong labor union in China. How ironic is that, China being a (so-called) Communist country. Harney spices the book with lots and lots of personal stories of Chinese individuals she interviewed for the book, and that makes it for even more interesting reading.
Harney ends her book with this great observation: "In the end, as much as the responsability seems to lie with Beijing, it also lies with the global consumer.Read more ›
In 1980, American manufacturers produced 70% of apparel purchased in the U.S.; by 1990 it was down to 50%, and only 9% by 2006. America now only produces 1% of its citizens shoes; etc. for numerous other products.
"The China Price" points out that there is intense competition within China - its coastal export regions have over 1,000 clusters producing specific products such as ties, socks, microwaves, etc., and within those clusters manufacturers have hundreds of direct competitors. This is due to ease of entry - available start-up funds and assistance from Chinese officials eager to increase employment.
Chinese law limits overtime hours, requires a number of worker protections. Unfortunately, inspectors are typically overloaded, often corrupt, and frequently deceived by managers hiding factories that don't adhere to the rules. (These managers have also learned to deceive inspectors from American companies seeking to verify compliance with humane employment conditions.) At the same time, many workers will not stay if they don't get enough overtime to make the incomes they desire ("I didn't come here to sit!"), and fear of investing in government-mandated pension plans due to restrictions on their coverage.Read more ›
Still, this is a different book, and highly readable. It was recommended by a friend in manufacturing who knows Harney well. The book touches on a common theme, but takes a different approach. Harney dives into only a digestible handful of angles to tell her story and get her point across. It should satisfy scholars, investors, politicians, and anyone wanting a deeper understanding of what makes the economic machine of China tick.
I liked the book overall. There are a few sections where things seem to get repeated over and over, and the balance between statistical reporting and telling a good story seesaws a bit, but Harney manages to be intelligent without getting preachy, and brings enough characters into it to avoid becoming one long newspaper article.
Living in China all these years, you become selective about what you read, and I can say that I definitely learned something from this book, and think that you will too.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed the side notes of the opportunities that The US had to impose more control over the working conditions for Workers in China years ago.Published 1 month ago by Theda L. Rudd
This book is focused on the rise of China's manufacturing industry and how the Chinese factory boom has affected the lives of Chinese factory workers, whose stories are given a... Read morePublished 4 months ago by katarinaism
I think that this book does a really nice job focusing on the reality of doing business in China. Alexandra's methodology of collecting information as a freelance writer to... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Patrick
"How China's factory economy gains a competitive edge by selling out its workers, environment, and future"
Bravo! Read more
The book looks like a stretch documentary highlighting the same problems more extensively than required. Read morePublished on January 30, 2013 by Jeyner Arango
I have read this for one of my political science classes. It gives a more in-depth look at the conditions and story behind the industrial revolution in china. Read morePublished on November 25, 2011 by Amazon Customer
...but not for a book. I would read this in the Sunday Times Magazine or the New Yorker, but as a full-length book the premise gets stretched pretty thin. Read morePublished on October 6, 2011 by T. C. Pile