In today’s society, the technology sector is filled with products made all over the world. Whether it be from China or Mexico, a majority of technology products found in the U.S. are imported. To businesses, this is a vital part of their success; however, the origin of a product’s life means very little to the general population. Instead, the numbers representing the price of a product is the key purchasing factor for consumers. In Michael Daisey’s The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, he discusses the manufacturing issues associated with bringing us innovative technological products by means of a one man dialogue. This blog will discuss my analysis of his opinion regarding products made in China.
As many people know, China is one of the largest exporters of electronic goods in the world. Chinese factories make televisions, video games, headphones, computers, and a plethora of other electronic consumer goods. While it is common knowledge that China dominates the manufacturing industry, it is not common knowledge as to how they do so. According the Daisey, almost all of every U.S. citizens’ “crap” comes from a city called Shenzhen. For those of you who are unaware of Chinese geography, Shenzhen is an oceanside city located in the southeast part of China (approximately a two-hour drive north from Hong Kong). It used to be a quaint city until it embodied a “modernize China” strategy. In asking foreign companies to help “modernize” Shenzhen, the city quickly gained aid and began to grow immensely. Factories, shops, and LED lights now line the streets of Shenzhen while pollution contaminates the air. One Shenzhen company that Daisey’s monologue focused on and I would like to discuss is Foxconn.
Foxconn is an electronics manufacturer that houses 430,000 workers and produces approximately a third of the world’s electronics equipment. This includes products from Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Bose, Samsung, etc. In Daisey’s monologue, he states how he wants to find out more about this mysterious Foxconn by standing outside of its gates and interviewing people. After his co-worker manages to find the first willing interviewee, a line forms behind her and many workers want to be interviewed. From his time speaking with the employees, Daisey discovers that the company has dangerously low standards for its employees. One 13 year old girl revealed how incredibly simple it is to get a job working at Foxconn. Especially since the suicide rate is so high. When asked if her age was checked by the company, she responded that it is not checked and the company knows whenever an age inspection is going to take place so they can initiate safety measures to insure they do not have any violations. This news not only shocked Daisey, but it also left my mouth agape.
With modern media now focusing more on labor conditions of foreign countries, do consumers really think that companies such as Apple and Microsoft don’t know such corruption exists at their manufacturing companies? It is extremely hard to believe that technology companies so dedicated to the details of their products would oversee such inhumane labor conditions. What if the issue is not in fact the companies themselves, but the fact that most people tend to see what they want to see instead of acknowledging the truth? The truth behind the white label stating “Made in China.” As citizens of not only our own country, but citizens of the world, we must ask ourselves “How can we let this happen?” Although many are not directly involved in the decision-making of these large companies, as consumers, we have the right to stand up for what we believe in and convince people and companies alike to understand the label and accept the disappointing truth. Without acceptance there will never be change.