White Paper Resource Proposal — Society


In my white paper, I will try to explore the problem of dishonesty and cheating among college applicants from China. I do want to provide couple possible solutions from my own perspectives.

The problem complicated itself is more complicated than it appears to be.Despite the different situations students are facing, the increasing number of applicants from China set the basic competitive background overall. Due to the lack of regulation and policies, Chinese students turn out to be more vulnerable to unethical behaviors. The trust between colleges, students and high schools is very fragile. In the society resources, I want to explore more on the background. To explain why the number of applicants from China increasing so fast and how the competitive and intensive environment turned out.

 

I found one master thesis based on similar topic, but focus more on different cases in the following link:

https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/bitstream/handle/2152/22518/LI-MASTERSREPORT-2013.pdf?sequence=1

I do no consider this thesis as well written as it simply listed multiple situations and does not have any deep thoughts or solution about the problem. However, there are many realistic examples involved in the paper I might be able to cite.

The following link gives specific numbers of Chinese students coming to US for study, since 2002 to 2013. I can make graph with those legitimate data.

http://www.iie.org/Research-and-Publications/Open-Doors/Data/International-Students/Leading-Places-of-Origin

The following link gives some good insights about Chinese students’ dilemmas during application:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/02/how-chinese-students-struggle-to-apply-to-us-colleges/71801/

The following link shows some struggles Chinese students facing after get into the college.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/education/edlife/the-china-conundrum.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

 

With all the society resources I provided, I just want to emphasis the dilemmas students in China are facing right now. The intensive academic competition, peer pressure and disadvantage from being ethical. At the same time, I will try to translate some materials and statistics from Chinese websites, especially the agencies’ websites, to show how much advantage some relatively unethical students can get through different resources. Again, most society resources I used are only to set up the background information for the readers, but not necessary related to my own problem solutions or so.

I think those resources, besides the first master thesis, are generally reliable. They all come from either large international education organization or big news firms. So I believe their opinion are valuable.

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Throwing Stones in Ira Glass’s House


On his personal website, mikedaisey.blogspot.com, Mike Daisey characterizes himself as an “Actor, author, commentator, playwright and general layabout.”  Some folks might say that kind of diversity in a person is admirable.  I say: choose one.

After listening to the Retraction podcast by Ira Glass on This American Life, I have a conflicted view of Daisey.  In his travels to the Foxconn Factory in Shenzhen, China in 2010, he grimly reported on an array of working condition maladies that fail to measure up to first-world country standards.  Daisey allegedly encountered mean guards carrying guns, 12-year old factory workers, unsanitary dormitories and underground union workers with n-Hexane exposure and mangled “claw” hands.  Unfortunately, however, his trip resembled nothing more than a deliberately, well-crafted fabrication based on rumors.  In effect, Daisey lied to the face of Ira Glass, the show’s host, and 100,000-plus audio downloaders who listened to his story.  In Daisey’s fantasy Shenzhen, he desperately attempts to create a “voice” for the mistreated workers in their “totality.”  Unfortunately, however, we are lured into believing a story with the same veracity as one in which Detroit autoworkers regularly gather on breaks at Chinese teahouses, according to Rob Schmitz of Marketplace.

New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg’s investigative analysis of overtime workers at Foxconn strongly calls into question the quality of life of Shenzhen factories versus other regions of China.  Among other observations, Duhigg studied the 2005 Apple Supplier Code of Conduct rules and their impacts on Chinese workers.  In 2005, over half of Foxconn workers broke the maximum work-week law of over 60 hours.  In fact, Duhigg promulgates that young factory workers actually want to work overtime for higher pay.  In addition to the unsanitary dormitories and uncomfortable working spaces, workers frequently demand more overtime for higher wages.  He also expresses that employees sometimes work “continuous shifts,” which are two consecutive 12-hour shifts.  In a Wall Street Journal article written by Paul Mozur in December 2012, 15 workers in a campus interview said they wanted to work over the legal limit of 9 overtime hours per week.  Instead, they were willing to abandon their families and local communities for the grinding urban life of 10-15 hours overtime per week.  Even more shocking, workers have been cited to flee to Vietnam and Mexico where labor restrictions are more lax and costs are lower.

This begs the question: Why is there such little opportunity to enjoy a decent life in rural China?  Why do so many young Chinese people flock to large, urban technology factories with suicide nets sagging on every side?  Is there something wrong with this picture?  One possible answer is that the Chinese political economy is structured in a fashion that promotes low-cost exports to larger, more dynamic economies like the United States and Europe.  For global companies like Apple with razor-thin profit margins and diverse customer demand, iPhones and iPads must be produced in the most efficient, “under-the-table” method.  So, enter China, a densely populated country with a plethora of young workers seeking low-paying, steady jobs at any human cost.  I believe this is the real story that Daisey imperfectly delivered to his audience.            While Daisey unjustly fabricated large blocks of his story, one of the most critical factors is Apple’s visible yet indirect influence on its foreign suppliers.  Again, Duhigg provides clarity on the harsh stringency of Apple’s negotiation techniques and contracts.  Relentlessly competing to sell its suite of devices to global consumers against other giants like Google, Microsoft and Samsung, Apple demands its contract conditions with the vigor of Gordon Gekko.  The company regularly meets with its Foxconn senior managers to review budgets and labor costs.  Because Apple maintains a thrifty eye over its labor costs and regularly reduces budgets, suppliers are so “penny-pinched” that they cannot afford better working conditions to alleviate the long time stretches of worker lines.  Similarly, Duhigg analyzes the criticality of Apple’s supply chain and the need for close proximity between manufacturers of various parts.  Overall, it is unfair of outsiders to judge the vagrant youth culture of China as a contributor to the plight of poor working conditions; at the same token, Apple is the controlling force behind its blunt policies that pin Chinese workers to the dusty floors of its death factories.

Finally, it is worth reviewing why Daisey felt obligated to lie to his audience.  Upon picking up the new hobby of social psychology, I have developed theories on why storytellers (or raconteurs, if you feel so) fib to better connect with their audience.  After reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, one of the most critical lessons he delivers is that people naturally wish to feel important and accepted.  In applying this social rule, Daisey is a storyteller and arts performer who seeks to deliver his dramatic stories so they, and he, can be accepted into the mainstream.  People strive to find acceptance, self-comfort and empowerment, and I believe Daisey promotes himself in This American Life and other media publications to gain widespread acceptance.  Secondly, I propose that Daisey is an adventurer and discoverer.  Without a finely-detailed plan or roadmap, he set out for China’s boomtown in an effort to discover the “true” facts about Foxconn working conditions.  He traveled with Cathy, a foreign stranger, and met and interviewed dozens of more strangers.  In short, he felt compelled to push boundaries, and in fabricating his ultimate story, he simply pushed them even further.  Lastly, Daisey is a “conflicted” and “trapped” soul by the end of the podcast.  Through his travels, he spoke with local Chinese people and codified Apple rumors.  During this time period, he may have experienced a degree of disillusionment on what he “thinks” he saw versus what he “actually” saw.  Once the subjective mind overcomes areas of objective reality, daisies become lilies and Apples become pears.

What we talk about when we talk about Shenzhen


30 minutes ago, I was writing a blog on the topic about how Apple’s renascence after it outsourced its production to China, as well as how Apple’s financial report in Asia section boosted after the China’s market opened to it in 2009. However, after I read the posts of my classmates wrote about Shenzhen, China, I decided to erase what I have written and started this post.

After I finished the monologue by Mr. Daisey, I do not know what to say about Shenzhen anymore. So I try to find my original impressions about that city. Shenzhen, like Mr. Daisey mentioned in the talk, was nothing but a small fishing village located at the southern end of China.  I can still recall the patriotic song, The Story of Spring, praising the leader Deng Xiaoping from my childhood. “Year 1979, that was a spring. There was an old man,  who drawn a circle on the map of China, near the southern sea.” Yes, that was the first time I knew about Shenzhen, around my age of 12. 34 years ago, Deng Xiaoping, the chairman of China at that moment, decided to make Shenzhen area to be the “Shenzhen Special Economic District”, which started the beginning of well-known Chinese Economic Reform. I have to admit that Shenzhen’s speed of developing and expending is unbelievable to most Americans , while a small recovery work of side-way in their local community may take forever.  However, that is actually what is happening in most cities in China, including my hometown, Hangzhou.

“I do not know much about China.” said Mr. Daisey, which actually is the sentence interested me the most during the monologue. How did a person, not even a journalist, not familiar with Chinese culture ending up in Shenzhen and doing interviews and investigation. Instead of being amazed by his experience, I started to pay attentions to all the details about his trip to the city I have been to over 5 times. There came out so many random things I do not even know about in China.  However, I think I know much more about China than Mr. Daisey. A factory gate security carrying a gun? Guns are highly forbidden in China, and even some policemen no longer hold a gun during duty nowadays. Most security guards work for the factory are also recruited from the countryside, just like the other factory workers. I can hardly believe that the government will actually allow such random recruited person to carry a gun. An abruptly ended ramp on the high way? I could never see that with my at least 19 years living experience in China, and I have been travelling a lot. When he tried to explain how the “secret union” works, I could not help to laugh out, and I realized that he knows nothing about China, indeed.

But how Shenzhen actually is? As the largest economy center in the south, Shenzhen has been consider to be the place where “China Dream” happens. This is the city you want to go in the south if you have nothing to lose and want to start your life from scratch.  Beijing is the other option for northerners. Millions people left their fields and families at countryside and had their new beginning started in the factories. You do not need a diploma from high school to work there, but you will be paid more than you can ever earn from cultivate your fields at your hometown. Your housing and meals will be provided for free and, most importantly, you will be living in a city. Just like Mr. Daisey mentioned during the monologue, the turnover ratio of recruitment is about 10 percents overall. People are leaving their jobs. However, that that moment, different from the beginning, they are no longer the “farmer-worker” they used to be, but a “citizen” of Shenzhen. Just like all the people in the rest of the world, the factory workers in Shenzhen have their own dreams. Dreaming that they will quit the factory work one day and start their own small business; dreaming that their children will have good education in the city and have friends in the city; dreaming that after all the pain they have suffered, they will have a real modern life in the city, Shenzhen. Different from most tragic stories, amazingly, there are sufficient amount of people in Shenzhen actually made their dreams. They owned their business, have their children in the good schools and live a middle-class life in wealthy communities.  That fact that everything could start from a 12-hour daily shift job in the factory attracts even more people from the countryside to join the “army”. What they believed is not that this is the world well-known “blood factory”, they consider this city to be the place where all the hard working could be paid off one day. And also, this is one of the few life-changing opportunities they could ever have in their lives. They believe they are investing today for their future.

Xin_Post 2

A peak of Shenzhen

The posts and materials I have been reading and listening to have made me feel pretty bad about Shenzhen. But the conflicts between what I have saw personally and what I have heard from all the critics really make me feel like to talk about this city. The different perspectives amazed me because they make me begin to rethink all the things I have been believed before. After reading this post, I hope you may also have some change of impressions about this city. So now, what we talk about when we talk about Shenzhen?