This slickly made ad lampoon attributed to French satirical TV show Les Guignols is doing the internet rounds (and here), suggesting Nike factory conditions in Asia leave something to be desired, to put it mildly.
• Horror stories do deserve exposure. But beware: there are plenty of non-altruistic reasons why like to people start throwing dirt around, even if it doesn’t stick (e.g. über-brand Apple is facing the ignominy of answering the question “Are iPods really evil as people believe?” - read more here).
• But in my experience – which includes inspecting literally hundreds of Chinese factories per year – the majority of Chinese factories aren’t any less (or more) pleasant than factories elsewhere. The news is not all bad! For light-hearted confirmation, for example, click here.
• Overall, factory conditions in China have vastly improved over the last decade – in part due to a labor shortage. As I have pointed out before, workers who are in demand have power.
• Implying that “made in China” necessarily means “made in Sweatshop” is false and counterproductive to improving factory conditions. How? Duped “ethical buyers” who buy the stereotype may just avoid anything China-made instead of learning to discern between one Chinese manufacturer and another. The key - of course - is to have keen eyes and ears on the ground (which is of course our expertise).
Could this barbed video just be a case of Gallic jealousy about the success of China (and of Nike – i.e. a fabulously successful American company)? I believe China Law Blog may have said something on the subject not so long ago!