Nature Conservation

Traditionally, Chinese arts have had a massive influence from nature. Many artifacts from ancient china depict both real and mythical creatures and they tell of magical powers that the creatures possess. In fact a lot of aspects of Chinese living stems from nature. Chinese legend speaks of men wandering into the mountains seeking immortality and purifying their spirit.  But with china developing at such a rapid rate and industry taking over the land, natural habitats are quickly disappearing. Many animals in china are now becoming endangered, hunted for their great value. Pollution is effecting air quality and poisoning waterways. With China becoming so industrialized conservation seems to be getting brushed aside. Like most aspects of life there are people that are keen on conservation and others that care more about economic growth. This variation of opinion can be seen across many different generations.

Traditional Chinese medicine uses nature in its remedies. In Chinese medicine, bones command a very handsome price as a kidney enhancer and remedy for arthritis. Endangered animals such as the snow leopard are hunted for this reason. There is a large lucrative market in china for endangered animals. This causes a negative and often destructive attitude towards conservation. Hunting is quite common and threatens a number of species in china. But the threat doesn’t come just from the demand for medicine. Primarily animals are seen in China as things to eat. There is a wide range and variation of meats eaten in China. Some of witch would have people’s stomachs turning in the west.

There are groups in China that are trying to stop poaching and conserve natural habitats. These conservation groups are built up of people of all ages. However it is more common for people from “Boomers” (approximate ages 40-60) and “Post-Career” (60+) generations to make up the majority of the group. This could be because they know more and care more about the environment. It could also be that older generations were brought up in a time were the power to control all industry was in the hands of the government. Most people had very little money and industry was producing virtually no consumer goods. The environmental benefits of this kind of anti-consumerism are obvious. This meant that there was never a major concern about conservation in China. Younger generations are growing up in a time were economic growth is everything and this is were the biggest threat to China’s Eco-system comes from, industry. China has become the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide on the planet. With goods being shipped across the world and with Chinese consumers (who can afford it) wanting bigger cars, bigger houses, the latest electrical goods, with seemingly no conscious of the environmental impact it brings.

There seems to be a strong opinion that most businesses in china don’t care about the environment. This could be due to the constant pressure to increase production, making environmental concerns unaffordable. With China’s economy developing at such a rapid rate businesses claim not to have the necessary means to deal with pollution, nor do they have the regulatory agencies to watch over it. The government in Beijing no longer has the will nor the power to force businesses to deal with these problems. As a result, much of China is beyond environmental salvation. The Yangtze River is a great example of what effect the industrial boom in China is having to natural habitats. There is thought to be at least three species in the Yangtze that are critically endangered. In 2006 the Baiji, (Chinese river Dolphin) “Goddess of the Yangtze” was declared functionally extinct. However there have been unofficial sightings since. This devastation of aquatic species has come about with commercial use of the river coupled with tourism and pollution.

There are some cases however were businesses in China are being “green”. The company “Broad Air-conditioning” has made environmental protection one of there top priorities and China is in fact a world leader in solar power. Seven of the top ten leading solar company’s in the world are Chinese. China is also the largest producer of wind energy producing a new wind turbine every hour. But to get to this level China has had to burn a lot of coal and produce a lot of pollution. The Chinese government is aiming to be the first “Green super power”. Experts predict that China’s emissions will double before they start to decline. Many natural habitats are being taken over by new large-scale factories and workers accommodation. China is growing and its city’s are expanding making natural habitats vanish.

It is key then that China looks to its young entrepreneurs to change the way that China’s economy is growing to an eco-friendly approach. It seems however that the number one goal is to get rich first and then approach the problem of conservation. Some have called this the “me generation” aspiring to have the latest goods and top brands “Looking out for number one”. The president for China’s Energy conservation, Mr. Yang Xincheng is 67 and The other Key Executives for China Energy Conservation are also all from the time were Chinese industry was at a kind of underdeveloped “half-throttle” stage were very few consumer goods were produced for Chinese people. The government has set up some environmental protection commissions. There are also more and more articles in newspapers in China and across the world, discussing what must be done to save China’s ecology. There are also some animal sanctuaries set up to help endangered species. But it still seems that China’s natural habitats are declining at an alarming rate.

China is stuck with a dilemma between production and environmental protection. Like with almost all aspects of life there is a large variation of opinions. The main opinion though suggests that there are more important things to worry about than “being green”. Things like continuing the economic growth and becoming world-leading innovators. Whether China can reach these goals wile still having concerns about the environment remains to be seen.

Assignment 4 Generations

Joanne White – Group 6

Assignment 4 – Generations

 

For this assignment I decided to look a bit further into Factory working conditions in China and the effects they have on workers leaving their families behind. Focusing more to the point on why they do it. It seems to be the daughter/son’s responsibility to provide for the family when in poverty, even though the parents do not like to see their children leave. In some cases, it is merely a way of survival.

 China believes strongly in respecting your elders, as it is known that the oldest person in the family should receive the most respect and honor, as they pass their wisdom onto the younger generation. The Chinese also highly believe that their ancestors are always looking down on them and their actions, perhaps making them more respectful in a way. Caring for one’s family is one of the most important things in a Chinese person’s life. Retirement homes are highly uncommon and placing your parents into one see’s you being labeled as very uncaring and a bad son/daughter. Abandoning your family is one of the most dishonorable things you could do. Even with such degenerative illnesses e.g. Dementia, most people would rather hire a carer than leave a family member alone. Taking care of an ill parent is all the children’s responsibility and those who do not contribute are almost disowned from the family all together.

 

 

 

 

 

“According to culture and tradition, children have responsibility for the older members in the family. The word care here means that you as a child have to personally take care of your parents and not let the nurse in the nursing home take care of them. So, it is very common to see a grown adult living with his/her family.”

http://www.culture-4-travel.com/chinese-cultures-2.html

 Parents were cared for by all of their numerous offspring who relied on one another to work as part of a team but now China’s “one-child” policy is in order, social attitudes of China are changing.

“A family must have a son. Min’s mother had four girls before finally giving birth to a boy; in those early years of the government policy limiting families to one child, enforcement was lax in much of the countryside. But five children would bring heavy financial burdens as the economy opened up in the 1980s and the cost of living rose. As the second- oldest child, Min would bear many of those burdens”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Factory Girls – Leslie T. Chang

Therefore children of a family in poverty feel it is their responsibility to migrate to the city to work endless hours at a mass producing factory, lifting both themselves and their family normally still back in a rural area out of poverty. You hear a lot of horror stories from workers of these factories but the colleagues are still willing to put themselves through it to make their family proud. 

I watched two short documentaries called “Santa’s Workshop” and “A dollar a day: Made in China”, they focused on working conditions in a mass production toy factories and electronic factories in China

. One Swedish toy factory reports that 95% of their toys are manufactured in Hong Kong, China. Hong Kong was part of the British economy before it was reunited with China in 1997 – “enjoying more freedom and democracy than the rest of China”. The reported asked the manager of the toy store what buyers are looking for with their products and he replied with “buyers are interested in pricing”. It seems that all the people involved in running these large businesses are only interested in the profits being made. The film shows a small clip of inside the factory where workers are dealing with hot plastic for nearly 12 hours a day. He mentions how hot the factory is and that it is difficult to breathe.

 

 

 

 

 

The whole factory economy seem very secretive in what actually goes on, limiting camera crew to only certain areas and not allowing them to speak to any workers. Looking around the factory they notices signs warning workers that film producers would be in that day. What are they hiding?

The subject of gender is brought up quite often in these programmes and it seems that it is mainly females working under these conditions. It is explained by some workers that sons normally stay at home while the daughters migrate to the city to provide earnings for the family. One boss of the toy company says that 90% of workers are female and this is “because they are easy to manage”. On “A dollar a day” one factory boss mentions how girls are more precise and easier to manage than boys. The workers migrate from rural areas usually because “they have no choice but to come here to get better wages”. Nobody working in the factory is local residents.

Employees in this factory get paid for how fast they work. Those who work the slowest earn about 300 Yuan a month, when the average makes 500 Yuan. They are under a lot of control and follow ruins obediently; any slacking can result in a fine or dismissal. Working with plastic often results in burns or cuts, as a lack of safety equipment is seen. Any major injury caused will not even see compensation being offered.

Although it is very difficult for workers to leave their family behind, living conditions are normally better at the factory (but not much).

“My parents sent me here because they didn’t have the money to buy a new house. I really hated my parents when I had to leave home”

 “The workers live in quarter, normally 12 to 20 a room”. And the only storage for personal items is on their beds.

This young girl on a dollar a day had the intelligence to go to University but her family did not have the money for it. There is a clip where she gets the opportunity to phone her family and arrange a trip home, it is an upsetting scene:

“I miss you so much. I feel so homesick. I want to go home…”

The girl hasn’t even seen her brother in almost four year and it is an emotional time for all when the trip finally goes ahead. She cannot see herself at the factory forever, as she would like to eventually open her own small shop restaurant.

It is crazy what some of the young girls actually do and put themselves through just to help their family out. It really makes you wonder if the young society in Britain would do that for their family today.

Do we know where our products are made?

We all know that most of our clothes aren’t made in the UK. The vast majority are produced in Asia and the Middle East where textile-manufacturing costs are cheep. Everyone buys clothes made worldwide but few bother to find out where their new clothes are manufactured.

It is hard for the average buyer to take an interest in whether we buy them from an ethical, fair trade company or from a “sweatshop” factory employing children when all we’re given is “Made in …”. It is hard to find out where the products are actually manufactured and what the company policy is for workers. Often the brand will sub-contract textile factories in the Middle- East and Asia. The problem for the brand is they have to carry out consistent checks on these companies to ensure they haven’t contracted another factory that doesn’t abide the workers rights and working conditions.

In 2009, TNS Knitwear, who produced clothes for Primark, were found by a undercover BBC investigation, to be employing illegal workers who were working 12 hour days and receiving £3.50 an hour. The Manchester based company denied the claim and Primark carried out its own investigation. Primark is best known for its cheap fashion clothing and has risen in popularity through the recession. How much has this affected peoples spending in budget shops?

We asked the public on the street of Dundee if they know where their products come from and whether they would pay more for something more ethically manufactured then ones that were maybe a bigger brand but have vague ethical code. The majority of the people we asked assumed that their clothes were made in the Middle-East and Asia. They didn’t have much interest in finding where their clothes came from and it didn’t effect their choice of purchase. We asked if they would pay more for products produced in factories with better working conditions and pay. They said they would be more inclined to buy even if it meant paying a bit more for them. One woman had already heard about the scandal with Primark and had stopped shopping there because of it.

We we’re interested whether anyone knew if Apple products are actually being made in China. They all assumed that Apple built its products in America where they were designed. This shows how unaware we can be about our material possessions and the journey they took into creation. Perhaps brands should promote the journey of their clothes and make information about their ethics more available for the public.

I asked the staff at Superdry if they knew where the clothes that they sell are manufactured. The first person I asked said they were made in the E.U until I pointed out that the shirt next to me said “Made in China.” She left to get her manager who told me that the clothes were designed in England and manufactured abroad but she couldn’t tell me much more then that. She said that Superdry check all their factories for illegal workers and bad conditions. I found it interesting how the company don’t inform their staff of exact factories where maybe it could add a selling point for brands who have high prices to make their customers feel that it was ok to spend £50 on a pair of jeans if they knew it was of the best quality and made by workers who were well paid.

In a recession it is hard for people not to go for the good deals. They are normal happy that their new clothes might be lacking slightly in quality and will have a shorter life span then a high quality piece of clothing. When the global economy beings to rise then maybe there will be more focus on the manufacture of clothes within the general public.

MADE IN CHINA – Dundee

Like every western country in the world, Britain is a top importer of Chinese goods, it is more than likely that the laptop you are working on, the phone you are using to call your friends or the clothes that you wear will have been completely manufactured or components of it will be produced in China. The main reason for this is employees are willing to work long hours for a small wage. For many workers  willing to work these hours it is out of necessity, they have no other way of guaranteeing an income for their family. Factories are reliable jobs which pay enough to let them live life at a better standard than life on the street or in the country where food and money are scarce. They may also get a chance to learn at the same time as working which is very important to the youth of China, but this may only be available in very high standard factory’s.

Items which are manufactured in China range from, toasters, Mac books, Ipods, clothing and toys. The list is endless! Even though so many things are labelled as MADE IN CHINA, it is not often that people really realise where their items are from. It is almost like the MADE IN CHINA logo is so common that we have started to ignore or not notice what is says anymore. Just like when you see the washing instructions on your label. You never really read them and take them on unless you need to know what it says. I myself was a bit like this. I remember as a child being interested in why things were made so far away and  thought it was pretty cool to have something from an exotic country. I always had the picture in my head of people happily making these things with their families, enjoying the sunshine and just taking it easy.

Over the years you soon get to know the reality of what is going on, but still some people have the ideological idea that people who make these products are happy and are just working the same hours and have the same work load as people in Britian. When I watched the video ” Factory City” I thought this must be a pretty special factory to work in. I expected so much worse from working, living and eating conditions. For some reason I thought it would be a dark shed with people coughing, smoking, Children and old people working and looking tired, even people risking their lives to get job complete. In the video the work shops were clean, safety equipment was given, beds were provided, the age of people were 16-30 and they all looked quite healthy. To me if you are making a living and providing for your family but not risking your health then it must be a good job. I know their are probably worse factories out their but it is a better life than living on the streets or trying to scrape money together every month. The long hours I think would be the worse part of the job, never having any spare time  and knowing you will probably be working their 7 days a week and without sufficient sleep.

Our group wanted to find out the opinions of the Dundee consumers . Whether they knew where their products were manufactured or not. We came up with a set of questions to ask people and recorded the answers.

‎1) Do you have any idea where the majority of your products are produced?
2) Are you willing to pay a bit more money for clothes if you knew they were made in better conditions?
3) Do you own any Apple products and/or know where they were manufactured?

Female – 17 years old
1)Not a clue
2)n/a
3)iPhone

Female – 69 years old
1) Assumed China.
2) Would have been willing to pay more for certain products if they were produced more fairly and working conditions were better.
3) Didn’t own any Apple products. Had just bought a HP computer and was happy with it. Assumed the parts were made abroad.

Male – 22 years old – Apple Shop Worker
1) Yes. Worked in the Apple shop so knew quite a lot about where the components were built and how poor the conditions of the workers are.
2) Would definitely pay more for the product, even if built in the west and cost more. He stated that the love for the product was the main reason, and if working conditions were improved or even moved to the west, he would still buy them.
3)Yes. Pretty much owns every Apple product known on Earth. Knows they are built in factories in China.

Female – 23 years old – Works in SuperDry
1) Didn’t really know if she could tell us where the clothes were made. We stated that it says on the label. This lass was being an awkward kitten!
2) I asked her if she were to have the choice of buying the same polo shirt, one made in China and one made in America, would she pay more for the one that was made with better working conditions and fairer pay. She eventually stated that she would, after discussing she had done a college course in fashion.
3) She didn’t own any Apple products, but assumed they were made in Asia somewhere.

People are pretty clued up on where their products are made and would not mind paying a little more for them to be manufactured in factories with better working conditions. One lady that we interviewed said she wouldn’t mind paying more money for the same product because you are buying the companies traits in the product so it doesn’t matter how much it is. For example people buy Ipods made from Apple because they know they are reliable, aesthetically pleasing, durable and that software,apps and accessories are available throughout the world. So if the price of the ipod went up people would still buy ipods because of all the positive things the company have to back them up, even if their was a cheaper alternative available. This is theory of how it could work but whether people are telling the truth is not clear.

We also looked around clothing stores to see if any of their pieces were made in China. First stop was TOPMAN. I was expecting most clothes to be made in one country but was not expecting what I found. I picked up a pair of Jeans they were made in Egypt, I thought alright not so bad but I started to pick up more and their were MADE IN labels from; Turkey, Italy, Malaysia, China and India. I sort of went on a label checking spree around the shop wondering if I would find anymore foreign names! Luckily I didn’t. When you start to analyse something so closely you know you knew that clothes were made in different countries and shipped in to Britain, But taking a closer look just gives you a shock and your eyes are opened to the fact that clothes which are sold in Shops like Superdry ( which was another clothing shop we looked at) cost thrupence to make due to cheap materials and labour are sold in reputable british shops for people to buy at highly marked up prices. One not so special Jumper from Superdry which was made in China was for sale at £109. So they are making a huge profit while workers are being given 40 pence an hour to make the clothes. They will be probably be getting nothing more tan 1p from that piece of clothing.

It is easy enough to say that companies should put their prices up and give these factories more money but if their is such a happy cycle going on, would places like Apple and TOPSHOP really be happy to cut their earnings? People just don’t care enough to fight for what is right if there getting a good bargain. Of course people who we stopped in the street are going to say they would be more than happy to pay a bit extra for ethical products, who wouldn’t if you are questioned in front of people. I think secretly we really just don’t care, these countries are too far away and the deals we are getting are just too good.

We also have to ask questions about the cons of factories getting more money. Would they employ people or buy in machines to make things instead. If these people didn’t have their factory jobs how would they provide for their families? They can’t protest or strike because their are so many other people who would gladly step in their shoes! The wouldn’t be able to get a more skilled job as most of them cannot afford education and have no employability. These factories are not breaking any laws and are giving people a chance to earn money and provide for their families. Of course they would love to have a easy job with high pay but they are making the best of their circumstances and putting their families well being at the forefront of their own.

Products made in China? Or not.

Products made in China? Or not.

For some time now, products have been produced in China for a fraction of what the west could produce them for. Taking this in to consideration, how are the workers affected by this and do the public of the UK even care? Personally, I know where most of my clothes come from, but sometimes it is harder to pinpoint this accurately. A few of my own clothes have been designed in the West, but physically made in the East. The reason for this? Cost?

The cost of clothing, electrical products and other ‘necessities’ are super cheap to produce in the East, due to workers staying in the factories, working stupidly long hours and the actual costs of living in China and similar countries. The book, Factory Girls by Leslie T. Chang highlights the stories of many Chinese girls, often young, coming into the cities to work and earn a way of life. They are interviewed, but rarely get to see inside the factory or their living quarters before hand. Living quarters are usually horrendous, compared to Western standards, and as many as 12 girls can share a ‘dorm’. Is this acceptable?

Quite frankly it’s not acceptable, but the West still exploit this scenario and China allows its workers to live this way, often on very poor wages. Make no mistake, the cost of living is very cheap in China, but when the West come calling, the workers suffer. In contrast to that statement, the factory owners will see this as a great opportunity to get business from the West, possibly open up a new factory etc, thus lining their pockets, and making the divide between the rich and poor greater.

As a friend of mine once said:

‘We’re born, we try, succeed, then die.’

This is certainly true of the Chinese factory workers way of life. Sometimes though, workers don’t succeed. What happens to them? They can disappear in the streets of hundreds of thousands, and never be seen again, or they can move on to another factory if they find their original employers ‘not suitable’. This means starting all over again, and with little qualifications, this can be difficult.

This brings me to the West. Are we over qualified and over expectant on pay, to produce such items? The answer is no. It all comes down to money, and if a company in the West can ‘acquire’ a factory to work for them, produce more units per hour and pay workers a tenth of what the West equivalent would be, then why should they have it in the West? Would you be happy paying more for the same product if it was produced in the West?

I adventured into Dundee with my assignment group and decided to ask the general public some questions about China and production of goods over there. The three questions were:

Do you have any idea where the majority of your products are produced?

-Are you willing to pay a bit more money for clothes if you knew they were made in better conditions?
Do you own any Apple products and/or know where they were manufactured?

Elizabeth and I decided to team up and ask some questions to passers by in the Overgate shopping centre. We first approached a 17 year old female. We first asked if she owned any Apple products, and er response to this was that she owned an iPhone. Even though owning an iPhone, and with all the recent news concerning Apple production in China, the girl didn’t have a clue where any of the parts were produced. I think it’s this kind of ignorance by the young in society today, that really pisses me off.

In comparison to this, we spoke to an elderly lady who seemed to be fairly switched on about a few things. She came to the conclusion that a lot of goods were built in China, then sold for profit to customers in the West. The lady didn’t own any Apple products, and I’m pretty sure she thought we may have been speaking about the fruit…I digress. When asked if she would pay more for a product if it was produced more fairly and with the workers having better living conditions, she answered ‘yes’. She stated that, most people, young and old, need access to a computer at some point in their lives and if the cost were to go up, she would still pay.

After speaking to the public, we decided to ask some shop workers if they knew where their products were from. We ventured into StormFront (Licensed Apple Retailer) and also paid a visit to the SuperDry Clothing store.

Upon venturing into the Apple shop we were greeted by a young man of 22. We cut to the chase as we didn’t want to take up too much of his time. For the first question he stated that it wasn’t a well known fact, or a fact that Apple were happy to divulge, that their products were made in China, and more than likely in poor conditions. When asked if he would still buy the same product, but at a higher cost due to fairer working conditions. He stated that his love for the products came first, but would like to see factory workers being treated fairer. He also owns pretty mcuh every Apple peripheral known to man, so it’s safe to say we have found someone who actually knows what is going when coming to electrical goods.


On our way back to our afternoon class, we decided to pop in to the SuperDry store and have a look at some of the labels. We noticed that some of the more expensive options in the store were made in China, whereas some of the middle of the range items were made in Turkey and India. So it was clear to see that exploitation goes on throughout the whole world, and not just China. Before we left, we asked a 23 year old female member of staff if she knew where SuperDry’s products were made. She stated that she wasn’t sure if she could answer that due to store policy. We then stated that the labels on the clothes say where they are made. I’m not sure if she was all there in the head. She also stated that she would buy the same clothing if it cost more, due to her love for the brand.

In conclusion to what we have found, I think the general public don’t really care about where things are made, as long as the can keep up with their neighbour, so to speak. It’s a sad state of affairs that I find society to be like this. If only more people would take a small amount of time to read a book about exploitation, not just in China, but all around the world, then we could maybe combat the injustice that goes on.