Dave Leggett | 8 June 2007
We all know that China's economy is developing rapidly, that managing such rapid economic growth raises all sorts of issues, that corners are sometimes cut, that Health and Safety in China isn't, well, quite as rigorously observed in China's factories as it is in some places. How far might the worst excesses go? Do we want to dwell on that as we pick up the cheap toy at Toys R Us or sign a ridiculously competitive outsourcing contract with a Chinese supplier? Probably not. These are merely growing pains in China's 21st Century industrial revolution, you think to yourself.
And surely things must be getting better for China's workers over time - even the tens of millions migrating to the cities who tend to be particularly vulnerable to exploitation.
But there may still be some horrible excesses going on. This article about 'slaves' in a brick factory is pretty shocking. At least the authorities are dealing with it and the local media is giving it coverage - a sign of progress perhaps. But it makes you wonder how much of this sort of thing may be going on in China, and also how extensive lower level exploitation of workers might be.
I'm starting to get a small idea of the scale of things here in China, but really, I'm only scratching the surface of this vast country....
Given the startling complexity of obtaining a journalist visa for China - the code 'J2' is now indelibly stamped on my mind - it was with some surprise how swiftly I managed to sail through airport im...