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Morals And The South China Miracle

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Morals and the South China Miracle

Most individuals carry high moral standards when it comes to the way of life he or she chooses to pursue. However, when it comes to morals in a big corporation, these standards seem to disappear. If there is corruption in a company, many seem to look the other way, or put the blame on someone above them; no one seems to take responsibility. I noticed this paradox recently after reading the book, Gender and the South China Miracle by Ching Kwan Lee. The author studied the lives of factory women of Liton electronics in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China. Liton distributes CD players, tuners, and remote controls for companies such as Schneider, Mitsubishi, Packard Bell and Techwood to Germany, Japan, Mexico, and the United States. After reading the book, I realized the state of iniquity through the management and the lifestyle these workers are forced to live. I understood why these companies need to be moral and came up with reasons and ideas to make change. Although the majority of corporations prioritize profits, moral expectations should be imposed in order to promote humanitarianism in the world.

The author found the conditions of the factory work to be uncomfortable, grueling, and painful to most of the workers. On average, a worker earned twenty-five US dollars a month in one of the factories Lee studied. Workers came to the factory even when they were sick because fines were placed on absenteeism. Overtime shifts were frequent and mandatory. Workers needed to wait to use the bathroom until they were granted a special pass from a manager. In busy seasons, work lasted until eleven pm. Workers that refused to do overtime were penalized, fined, and eventually fired. One worker Chi-ying, “had seen line girls suffering from fever or menstrual pain clinging to the line, sobbing or cursing” (Lee 6). The managers of Liton electronics were not oblivious to these conditions. When a Labor Union contacted Liton after noticing the low wage rate, Liton was scared. They were told to make immediate changes, however Liton wanted to use their extremely close ties with the External Trade Bureau to get out of the situation and continue exploiting their workers. Moral expectations were needed in this company to improve the work environment and lives of these factory workers.

The managers were taking advantage of these workers because they knew they valued their jobs and would not easily quit because of exploitation. The company wanted to push their workers to their wits end to make more profit for the higher executives. There was never any pay increase for the workers when production boosted. Factory work was the only form of economic independence for these women from their families. Most of the workers came from a background of harsh farm work and looked at factories as an escape. These women were usually not given an education because it was only valued for the men in their family. They had no other means to move up in the world besides these jobs. Women also wanted to get away from arranged marriages and start a life independently, on their own terms. They stayed at low-pay, awful jobs because they felt it was better than their life at home, and felt they had no other choice. These women also accepted the conditions so they could have a stable job to support and be able to spend some time with their families. Companies need to have morals so that these women can actually find



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