In a new book, the journalist Amelia Pang investigates the brutal system of forced labor that undergirds China’s booming export industry.


“Our spending habits put brands on a perpetual search for ways to shorten the time between design, manufacturing and distribution,” Pang writes. “Our current pressure on companies to endlessly optimize is fundamentally unsustainable.” She names online retailers like ASOS and Fashion Nova, which introduce new styles at a furious pace, as examples of this hyper-speed trend. This, in turn, increases the pressure on Chinese factories to deliver flexibly and cheaply, driving them to look for money-saving labor solutions, like those found in laogai prisons. And, although many brands regularly audit some of the factories in their supply chain, it would take a significant increase in spending to make those audits meaningful. Two factories in the Bangladesh building complex that collapsed in 2013, killing more than 1,000 workers, for example, had recently been deemed safe by auditors.


The Alarming Human Toll of Cheap Stuff ‘Made in China’ — New York Times


The Alarming Human Toll of Cheap Stuff ‘Made in China’ — Attack the System