China, Germany, Middle East: Will Chinese Factory Workers Learn from Egypt?

February 3 this year was the first day of the first month of the Chinese year of the Female Iron Rabbit.  It’s generally believed to be one of the most fortunate of all possible years.  I knew something good was going to happen this year.  When times are bad – challenging – something’s gotta give, and it always does.  So far a lot of good things have happened this year already, on an international front and a personal one.  The first good thing a friend pointed out about 2011 was that it was easier to type!

But to get back to serious things and things Chinese, I saw on BBC the other night an interesting tidbit.   Everybody knows about how China’s economy  has grown off the backs of its people who have worked for slave wages making cheap stuff that China has flooded world markets with.  I don’t have anything to say about that situation that’s good.  I think it stinks.  I hate the cheap factory goods and clothes, I hate that Chinese people are being exploited – by everybody.

Half way around the world is a country which operates on completely the opposite principle to China’s.  Yet it’s doing really well.  Germany owes its economic strength to its manufacturing industry also, but it has focused on producing incredibly high quality, very expensive goods.  Because Germans know there are enough people who can pay and who want to pay.  I know which country I’d prefer to live in.

Now here’s the twist.  One of Germany’s biggest markets is China.  The wealthy Chinese, who have made their gazillions off all the lower and middle classes working for slave wages, don’t want to buy cheap Chinese crap.  They want the good quality German stuff.   Others want it so they can copy it and produce it cheaply.  Ironic is one of the words that comes to mind.  I guess the year of the Female Iron Rabbit isn’t going to be so good for the Chinese workers as it is for some of the rest of world.

That makes me sad.  I went to Google to look for some photos, and found some lovely ones.  Nice clean factories, happy smiling workers all wearing beautiful uniforms.  That wasn’t what I saw on BBC.

I saw workers in a clothing factory.  Cramped, sweaty, no smiling faces.  What a ghastly life.  I wonder if they’ve been watching what’s going on in the Middle East, and have been longing to do the same.  I wonder when they’ll realize how much power they actually have.  Half the world relies on what they produce now.  All they have to do is down tools by the millions and China will collapse, along with whoever else is exploiting them.  Serve them all bloody right.

Somebody should send those workers free cell phones and hook them up to Twitter and Facebook.