Well for those of us who have always been slightly skeptical regarding the sustainability of the “unlimited growth”, “China is different, different, different”, “we don’t have to tell you about the poison that we are pumping into the air”, “no need for transparency here” model of capitalism in the PRC, it appears that our skepticism has, at least been partly substantiated by an article today in today’s ‘China Labour Bulletin’.
Hu Jintao is in Cambodia in a visit to build up stronger Sino-Cambodian ties in politics, trade and investment. Well, if politics is to be equated with diplomacy here then ties are most certainly to be welcome. However, when we read that China is now Cambodia’s largest foreign investor and that “Cambodia’s factory workers are among the poorest paid in Asia, garment workers, for example, earning around US$70 per month,” we hardly need an Einstein’s powers of deduction to conclude that Chinese factory owners are establishing themselves on the outskirts of Phnom Penh rather than in in China where wages are rising and where workers are increasingly unwilling to put up with the more unacceptable face of capitalism.
China is no different from anywhere else and just as the rate of economic growth that Beijing and the rest of us have become is unsustainable for social and environmental reasons, so too are Chinese capitalists just as willing as their western counterparts to move production abroad in order to maintain their own profits when at home workers and people are agitating for a more just society and cleaner environment.