Dear Democracy Now! Visitor: We are an independent, ad-free daily news program that serves millions of viewers and listeners each month. In this US election year, Democracy Now! is more important than ever. For 20 years, we’ve put a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power. We lift up the stories of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. We do all of this with just a fraction of the budget and staff of a commercial news show. We do it without ads, corporate sponsorship or government funding. How is this possible? Only with your support. A generous funder will match your donation dollar for dollar if you donate right now. That means when you give $10, your donation will be worth $20. Pretty exciting, right? So, if you've been waiting to make your contribution to Democracy Now!, today is your day. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you every day.

Your Donation: $

Cheap Labor and Fat Campaign Contributions: Why the Bush Administration Won't Condemn China. A Look at China As a Source of Cheap Labor for Wal-Mart, Nike, and Other US Corporations

April 10, 2001


As the U.S.-China standoff enters its 10th day, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman called US statements to date"unacceptable" and reiterated China’s demand for an apology. The spokesman acknowledged Secretary of State ColinPowell’s remarks to Fox News Sunday that Washington was sorry about the loss of the Chinese pilot, but said that itwas only one step in the right direction.

China’s unfaltering stance has put President Bush in an awkward position. The New York Times is reportingtoday that the administration is under growing pressure from conservatives in Congress to threaten stronger action,which could include restricting trade or selling advanced arms to Taiwan. But the administration has also beenwarned by business executives to assess any boomerang effects on the American economy before threatening tradesanctions. As a result, President Bush has issued only the blandest warnings to the Chinese about the diplomatic andeconomic risks they run in continuing to hold the 24 American servicemen and women.

Business leaders are not only closing ranks around the promise of opening China’s markets to American exports. Chinahas become an important source of labor. According to a May 2000 report by the National Labor Committee, U.S.companies import 36% of China’s total exports worldwide. Major U.S. companies, including Nike, New Balance, andTimberland shoes, Kathie Lee, Wal-Mart, and RCA TVs have factories in China. And the labor is cheap. InTimberland’s factories, 16 and 17 year old girls work 14 hours a day, seven days a week for 22 cents an hour. Youngwomen, some of them only 14, also make RCA TVs. They work from 7.30 am to 9 p.m. or sometimes midnight, for a basewage of 25 cents an hour. They are fined 10 hours pay if they make a mistake on the production line. Young men andwomen work in Wal-Mart factories for 14 hour shifts, 7 days a week, 30 days a month and take home an average of 3cents per hour.


  • Charlie Kernaghan, Executive Director of the National Labor Committee.

Related link:

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.