Wednesday, August 14, 2002

China Update

I no longer think it's enough just to say "I'm not going to buy products made in China." I think now I have to tell store managers when I'm leaving without a product because they only carry Chinese brands. If you do this, you will find store managers making faces that indicate they are working very hard at being patient with another religious nut, but that's okay. Personally, I'm not seeking martyrdom, but suffering for our convictions is supposed to be part of the territory, and if putting up with condescension from the manager of the local Wal-Mart is the cross I must bear, then so be it.

BUT, if all of you out there who are doing this (and a number of you have written to say you are) also tell the stores what's going on, it is just possible they will begin to sense a trend. And businesses, being driven by the bottom line, will follow any trend they think might be profitable.

Mrs. Kairos Guy suggested, for instance, that I call LL Bean. LL Bean unfortunately almost exclusively sells footwear that is made in China. But Bean is a company that takes stands and responds to its customers. If enough people contact them about this, it may prompt them to think about changing their vendors,or putting pressure on the vendors to change their practices. Or, failing that, Bean might at least have enough clout with the vendors to get them to certify that they aren't using slave/prison camp labor or factories owned by the military.

Something like the "Sullivan principles" (from South Africa's Apartheid days) adapted to China would be especially useful in situations like this. Sadly, all the people who were so active on South Africa seem not to be very interested in a situation in China that is also morally heinous.


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