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If China was a company, would you work for it?

In all the hoo-hah about China’s economy we almost never hear of the human rights situation there anymore. The reason is not that the situation has vastly improved, in fact it’s compared to South Africa’s apartheid. I’m reminded of economic bubbles past when big money clouded our view of everything behind it.

Human Rights Watch still knows what’s up. Their backgrounder on China is disturbing, and includes…

  • Widespread official corruption
  • China prohibits independent domestic human rights organizations and bars entry to international human rights organizations
  • The official cover-up of the SARS epidemic in Beijing
  • Institutional pressures on the police to extort confessions through beatings and torture
  • Chinese authorities employing increasingly sophisticated technology to limit public and private expression
  • One of the largest AIDS epidemics in the world
  • Employers routinely ignore minimum wage requirements and fail to implement required health and safety measures
  • A government ban on independent trade unions
  • Forced evictions of hundreds of thousands of residents in order to build new developments
  • The crackdown on terrorism in Xinjiang has been characterized by systematic human rights violations including arbitrary arrests, closed trials, and extensive use of the death penalty
  • The Chinese leadership continues to limit Tibetan religious and cultural expression and seeks to curtail the Dalai Lama’s political and religious influence in all Tibetan areas
  • Chinese officials curb the growth of religious belief and its expression in practice through a series of laws and regulations
  • The shortage of women and girls in rural areas has led to the kidnapping and selling of females as wives or prostitutes
  • In 2004, as it had in the past, China suspended its dialogue with the U.S. in retaliation for the American sponsorship of a resolution condemning its human rights record

Most of the companies I’ve worked for have refused to work for one company or another, citing objections to the harm done by, for example, tobacco, alchohol or the defense industry. So I have to ask, if China was a company, would you work for it?

  1. Excellent post. You are making an extremely valid point by highlighting these aspects about China that are usually swept under the rug – I attended the Asian Business Conference at Kellogg last June and at no point in the two day China love fest were any ‘unsavory’ aspects of doing business with China brought up. I believe it’s called the ostrich approach.

    To answer your question, no, I wouldn’t work for China.

  2. Wow. The write-ups make it look like such a great place to work. All these exciting opportunities where you know you could do good work on some exciting projects.

    But no, I would not work for China if they were a company, unless I was hired to do something that would improve human rights or quality of life.

    I’m not sure how I’d answer if a company I did work for wanted me to go work *in* China. Are we still supporting an oppressive government? Of course.

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