Tue 11 Sep 2007
The Ethical Pros and Cons of buying a Chinese Motorscooter
Many express concern about buying products produced in the near slave-labor environments common in Chinese factories. There is certainly food for thought there. Psychometry aside, there is still an understandable stigma about owning and using an object produced within such unpleasant exploitative surroundings (See Motorscooter Choice Ethics).
Unfortunately, there seems to be very little one can own and use which has not been, if not assembled in, at least assembled from parts made in — China. Just try avoiding the use of products connected with China for a day.
So, what can one do to to support the humane treatment of workers abroad and the retention of manufacturing jobs in unionizable countries?
The Yumbo Roadpower (AKA TANK, Roketa) is found all over Central America because it is both cheap and reliable
Chinese products have not just been pouring into the US, they have become a staple in countries around the world. They have made the difference, in many cases, between affordable and unaffordable transportation among many other things (See TANK Motorscooters).
Drivers in the US expressing an aversion to Chinese products through boycotting specific high-ticket products (while ignoring the vast range of other Chinese products that probably add up to much more) are not likely to make any noticeable impression on sales, markets, or working conditions. However, a consumer consensus expressed through highly visible network channels, might well persuade Chinese manufacturing interests that there is a potential for increased market share in a shift toward more benign employee policies.
Chinese companies have made efforts to comply with federal and state regulations and to woo American buyers in various ways. Would it not be possible, through outreach by motorscooter forums and sites to inspire Chinese factories to make an effort to appeal to customers by improving worker relations? to convince them that such efforts would actually make a difference?
Perhaps it is a vain hope that any real change would take place. Why wouldn’t Chinese companies (much like companies everywhere) find it easier to beef up their PR rather than make any real substantive changes? These concerns should certainly be addressed in any list of improvements presented. For example:
- Access to real information about working conditions
- Knowing who’s who — the real faces of workers and managers
- Communication between scooter riders and factory workers including pictures stories and gifts.
There would be many problems implementing such a campaign, but who knows? Perhaps some scooterist out there has the brilliant idea that would work. With the growth of online motorscooter sales, there is a substantial community of scooter owners and would-be owners who could confer and cooperate in such a campaign.