Abusive child labor in China Essay

News correspondent David Barbosa of the New York Times Magazine has published an article on May 1st 2008, entitled: ‘China Says Abusive Child Labor Ring Is Exposed’. In his news article, Barbosa uncovered more in-depth analysis surrounding the incident of child labor in China, in which according to him acknowledges child labor abuse at the heart of China’s export economy.

This paper will discuss Barbosa’s finding on the plight of Chinese children amidst extensive economic production.

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Article Summary

Who was involved?

Based on Barbosa’s news article, child labor ranges from the age of 13 to 15 which have been deceived and possibly kidnapped by a child trafficking syndicate then sold to employment agencies.

To cite, the series of crackdown by Chinese authorities has found rampant child labor employment from Western Sichuan Province of Liangshan that supplies the children to factories in Guangdong, wherein forced labor engages about 300 working hours monthly (Barbosa, 2008).

Result of the crackdown

The summary of result on crackdown of child labor rings has prompted the Chinese authorities to enacting more enforcement, which according to Barbosa has put China in significant scandal and embarrassment [aside from the political issue with Tibet who rejects China’s massive preparation to the forthcoming Olympic Games].

With the incoming Olympic event, Chinese authorities has doubled its efforts in enforcing the strictest possible campaign against child labor traffickers, wherein the April 30th 2008 crackdown to various legal and most specifically illegal employment agencies [or simply child traffickers] have been arrested and initially rescued about 100 children-laborers from Dongguan City where major electronic manufacturing firms are located.

Behind child labor issue

  According to Barbosa, child labor and abuses depicts China’s scarcity of laborers as a result of soaring inflationary rates and foreign currency devaluation that decreases profitability of both small and medium manufacturers that resorted to move quickly in the “edge” of competitive manufacturing and mass production; that involve cheap labor of children and adult laborers [of both men and women], wherein the Chinese labor law has even reduced the legal age requirement from the age of 16.

Barbosa insinuated that may be the “political issue” involving Tibet’s [rejection and defiance to holding the Olympic Games in China] may have attributed to the seeming crackdown of human trafficking for cheap labor, in general. As cited, the earlier cases of child labor and human trafficking incidents could have been picking up “loose response” of enforcement, apparently becoming “stiff and tight” on the current dates.

The critical issue behind the rampant child labor and human trafficking in China espouses the fact of looming poverty incidence in Southern and Western localities of China wherein continuing increase of  production and raw materials costs are insignificant to cost-cutting measures. To cite, even the renowned transnational Wal-Mart company have been charged with child labor, wherein similarly other foreign firms in China were illicitly engaging.

In related child labor issue, Barbosa pointed out the observation of Professor Hu Xingdou from Beijing Institute of Technology who quoted that ‘China’s economy is developing at a fascinating speed, but often at the expense of laws, human rights and environmental protection’.  Further to cite, local government encourages incentives to grow their economy and thereby encouraging participation of cheap labor forces that includes children.

Postscript in the report

Journalists have jointly advocated pursuing the progress of Chinese authorities’ campaign against child labor and human trafficking.  According to Barbosa, the Southern Metropolis newspaper (in Beijing, China) conducts fact-finding mission in Liangshan Prefecture of Sichuan Province wherein indigenous families resides and being targeted by child labor recruiters.

Barbosa stressed that journalist may access and could uncover the truth brought about by the scandal of child labor and abuse. As quoted by Barbosa; “journalists could discover the facts by secret interviews in a few days, since how could the labor departments show no interest in it and ignore it for such a long time?”


Barbosa, D. (2008). ‘China Says Abusive Child Labor Ring Is Exposed’. The New York Times (Asia Pacific) Electronic Magazine. Retrieved 08 May 2008 from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/01/world/asia/01china.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

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