America vs China

Buying Made in China May Support Slave Labor

One of the consequences of President Clinton’s granting China Most Favored Nation status and allowing them to become a member of the World Trade Organization is that China took over production of consumer goods previously made in the USA. As a result, the consumer products you buy that are “Made in China” may be made by slave labor.

The Global Slavery Index published by the Minderoo Foundation

“estimates that on any given day in 2016 there were over 3.8 million people living in conditions of modern slavery in China, a prevalence of 2.8 victims for every thousand people in the country. This estimate does not include figures on organ trafficking…Much of its rapid economic development has been the result of a domestic economy specialising in the production of labour-intensive, cheap goods for export. Forced labour mainly occurs in the production of these goods, including in the manufacturing and construction sectors, as well as in more informal industries…,Other labour-intensive industries in China are also creating a demand for low-paid foreign labour. The sugarcane industry in China’s southern Guangxi province attracts an estimated 50,000 illegal Vietnamese workers. Factory towns in Southern China have been found to employ illegal workers from Vietnam on a widespread basis.”

The Index commented that “The Chinese government officially announced in November 2013 that it would abolish the Re-education through Labour (RTL) System, in which inmates were held and routinely subjected to forced labour for up to four years. However, a 2017 report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission alleges that China still maintains a network of state detention facilities that use forced labour.”

The purpose of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission is to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and China, and to provide recommendations to Congress. If you read a chapter or two from any of the reports from 2017 – 2019, you would realize that Congress is not doing enough to address the threats China poses to the U.S.

In the staff research report, “U.S. Exposure to Forced Labor Exports from China,” Alexander Bowe, Research Fellow, write,

“China maintains a network of prison labor facilities that use forced labor* to produce goods intended for export—a violation of U.S.-China trade agreements and U.S. law. U.S. officials continue to face considerable difficulty in combating exports of these forced labor products, since cooperation from Chinese interlocutors has remained at low levels for years. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have not been permitted to make site inspections in China since 2009…”

In an article on June 11, 2019, the Epoch Times reported, “In undercover footage shot inside China’s notorious Masanjia labor camp, prisoners are shown hunched over work tables, with piles of wire diodes—an electronic component—on either side of a rubber mat. They do this work 15 hours a day, while being fed subsistence meals and receiving a pittance or no pay at all. Some inmates, exhausted, are shown lying down to sleep under their work tables.”

Another Epoch Times article of August 25, 2020, states, “For three years on and off, Li Dianqin worked for about 17 hours a day making cheap clothing—from bras to trousers—in a Chinese prison. She worked for no pay and faced punishment by prison guards if she failed to meet production quotas. One time, a team of about 60 workers who couldn’t reach their quota were forced to work for three days straight, not allowed to eat or go to the bathroom. The guards would shock the prisoners with electric batons whenever they dozed off.”

On March 1, 2020, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute released a report that stated, “Since 2017, more than a million Uyghurs and members of other Turkic Muslim minorities have disappeared into a vast network of ‘re-education camps’ in the far west region of Xinjiang…This report estimates that more than 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred out of Xinjiang to work in factories across China between 2017 and 2019, and some of them were sent directly from detention camps.”

The report explains, “Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 82 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors…” The whole list is too long to publish in this short article, but it includes: Amazon, Apple, BMW, Calvin Klein, Carter’s, Cisco, Dell, General Motors, Google, Hitachi, HP, L.L.Bean, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, Mitsubishi, Nike, Panasonic, Polo Ralph Lauren, Puma, Samsung, Sharp, Siemens, Skechers, Sony, Toshiba, Victoria’s Secret, and Volkswagen.

It is noted that “ASPI reached out to these 82 brands to confirm their relevant supplier details. Where companies responded before publication, we have included their relevant clarifications in this report. If any company responses are made available after publication of the report, we will address these online…a small number of brands advised they have instructed their vendors to terminate their relationships with these suppliers in 2020.” The full report can be downloaded here.

On August 13, 2020, The New York Times updated a visual investigation revealing that “As the coronavirus pandemic continues to drive demand for personal protective equipment, Chinese companies are rushing to manufacture the gear for domestic and global consumption. A New York Times visual investigation has found that some of those companies are using Uighur labor through a contentious government-sponsored program that experts say often puts people to work against their will.”

The next time you are ready to buy an article of clothing or a pair of shoes “Made in China,” think about what the working conditions were like for the workers who made these items. Remember that “Made in China” could mean being made in prison by slaves or forced labor at private companies.

Avoid buying from online websites as much as possible as current law doesn’t require information on where a product is made. Choose to buy Made in USA whenever possible. Take a look at the variety of products available at these websites:,, and of course,, which publishes my articles.

Author & Speaker Details
President , ElectroFab

Michele is founder and president of ElectroFab Sales, a sales agency specializing in helping manufacturers select the right processes for their products since 1985.

She is currently a director on the board of the and the San Diego Inventors Forum and is also Chair of the California chapter of the Coalition for a Prosperous America.

Michele is the author of Rebuild Manufacturing – the key to American Prosperity, which is a sequel to the 2009 and 2012 edition of Can American Manufacturing Be Saved? Why We Should and How We Can available on Amazon. She had her own column on IndustryWeek’s e-newsline until 2018, and has written articles for many other e-newslines and industry websites.

3 replies
  1. reshoring
    reshoring says:

    The use of prison labor is a horrific and inhumane thing. Unfortunately, President Trump encouraged Xi Jinping to build the camps during a discussion at the 2019 G20 meeting in Japan. He told Xi, “You should go ahead with building the camps. It’s exactly the right thing to do.”
    The House passed HR 6210 so America can take a strong stand against the use of prison slave labor. Unfortunately, Senator McConnell will not allow it on the agenda for a Senate confirmation.

    Following the President’s lead, it appears that the Republicans don’t find this topic particularly urgent or interesting.

    We are FIRMLY against the use of prison slave labor at the Reshoring Institute, and continue to support global efforts to abolish it.

  2. gardenbear88
    gardenbear88 says:

    Tell this to corporate America. Oh wait, they already know and do not care. The loss of jobs here is due directly to the corporations greed in refusing to pay honest American workers what they deserve. Which in turn, results in slave labor in China.

  3. kitkat1957
    kitkat1957 says:

    hi and I agree with you that things made in China may be all done from modern day slave workers…but I can say the products that we are getting from China are much more inferior in quality they don’t last and may I add… how are we going to live and dream here in USA when not only they have taken our jobs oversea and not much left here to make a nice livable wage anymore… the trade is not fair we are way behind and we should be addressing this serious issue very aggressively or if our government doesn’t help than we should stop buying things not made in other parts of the world especially China until the trade gets fairer…thank you


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