Week 6 Discussion Prompt: Labor, Consumption, China

How does Andrew Ross depict and explain the outsourcing of labor to China? What does Ross think is especially significant about recent shifts? How does this connect to the descriptions of work in the other three articles? What similarities and differences did you find in those three work settings?

76 thoughts on “Week 6 Discussion Prompt: Labor, Consumption, China”

  1. In Andrew Ross’s book’s introduction, he explains about the capital flight and job transfer to China and related policies. He further describes that the Americans are aware and are afraid that their jobs are being taken by China and other developing countries. However, what they are not much aware of is how employees in these developing countries are dealing with these jobs. These employees do not have job security and work in bad conditions. Their employers look for cheap labor and that is why their labor does not trust them and often becomes disloyal in return. These workers quit work due to the terrible conditions that they face without any job security. The employees do not work with passion at these factories because they feel that their employers only treat them as commodities. This can be connected to the description of the three articles. In the first article of Apple store, employees feel dissatisfied with their work. The employees leave the job because of the hectic nature of the work created by the employers. In the second article of Foxconn’s industries, employees have committed suicide Moreover, employees have protested and caused riots due to the terrible and unsatisfactory conditions of work. In the third article of Chinese Gold Farmer, employees were somewhat satisfied with work that they were doing. Yet, they found it hectic and meaningless.
    I think that the setting in all three articles was slightly different; however, the hectic work load and dissatisfaction of work can be seen as similar. The first article explains about the Apple Store workers, where most of the employees are hired as Sales Representatives and think that they have gotten a great job in IT field. However, they find out that they are working terribly hard and would like to quit if they can find a good job of same or higher wage. We can see the same thing happening in the second article of Foxconn’s industries article. People come from far distances to obtain job at Foxconn’s factories because they are paid more here for the same work. However, when a person is hired they find out how tiring and chaotic the working conditions are. Especially, when it is the peak time for production employees have to work even harder to meet the production needs. Due to this pressure of work and employers, employees have even committed suicides. The third article also presents hectic conditions of work. Even though it is only playing game, however, it gets tiring when you are playing it for 12 hours a day and as a job. The workers mention that they were yelled at by their employers when they did not coordinate with their partners in the game. The thing that I found different among the three articles was their actual setting and levels of hectic work. For example, in an apple store, conditions are not as serious as the other two places in the other articles. For example, workers are not being kept in terrible conditions where they find suicide as a solution. Moreover, some employees are given time in the back room to solve technical issues. This gives employees some time off from customer service. Despite of few dissimilarities, I believe that these all three jobs are extremely tough and require more than great effort from the workers.

    1. Hey Lalah,
      I really liked how much you focused on how this massive outsourcing of jobs has led to terrible conditions for Chinese workers. I think that was a really striking dynamic of Ross’ book.

    2. Hi Lalah!

      I think you have accurate points here. Since the employees think they found a great job they are motivated. I like the way and how you made it clear that hard working people work hard to their bones with very long hours and they are paid very little amount of salaries. You also made it clear how China has become a trouble spot for the outsourcing of the labor.

    3. I enjoyed reading your post! I really liked how you compared Apple and Foxconn, where the two companies make it look like getting a job from there is great, but in actuality it is the exact opposite. It was a very interesting connection that was made.

  2. In “Fast Boat to China,” Andrew Ross discusses the mass flux of jobs being outsourced to China from other nations. As China is developing very fast technologically, there is an abundant labor force, investor-friendly policies, and an authoritarian like government, which has allowed for heavy investing from outside companies, “China is playing host to the largest, and most corrosive, environment for offshore labor in the global free-trade economy” (Ross 3). While free trade/neoliberalism has provided many jobs, they have come at a cost. There are fewer jobs for skilled workers due to machines taking their place. All the manufacturing has led to a greater need for raw materials thus harming the environment more, and has commoditized the Chinese worker. The large amount of people looking for a job has made many people expendable because their job could easily be filled. Jobs have been deprofessionalized by learning all the skills of the trade and easily making machines or teaching other people who will do it for cheaper.
    The “Apple Retail Army” article looks at employment in Apple retail stores. These employees sell millions of dollars’ worth of merchandise and make little money; however despite the money there is a high retention rate for employees because of their belief in the brand and the importance of their job. However, there are the workers who become disillusion overtime and begin to see their job as less meaningful. Despite this, employees have little power in lobbying for more pay because there is never a shortage of people willing to work for Apple. This plays into Ross’s idea of workers as commodities, easily expendable, allowing companies to pay employees low wages.
    On the flip side, another article looks at the workers in the factories in China which manufacture the phones. There are similar problems, but on a greater scale. People commit suicide and cause riots due to low wages, long hours, and hostile work environments. However, the people working in the factories work for the pay, not for the prestige of working for Apple like those in America who work in the retail stores. Just like how there are always people willing to work for the Apple retail stores, there are many more people in China willing to work for Foxconn, which makes it so the employees can do nothing about their pay.
    Continuing with the theme of low page and long hours, another article looks at the life of gold farmers in China. Gold farming is a term used for people who play World of Warcraft to collect coins to be sold to other people around the world. Most of the people working at these companies are Chinese migrants. Despite the low pay and long hours, many of the workers enjoy their job, which is in contrast to the factory workers, but is similar to the retail workers. It was interesting to see the common complaint of low wages, poor working environments, and long hours around the world and in different industries and how at each place how these variables differed. The underlying message of course is that all these products that are taken for granted and that are bought for relatively low prices, are in a large part made possible by these poor work conditions, cutting corners on money, and taking advantage of workers.

    1. I agree that all three articles illustrate how bad the workers are treated. Another similarity I found was that these workers are not compensated enough for their contributions. Their work brings billions of dollars to the company and yet their wages are next to nothing compared to the profit the company makes.

    2. Hey Ryan,
      I agree with you that the common theme of all of these articles was maximizing profits at the expense of workers’ rights and higher pay. I was really struck reading your response by the seeming inevitability of this exploitation. Nothing wrong with your response, I just wish any of these readings had left us with a kernel of hope or pointed to some way to remedy this situation!

    3. Hi
      I enjoyed reading your post. I agree that apple isn’t paying enough to its employee due to the craziness and promises that were maid but not held up. I also agree that all three articles show that they are taking advantage of its employees and paying them bare minimum for wages.

    4. Ryan, I really enjoyed reading your post, particularly where you highlight the underlying message of how these Apple products are a result of taking advantage (exploiting) workers and cutting corners on money. It would be interesting to see how much money Apple’s CEO would lose if he were to make adjustments to ensure better working conditions and pay. I also found it interesting when you mentioned that US Apple employees are working for “prestige” while Chinese employees are merely trying to make ends meet.

    5. I really enjoyed reading your post! I liked how you compared the Apple store article directly with an example from Ross’ introduction. It is very true that Apple employees are expendable, as the article states how there is never a shortage of resumes being sent in for jobs. I also really liked how you compared the gold miners and Apple stores articles with how, despite the wages and conditions, they liked what they are doing, to a certain extent.

    6. I thought you had some very good thoughts on the articles – especially in your descriptions of the workers in various settings being “commoditized” – which is a description that definitely invokes ideas of colonialism and exploiting native peoples for cheap labor. Your talking about the employee’s feelings of being easily replaceable, brings up the idea of the ‘reserve army’ we talked about in class, too.

  3. Andrew Ross’s Fast Boat to China informs that the capital and laboring jobs have been moving out of the countries like United States. China and other such developing countries are outsourcing all the jobs because they able to get workers at a low wage who are willing to work and need the job for survival. Ross also discusses the apprehension of superior wealthy countries such as United States that China is supposedly taking their jobs. The workers work in a harsh condition, and most of the time they are not entirely satisfied with the process of their working conditions, and also in mane cases, they wage that they get paid.
    In connection to the other three articles, all three articles show a similar discontent between the workers and their dissatisfaction of having being paid low wages. David Segal in his article discusses how the Apple employees are unhappy due to their long shifts and minimum wages. Often time employees in Apple store work for a year or two and, leave the jobs due to unreasonable working conditions and promises made by the managers. One instance that caught my attention in the articles was when one of the technicians, Arthur Zarate, fell ill for two weeks and could not go to work, and even after having a doctor’s note did not do much assistance, and the company decided to terminate him from his job in the Apple store. The insensitivity described by Segal in this article is unfair, especially when a person is ill due to a severe illness. Yet, the other two articles about the Foxconn’s iPhone factories and the Chinese Gold Farmer, portrays similar discontent as the Apple store. However, in the Foxconn, people come from as far as 10 hour drive to work, just because the pay is more, than back home in their city. Many workers work under tough and harsh conditions, and sometimes they have to work seven days a week without a day off when the demand for the production in the market is high. However, working hard and tough, their wages are barely enough to support their families back home, and many of the workers have caused riots and have committed suicide. The Chinese Gold Farmer, workers are usually asked to play an online game for more than ten hours a day to reach a certain goal. Some of these workers have to be up all night to play the game, and restrain themselves from sleeping. Once the goal is acquired, a certain profit goes to the boss and the wage they (workers) earn is around 30 cents an hour.
    The only difference I noticed is that people who work in the Apple store are able to leave their job and look for a better and healthier working environment. In the other two articles, I felt that people do not have any other opportunity to look for another job, probably due to their lack of experience and skills. It seems they have no other way to make money but to do whatever seems reasonable for them to support their families and themselves.

    1. Hi Seemaab,
      I enjoyed reading your post. I also agree that people who work in the Apple stores are able to leave their job and look for a better and healthier working environment even with jobs being somewhat scarce here. The people in the other two articles I felt did not have the ability to do that and therefore must work in harsh conditions. Thanks for sharing!

    2. Good posting. For some reason when I was reading about what you said about workers at Foxconn rioting and committing suicide – it brought to mind the safety nets that they installed around the buildings – it made me think of how (though it was meant to save lives and probably did, and that’s not a bad thing . . . ) the people probably felt it was just one more way the company could control every aspect of their lives – to include how, or if they chose to live. Then again, on the opposite hand, it could almost a gesture that the company doesn’t feel that the people are completely expendable . . . I dunno – kind of off on a tangent here. Anyway, good posting, it captures the idea of the worker’s discontentment in all the different situations.

    3. Even though people are able to leave Apple and perhaps find better jobs, it is still surprising to me that a profitable company like Apple is not able to better compensate its employees. It makes sense in the Chinese context you would think that American workers would be able to fight for better terms of employment, especially with the amount of revenue they personally help generate. I hope that Apple stops focusing on employee turnover and instead starts focusing on retention and valuing of all workers.

  4. Andrew Ross’s article points out the problems that China poses currently and will pose in the future. It’s unfortunate that such talented workers who are experienced and want to be appreciated by their companies feels like it’s a washed up dream. Ross describes how the competition with China’s cheap labor and horrible working conditions are creating problems as their economy develops. Employers would use employees are replaceable pawns instead of strong techy knowledge, who could also perhaps be educated. Going back to Neoliberalism, Chinas future of jobs and economy stand to make the rich richer and those who even want a semi normal middle class life will have to compete with poor working conditions outsourced in China and those expensive degree’s will practically have less meaning than the amount of work that went into getting it. The global working economy and working class stand to lose greatly if high tech jobs start moving to China as their economy grows. This article is closely related to the other three in ways of poor working conditions and what that promotes to mental health of the employees. Over worked and under paid Apple employees feel used or just not appreciated when they make only slightly more than the minimum wage. Apples success isn’t shared that much with the bottom employees, however there is the expectation that it is an entry level job. However when compared to some of the top executives (i.e. Tim Cook who earned 570 million in stock) it’s disparaging to want to work hard. Foxconn isn’t too far, China’s silver spooned baby production mill that has record numbers of employee suicide at the building. Riots from poor working conditions relate to Ross’s future if China keeps on the road its currently on. Dibbell points out a great article for world of Warcraft players. Qiwen only earning .30 cents an hour, just for you to spend 20$ for virtual money. Exploiting the human will to work for pennies has been China’s way to compete in the world. It’s unfortunate that such a large nation stays relevant through these conditions. In ways these articles are tied to together from poor working conditions, low wages, and exploiting the will to work. Their different only in the industry in which it is performed. Foxconn, Apple, games and many more industries all take advantage in some fashion, but there will be a price to pay for it.

    1. I agree that the workers will be discouraged when they look at how much the top executives make. I also think that when the employees see how much profit the company makes with their contribution and look at how much they are being paid, it will definitely make them made and think that they are not being paid enough.

    2. I agree with you there is definitely a price to pay, these exploitations can only go on for so long. There has to be an international standard so that anybody from around the world can work where ever. This will be necessary as borders cease to limit where people can live and work.

    3. George, I really liked your take on the readings. Again, we see how neoliberal policy makes the rich richer, and poor poorer. It is truly a shame because as you point out, Tim Cook earned 570 million dollars in stock – which makes it disparaging for bottom-level Apple employees to work hard, when there is a lack of upward mobility.

    4. Hi George,
      I really enjoyed reading your post. I also agree that global corporations and industries like Apple and Foxconn all take advantage of China’s low wage/high profit economy. Many have been exposed but this blows over quickly. Many will do whatever they can to fulfill maximum profit even if it means exploiting innocent workers. Thanks for sharing!

  5. In the introduction of the Fast Boat to China by Andrew Ross, the author makes several points about the outsourcing of labor to China. To begin with, he points out that many Americans think that outsourcing to China takes away American jobs. However, he argues that there is as much or even more cost for Chinese to bear as many jobs are being lost due to closures, reconstructions, sale of state-owned enterprises, and pressure from World Trade Organization. Therefore, he says in the long run, almost everyone loses. Moreover, he notes the horrible working environment where workers are exposed to hazards. He talks about the foreign managers who expect obedient workforce and take advantage of Chinese workers to make fast profit. He explains that they are over worked and are not compensated enough for their contributions. He also mentions that they are always told that there are plenty of workers out there who are willing to replace him or her. On top of that, he describes how the workers are not loyal to the managers since they are aware of the fact that they won’t be staying too long. Therefore, he says that they develop very weak bond to their workplace. Finally, he explains that there is high turnover rate due to high cost of living, no legal protections, and hazardous working environment. With the payments, the workers can barely pay for their basic needs such as house fees and food. However, it is not enough to send money to their families who live on less amount of money. Thus, Ross illustrates the reality that Chinese workers experience and what globalization and free trade brought us.
    The three articles are examples of the reality that many Chinese workers face or even American workers can experience which is described in the introduction of Ross’s book. There are many similarities in the three work settings from the three articles. First of all, employers treat workers like a resource rather than a human being capable of thinking. The workers are assigned to work on mundane and repetitive jobs for hours without breaks. The employers do not care about the employees but they are only interested in how much money they can make. Moreover, the working environment is very unpleasant. The working environments at the factories are often very unsafe where the workers are vulnerable to hazards. The gold farmers play games for hours in enclosed office space where there is not enough light and space for the workers. The employees at the Apple store have to face customers continuously and are loaded with works without proper breaks. Finally, the workers are not paid enough to compensate for their contributions. The factory workers, gold farmers, and Apple’s employees generate billions of dollars for the company. However, compared to the profit the company makes, their payment is next to nothing. On the other hand, there are very few differences among the three articles. In terms of payment and working environment, there is a difference in that some are better off than others. The factory workers face the worst working environment and lowest payment. Then the gold farmers have relatively better working condition than the factory workers in that they are not exposed to hazards and payment depends on how well they play the game. The employees at the Apple store enjoy relatively safe working environment and higher payment than the Chinese workers. Nevertheless, even if some are better off than others, the workers in China and U.S. are in similar situations in that they are used as commodities by the large corporations and not being compensated fairly for their contributions.

    1. It was amazing to see in these articles, how the owners & the managers thought that it is great that they can replace their workers because of the cheap accessible labor. However, it turns out giving less importance to their workers, is leading workers to leave their jobs.

      Nice post!

    2. It is interesting how China is blamed without question for the horrible conditions in their factories. While they do have little to no labor laws, the conditions in the factories are the work of the factories themselves and the corporations who allow their products to be made in these conditions. Also, China is getting pressure from the World Trade Organization to continue their practices. This is a great example of the xenophobia that Americans have of the Chinese.

  6. According to Ross’ Fast Boat to China, American jobs began being outsourced to China when free trade policies made it easier to for American firms to make their products there. Ross remarks that several things are significant about this shift. First, it led to less competition amongst manufactures because it became impossible to produce at the “China price” (thus pushing out smaller domestic firms). Second, China has driven world demand for steel, copper, oil and other resources to feed its industrial growth, having a dramatic environmental impact. The most interesting development is that China has now started attracting high end skilled jobs as well as low end manufacturing jobs, a duality that no industrialized nation has ever attempted. Ross argues that it is impossible to do both without creating the toxic work environment that we see.

    The connection between all of these articles is the exploitative work environments that their employees work in despite working for companies that make massive profits. Greene’s article discusses young educated workers in China who work making iPhones. Despite being a relatively high paying job by Chinese standards, the wages provided to these factory workers are barely high enough to cover anything more than food and a bunk in a workers’ dormitory. Segal’s article about American workers at Apple stores is similar, because it discusses how workers are emotionally manipulated into working long hours with no breaks for very low pay. Much like their Chinese counterparts, these Apple store jobs are relatively high paying for hourly laborers despite the fact that these workers can barely make ends meet. What I found interesting about Dibbell’s article on Chinese gold farmers is that despite surface appearances, this job was just as exploitative as the other two. Even though the workers are just “playing games,” they are still working 84 hour weeks for the equivalent of about 30 cents an hour.

    The biggest differences between these three work settings are in the type of exploitation they rely on. The iPhone factories are by far the most physically dangerous. The workers are separated from family and social networks and this separation appears to be capitalized on. By contrast, the gold farmers don’t have as physically strenuous of a job, but their work is a form of emotional labor that takes a different toll. The farmers feel uneasy playing someone else’s character and have an emotional reaction to being killed. Like the gold farmers, the American Apple workers also have an emotional component to their work. They consider their jobs (high stress and low pay) to be a rite of passage for a worker entering the workforce. Moreover, they feel that they are making an altruistic contribution to humanity by helping further spread Apple products and knowledge.

    1. You have some interesting points, pointing out the emotional exploitation. Especially with the Apple workers, they all seem to love their jobs and come off as fanatics. i didn’t realize there was mass dissatisfaction with their jobs because it is a sales job that they can leave freely. Exploitation takes many forms and it doesn’t have to be overseas to experience.

    2. I found Segal’s article interesting because I was interviewed by Apple and had this emotional attachment of wanting to help others and inform them about Apple products. After reading this article I can agree that Apple does exploit its workers as a couple of my friends who worked at Apple for several years told me their experiences. At first the pay does seem like a lot and it is not a commission based job, but after working for awhile it is a dead end job.

  7. Ross’ article was very thorough and interesting on what our perspectives of outsourcing of labor are and how they are different from the average Chinese worker who is living a different reality. First of all, I appreciated the way the author pointed out that the media is scare-mongering Americans into thinking that the Chinese are out to get “their” jobs and even stretching it as far as seeing the emerging Chinese economy as a “threat”. Similar to other countries, China is particularly enjoying corporate-led globalization. The author points out certain significant knowledge about the Chinese workforce not being loyal to their bosses and provided an example of how millions of worker failed to show up to work at a given period of time. This disloyalty is caused by the flightiness of corporations who will move overnight to employ cheaper labor and leave its previous employees out of work. As the author says, “the easy international mobility enjoyed by capital-owners may be creating a workforce in its own mirror image; employees who simply will not commit.” Another trend learned through this reading was that a country like China could potentially be running out of workers. That surprised me the most, until I discovered that foreign investors want to hire teenage girls who are the cheapest, most pliable and expendable members of the workforce.
    On the other hand, the article on work at Apple Inc. is completely disrupting after reading the incentive-driven article about the outsourcing of labor in China. For Apple employees here in America, the work environment is created differently at Apple by empowering its cult-like-fans employees into thinking they are “enriching people’s lives”. Even though Apple does not pay as much as some of the other retailers, they’ve been able to keep wages problem at bay by reformulating its image as a “greater good” that benefits people, one that doesn’t need economic incentives to employees to keep their business profitable. Similar to the Ross article it points out that the labor force is mainly made up of young people in college or with college degrees and eventually have a low retention rate after a couple of years. The article on Foxconn’s facility in Zhengzhou portrays a completely different working environment. People are willing to give up even more of their time and standard conditions of work just because this iPhone manufacturing facility paid more than others. The article on Chinese Gold Farmer shows the market for massively multiplayer online role-playing games such as World of Warcraft that earn $1 billion a year. Jobs such as these allow people like Li to find “work and play” at the same time as they yield low wages from this virtual gaming economy. These different cases are all complex to us but somehow work in their own to justify what is socially and economically acceptable in terms of work
    A recurring trend in the articles was that there are other people more than willing to trade places with current employees. There is an abundance of labor that costs are driven down as the supply of labor rises.

  8. In the introduction to his book, Andrew Ross depicts the current outsourcing of labor to China. According to Ross, free trade and corporate greed are to blame. Free trade agreements allow each nation to put their products out on the market at the same prices as every other nation. The flaw in this idea is that there are unequal labor laws and regulations around the world. This causes corporations based in nations like China, who do not have strict labor laws, to put products on the market at cheap prices while the corporations in United States, who has strict labor laws, cannot possibly compete with the price. By pricing lower than the American corporations, Chinese corporations effectively remove the American corporations out of the market. However, American corporations decided to move the means of production for their products to China. While this decreased American jobs and American production, corporations were able to benefit from the cheap labor while business operations still went on in the United States. One problem that Ross describes in his introduction is the problem with mistrust between the employees and the employers. The Chinese factories know that eventually they will be replaced for a cheaper source of labor, so they are exploiting their workers as much as possible. On the other hand, the workers have no job security whatsoever and they are being paid minimally. This mistrust is problematic for the Chinese economy.
    The conditions found in the other three articles mirror the conditions faced in the production factories. Employees in the Apple industry see low wages, by American standards, while doing high stress jobs. With the Apple craze that has swept the nation along with the rapid innovation that Apple is known for, the workers have high demands in their daily job. This is similar to the work output necessary in the Chinese factories described by Ross. In addition, there is no mobility in both the Chinese factories and in the sales and “genius bar” sections of Apple. Foxconn’s iPhone factories created negative publicity due to the riots and suicide rates. Workers committed these drastic actions because of the constant work that was required as well as the poor working conditions. The “Gold Miners” also simulate the problems with Chinese factories because the workers receive extremely low wages while working for approximately 12 hours playing a video game. Both the Foxconn factories and the “Gold Miners” represent the exploitation of cheap labor, which is used to benefit corporations and the wealthy.

  9. Andrew Ross explains that outsourcing to China has become rudimentary for most developed nations consumer and labor needs. Meaning that China is relied heavily upon for production of goods and also for its labor/laborers. Globalization has brought many companies out of their original nations and into China, because of cheaper labor and less enforced laws for both worker rights and environmental laws. However, what Ross finds to be significant about the recent shifts in outsourcing is that laborers that previously were so readily available are now becoming harder to find. Workers are becoming reluctant to work for these companies because of the many injustices that they face. This is directly related to the other three articles because they highlight the struggles that workers face. As David Segal explains in his article, workers are making companies billions of dollars each year yet are not being fairly compensated. The other article, by Green, dives deeper into the world of Apple to depict just how unjust and unlawful the employs of Foxconn’s iPhone factories get treated. Many saying that the amounts they earn a month hardly cover their living expenses. A company that makes billions of dollars a year is paying workers monthly salaries of just $283, for grueling hours and sometimes even forced overtime. This lack of workers rights is echoed in Dibbell’s article about Chinese “Gold Farmer’s” who work 12-hour shifts earning 30 cents an hour, all for the purpose of World of War Craft fans to buy more “gold” coins and “power up”.
    The similarities that I thought the articles shared were that workers are earning companies billions of dollars, whether actually assembling the products or selling the final result yet are not seeing compensation that is reasonable. Workers who are employed by companies that are outsourcing see the most abuse. And while those who are working for Apple within the U.S. make a case that they deserve better compensation for actually getting the products sold, it is the workers who are outside of the protective laws of the U.S. that see the brunt of the injustice and abuse. Complaining about 11 dollars an hour has less of an effect when you read about people living off of 30 cents an hour.

    1. I liked the last sentence because it does put things into perspective. It’s horrible to read these articles on workers being exploited at the expense of products. The iPhones that these workers are putting together are products that they can’t even afford, and are working up to 60 hours and barely getting by. What’s even worse is that at least in America there are strict working rules that are to be abided whereas in other countries such as China, working conditions are not being followed and the voices of the employees are unheard. Even the employee unions are useless because the managers are hired from the employers and are receiving more money.

    2. I agree with Sharon as well regards to the last sentence. When we complain about 11 dollars an hour, and we find that people are working for far less money somewhere else its kind of shocking. At least in U.S we have some kind of labor laws, but many countries in this world are not so lucky.

    3. I found your comparison interesting about workers complaining about 11 dollars an hours has less effect compared to other people living off of 30 cents an hour. I wrote about how I was surprised about Apple workers working for 11 dollars an hour and how low that is. Your perspective made me look at it in a different way.

  10. In Andrew Ross “Fast Boat to China” the author discusses the large amount of jobs being outsource to china from other nations. He further explains that the reason for outsourcing of labor to china is due to the fact because of the low labor cost. China and many other developing countries are able to get workers to work at a very low wage in extremely harsh conditions. These workers need at least some kind of income for survival therefore; they are over worked and underpaid. Andrew further states that developed rich countries tend to believe that their job is being taken out of their homeland and is being given to the developing poor countries. What the citizens of developed country don’t realize is that workers who are working in the developing countries or (China) have very limited freedom, low wage, no job security and are working in extreme difficult environment. Andrew states that China is playing host to the largest offshore labor in the global trade economy. Ross thinks that due to machines doing most of the work, there are fewer jobs given to the workers. There is now global competition going on regarding who can get the job done cheaper (the developing countries labor force or the fast and new technology (machines). This connects to the 3 articles because each of them focuses on the labor market. For example for the article about factories in china that manufactures phones- the employees there have high death rates, very low wage and long working hours. On the other side the article “apple retail army” also looks at their employees who are able to sell millions of apple products however they are paid quite low. Despite being paid low, these apple employees love the brand and the importance of the company, therefore many choose to stay and there is never a shortage of employees. However in countries such as china where the people working in factories of apple are not doing so for the brand or the fame but just for survival. As for the final article “gold farmers” are people that work continuously long hours without any break, which also shows us how life for them is so unfair. There weren’t many similarities that I found in the article but the difference I found was that although each article talks about the low wages effect people living in different countries, I think the countries such as china are effected much more by the low wage because those people cannot quit their job as opposed to a person working in apple store in U.S. People in china are working for survival, and it is not as easy for them to get a job especially if it requires higher skill Therefore I think people in developed countries have lot more choices where countries such as china and other developing countries don’t.

  11. In Andrew Ross’s book “Fast Boat to China”, he explains how for decades jobs have been outsourced to countries like China. American citizens and those of developing countries fear that countries like China will take their jobs and lively hoods. China is the one of the largest producers and importers of goods and raw materials. We see this everyday in the products we purchase from household items, electronics, and vehicles. What is unsettling and troubling other than job outsourcing is the environmental impact China is having on the rest of the world. It is shredding ridiculous amounts of resources and directly destroying ecosystems worldwide with the assistance of corporations. China is also destroying their own land by polluting the waters and creating a toxic atmosphere that can barely be breathed. They can produce anything corporations would like at a fraction of the price and rate that it would take a developed country. But this comes at a price, the employees of these factories have no guarantee of a safe work place and conditions are sub par to developed countries. Their jobs are not guaranteed to last because corporations are always looking for the cheapest labor. In result it creates a loss of faith in employers to provide for their well being so employees get up and quit continuously, harming the corporations stability.

    In the Apple article the employees are not satisfied with the wages and the level of work they have to accomplish. They realize after working there for a while that it is not worth it so either quit or just aimlessly continuing working there. In the Foxconn article the employees receive higher wages than in their hometown, the workload is unbearable to the point that some employees commit suicide and riots are always brewing. In the gold mining article the employees are expected to sacrifice sleep and wages to work even though they are just playing a game it is still a job. In all three articles the employees were dissatisfied with their wages and conditions they were working under. All work places had a sense of meaningless work because the pay was not enough to motivate them. Even though they are different environments the employees were not satisfied, the workloads and expectations from their employers did not match the wages they were receiving. These companies are making so much money and only those working behind the desks see the majority of profits. Also all of the employees are replaceable and constant streams of unemployed are waiting to be hired. What I found to be different about these articles was the environment of each work place. Apple is a high-end store with freedom to walk around and interact, Foxconn is a hell hole factory and unacceptable in any developing country, Gold farming is a gaming environment but still harsh conditions. Regardless of the environment all of the employees were under stressful conditions and dissatisfied. They all have to work to survive but these corporations regardless of the industry fail to look after the well being of their employees.

    1. You do a good job in pointing out the environmental destruction that China’s push to industrialize has caused. I think its interesting how not many Westerners seem to focus on the destruction China is causing to themselves when they look at its massive rise economically, and how that rise may be unsustainable with the destruction they’re causing.

  12. Andrew Ross explains in his book “Fast Boat to China” the consequences of outsourcing labor to China such as the exploitation of workers, and how the U.S. has become too intertwined and dependent on China economically. American consumers are fully aware that the majority of products are being manufactured in China as well as American jobs being handed to other countries such as China. Ross argues that the U.S. and Japan are economies that were built inside their own country whereas China has increased economically by providing labor and manufacturing products at a cheap cost. The global demand for products such as Apple’s iPhone has caused workers in China to be exploited and expendable, working as much as 60 hours per week without being paid overtime or breaks. The three articles also discuss the discontent of the work and the environment they are placed in. David Segal explains that although Apple is raking in billions, their employees are not benefiting from the profit. Apple employees understand that their jobs are easily replaced as people are willing to take the job because of the glamour people perceive of it, and often stick with it because of the bigger picture – the gratification of helping people. Jay Greene brings up the struggle and hardships of Chinese workers in Foxconn’s iPhone factories. This was difficult to read as I found what goes into making Apple’s iPhones. Workers are forced to work long hours with little pay that barely allows them to send any money back to their families, and sometimes traveling as much as 10 hours to go to work. This goes to show the exploitation of workers and how often their voices are unheard even after riots and suicides over fair wages and better working condition. The sad part is that other people are willing to take their job because it pays more than other jobs, and cannot ask for a higher wage because people are easily replaceable. The outsource of labor is also depicted in Julian Dibbell’s “Gold Farmer”. There are millions of people who play World of War Craft but there are also people who get paid to play in return for selling virtual items. People in America or Europe are willing to pay money for these virtual items in exchange for the time it takes to obtain it. There is an outsource of labor required for this and China has thousands of businesses just for this. Workers are exploited, working 12-hour shifts making about $0.30 or less per hour. In all of these articles the blame is put on China for supposedly “taking American jobs” when in reality it is America’s fault for using cheap labor to keep up with the demands.

    1. Hi
      I liked reading you post. I agree that they apple employee are not getting paid enough for what they have to go through in the United States and in China. I find it ridiculous that people make enough money to scrape by but not enough to send it home and have to travel 10hours to get work. Great post!

    2. I liked your post Sharon. I agree with your points when you said lot of the times we blame china or other countries such as India taking “american jobs”, however not lot of people try to figure out is that its the American companies going to these countries to make more profit for themselves, and outsourcing the job.

    3. I definitely agree that Apple workers are not getting enough for what they work for. When I compare that to the other article that people work for 30 cents an hour, I feel like it is definitely not fair for both groups based on where they work at.

  13. Sorry – I cut and pasted and missed the first sentence or so. . . here is my posting as I meant to have it:

    Andrew Ross, this weeks reading discusses the real costs of outsourcing – on employees, the environment, among other things. The major theme behind his work is about how “China is playing host to the largest, and most corrosive, environment for offshore labor in the global free-trade economy” (Ross, p. 01).
    What he finds significant, and is even more disconcerting to me that he points out, is that the outsourcing is not just limited to the lower-skill workers in China’s sweatshops who were hired by companies who outsourced to China with the lure of lower costs due to loose labor and environmental standards – it’s that the trend is actually starting to move up the chain to the white-collar services and high-technology manufacturing (A few of the last labor sectors we have in the U.S.) This equates to an unprecedented flood of labor to China, with little to no ability for any other industrializing country to compete. Ross notes that this sets up China to be in the “position to set the global norm for employee standards as no country ever has before” (Ross, p. 5). Seeing that their norm is low standards for employee security and workplace rights, Ross notes that it should be a concern for the livelihoods of employees everywhere. While the government cooperation is necessary for these loose standards to exist, it is not the government of China that is the perpetrator in this case – it is the beneficiaries, the global corporations who are reaping the massive profits. He best describes this point by stating that: “If corporations cannot be held to consistent standards and responsibilities – and the working reality of offshore free trade does not demand any of those – then ordinary people in every corner of the globe will be at a loss to salvage any control over their futures and that of their communities” (Ross, p. 5).
    Ross points out that everybody loses in a world of unfettered free trade and cutthroat global competition, everyone succombs to the rise in work pressure – thus everyone will be working harder and longer and under less employee protection than ever before just to try to compete.
    Another interesting point that I found that Andew Ross made is that with the rise of offshoring, and with even the smallest American manufacturing companies being unable to compete – there has been a role-reversal in our trade profiles. America is exporting more raw materials to China, and China is exporting the produced goods. That said, not only is the trend going along that all jobs, including now the more skilled and technical jobs are being sent on the fast boat to China, but our raw materials are starting to be sent over too, which will come with a heavy price on the environment as they are gobbled up by China’s factories, with little to no environmental standards. One of the main points that Ross kept returning to is the large amount of turnover in the Chinese job market – it seems to be that they hold the companies in about as much esteem as the companies hold them – there is no loyalty given to employers who don’t promise any loyalty to their employees.
    The NY Times article on about employees of Apple had a lot of the same types of employee sentiments. Employees started out very excited and loyal to the job – but eventually low wages in comparison to the huge amounts of profit they made for the company, disheartened many, and pressure to work harder and longer, often without taking any breaks, and lack of prospects to advance up the ladder contributed to even greater discontentment over time. The article on the working conditions at Foxconn also spoke largely of worker discontentment as well- in both articles, the workers knew that they were easily expendable – and that there was always a long line of people ready to replace them at any given time – but that knowledge did nothing to make them any more content with their jobs -for neither the American salespeople and service technicians, nor the people manufacturing the stuff for Apple at Foxconn. The article about ‘Gold Farming’ was a pretty surreal idea of a job to me, but it had the same sentiments that the other articles had – it was an outsourced job, with persons working longer and longer hours with few breaks, to make low wages, living in worker housing with hardly enough to cover their basic expenses. All three of the articles painted a similar picture that Andrew Ross had pointed out – of working conditions, little worker protection, downward wage pressure, and people becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their jobs, and in some cases – such as in the Foxconn article – finding ways to push back against their employers.

  14. In Ross’s excerpt from Fast Boat to China, he discusses the outsourcing of labor to China, both the low wage factory jobs that most Americans think of when talking about outsourced labor and the newer and growing high wage tech jobs, and how what most Americans think about this outsourcing is not necessarily true. As Ross describes, jobs were outsourced to China at such a rapid pace because the lack of regulations and low costs there allowed items to be produced for cheaper prices, thus making them more profitable and desirable for large companies. However, this outsourcing has come at a huge cost to Chinese laborers, something that many Westerners do not think about when discussing outsourcing, because they are put in extremely dangerous work conditions, and are paid very little despite this. Ross also talks about how there is extremely high turnover in these factories, because bosses know there is such a demand for these jobs in China, that they can easily replace disgruntled workers, and thus do not have to do anything about bettering conditions. This high turnover also creates deep mistrust between the laborers and the bosses, because the laborers just view themselves as resources to be exploited, and know that they could be replaced at any minute. China is also starting to face competition for these outsourced jobs, as newer markets are opening up in other developing countries, which may provide cheaper production costs than even China can match.
    This description of outsourced Chinese labor ties in with the other three articles we read, because the other articles discuss the poor and hectic labor conditions that other workers are put through, showing that it’s not just manufacturing jobs that include this level of stress and poor conditions. In the three articles we read about workers at an Apple store, at a Foxconn iphone factory, and people who “mine gold” in World of Warcraft. In each scenario, even though they are in extremely different settings, the poor work conditions stand out as similar, as each set of workers is put through extreme pressure, and are often lied to when they first enter the job. In the Apple store, employees are paid little and have little power to change that, as just like in the jobs Ross described, there are more than enough people who would take the job that management doesn’t have to answer employee concerns or demands. In the Foxconn factoy, employees are regularly made to work extremely hard, especially during peak production hours, and are pushed to such extremes that many commit suicide rather than continue working. And finally, in the gold mining job, workers are forced to play video games for long hours at a time, taking any joy that they may have derived out of it, and are regularly yelled at and abused by bosses for not doing exactly as they should be. Though the severity of conditions is somewhat dissimilar across the three accounts, the unifying thread is the poor conditions that each set of workers are put in, and how they have very little power to try and rectify and improve their situations, because of their value simply as a commodity by owners, and one that can easily be replaced at a moments notice.

    1. I came to the same conclusion in my examination of the texts. It was amazing to me that American workers who serve such a high profile and seemingly progressive company like Apple can find themselves in the same conceptual situation as Chinese workers. If we are barely able to deal with such issues as the strongest economy in the world, there is not much hope for Chinese workers in seeing improved conditions.

  15. Andrew Ross discuses in his book how jobs are pretty much being outsourced to China (the high tech country that we Americans believe to be taking jobs away). In his book, he continues on talking about how the grass is pretty much greener on the other side as a lot of people especially the Westerners seem to just believe or stereotype the Chinese as just another high tech country, but since Ross actually lived in China, he shares with us through this book that there is more to this whole free trade situation or it is more complicated than it seems. Like the employers and employees for example. Employers as depicted in the book make their employees work harder as wedges are held down, employees are disloyal to the their employers because of cheap labor, employers are quite demanding, employers finding reasons to fire an employee if they found out about any plans of leaving the company for a specific reason. The work load is insanely too much for what they are paid. We can relate this with three of the articles that we have read. In the first article, we read how Apple employees work long shifts and are paid very low. A lot of people apply for jobs at Apple because it is a huge company that makes billions of dollars. You would think Apple would be more considerate with their employees and pay them a decent amount of money for their hard work but that is not happening because they know they are worth a lot and they are not afraid to lose employees as a lot of people would apply and Apple would have a replacement in no time. In the Foxconn factory, employees work insanely hard and long hours, the hard work they go through because of the workload of this specific job is ridiculously hard for what they are getting paid that it drives them insane which is why there have been employees who have committed suicide. This is really depressing because we can’t really say they paid are very low, because what they make is better than what other companies would, the problem is the work they do is worth more than what they are getting. But as mentioned earlier they are easily irreplaceable. So asking for a raise won’t do much for them. In the last article employees playing videogames, sure they play long hours and this can get really frustrating because of the demands of their employers, and for them to get yelled at as well, that is ridiculous. All three articles reflects what Ross tries to inform us in his book- the dissatisfaction of the wage, discontentment with their jobs, the poor conditions, bottom line is all these people bust their chops in these companies, it is one thing to make just an OK amount or some it is very low for the work load and it is another thing to be treated the way they are and this is why the employees are not loyal to their employers.

    1. I like how you point out the biases that many Westerners have towards China that turn out to be simply untrue in regards to its economic rise. Makes you wonder if this may be because of how the news reports on China’s rise, and if they leave the bad parts out to make people angrier about outsourcing jobs.

    2. I think you are right in saying that the obvious connection between these jobs were the lack of pay and poor conditions. I think even deeper though is the idea that all these employees are expendable because they do jobs that many people would be willing to do, often for less. In the case of Apple it is for the prestige of working for Apple, the other two cases its to just have a job. The idea of a reserve army is common to many different areas which shows that inequality is not just a symptom of that specific country, but of the global economic system (capitalism).

  16. Andrew Ross’ description of outsourcing is that of a new form of exploitation in the work force. While it may look that outsourcing creates new jobs in developing countries, at the end it does more harm than good and the only beneficiaries are corporations. Before hiring a contractor to perform the work, investors look for the cheapest and most vulnerable in the workforce, this allows them to have the workers work longer and harder. Also, because the companies are not subject to the same laws that apply here in the United States, the managers and/or owners violate basic labor laws and subject their workers to humiliation. The conditions in which they work are also unsatisfactory; there is deterioration in air quality and water/energy shortages. Most of the workers leave their hometowns to work for these companies and while the pay is higher, it is barely enough to provide their basic needs. Ross also mentions that because of the conditions in which they work, there is a constant level of distrust and no loyalty between the workers and the managers; leading to a permanent feeling of job insecurity, since the workers are being dehumanized and treated like commodities. The most important things that Ross states is that outsourcing is “not a temporary economic trend”, and because of globalization the outsourcing of jobs will continue and most likely increase in the future. He also mentions that the new jobs that will come to replace the outsourced ones will probably be with lower wages and benefits. Ross’ description of work relates all the articles. In Apple’s Retail Army, Long on Loyalty, but Short on Pay, while the workers do have benefits, there are still being underpaid comparing to what they contribute to the company and what the higher staff make. The article is not an example of outsourcing, but it does point out characteristics that workers in China are subject to, like abuse and control. The Apple workers lack upward mobility in the company and while they are not subject to humiliation they are slightly controlled, psychologically speaking. Segal mentions that at the Apple seminars the “idea is to instill in employees the notion that they are doing something far greater than just selling or fixing products”, which to me is a form of control to those who are vulnerable. Apple also prohibits their workers to talk to the media, another form of control. The other two articles are direct examples of the negative consequences of outsourcing. The article by Jay Green describes different incidents that have occurred in iPhone factories, a dispute between 2000 workers and many cases of suicides. He states that because of the abundance of workers, people are likely to stay regardless of their condition because they know that they can be replaced easily. The gaming article by Dibbell gives an example of outsourcing, however, in this article, people who once worked end up creating companies that will eventually do the same, as does the power-leveling company, Donghua Networks. The workers conditions are like the ones in the iPhone factories, long work hours, little/to no benefits, minimum wages, and abuse by the bosses/managers.

  17. In “Fast Boat to China” Andrew Ross explains how the outsourcing of labor to China – a phenomena of neoliberal trade policy and globalization – has done more than simply move American jobs overseas: it has led to the exploitation of China’s resources and people. He states that the disregard for job security and workplace rights in China’s foreign-invested private sector is a “clear threat for the stability of livelihoods everywhere” (Ross 5). The primary beneficiaries of neoliberal trade policy are the global corporations who strive to maximize their profit by any means (extremely low wages, unsanitary and unsafe working conditions, destruction of the environment through unsustainable practices). The lack of any consistent standards and responsibilities for these corporations has had and is continuing to have catastrophic impacts, particularly for the Chinese. Ross emphasizes that one cannot fathom these impacts through mere US-Chinese employment statistics; hence he seeks to “put a human face” on this issue – which is more than just economics – through his interviews with Chinese workers who share their aspirations, fears, and beliefs of the current globalized economy. Lastly, Ross refutes Thomas Friedman’s justification of the deregulation of the global market and corporation by reminding the reader about alternatives: global fair trade, sustainable development, and internationally recognized labor rights. All in all, there is little to be gained through adopting a zero-sum competition perspective and Us versus Them mentality with China.

    The three articles all highlight the aforementioned issues (namely, insufficient wages, working conditions, lack of upward mobility) through specific examples. They all come back to the problems of an expendable workforce and unfair distribution of wealth. For example, the US’s Apple Store, while a high-stress job, pays $11.25 an hour and offers minimal chance for upward mobility. However, if one quits, there is always another eager individual waiting to experience “working for Apple.” Of the 43,000 Apple employees, about 30,000 of them worked in Apple Stores, earning about $25,000 a year, while the chief executive Tim Cook earned hundreds of millions. The article on Foxconn shared similar sentiments regarding the expendable workforce in iPhone factories. In China, the stress levels are extreme to the point where many workers have committed suicide (Foxconn placed nets to “discourage employees from jumping”). This all stems from wages that barely allow its workers to make a living wage. The article on Chinese gold farmers – those who play video games such as World of Warcraft to sell virtual money and goods – also highlighted the long hours and cramped conditions of the workers. Most significantly, perhaps, the article discussed how the Chinese are the ones who suffer the consequences of this global market. For example, Blizzard (the company that created World of Warcraft) banned more than 50,000 accounts belonging to these farmers, and has not penalized the farmers’ “equally rule-breaking customers” (Dibbel 5). Thus, it is evident that in all cases, those at the bottom – iPhone factory workers, virtual gold farmers, US Apple employees – are not being treated fairly or with respect (in other words, are being exploited) from those at the top – the CEOs of these global corporations who have a powerful role in ensuring wages and working conditions are adequate.

    1. Andrew explains that their jobs are getting transferred to China because the coorporations want cheap labor. The workers in China need the jobs so they will take whatever they can to survive. The people in America are scared that China is taking all the jobs. The people of America are not aware that the Chinese people are working for practically nothing and the working conditions are horrible. The owners of the big corporations are looking to save money and not spend a lot so sending jobs to China makes since because it is cheap labor.
      In the Apple stores, people worked and then felt dissatisfied eventually quitting because of the craziness that comes with the job. Apple makes a lot of money selling overpriced iPhones, laptops, and iPads to customers but pays its employees bare minimum. There is no advancement in the company. Most of the employees work for two years and then quit due to promises being made and then managers not following through on them.
      Foxconn employees have committed suicide because of the work conditions. The work conditions are horrible and they work long hours. If the employee makes a mistake they are not allowed to work overtime. A lot of people state that they pay better than any other company in China. The employees work long hours and make enough money to survive but not enough to send back home to help their families.
      World of Warcraft is a typical game here in the United States that people play for fun. The Chinese employees work and play games all day. They state the working conditions are ok but how tedious would it be to stare at a screen all day and do the same thing? They collect coins and sell it to people for money but do not make much in return.
      I think all three articles compare how the working conditions are not good and they all make very little pay but they need the jobs so they take it. It also shows how they are unsatisfied with the working conditions and how bad they were. All three jobs require a lot of effort and they are treated badly because of the craziness that goes on in the work environment. In the article, the people are working different jobs. Apple hires you and gets you pumped up but the people end up quitting due to the craziness of the work environment. It’s not horrible working conditions but the pay is bad. Foxconn pays the employees more money but the conditions are horrible and but Chinese employees are willing to work even though not much is being done about the conditions. They either commit suicide, riot, or protest. They play World of Warcraft all day long which can become stressful and a task to do the same thing over and over again. In all three articles I see employers taking advantage of their employees and the working conditions are not so great while paying them low wages. I think the differences is that the some people like theirs jobs and some don’t. They talk about different reasons on why they do like the job, and why they do not.

    2. I really like your examples about aforementioned issues and the one about workers who committed the suicide because they were struggling a lot. I also agree and you had tied in this in your respond that their wages were very low. Chinese workers were also worrying that their job will be given to farmers for cheap wages.

    3. The Foxconn and Apple articles show the power that the reserve army has in neoliberal economies. When workforce is expendable, the workers have little power to change the wages and treatment. For both Foxconn and Apple, there are plenty of potential replacements for any current employee, which gives them considerable power over their workers. I thought that 30,000 of the 43,000 Apple employees work within the Apple Store was an alarming statistic, especially when the 30,000 employees are only making 25,000 dollars a year compared to the billions of dollars that Apple profits.

    4. I like how you brought up the fact that in the case of the gold farmers, it is the farmers themselves who get in trouble, not the people who pay them to do what they do. This is very reminiscent of the larger problem of fat cats like CEOs and politicians getting away with what they do by putting the blame and punishment on the people who were just doing what they were told. I also like how you tied it into the Apple article. There is that pyramid of inequality with the people who are higher up in the company and people who work in the Apple stores may feel like they are at the bottom, but they are only at the bottom in their specific country, looking at Apple on a global scale, the people who work the factories making the phones are really the ones at the bottom.

  18. In the article called Fast Boat to China by Andrew Ross, it is being talked about the outsourcing of labor to China. China and other developing countries are outsourcing the jobs; seeking for workers who are willing to work for a low wage. The working conditions are harsh while the amount of wage that they are getting is very low but they still work under these conditions in order to earn some amount. He states that these people are overworking and they are not getting enough wages for the amount of work they do. At the same time, managers are expecting these people to work even harder and they have a pressure on them because they are not getting treated how they should be. In addition, these workers don’t have any protections and the working environment is actually hazardous. In all of the three articles, it is being showed that workers working at a low wage under harsh working conditions. In the article by David Segal, he is talking about Apple and its workers. It was very surprising for me to see that Apple employees are making $11.25 an hour. It is surprising because they work long shifts and they are always busy helping people. Also, considering how much the company itself makes, it is quiet low for them to pay that amount to their employees. I personally would have thought they would be making good amount because it is always crazy in there and I can’t imagine what actually motivates them to work under these conditions with such a little amount of pay. In the article called The Life of a Chinese Gold Farmer by Julian Dibbell, it is talking about what Li does for a living. He works twelve hours a night, seven nights a week, with only two or three nights off per month to play a game called World of War Craft. For every 100 gold coins he gathers, Li makes about $1.25, earning an effective wage of 30 cents an hour. The amount of money he works for is unbelievable, especially considering the working hours that these workers are committing to earn only that much of money. The case is the same with the Foxconn article; people are working with a very little wage with very long working hours. As a result of this, they committed a suicide. They don’t really have a choice to complain because they are being told that there are a lot of people wanting to work and it is easy to replace them if they don’t like it. Because people need to work for a survival, they keep working under those conditions.

    1. Hi Elif,

      I enjoyed reading your post. I was pretty surprised too that Apple employees don’t make as much as I thought they would. I think it’s selfish of the company to pay their employees the minimum wage. Due their hard work and long shifts, they should at least get a raise in salary, so the employees are aware that they are being appreciated by their mangers or boss.

  19. The increasing influence of China and their future as economic make it necessary to evaluate the strength of the influence they can possibly gain over the world. China does not have a huge population, but China also has a bright history and future. The author portrays China’s as having a leading role in attracting foreign investment. In this article “Fast Boat to China” he used China specifically to paint the undesirable outcomes of free trade. According to Ross, “China is playing host to the largest, most corrosive, environment for offshore labor in the global free-trade economy.” Ross also expresses himself some concern about the massive shift in manufacturing jobs form high developed nation to lower developed nation, but he is focused on the growing movement to replace white collar employees from developed nations with workers from developing countries. China’s lost regulations and cheap labor have been enticing low end jobs and this is not gathering up the attention of large, high end corporations. Ross made a point that now days these same corporations are outsourcing to countries other than China. Because, labor has now became cheaper elsewhere.
    These two authors David Sega and Jay Greene share the same message about the workers who are fighting labor abuse. These readings show us how often laborers are in harsh conditions. The example in one of the articles was the employee that committed a suicide, and the explosions at two plants that had made Apple gadgets, and reports of harsh working condition. The employees of these companies work in difficult and stressful conditions that make these employees want to quit. However, some unfortunate people who do not have a job are not aware of the condition inside, so they want to have jobs there. In both of these articles we see similarities of higher rates attributed to global corporations relying on cheap labor in order to maximize their profits. In these articles I also noticed how the young folks are influenced. In the article “The Life of the Chinese Gold farmers” Segal stated how it feels to live at the border between the virtual and real, to mix play and work, and interact with the foreign gamers who they would never have a chance to meet if not for this globalized virtual world. I learned that in these four articles that our economy has generated vastly too wide a set of inequalities of wealth and income.

    1. Hello Fatima,

      Another nice post from you!

      I wanted to mention about the suicide that one of the authors talks about in the article. Workers committing suicide is a very severe situation. It tells us how much stress and harsh environment is the worker going through. Moreover, they do not think that they have any way out, so they choose suicide as their final option.

      1. Hi Fatima,

        thanks for the example emphasizing how rough it is for employees in China.It is really hard sometimes to imagine or believe what we read but stating example makes it very clear.I noticed your other post weeks ago and your style of stating something followed by an example is a really good way to keep a reader interested.

  20. In an excerpt from his book Fast Boat to China, author Andrew Ross addresses various aspects of the outsourcing of jobs in general, though he uses China as a specific case. He illustrates outsourcing as universally detrimental, with those “Onshore” and “Offshore” suffering from the effects of this phenomenon of globalization. While workers in industrialized countries lose jobs that were once the cornerstones of decent livelihoods and conditions, workers in developing countries are gaining jobs in an environment of mistrust, unregulated conditions, and exploitation. He suggests that corporations and businessmen from industrialized countries are the only ones reaping true benefits from the transfer while disorganized workers are pitted against each other in a system compared to “Social Darwinism.” Ross explains outsourcing by pinning it to discussions of neo-liberalism and free trade, asserting that these trade paradigms allow corporate entities to shift jobs to places that offer the cheapest labor and overhead with impunity, an arrangement that corporations are more than happy to comply with and encourage. This is not to mention that many developing countries enact policies to make themselves more desirable for foreign investment than others, further incentivizing the outsourcing culture. A significant aspect of recent shifts that Ross has noticed is the backfiring of the strategy of foreign firms. Their focus on the exploitation of cheap labor and their implied threats of relocating jobs has produced an equivalent set of behaviors in the workers they seek. Many workers show little loyalty to the companies they work for and are prepared to leave at moment’s notice when a more favorable circumstance comes along.
    This excerpt connects to the description of work in the other three articles in numerous ways. It most strongly identifies with the description of work in the article “Riots, suicides, and other issues in Foxconn’s iPhone Factories,” as this piece gives a first-hand perspective of the exploitation of cheap, easily replaceable labor by western firms in China. It emphasizes that workers pursue massive overtime in unsafe conditions while barely making ends meet, yet fail to demand better conditions for fear losing a relatively more desirable job, some of the same points emphasized by Ross. Yet there seems to be high level of discontent among the workers, and it is conceivable that the pattern Ross describes could take effect. The article “The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer” depicts equally depressing, menial, repetitive albeit less harsh work by Chinese gamers seeking to meet the western demand for virtual game coins for low wage. Despite their jobs being somewhat entertaining in some cases, the men devote their lives essentially to saving lazy gamers virtual work in exchange for real money. Yet they are the ones punished by western gaming companies and western players, many of whom feel that it ruins the games they love. This highlights Ross’s assertion that a lack of understanding and stereotyping is developing, with those in industrialized countries getting angry with people who just want to make a living as opposed to the system itself. The last article depicts the strife of some people in Western countries with the pains of outsourcing, another concept Ross noted. It displays the limited opportunities of Apple employees, who despite driving massive sales for the company receive relatively low compensation and job mobility. This reinforces the idea that many valuable jobs are being exported overseas while only low wage service jobs remain in industrialized countries, leaving many educated individuals the option of retail with no path forward. Meanwhile, corporate Apple makes massive revenue while being able to easy replace undesirable employees, making them no worse for the wear.
    These three work place settings differ in that they display three unique areas of the global workforce; manufacturing in the developing world (Foxconn), service in the developing world (Gold miners), and service in the developed world (Apple) where workers have radically different tasks, conditions, and lifestyles. Yet all three of these work settings display the new processes and levels of exploitation that are developing through the system of outsourcing in the global age.

  21. In his article, Ross depicts the outsourcing of labor to China as “the most corrosive environment for offshore labor in the global free-trade economy.” China is host to skilled labor at a much-discounted price. China also has less strict government policies when it comes to regulation and taxes. What is significant about recent shifts is that many Chinese workers are being affected by the outsourcing of global corporations due to the high level investments that China attracts from these corporations. “China has lost many more millions of jobs in the last decade, whether from closure, restructuring, or sale of state-owned enterprises…” But both blue-collar and white-collar jobs are being outsourced because of cheap wages and long work hours with maximum profit gain, the neo-liberal globalization central idea. Even for white-collar jobs, foreign investors exploit young employees, recent graduates, knowing they will work for lower than normal wages. This is a similarity found in the other three articles.
    In Segal’s article, we learn that many Apple employees are extremely dissatisfied with their wages. Apple is one of the world’s leading technological companies profiting billions of dollars and it is estimated that there are around thirty thousand workers in Apple retail stores in the US who are paid poorly. Though, in Apple, they teach their employees to be motivated by the fact that they are working for the greater good of society. In Dibbell’s article, we see a different attitude in the employee, though same low-wage issue. We learn about a Chinese gold farmer who works 12-hour shifts each night, seven days a week and only receives 3 days off per month. He receives $1.25 USD for every 100 gold coins he collects while his boss makes double. The farmer works in backbreaking work conditions for the little pay he gets. A similar story is seen in Greene’s article about China, where the conditions in which Apple employees work in are also severely poor. In his article, we learn about a riot that broke out in Taiuan due to the poor working conditions faced by the Apple employees. In all three articles, we see that in both developed and developing countries, laborers face injustices when it comes to pay, working conditions and hours. What I have realized from all these articles combined, is that global corporations, like Apple, have an abundant of power over all societies, economies and cultures today that they will do anything in their power to achieve maximum profit, even if this means exploiting workers and creating injustices worldwide.

    1. Hey Leticia,

      Good summary of the articles. I feel the same way about the point where you mentioned that companies like Apple will do anything in their power to gain the ultimate profit, even though if it means, as you said, ” exploit workers and create injustice. ” Its rather degrading for workers to work in an Apple store and yet not all the promised conditions are fulfilled. Most of the big companies in developed countries have a similar attitude. They know they can easily get labor since many others are willing to work and looking for a job to meet their survival needs.

  22. Andrew Ross states that globalization, the free trade economy, cheap labors, and investor friendly policies resulted many jobs to be outsourced to China. Moreover, as China is continuing to grow, work conditions and environmental damages became serious problems. Even though hosting the greatest offshore labor in the free trade economy creates mass numbers of jobs in China, machinery jobs decrease job opportunities for skilled workers. Those people that are employed have to struggle with terrible work environment. Hazardous jobs without protection and security as well as low incomes, make labors dissatisfy. Environmental issues are the other set of problems that outsourcing of labor to China caused. Need for the raw material for manufactures and overused of natural resources cause environmental damages. China is not the only country that hurts in the long term, the developed countries losing jobs at the same time. As the theory of neoliberalism suggests, this condition only benefits the rich and make the poor, poorer.
    To put these in practice, David Segal exemplifies the employment condition in the US Apple retail stores where employees sell massive amount of merchandise and make a significant profit. Even though these workers do not make any more money than other sales persons, they are loyal to their jobs. However, overtime low wages and no control on merchandise prices make these jobs meaningless for employees. Loyalty in Apple retail stores are not only because of the workers belief in the Apple brand, but because they know there are so many other people who are willing to get their current jobs with the same payments. Jay Greene in the other hand discusses conditions of the workers in a phone manufacture in China. Employees in this manufacture, feel frustrated even commit suicide because of terrible work conditions, long work hours, and low incomes. Similar to employees of the Apple retail stores in the U.S, workers of this manufacture in China have to keep their jobs because they know there are many people who can fulfill their positions with the same payment rates.
    In contrast, Julian Dibbell explains the working conditions as the Chinese Gold Farmer where workers supposed to play video games in order to make virtual wealth. In this position, employees who are mostly Chinese migrants work long hours and make little money, but they enjoy their jobs. These four articles assist to establishing a solid understanding of how free trade market and competition can effect individuals’ lives in a lower level as well as the economy in a high scale.

  23. The reading by Andrew Ross was very informative. It opened my eyes to information I would have other wise missed. He depicts outsourcing as a global problem, not just as US problem as it is often portrayed. In the Fourties, The US was exporting to China, which is completely different than what we have today. China only exported a few things, now almost every thing is Chinese made. With all that out sourcing of manufacturing jobs, it would be easy to use the Chinese as a scapegoat; which is done without the realisation of the similar problems faced by the Chinese. The texts says “While Americans have been fixated on domestic job loss…China has lost millions of jobs in the last decade..”

    From my understanding, Ross thinks that is important to recognise the problems faced by the Chinese works in a free market system. He points out all the things wrong with the system such as lack of loyalty from workers, harsh treatment, outsourcing managers, and a bias towards the workforce.

    “Fast Boat to China” connected to “Riots, Suicides, and Other Issues in Foxconn’s iPhone Factories” really well. In “Riots” we read about a young woman named Li, who has travelled to get a job at an Apple plant. This connects to Ross’ reading. In “Fast Boat to China”, it talks about how young women are the cheapest and easiest section of people to exploit.

    “Apple’s Retail Army, Long on Loyalty but Short on Pay”, “Riots” and “The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer” have similarities in the sense that all the workers bust their butts for a small return. Li from “Gold Farm” expressed how he wanted to start a family, but can hardly make enough money to save. He works 12 hours a day and barely gets any time off. This is similar to the conditions at Foxconn. In peak season, employees at Foxconn “ are tied to the production lines with just one day off in 13 working days, or no rest day at all in a month, all to cope with the public demand for the new Apple products”. In the article “Apple’s Retail Army..” Apple pays employees low wages by making them feel like they are a part of something. Until there was a lawsuit, Apple didn’t give employees chances to take a break. Despite the fact that all of these employees help grow a corporation and increase profits, they hardly get anything positive back.

    1. Zahrah,
      You are right, products made in China are everywhere because it is cheaper to import from China rather than producing here. I appreciate the way you connected all the readings and came to a conclusion that in most businesses workers make very small money for their hard work.

      1. great post! I like how all the readings intertwined with a conclusion.It shows that you really dug deep into the readings furthermore I love the quotations because it gives us the main idea.

    2. It’s true that nowadays most of the things that we own are made in China. It’s a sad but true fact, not only because we are loosing jobs here in the US but also because the jobs that are being outsourced are unfair to those who take it in China. The conditions in which they work are inhumane and the only ones who really benefit from it are the corporations who increase their profit by overworking people in other countries.

  24. In the introduction to Fast Boat to China, Andrew Ross talks about the increase in jobs that are being outsourced to China from other countries. Jobs in the United States are being outsourced to China as a result of free trade policies that made it easier for outsourcing to occur. China has become an outlet for outsourcing because of the mass production employees provide despite low wages and poor working conditions. Andrew further emphasizes that the perspective that people of developed countries have of jobs being taken and given to developing countries, like China, is misleading. Workers in those countries are just searching for an income that will support them and their family despite their skill level. Among the problems listed above, employees also lack job security and freedom.

    The article on Apple Inc. portrays the work environment as a little different. Apple has been making nearly twice the yearly revenue as other electronic companies. For the revenue it is making and for the sales one employee offers the company, the wages are considered relatively low. However, from an early age, Apple recruited those that loved the product. Apple made their employees feel like they were working for the greater good of the people and helping further technology. People at Apple, though underpaid, were not working there solely for an income but rather for the product. The next two articles portray more of the work environment described by Ross. The Foxconn’s facility in Zhengzhou is comprised of workers that travel from different parts of China to work at this particular facility. Workers here endure the poor working conditions, in some cases to the point of suicide. Employees here know they are replaceable and thus are forced to work in the conditions they’re in. Lastly, the article on Chinese gold farmers, people who play video games to sell virtual money and goods, highlights the poor working conditions and low wages. They work 12 hours a night for 7 days a week with only 2 or 3 days off in a month and earn only 30 cents an hour. These workers, while they may be just playing video games, are being just as exploited as the iPhone workers at Foxconn. Overall these three articles portray how large companies are reaping the benefits of exploited workers – especially those that are outsourced.

    1. It’s true that the Apple environment is slightly different than those in China, but still the workers are being abused. I think that the abuse in Apple is more psychological than anything. They use concepts like comradery and a personal belief in their product to abuse the workers. Since they are working here in the US is a lot harder for the corporations to abuse their workers, our laws are much stricter, however, they still find ways to go around and overwork their workers, much like they do in China.

  25. In Andrew Ross’ introduction, he depicts how labor/jobs are being outsourced from developed countries, specifically from the United States, to developing countries, aiming particularly at China. Labor is being outsourced due to the low wages that these developing countries are able to offer. Companies believe that China has an unlimited supply of labor, all willing to do and work for anything. Workers in the USA are skeptical towards the outsourcing of labor due to the fact that they think that people in China are taking their jobs. What these USA workers do not know is that this is not particularly the case. Ross thinks that the outsourcing of jobs in China have changed significantly due to recent shifts. In China, workers are not particularly loyal to their employers due to harsh working conditions and minimal pay as well as companies not being particularly loyal to their employees due to this “race-to-the-bottom” mentality in today’s society. This makes the entire employee base flexible to change at any moment, where workers go from one company to the next trying to find better conditions and higher wages, as well as companies trying to find cheaper labor. This connects to the descriptions of work in the other three articles because of the lack of satisfaction in workers because of the conditions and wages in both the USA and China. In the Apple store article, the workers are unsatisfied by the low wages and the high stress offered in their position. In the Chinese Gold Farmer article, the workers were interested in their work but often found it too repetitive and tiresome. In the Foxconn article, the workers are completely discontent with everything about their jobs, which caused many suicides and riots. Some similarities that I found in these three articles are that they are all unsatisfied with their work conditions, but more specifically about their wages. The main different that I saw in these three articles was that in David Segal’s article, employees were able to find better, higher paying jobs after they left Apple. For the other two articles, the workers did not have this luxury. The jobs that they had were the better options for wages. In Jay Greenie’s article, Li Yue said that Foxconn was the better paying job compared to other factories and jobs available. Foxconn employees have committed suicide and have created riots, compared to the Chinese Gold Farmer where they are not happy with their wages but the article never mentioned anything as extreme as what was happening at Foxconn.

  26. Andrew Ross highlights the process of China’s economic development and depicts a whole picture on the outsourcing of labor to China from a global view. He argues that China is playing host to the largest, and most corrosive, environment for offshore labor in the global free-trade economy. In the last few years, instead of regarding China as a fast-track incubator for foreign investment in the low-wage export sector, more investors have moved further up the value chain, seeking for reaping the same offshore harvest from technology-driven manufacturing and white-collar services.

    From Ross’ perspective, the most significant thing about recent shifts is labor issue. Most Americans have realized the fact that jobs are being outsourced to China, India, and other nations at an alarming rate. Therefore, Ross has a different perspective from Thomas Friedman’s opinion. He has noticed that from factory jobs to white-collar, high-tech positions, the exporting of labors, particularly when it comes to American corporations outsourcing jobs to foreign nations, should be regarded as one of the most controversial issues in America.

    There is no doubt that Ross’ arguments have strong connections to the descriptions of work in the other three articles. It is known that China has become one of the key suppliers of cheap labor, leading Ross to wonder what workers there think of their role in the global economic struggle. He describes how foreign investors only want to hire young people because they are the cheapest to hire, and also the most flexible members in the workforce. While for those high-skilled jobs, they are also needed by foreign investors. No one can deny that exploitation is just one part of the working conditions in China because there are other unpleasant working conditions Chinese laborers have to deal with. Those three articles present vivid examples and conversations about those working conditions. Although workers want to fight against their oppressors, they don’t do it because they know others will replace them easily and quickly. In fact, I admire Ross’ courage to come to China for seeking the fact, inspiring an unseen side of our world during the process of globalization.

    In my opinion, the similarities in those three work settings are the working conditions for the cheap labors. The workers usually work long hours and earn wages that can’t cover their expenses. In the article of “The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer,” Li gets paid $1.25 for every 100 gold coins he gathers, his boss makes $3 or more by selling those coins to an online retailer. By contrast, one of the important differences is that although the workers’ attitude about their job. Employees in the Apple article express discontent with their jobs at the Apple store; however, they have the option to quit. On the other hand, workers at Foxconn complain about the low pay and working conditions, however, they do not leave their jobs because they have no other options. In addition, I believe people working for big companies such as Apple have gained more confidence through their jobs. As Mr. Garcia said at the end of the article, “There was never a shortage of resumes. People will always want to work for Apple.”

    1. Yang,
      Thank you for sharing your response. You indicated that “people working for big companies such as Apple have gained more confidence through their jobs”. I think being employed in big brand stores like Apple could increase workers confidence for a short period of time. After a while, these workers most likely would be disappointed because of bad work condition and low wages.

    2. Yang, I also think it’s interesting how system of wages work in market economy. I’m curious what determine the price of labor, and why retail generates more revenue than the manufacturer. From the story you pointed about “The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer”, it sounds like money makes money, not labor.

      Additionally, your comment on Apple and their “confidence” in their big corporation highlights the fact off-shoring jobs have created a trans-national reserve army for big corporations. This could have benefits of keeping the cost of production and labor low, thus generating higher surplus value for corporations. However, I can’t say with confidence that this has helped to improve overall livelihood of the working class people, which are the majority of population in any society.

    3. Yang !

      It is interesting analysis regarding China labor and how labors in China plays a significant role in world trade economy now days . For sure as China labor they prefer to work in a well known brand as Apple eve though the circumstances . Well done in your post !

  27. In Fast Boat to China, Ross depicts outsourcing of labor to China by providing historical, political, and social context, and explains the significance and consequences of recent shifts on global economy. He discusses how U.S.-China agreement for free-trade agreements accelerated off-shoring process. There are hundreds of large U.S. corporations based in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou, and recently there is an increase in off-shoring industries such as high-tech manufacturing, bio-medicine, information telecommunications, and financial and professional services. Ross talks about how such increase in offshoring high-tech industries is possible because of rapid increase in skilled labor in China at a cheaper cost. As a natural response to high inflow of foreign capital, China’s domestic economy has been growing in an unprecedented rate. Ross argues that this brings a major worry for the U.S. as “the size and speed of China’s buildup requires an imported supply of raw materials that is taking an unsustainable toll on the world’s natural resources” (Ross, 9). In 2004, energy and commodity price skyrocketed in 2004, “as China’s growth sucked in more than 8 percent of the world’s petroleum, 10 percent of its electricity, 19 percent of its aluminum, 20 percent of its copper, 31 percent of its coal, and 33 percent of its steel” (Ross, 9). Through 2004 energy consumption example, Ross points out the environmental challenge China and the world faces as China’s economy keeps growing. In the book Ross argues that the challenge U.S. faces is not merely to match China’s economic growth, but that China is playing the “largest, and most corrosive, environment for offshore in the global free-trade economy “providing the most skilled and un-skilled labor in global economy.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      I think the point about the relationship between China’s economic growth and the environmental issue mentioned by Ross could never be ignored. Although I do believe that the environment is always the price for the development of the city, we should pay more attention to the model for sustainable development. Thank you for sharing!

  28. Labor Consumption in China
    In the excerpt from Ross’ book: Fast boat to China, we get an explanation of why China is unique and peculiar in that it attracts outsourcing for both high and low-end jobs. Additionally, the author points out the fact that China’s scale and variety of industries that it absorbs are second to none. Ironically, China’s prominent position in the labor of high and low-end work enables the country to set global norms on workplace standards – despite a poor record on job security and workplace rights. The paper will address the outcomes of Chinese labor outsourcing techniques and the secrets behind their hard work and commitment thus leading better lives. 
 Not only does the author highlight China’s leading role in attracting foreign investment, but uses China to illustrate undesirable outcomes of free trade such as the anxiety experienced by workers in China. The fact that the Chinese “work harder and for longer periods”, the outcomes make their experiences better than those of western workers. The experiences shown by the hardworking Chinese workers are progressively more persuasive and thus make people think twice about the glories of neoliberalism. The position or the point of view of Ross is shared by some other three authors in their articles. Dibbell’s article used the Internet games issue to put an individual face on Chinese’ employees struggle in the Free Trade game (Ross, 2007). Segal chooses the phenomenon of Apple to explain how American workers in this huge firm are suffering from their work at Apple with no career path. Like their counterparts in China, workers are not expected to stay in the job of retails more than couple of years.
    It is worth noting that if the ability to offer cheap labor to corporations does not occur in China, it will occur in another part of the world. As a matter of fact, some scholars and commentators describe this as a race to the bottom (Ross, 2007). What cultivated an environment favorable to receiving foreign investment in this case study was the abundant supply of workers and the Chinese government’s cooperation in allowing companies operate with zero-liability worker rights policies.
    Ross discusses the domestic effects of free trade in the U.S. He points out examples of how Americans become aware of the economic disadvantages of free trade. Even though outsourcing is a realistic concern for average Americans, they fail to understand that the “Chinese workers” who took their jobs are also feeling anxious about their job security. Chinese workers have to keep in mind a large pool of farmers and unemployed people who threaten to become the next wave of cheaper labor (Harašta, et al, 2010).
    In the Ross and Segal articles, we see the similarities in high turnover rates attributed to global corporations relying on cheap labor in order to maximize their profits. Both articles touched on employer tactics of recruiting employees that are young and easily influenced. In all the three articles, we see there was recognition of the unpleasant working conditions, yet in most cases workers did not act because they realized there were many people willing to replace them.
    In summary, this paper briefly explicates the outsourcing of labor in China as per the opinion of Andrew Rose in line with the articles of other three commentators. He averts the uniqueness of China’s market in terms of its ability to absorb all kinds of labor. The author illustrates how China capitalizes on the merits of free trade to gain profits and at the same time attract foreign investment.

    Harašta, J., Kočí, M., & Šmerkl, P. (2010). Virtual Money in China.
    Ross, A. (2007). Fast boat to China: high-tech outsourcing and the consequences of free trade: lessons from Shanghai. Vintage.

    1. It’s interesting that you’ve pointed how “if the ability to offer cheap labor to corporations does not occur in China, it will occur in another part of the world”. This further affirms that outsourcing jobs overseas is not merely an affair between the states, but it is a trans-national phenomena, driven by forces of globalization and neoliberal market economy.

    2. Hi Duaa,
      I really enjoyed reading you post which had pretty precise statements. I agree with your opinion that the Chinese “work harder and for longer periods,” the outcomes make their experiences better than those of western workers. Personally, I think the neoliberalism brings China more valuable opportunities to communicate with the world by doing various trades and participating in the international market. Therefore, Chinese people can feel greater changes than western workers. Good job!

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