China's dark secret

Jan 15 2008 by Derek Torres Print This Article

As China claims its stake in the modern world and tries to improve its standing on the world business stage, it has one tiny problem that it's going to need to correct before anyone takes it seriously.

Mind you, I didn't say that they'd need to fix it in order to keep doing business Ė the money will continue to pour in due to the Western world's love of cheap products made cheap and sold high. The problem lies in this figure: 100,000. No, this isn't the number of new American or European companies setting up shop in China, but the number of Chinese who died in workplace accidents in 2007!

According to Reuters, we should express some relief because the State Administration of Work Safety tells us that this number is actually down 10% from 2006 and many of these deaths are occurring in very dangerous jobs, such as in mining.

According to the article, fatal accidents are a daily event due to bosses pushing production beyond what is safe in the name of hitting numbers. And just to give you a better idea of how many people we're talking about; let's compare this number to the number of deaths from natural disasters: 2,325 in 2006.

In order to reduce this completely unacceptable figure, Beijing is going to have to become more hands-on when it comes to safe development or production. Clearly, previously taken measures didn't make their way down the chain and get implemented.

Perhaps the threat of the pink slip Ė for both overzealous bosses as well as state officials who do not notice and then take appropriate steps to eradicate this problem.