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A Most-Anticipated Book of the Year: Newsweek * Refinery29 “Timely and urgent . . . Pang is a dogged investigator.” —The New York Times Book Review “Moving and powerful.” —Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author  Discover the truth behind the discounts   In 2012, an Oregon mother named Julie Keith opened up a package of Halloween decorations. The cheap foa A Most-Anticipated Book of the Year: Newsweek * Refinery29 “Timely and urgent . . . Pang is a dogged investigator.” —The New York Times Book Review “Moving and powerful.” —Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author  Discover the truth behind the discounts   In 2012, an Oregon mother named Julie Keith opened up a package of Halloween decorations. The cheap foam headstones had been five dollars at Kmart, too good a deal to pass up. But when she opened the box, something shocking fell out: an SOS letter, handwritten in broken English.   “Sir: If you occassionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persicuton of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever.” The note’s author, Sun Yi, was a mild-mannered Chinese engineer turned political prisoner, forced into grueling labor for campaigning for the freedom to join a forbidden meditation movement. He was imprisoned alongside petty criminals, civil rights activists, and tens of thousands of others the Chinese government had decided to “reeducate,” carving foam gravestones and stitching clothing for more than fifteen hours a day. In Made in China, investigative journalist Amelia Pang pulls back the curtain on Sun’s story and the stories of others like him, including the persecuted Uyghur minority group whose abuse and exploitation is rapidly gathering steam. What she reveals is a closely guarded network of laogai—forced labor camps—that power the rapid pace of American consumerism. Through extensive interviews and firsthand reportage, Pang shows us the true cost of America’s cheap goods and shares what is ultimately a call to action—urging us to ask more questions and demand more answers from the companies we patronize.  


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A Most-Anticipated Book of the Year: Newsweek * Refinery29 “Timely and urgent . . . Pang is a dogged investigator.” —The New York Times Book Review “Moving and powerful.” —Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author  Discover the truth behind the discounts   In 2012, an Oregon mother named Julie Keith opened up a package of Halloween decorations. The cheap foa A Most-Anticipated Book of the Year: Newsweek * Refinery29 “Timely and urgent . . . Pang is a dogged investigator.” —The New York Times Book Review “Moving and powerful.” —Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author  Discover the truth behind the discounts   In 2012, an Oregon mother named Julie Keith opened up a package of Halloween decorations. The cheap foam headstones had been five dollars at Kmart, too good a deal to pass up. But when she opened the box, something shocking fell out: an SOS letter, handwritten in broken English.   “Sir: If you occassionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persicuton of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever.” The note’s author, Sun Yi, was a mild-mannered Chinese engineer turned political prisoner, forced into grueling labor for campaigning for the freedom to join a forbidden meditation movement. He was imprisoned alongside petty criminals, civil rights activists, and tens of thousands of others the Chinese government had decided to “reeducate,” carving foam gravestones and stitching clothing for more than fifteen hours a day. In Made in China, investigative journalist Amelia Pang pulls back the curtain on Sun’s story and the stories of others like him, including the persecuted Uyghur minority group whose abuse and exploitation is rapidly gathering steam. What she reveals is a closely guarded network of laogai—forced labor camps—that power the rapid pace of American consumerism. Through extensive interviews and firsthand reportage, Pang shows us the true cost of America’s cheap goods and shares what is ultimately a call to action—urging us to ask more questions and demand more answers from the companies we patronize.  

30 review for Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America's Cheap Goods

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    I had a reason for wanting to read this book. Recently a friend whom I have not seen since before the pandemic....sent me a huge - years supply- of Reese’s peanut butter cups....( sweet chocolate gift)... but what my friend didn’t know —-and I had just learned ...is that China’s sweet tooth for a chocolate melts with economic slowdown — why? Not only are Americans looking for a healthier snack ....but Hershey’s the worlds largest chocolate company, failed at curbing child labor laws in cocoa fiel I had a reason for wanting to read this book. Recently a friend whom I have not seen since before the pandemic....sent me a huge - years supply- of Reese’s peanut butter cups....( sweet chocolate gift)... but what my friend didn’t know —-and I had just learned ...is that China’s sweet tooth for a chocolate melts with economic slowdown — why? Not only are Americans looking for a healthier snack ....but Hershey’s the worlds largest chocolate company, failed at curbing child labor laws in cocoa fields. Advocate groups say that they are still not sure as to whether it would strongly support U.S. regulations. So... when I saw this book I wanted to learn more about what I feared....and learn more about china’s labor practices. And frankly...it’s more scary than I thought....and it’s not just candy we have to worry about: think of products sold at Kmart, fashion at H&M, etc. Buying anything ‘made in China’....will cause pause from this reader. Valuable book.... An excellent researched non-fiction book. Amelia Pang followed a political prisoner- Sun Yi....and exposes the alarming truth about forced labor camps. I listened to the Audiobook....( thank you, Netgalley, Workman Audio, and author Amelia Pang)...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    A shocking expose Shortly after starting this book, I checked five items near me to see where they had been made: •Aeropostale hoodie - China •Apple mouse - China •The magnifying glass I used to read the fine print saying where the Apple mouse had been made - China •Australian tourist teacup - Australia •My cat's food bowl - China This didn't shock me but what I read in Made in China did. It left me reeling. It made me sick, knowing that items I own probably came from forced labor and horrific human r A shocking expose Shortly after starting this book, I checked five items near me to see where they had been made: •Aeropostale hoodie - China •Apple mouse - China •The magnifying glass I used to read the fine print saying where the Apple mouse had been made - China •Australian tourist teacup - Australia •My cat's food bowl - China This didn't shock me but what I read in Made in China did. It left me reeling. It made me sick, knowing that items I own probably came from forced labor and horrific human rights abuses. In a sense, I am responsible. Amelia Pang takes us into the heart of China's forced labor (laogi) camps, the "reform through labor" and the "compulsory isolation drug detox centers", showing the hidden cost of the Western world's insatiable demand for low-cost goods. The book centers around the story of Sun Yi, a practitioner of Falun Gong, a religion focused on meditative practices and the belief that meditation can realign one's energy, curing disease and illness. Any non-state sponsored religion is illegal in China and practitioners are routinely thrown into reform through labor (RTL) camps. This is what happened to Sun Yi. Falun Gong is illegal and because of his beliefs, Sun was arrested and thrown into Masanjia Labor Camp for several years. I won't even begin to describe the atrocities Sun endured. There were pages I had to skip because it was so horrific. Amidst the torture, Sun was forced to labor for 15-20 hours a day and occasionally around the clock when a deadline for goods had to be met. One "job" Sun had was making foam Halloween decorations. At one point during his sentence, he decided to write letters begging for help. Knowing he would be killed if caught, he sneaked these lettters into a handful of packages bound for English-speaking countries. A few years later, a woman in Oregon opened a package with gravestone decorations her sister had bought on discount at KMart and which had been gathering dust all this time. She discovered Sun's letter and went public with it. Amelia Pang interweaves Sun Yi's story with the history of China's camps and their numerous human rights abuses, past and present. I knew the Chinese Communist Party has a blatant disregard for human life but...... whew. What I read in this book? Unbelievable. It's so much worse than what I thought. I have pages of passages I highlighted. I don't even know where to begin sharing with you the brutality and inhumanity. And just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, I learned that China is most likely killing prisoners of conscience in order to sell their organs. The heinousness knows no ends. Thousands of them every year. While it is a difficult book to read, I urge everyone to read it. You, me, and everyone else who buys products made in China are responsible for the immense human suffering that is the result of our ravenous desire to buy, buy, buy as cheaply as possible. Until we stop buying for the sake of buying, and until we stop demanding ever lower prices, we will purchase products that come at an extreme amount of human suffering. Until Western countries and corporations refuse to export from China unless they put an end to their human rights abuses, people will continue to be tortured and to die as a result of the consumption of those of us in the West. Ms. Pang does offer a few ways individuals can do their part but unfortunately it's going to take a hell of a lot of us to care and stop turning a blind eye just because it makes us happy to buy shit we don't need. Because of climate change, my partner and I decided a bit over a year ago to stop buying anything we don't actually need. After reading this book, I am further committed to limiting my consumption. Unfortunately, there will always be some things we have to buy and it's impossible to know exactly where our products come from and if they are a result of forced labor. It matters not if you buy from Walmart, Target, or Nordstrum. It's virtually impossible for even an auditor to know if a factory is using forced labor and it's in the interest of corporations to not look deeply. Not all goods which come from China are assembled with forced labor but even if it was just a little, it would still be unacceptable. It is more than "just a little" though and consumers have no way to know which products we buy are the result of forced labor, even of children. I challenge you to read this book and learn what really happens when we demand ever more goods, ever faster, and ever cheaper. And next time you go to purchase something, ask yourself the following questions listed in this book: 1) "Do I already own something that serves the same purpose?" 2) "Is this item so much better that I would feel compelled to donate three things in its place?" 3) "If it were more expensive, would I still try to figure out a way to afford it or am I feeling an urge to buy this only because it's extremely cheap?" 4) "If the product I'm considering is an updated version of one that I already own, is my current one working just fine?" 5) "Am I sure I will wear or use this product a lot? Or will this likely end up sitting in storage after one use?" If you don't need it, don't buy it. If you care about others and are against human rights abuses, you need to read this book. While it's not easy, it is imperative that we learn how we are each responsible for extreme human suffering... and what small steps we can take to try to put an end to this. Remember: "During our endless search for the newest trends for the lowest prices, we become complicit in the forced-labor industry. Chinese manufacturers often believe they have no choice but to secretly outsource to gulags, because they cannot meet the global consumer demand for budget prices and the latest trends." You are either for this or against it. I hope you're against it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    JanB

    In our quest to read more non-fiction, Marialyce and I settled on this book, and it was one that opened our eyes and caused us to examine our consumer habits. In 2012 a woman in Oregon opened up a Halloween decoration purchased at K-Mart when a slip of paper fell to the floor. On it was written an appeal for help from Soon-Yi, a prisoner in China. The woman contacted various human rights agencies as well as the press and went public. The author followed Sun Yi, an educated man imprisoned for his r In our quest to read more non-fiction, Marialyce and I settled on this book, and it was one that opened our eyes and caused us to examine our consumer habits. In 2012 a woman in Oregon opened up a Halloween decoration purchased at K-Mart when a slip of paper fell to the floor. On it was written an appeal for help from Soon-Yi, a prisoner in China. The woman contacted various human rights agencies as well as the press and went public. The author followed Sun Yi, an educated man imprisoned for his religious beliefs. It was difficult to read a first-hand account of what happened to him and his fellow inmates. Most of us know of the human rights abuses in China but few of us know how truly horrific they are. The inmates endure unspeakable torture worse than we can imagine, and forced to work 15-20 hours a day. Why? So we can buy cheap décor, toys, clothing, and other consumer goods. As horrendous as this is, China also sells the organs of prisoners for a tidy profit. Their execution dates eerily match up to when an organ is needed. China’s Communist Party is to blame, of course, but so are we every time we choose to buy, and buy cheap. I’m fortunate in that, when possible, I can choose to spend my money wisely in small businesses with ethical purchasing practices. But for most, if not all, Americans it’s nearly impossible to avoid items made in China, and impossible to know if what we buy is made in the labor camps. No U.S. company who has manufacturing plants in China, including well-known brands, can ensure their goods are made without prison labor. Chinese manufactures believe they have little choice in using forced labor in order to keep up with the consumer demand for cheap products. They would be forced out of business if they raised their prices. The only way to stop this is lowering our demand. There are U.S. laws enacted to stop the flow of goods made by forced labor, but they are worthless words on paper. The only thing that will stop it is for us to stop demanding cheap goods. Having independent 3rd party inspections would help but it’s doubtful it would have a lasting impact because of China’s lack of transparency and a company’s habit of simply changing their name when sanctioned. The author ends the book with a list of questions to ask before we purchase something which basically boils down to: do I truly need this, or would something I own work just as well? Do I need it enough to be willing to pay more for it? If I buy it how often would I use it? Would I be willing to get rid of three things if I do buy it? If we are honest with ourselves, we all have our weaknesses, whether it’s electronics, home décor, fashion, small cheap toys /stocking stuffers, and the like. My husband and I have made a conscious effort to not buy more STUFF, and if we do, something needs to leave our house. Our primary motivation was to simplify our lives, but now we have an even more compelling reason to buy less and buy responsibly. According to one study, consumers wouldn’t buy something if told it was made in a labor camp. But the effect went away in thirty minutes. Our brain’s pleasure center lights up when we see something on sale or for less money than we would expect to pay. The solution is to not shop for entertainment or buy simply because something is cheap. Our consumerist society is causing untold suffering and torture worse than anything we can imagine. We can no longer claim innocence and ignorance as an excuse. Thanks to my friend Jenna for putting this book on my radar! Our duo reviews can be found at https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Donna Backshall

    It's only February, and I can confidently state I just read the most important book of 2021. Perhaps of my life. In a word, Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America's Cheap Goods is terrifying. There are no words I could write to adequately express the pain I feel knowing I've indirectly supported the horrible practice of prison labor in China. And here's some sobering news: We all have. Forced labor camps produce the cheap products we buy. Even if they're labeled " It's only February, and I can confidently state I just read the most important book of 2021. Perhaps of my life. In a word, Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America's Cheap Goods is terrifying. There are no words I could write to adequately express the pain I feel knowing I've indirectly supported the horrible practice of prison labor in China. And here's some sobering news: We all have. Forced labor camps produce the cheap products we buy. Even if they're labeled "Made in America", chances are pieces/parts to assemble these products were made by unpaid, abused, tortured, force-fed and raped workers in factories in China. This book offers exposure of the nightmarish atrocities, but not many answers on how to stop it, mainly because there aren't many beyond spreading the word. It seems it's up to all of us not to look away, and to stand up to face the hideous truth behind our coveted ability to save a buck. In addition, there is also the horror of China's billion dollar organ transplant industry, which regularly tests these forced workers to see if matches can be found for involuntary harvest. If you thought it was disturbing to see Katniss volunteer for Prim in The Hunger Games, you'll never sleep again when you read about how these forced labor prisoners are volunteered with their lives so someone can make a yuan or two off their organs. This is reality for millions in China, though as Americans we're shielded from most of the details because the Chinese government and its corporations are not giving up their "success" secrets without a fight. I'm not saying Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America's Cheap Goods is an easy read, but it's definitely an important one. Awareness is the first step to solving the outrageous crime of forced labor. We all need that knowledge to nudge us to step up and do our part. Thank you to NetGalley, Workman Audio, and especially author Amelia Pang for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook in exchange for an honest review. You have changed my outlook for the better, and I am indebted to you for this eye-opening experience.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    After reading this book, the "Made in China" label will be more than a whisper in your ear. It will be a slap in the face. The Chinese Communist Party is actively involved in using "reeducation camps" as a source of cheap or free labor. The conditions are horrendous. This book gives firsthand accounts of the treatment given to the occupants of the camps and some of the methods of torture used to achieve the desired result. Make no mistake, this is no different than the methods employed in Nazi G After reading this book, the "Made in China" label will be more than a whisper in your ear. It will be a slap in the face. The Chinese Communist Party is actively involved in using "reeducation camps" as a source of cheap or free labor. The conditions are horrendous. This book gives firsthand accounts of the treatment given to the occupants of the camps and some of the methods of torture used to achieve the desired result. Make no mistake, this is no different than the methods employed in Nazi Germany. Specific ethnic groups and religious faiths are among the targets. This is chilling. Amelia Pang includes tips on how we can all change our shopping habits to alleviate demand from this part of the world. We can also be responsible consumers by making ourselves aware of the brand names who have a history of outsourcing with slave labor. If you don't want to spend time reading this book, you can read Sun Yi's story in the documentary "Letter from Masanjia." A big thank you to Amelia Pang for sharing the stories of these brave men and women who have made such great sacrifices to help others be free. Also thanks to Alongquin Books and NetGalley for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This was a really tough one to read. I found the history detailed and well researched because I was not familiar with many of the events in China that led to forced labor camps. The descriptions of what people endure were graphic but I think they were necessary. I will certainly be looking at more companies that ethically source their materials and labor. You often think that the cheaper price is your "gain" but I had to really assess my own buying and spending habits after reading this book. A This was a really tough one to read. I found the history detailed and well researched because I was not familiar with many of the events in China that led to forced labor camps. The descriptions of what people endure were graphic but I think they were necessary. I will certainly be looking at more companies that ethically source their materials and labor. You often think that the cheaper price is your "gain" but I had to really assess my own buying and spending habits after reading this book. A solid non-fiction that I think will appeal to people who like both history but also modern day issues that impact us. I did think the book was a balance of blame to go all around- blame for the horrid conditions people face in factories but also blame for us because we are always chasing the "best price." Thank you to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

  7. 4 out of 5

    wanderonwards

    CW: confinement, death, emotional abuse, forced institutionalization, genocide, gore, grief, medical content, physical abuse, police brutality, racism, religious bigotry, sexual assault, slavery, suicide, torture, violence. Thank you to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for sending me a free ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts on this book are conflicting. On one hand, this is an extremely important topic that definitely needs more discourse and considerable policy change. On the ot CW: confinement, death, emotional abuse, forced institutionalization, genocide, gore, grief, medical content, physical abuse, police brutality, racism, religious bigotry, sexual assault, slavery, suicide, torture, violence. Thank you to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for sending me a free ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts on this book are conflicting. On one hand, this is an extremely important topic that definitely needs more discourse and considerable policy change. On the other, I did not enjoy this book and think it could have been much more effective. Before I jump into my review, I think I need to share the position I’m coming from. For as long as I can remember, my family has always tried to avoid purchasing products made in China, something I rarely see others discuss. I don’t know where this decision originally came from, but growing up I always thought it was because these products were considered poor quality or there were concerns about toxic chemicals, not that it was a system of exploitation further fueled by global consumerism. I do remember the curious looks from my friends whenever I would share that my family tried to avoid products made in China; the thought of avoiding specific manufacturing locations had never crossed their minds. In fact, the term “ethical consumption” has only entered my vocabulary within the past two years; clearly there is substantial room for consumer education and progressive change. I was looking forward to reading Made in China because my family and I still try to avoid products made in China (although it can be extremely difficult to impossible in some instances), and I now know the reasons we avoid products made in China are much more complex than simply “it’s cheaply made”. My hope for Made in China was that would help me gain a better insight of why my family would have originally made the decision to avoid products made in China and evaluate if we were right in sticking to that decision. In short, the answer is yes: we will continue to avoid, to the best of our ability and resources (and because we have that flexibility in most instances), products made in China. Made in China explains in detail the laogai system (which translates to “reform through labor” but really means forced-labor in essentially concentration camps) and the multitude of human rights violations that go into manufacturing cheap products for the rest of the world to consume. I think it’s also important to note that “cheap” products just mean somewhere in the manufacturing process corners have been cut, and more often than not it's the workers creating the product that suffer, not the company’s profits. However, there are two main reasons I could not rate this book any higher. First, I don’t believe I would have read this book if I knew it contained graphic descriptions of torture, and because this content was never disclosed (in any promotional blurb or as a content warning at the beginning of the book), it has negatively affected my rating. Graphic descriptions of sensitive topics (such as torture) are definite deal-breakers for me. Second, while this book does cover many aspects of this issue, it fails to cover several important points, including: 1) the role of capitalism and big business in pressuring these systems to continue with their current loopholes and horrific conditions, and 2) the privilege of being able to use your purchasing power (such as my family does) to avoid the cheapest options of products: those who do not have financial flexibility LITERALLY don’t have any other options and can’t afford to buy the higher quality item. Overall, I’m still not completely sure how I feel about this book. It could have been less graphic and been much more effective, for my reading tastes anyways. It’s not that this story should not be told, it’s that it could be told in a different way. The fact that China is violating human rights in such blatant attempt to eradicate dissidents and ethnic and religious minorities from their culture needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Hopefully, Made in China will be the last stone needed to bring an avalanche of awareness and momentum to this issue. Thank you again to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for the privilege of reviewing an ARC.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lori L (She Treads Softly)

    Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America's Cheap Goods by Amelia Pang is very highly recommended exposition on China's labor/reeducation camps, human rights violations, and how our consumerism is a tacit approval of the system. Everyone should read this book. Everyone. And then reexamine their own involvement with cheap Chinese merchandise. Take note that if you buy something made in China it was likely made with slave labor. That should cause you to take pause in Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America's Cheap Goods by Amelia Pang is very highly recommended exposition on China's labor/reeducation camps, human rights violations, and how our consumerism is a tacit approval of the system. Everyone should read this book. Everyone. And then reexamine their own involvement with cheap Chinese merchandise. Take note that if you buy something made in China it was likely made with slave labor. That should cause you to take pause in and of itself, but it becomes even more crucial to take action if you combine it with the fact that China is the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases, and their rates are vastly under reported. When Julie Keith opened up a package of cheap decorations in 2012, she discovered a plea for help written by the prisoner who made the items. The note was written by Sun Yi who was taken prisoner and put in a reeducation camp/ forced labor camp by the Chinese Communist Party. His crime was practicing Falun Gong with a religious meditation group. Pang shares the life of Sun Yi, including the horrendous torture he and others endure in the "laogai system" which is the world’s largest forced-labor system. The system is rarely labeled as prisons, rather they call the camps reeducation centers or detoxification centers. No matter the name, they are still forced labor centers where people are sent at the whim of the CCP. The people in forced labor include the Falun Gong practitioners, as well as Christians, Turks, Muslim Uighurs, and Tibetans. Companies who get their products that are made with the forced slave labor from China never receive them directly from the prisons, instead they are exported and purchased through an import-export company system. It also appears that China is now in the business of organ selling. They get the medical information from the prisoners and will harvest their organs. The transplant industry in China is a billion dollar industry. With modern AI surveillance technologies, the CCP is targeting even more people as they can identify them. Think about this information as you blindly follow any social media platform: "As early on as 2004, China has built the most extensive surveillance and internet censorship system in the world, with currently an estimated one hundred thousand human censors inspecting the web for politically sensitive content and manually deleting posts on various Chinese social media platforms. They are employed not only by state propaganda departments, but also by Chinese companies that have privatized censorship. And then there are the commenters, who are paid to guide online discussions in a pro-government direction. A 2017 Harvard study estimated that 448 million paid comments appear on Chinese social media every year." China is said to be one big modern, technologically savvy labor camp. This is not an easy book to read but it is vital that people know what is going on in China. If people show any dissent in China, this is how they handle it - imprison them into forced labor. Pang immersed herself into Sun's story and that of other labor camp survivors over three years. Note that according to a 2017 study by the Economic Policy Institute, "China’s accession to the WTO caused the United States to lose 3.4 million jobs. And as manufacturing migrated to China, it created more opportunities for Chinese factories to outsource work to labor camps." What we can do is limit how we spend our money and investigate the companies we buy from because China does respond to financial push back. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2021/0...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marks54

    At one level, this is a book about the political, economic, and human rights issues associated with China’s increasing use of prisoners as unpaid labor in the manufacture of cheap goods that are exported to other countries, in particular the US and European countries. The use of forced labor gives the Chinese significant cost advantages relative to non-Chinese firms, especially those that source labor from competitive labor markets. The focus is not just on unpaid prisoner labor, but unpaid labo At one level, this is a book about the political, economic, and human rights issues associated with China’s increasing use of prisoners as unpaid labor in the manufacture of cheap goods that are exported to other countries, in particular the US and European countries. The use of forced labor gives the Chinese significant cost advantages relative to non-Chinese firms, especially those that source labor from competitive labor markets. The focus is not just on unpaid prisoner labor, but unpaid labor by political prisoners, members of minority populations, or persecuted religious groups. The claim of journalist Amelia Pang is that this use of unpaid labor is increasing as China seeks to expand its influence in Central Asia and requires a policy responses at governmental levels and ethical responses by individual consumers considering Chinese purchases. So far, so good. But what makes this book so engaging is that Ms. Pang ties the general plight of forced labor in China to the particular case of Sun Yi. He was a follower of the persecuted Falun Gong group who was taken into custody and sent to a labor camp because he would not renounce his beliefs. Facing a situation where he was likely to remain in the camp indefinitely, he wrote a series of notes/messages asking for help which he then placed in some of the products he was manufacturing - products that were then sent to the US. It was a plea for help, a message in a bottle, an SOS. One of these notes was discovered by Julie Keith, who noticed the message after having not opened the products for two years. She decided to follow-up on the message to see what could be done and what happened to Sun Yi. The publicity generated by this follow-up, along with some additional efforts by other camp survivors to document their experiences, is what permits Ms. Penguin to tie this heart breaking case to the broader problems related to unpaid labor (and worse) by prisoners of conscience. It is an amazing and well told story. I had heard of these issues, especially in conjunction with China’s Silk Road initiative, but the presentation in this book is outstanding and the author is particularly good at highlighting the personal and family aspects of Mr. Yi’s struggles. It is also very readable..

  10. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    This book is very interesting. Most nonfiction is written in a way that feels dry, no matter how interesting the subject matter, but this book is almost suspiciously conversational and easy to focus on. And yet, it's clear that the author has done extensive research in addition to her extensive personal experience investigating the issue of Chinese labor camps. I learned the word "laogai" here, which I'm embarrassed that I only recognized from Avatar: The Last Airbender. This chronicle of human ri This book is very interesting. Most nonfiction is written in a way that feels dry, no matter how interesting the subject matter, but this book is almost suspiciously conversational and easy to focus on. And yet, it's clear that the author has done extensive research in addition to her extensive personal experience investigating the issue of Chinese labor camps. I learned the word "laogai" here, which I'm embarrassed that I only recognized from Avatar: The Last Airbender. This chronicle of human rights abuses is told in a personal way, through the story of a man who experienced arrest, forced labor, and torture himself. I had never heard of the Falun Gong before, either; I expected this book to feature much more on Xinjiang but, while the camps there are certainly discussed, most of this book's focus is on a system that preceded the more recent large-scale crackdown on the Uighurs. Though it is unapologetically accusatory toward China, this book is also not blind to our own flaws, which I appreciated. It is terrifying to think about how many ordinary, unnecessary knick knacks on ordinary store shelves were made at the cost of some "disappeared" prisoner's literal blood, sweat, and tears.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jason Park

    The list of China’s human rights abuses is long. This isn’t new to most people. What’s unique about Amelia Pang’s *Made in China* is the depth to which she investigates and the clarity with which she explains what YOU can do. My review: https://t.co/xC72ePQJgX The list of China’s human rights abuses is long. This isn’t new to most people. What’s unique about Amelia Pang’s *Made in China* is the depth to which she investigates and the clarity with which she explains what YOU can do. My review: https://t.co/xC72ePQJgX

  12. 4 out of 5

    Auderoy

    QUOTES: In the end, the Cultural Revolution killed millions and mangled China's economy. This is why modern mainland Chinese ideals tend to place higher value on social stability than human rights. The last thing people want is another revolution. QUOTES: In the end, the Cultural Revolution killed millions and mangled China's economy. This is why modern mainland Chinese ideals tend to place higher value on social stability than human rights. The last thing people want is another revolution.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨️ I yeet my books back and forth ✨️ Campbell

    OMG this sounds so good. I love books like these because it's like they're telling a dark and gripping story while also teaching you about the rest of the world. Also, if you haven't already been sucked into the weird rabbit hole of YouTube recommended videos, I suggest watching some of the vids about Chinese manufacturing. It's a two-way street, filled with mass-production and Western greed. I learned that there is an entire city in China devoted to feeding America's insatiable appetite for weir OMG this sounds so good. I love books like these because it's like they're telling a dark and gripping story while also teaching you about the rest of the world. Also, if you haven't already been sucked into the weird rabbit hole of YouTube recommended videos, I suggest watching some of the vids about Chinese manufacturing. It's a two-way street, filled with mass-production and Western greed. I learned that there is an entire city in China devoted to feeding America's insatiable appetite for weird Christmas decorations, so there's that.

  14. 4 out of 5

    L.A.

    ...and this is true....I can’t even......🌟 The research in this book is phenomenal! Warning!!! The content is graphic portraying what is happening in forced labor camps. I had no idea, but will be evaluating my buying habits. I did not think I could ever be more disturbed over true content than the Holocaust, but, people, if this is happening in China or other countries we cannot live our lives or close our eyes at night again without seeking help for the oppressed. I will never look at those ch ...and this is true....I can’t even......🌟 The research in this book is phenomenal! Warning!!! The content is graphic portraying what is happening in forced labor camps. I had no idea, but will be evaluating my buying habits. I did not think I could ever be more disturbed over true content than the Holocaust, but, people, if this is happening in China or other countries we cannot live our lives or close our eyes at night again without seeking help for the oppressed. I will never look at those cheap little trinkets in the stores again without thinking about the scarred and scared hands that made them. There were moments when my heart was racing so fast, I became nauseous and lightheaded. Each chapter was shocking with the torture Sun suffered in one of the China work camps, better known as Re-education camps the Chinese Communist Party assembled to create cheap products on the backs of starved, beaten and electrocuted and even worse....men, women and children. Working 18 hours a day....7 days a week.... If they are executed, their organs are harvested, which is a whole other story itself. Sun is tortured night and day in a camp until he seeks help by putting SOS letters in packages from the factories heading to the U.S. into the stores of H&M, Walmart, Kmart, Amazon and many others. Thank goodness someone opened it and took heart to seek help and justice., but too late for so many. Unfortunately, this hasn’t stopped. Thank you NetGalley for this advanced copy for my review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kim McGee

    Warning- after reading this book you will feel differently when you reach for the cheapest holiday decor or cute ceramic knickknack. A Chinese man whose only "crime" was following the outlawed religion of Falun Gong is sent to a "reeducation camp" run by the Chinese government. There his life is much worse than any prison in the states. He sleeps head to feet with other prisoners in horrific unsanitary conditions and is made to work exhausting hours assembling electrical parts, holiday decor, st Warning- after reading this book you will feel differently when you reach for the cheapest holiday decor or cute ceramic knickknack. A Chinese man whose only "crime" was following the outlawed religion of Falun Gong is sent to a "reeducation camp" run by the Chinese government. There his life is much worse than any prison in the states. He sleeps head to feet with other prisoners in horrific unsanitary conditions and is made to work exhausting hours assembling electrical parts, holiday decor, stuffing goose feathers into clothing, and much more. If they do not keep up with the unrealistic schedules they are beaten, force-fed, and beaten again. In a heroic act that could have ended his life and others, he begins to write s.o.s notes and hiding them in the goods they are creating for the United States. This is the story of what happened when a woman in Oregon found one of those notes and tried to help. This amazing story of courage and an unspeakable horror is difficult to read and even more horrific is that it is still going on in many parts of the world. Anyone who is interested in world relations, manufacturing, and the economy or civil rights will get much out of this book. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Everything we buy that is Made in China is suspect. The items are likely so affordable because they were in part produced by unpaid workers in forced labor camps. These could be cheap items from the Dollar Store, or they could be high end from Nordstrom’s. This is the blunt message from Amelia Pang. The book builds its narrative around a man named Sun Yi, a follower of Falun Gong who was imprisoned in a forced-labor camp called Masanjia. He took the audacious step of inserting a note in some of t Everything we buy that is Made in China is suspect. The items are likely so affordable because they were in part produced by unpaid workers in forced labor camps. These could be cheap items from the Dollar Store, or they could be high end from Nordstrom’s. This is the blunt message from Amelia Pang. The book builds its narrative around a man named Sun Yi, a follower of Falun Gong who was imprisoned in a forced-labor camp called Masanjia. He took the audacious step of inserting a note in some of the tchotchke packages he filled for American customers. The note, written in both Chinese and English, read: “If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization.” The book opens with an Oregon woman who opened some Halloween decorations for her child’s birthday party and received one of the notes. Sun Yi’s story is gruesome, very difficult to read, but its arc provides the personal example that the situation cries for. Pang is particularly successful when she juxtaposes the grim stories with what is happening in the consumer West, with its response to low prices and fast fashion, the kinds of production China is so good at. This book, sometimes uneven as it unfolds, leaves a clear and unforgettable, brute force warning. As consumers, we simply have no idea and little opportunity to buy responsibly sourced items – unless we avoid “Made in China” labels entirely. American companies which contract with Chinese manufacturers do not audit carefully enough to know whether those manufacturers are subcontracting to forced labor camps. They may try, but a truly thorough audit is a very expensive undertaking. Pang positioned herself at camps like Masanjia and followed the trucks which pulled away from their doors. They drove to legitimate manufacturing sites, so their products appeared to originate there. The province of Xinjiang has offered incentives to companies which open factories near the camps – places where political dissidents, Uigurs, and Falun Gong are sequestered and tortured, underfed and brutally overworked. Pang urges consumers to contact corporations, but the US and Europe have significant trade arrangements with China. Given the opaqueness of the Chinese system, the outcry would need to be deafening.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cav

    "If you occassionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persicuton of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever. She was bewildered. Is this a prank? she thought. She kept reading. This product produced by Unit 8, Department 2, Mashanjia Labour Camp, Shenyang, Liaoning, China. (中國,遼寧,瀋陽,馬 三家勞動教養院二所八大隊) People who work here, have to work 15 hours a day with out Saturday, "If you occassionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persicuton of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever. She was bewildered. Is this a prank? she thought. She kept reading. This product produced by Unit 8, Department 2, Mashanjia Labour Camp, Shenyang, Liaoning, China. (中國,遼寧,瀋陽,馬 三家勞動教養院二所八大隊) People who work here, have to work 15 hours a day with out Saturday, Sunday break and any holidays, otherwise, they will suffer torturement (酷刑折磨), beat and rude remark (打罵體罰虐待), no nearly no payment (10 yuan/1 month). People who work here, suffer punishment nearly 1~3 years averagelly, but without Court Sentence (unlaw punishment) (非法勞教). Many of them are Falun gong practitioner, who are totally innocent people only because they have different believe to CCPG (中共政府), they often suffer more punishment than others..." The story told in Made in China begins with this letter, found by Oregon resident Julie Keith in October 2012 in the packaging of a Halloween decoration purchased at Kmart. The note was written by a Chinese man named Sun Yi, who would be forced into a Chinese Gulag-style labour camp for campaigning for the freedom to join the forbidden meditation movement, Fulong Gong. Author Amelia Pang's investigative reporting tells the incredible saga of Sun Yi's life here. Amelia Pang is an award-winning, investigative journalist of Uyghur descent. Her work has been published in The New Republic, Mother Jones, and The New York Times Sunday Review, among other publications. She is currently an editor at EdTech Magazine. Amelia Pang: The story of the often horrifying conditions of life under the Chinese Communist Party - or CCP will likely shock and appall the average Western reader of this book. After Mao Zedong seized power in the Chinese Civil War that ended in 1949, he declared China to be the People's Republic of China; a Communist state, forcing Chiang Kai-shek's ruling Kuomintang government to retreat to the island of Taiwan. Mao established a system of forced-labour camps, know as "Laogai" , modeled after Soviet Gulags to squash political dissidents, bolster the faultering socialist economy, and acheive "reeducation through labor." Pang also covers the Falun Gong movement here in some detail. The CCP does not like ideological competition, and has imprisoned members of the quasi-religious sect. Falun Gong members have also been subjected to forced labour in the Laogais, and even more appalling - been executed to have their organs harvested on-demand. A practice that may have been put in place as early as the early 90's, notes Pang. Pang covers some of the evidence for this practice here. Made in China tells the reader of the horrific conditions of life inside the Laogai, noting that women often face harsher treatment by the guards: "Historically, and presently, the women at Masanjia experienced arguably worse torture and degradation than men. The guards would jam and twistng toothbrushes up women’s vaginas, pour chili powder into their genitals, and shock their breasts with electric batons. Then they gang-raped their victims, who often vomited blood afterward. A female Masanjia survivor named Yin Liping described her sexual assault: As I woke from unconsciousness, I noticed three men lying beside me. One was on my left, and two were on my right. A young man close to my right was groping my body all over with his hands. He looked like he was younger than 20 years old. The other man behind him was also busy groping me with his hands. The man on my left kept touching my face and held his leg against my private parts. Then I felt, above my head, there was another man sitting there. He kept touching my face and my head. Two men stood below me facing the gap between my legs. One was videotaping while the other one watched. They kept talking dirty. I didn’t know how many others were there. They were tickling my feet and laughing. . . . I couldn’t believe what I was experiencing. . . . The next day, I was beaten by a male inmate. That night, I was gang-raped, just as I had been the night before. We don’t know how we survived . . . Even now, years later, I tremble when I think about it..." The CCP is the worst human-rights violator in the world today; meting out torture and misery to the citizens of its own country on a wholesale level. The CCP also strictly clamps down on the social discourse of its citizenry, famously establishing its own separate internet, complete with a cadre of online censors and ideological enforcers. Pang writes: "Since as early as 2004, China has built the most extensive surveillance and internet censorship system in the world, with currently an estimated one hundred thousand human censors inspecting the web for politically sensitive content and manually deleting posts on various Chinese social media platforms. They are employed not only by state propaganda departments, but also by Chinese companies that have privatized censorship. And then there are the commenters, who are paid to guide online discussions in a pro-government direction. A 2017 Harvard study estimated that 448 million paid comments appear on Chinese social media every year. Although it can be difficult to navigate the maze of propaganda on the Chinese internet, activists have had some online success rallying people against labor camps..." The story of Sun Yi, as told here by Pang, has a somewhat mixed ending, that I'll cover with a spoiler, to avoid giving anything away. (view spoiler)[ Sun flees China, and applies for asylum in Indonesia. In 2017, he met with Julie, the woman who found his note in the Halloween decorations. Unfortunately, his story ultimately has a tragic end as: "Sun died abruptly from a lung infection and acute kidney failure not long after meeting Julie, on October 1, 2017. May and Sun’s sister Jing flew to Indonesia to say a sorrowful goodbye. Some of his friends believe he died under suspicious circumstances. They say there was a Chinese woman who had befriended him, claiming to be a Falun Gong practitioner, not long before his death, and she has not been seen by the Falun Gong refugee community in Jakarta since. His friends suspect she may have had something to do with his death. But since his body was cremated without an autopsy, there is no hard evidence of this. Sun’s remains rest with his mother’s and father’s in Xi’an, his beloved hometown." (hide spoiler)] Made in China is an important book, that pulls back the curtain on the atrocious anti-human machinations of the CCP. As such, this book and the stories in it should be read by everyone who has the opportunity to do so. 5 stars.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Karen Hojnacki

    Truly eye opening. Before you make your next purchase, be aware of where the product was made. Please, please, please stop buying cheap products from China. Chances are it came from a forced labor camp. Within the last year, never have I been so aware of where the products I purchase are manufactured.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Steve Haruch

    A prisoner in a "reeducation through labor" camp slips an SOS letter into the packaging of a Halloween decoration that he and others are forced to produce. A woman in Oregon later discovers it and wonders what to do. This book follows Sun Yi, the man who wrote the letter and who endured years of torture for his beliefs. It is not an easy read — at points I found myself physically recoiling from descriptions of physical abuse and violence — and it paints a sobering picture of laogai camps in Chin A prisoner in a "reeducation through labor" camp slips an SOS letter into the packaging of a Halloween decoration that he and others are forced to produce. A woman in Oregon later discovers it and wonders what to do. This book follows Sun Yi, the man who wrote the letter and who endured years of torture for his beliefs. It is not an easy read — at points I found myself physically recoiling from descriptions of physical abuse and violence — and it paints a sobering picture of laogai camps in China. It also raises serious concerns about the international supply chain as a whole — and importantly, our place in it as drivers of consumer demand. An unsettling, necessary read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cherie

    A plea for help gets out of a forced labor camp to a concerned woman in the States two years later...uncovering her journey, and a journalist's goal to discover more about how is our cheap crap from China actually made - and who makes it, and under what conditions - a horrifying, painful, scary, and sad discovery that will hopefully shift things and save lives. Readers will find the documentary style fascinating, though some of the tangents a bit long, though the pursuit for justice will likely A plea for help gets out of a forced labor camp to a concerned woman in the States two years later...uncovering her journey, and a journalist's goal to discover more about how is our cheap crap from China actually made - and who makes it, and under what conditions - a horrifying, painful, scary, and sad discovery that will hopefully shift things and save lives. Readers will find the documentary style fascinating, though some of the tangents a bit long, though the pursuit for justice will likely convince them of the importance of such a work. *Received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

  21. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    In 2012, an Oregon woman opened a package of Halloween decorations to find a letter. The unnamed author wrote that they were a prisoner in a Chinese labor camp, and manufactured the product in deadly and unethical conditions. Several years later the author was revealed to be Sun Yi, a Chinese practitioner of an illegal form of meditation who was imprisoned for activism surrounding his beliefs. Through the majority of MADE IN CHINA Amelia Pang traces the life of Sun, using a combination of intervi In 2012, an Oregon woman opened a package of Halloween decorations to find a letter. The unnamed author wrote that they were a prisoner in a Chinese labor camp, and manufactured the product in deadly and unethical conditions. Several years later the author was revealed to be Sun Yi, a Chinese practitioner of an illegal form of meditation who was imprisoned for activism surrounding his beliefs. Through the majority of MADE IN CHINA Amelia Pang traces the life of Sun, using a combination of interviews, his first-hand accounts, documentary footage, and the memories of friends and family. Pang uses Sun's story to explore the real human cost of Western consumer culture, from fast-fashion to luxury goods. She explains how these prison camps came to be and how they are now a hidden but necessary part of the supply chain. Pang acknowledges that much is outside the control of the everyday consumer, who may be unaware of the origin of these products, but lays out a few simple steps we can each take to pressure corporations and governments to demand change. Content warnings for detailed descriptions of torture and violence.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cathe Fein Olson

    An American mom finds an SOS note in a package of Halloween decorations written by a prisoner in a labor camp in China begging for help. Investigative journalist Amelia Pang tells this prisoner's story as well as relaying the horrifying truth of how many of our products coming from China are produced. An American mom finds an SOS note in a package of Halloween decorations written by a prisoner in a labor camp in China begging for help. Investigative journalist Amelia Pang tells this prisoner's story as well as relaying the horrifying truth of how many of our products coming from China are produced.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joe Jones

    This was an eye opening read. Especially with Christmas just last week and the urge to spend money on goods most of us really did not need. The lowest price does not mean it should be your first choice. I hope more people read this and think twice about where the goods they purchase come from and if it was ethically sourced.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Imprisoned Chinese are forced to make many of the cheap goods imported by US brands under horrific conditions including brutality and torture. Many of those in China's prisons are persecuted for their religion, e.g. Falun Gong and Uighur Muslims. This is an important book. Imprisoned Chinese are forced to make many of the cheap goods imported by US brands under horrific conditions including brutality and torture. Many of those in China's prisons are persecuted for their religion, e.g. Falun Gong and Uighur Muslims. This is an important book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    ftnrsnn

    This book made a start on with the discovery of a letter by a mother in Oregon while she was opening a cheap Halloween decorating package, gifted to her years ago, to put to good use at her daughter’s incoming birthday party. Scribbled in broken English, the letter was asking for help. It was an SOS letter from a prisoner in a labor camp. Shocked and bewildered, reading that letter had left her hanging with too many unanswered questions. Take a deep breath before you read this book because the is This book made a start on with the discovery of a letter by a mother in Oregon while she was opening a cheap Halloween decorating package, gifted to her years ago, to put to good use at her daughter’s incoming birthday party. Scribbled in broken English, the letter was asking for help. It was an SOS letter from a prisoner in a labor camp. Shocked and bewildered, reading that letter had left her hanging with too many unanswered questions. Take a deep breath before you read this book because the issues discussed here are a lot to take in. Just looking at the notes references included, which has a total to almost 50 pages, a work of non-fiction that is free from any invented characters, Made in China is a true crime memoir that will paint visceral pictures of human suffering in the China re-education labor camps. It is undeniably an important read because these forced labor camps still exist to this day and the most recent mention of the report is in 2020. THEY ARE STILL OUT THERE! A key observation of the book is it will address the horrific and inhumane conditions, an abuse to a human right in which all these 'prisoners of conscience' had to endure. For instance: -They were forced to do hard labor for long hours in a poor environment with very little payment or no payment at all. -They had to suffer torturement disguised as "re-education" like beaten, raped for women, and electric shock if they refused the "transformation" that consisted of a disavowal of the prisoner's faith and pledge of allegiance to the Chinese Government. -They also suffered barbaric acts by Chinese government that made profit by selling the organs of the prisoners taken from force organ harvesting. But what shocked me the most, while for other former dissidents, the goals of their imprisonment are for the sake of getting free force labor and silencing their movement, for Uyghur Muslims, their detention to re-education labor camps was different. Uyghur Muslims suffered (and are still suffering) by the inhumane actions taken by the Chinese government with the aim to completely eradicating the identity of Uyghur people. Their crime is being a Uyghur. They have to undergo indoctrination to reject Islam as their religion, to forget their native tongue by learning Mandarin, and for women they are shoved into force sterilization to lowering the birth rate coming from their tribe. This book is a very thorough investigation and definitely an EYE-OPENING that EVERYONE SHOULD READ! While it's impossible for us, the global consumers to completely boycott all the things that we bought that might be sourcing from force labor, but maybe by reading this book, at the very least we can educate ourselves into looking into this matter more seriously and trying as hard as we can to change our consumer behavior perhaps by reducing unnecessary consumption of cheap goods. Thank you Times Reads for sending me a review copy of this book in return for an honest review. This book is available in all good bookstores Malaysia and Singapore. INSTAGRAM | TWITTER

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    I was made in America. I hunt for bargains, compare items of similar function only to choose the cheapest one, and curse myself when I miss out on a good deal. But this book has me feeling like I've got the whole arrangement fucked up. Much has been whispered about the brands that have partnered with China's forced-labor force; Nike, Zara, and H&M are among the most recognized for the practice by consumers, but up until recently, we have done little to confront what our unchecked consumerism has w I was made in America. I hunt for bargains, compare items of similar function only to choose the cheapest one, and curse myself when I miss out on a good deal. But this book has me feeling like I've got the whole arrangement fucked up. Much has been whispered about the brands that have partnered with China's forced-labor force; Nike, Zara, and H&M are among the most recognized for the practice by consumers, but up until recently, we have done little to confront what our unchecked consumerism has wrought. Made in China is the mirror in your closet. Well-researched, well-cited, and well-written, Amelia Pang has crafted an exposé that simultaneously humanizes the headlines and provides hard data to substantiate its wider claims. The book achieves its repletion by alternating between Sun Yi's experiences as a forced laborer and thoroughgoing research. The impact is considerable. Pang's forays into Sun Yi's fight for liberty are gut-wrenching and sometimes vomit-inducing, akin to scenes from a nightmare made infinitely more disturbing by their reality. She would have made a solid horror fiction writer had she not chosen more important work. Her research is likewise hard-hitting, pouring exhaustively cited reports, statistics, interviews, and first-hand knowledge into the fray. My only criticism is that Pang completely fails to acknowledge how exercising considered choice in what to buy is a privilege that those of lesser means will have trouble with. It's easy to choose the ethically-sourced brand when you're good for it, but hard when you're struggling to feed your kids. The best exposés have the wherewithal to move us to action, and I hope Made in China continues to do the same. Already, major brands are signaling that they will stop sourcing cotton from Xinjiang, a concrete sign that things are changing. Although Pang admits that it's incredibly unlikely that we as consumers alone will be able to stop China's human rights violations, we can certainly make it less profitable for them by asking our favorite brands to stop utilizing Uighur forced labor. I once had a friend from Thailand who told me that buying cheap goods is actually expensive. I wonder if this is what they meant.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    This review originally published in Looking For a Good book. Rated 4.5 of 5 Most of us in the Western world know that out of respect for the United States we shouldn't but products made in China. But our reasons probably differ slightly. We've likely heard that Chinese workers earn a substantially low wage and they work long hours, which is how China can undercut other countries and their exports. And it's possible ... possible ... that we've heard the term "slave labor" in connection with the Ch This review originally published in Looking For a Good book. Rated 4.5 of 5 Most of us in the Western world know that out of respect for the United States we shouldn't but products made in China. But our reasons probably differ slightly. We've likely heard that Chinese workers earn a substantially low wage and they work long hours, which is how China can undercut other countries and their exports. And it's possible ... possible ... that we've heard the term "slave labor" in connection with the Chinese work force. But what does that even mean? In 2012, a woman in Oregon opened a cheap Halloween headstone decoration that had been purchased at K-Mart. But inside the packaging was a letter - a plea for help - from a Chinese prisoner forced to make and package the cheap, strange decoration. The letter is written in both Chinese and broken English. Feeling the need to do something, the woman reported the note to a local newspaper, and to Human Rights Watch, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and Anti-Slavery International. Getting a response was not quite so easy. Enter investigative journalist, Amelia Pang. Amelia proves she has the resources and the tenacity to dig deep into the story. Through a great deal of work, Pang uncovers the name of the prisoner who wrote the note (she identifies him by using a pseudonym) and tells his remarkable story of a very bright man holding tight to his religious belief. Unfortunately, his religious thoughts are contrary to the official Chinese stance and so he's sent to a prison for 'reform.' His prison is a well-known facility for providing labor for a wide variety of products. There are no protections for prisoners (no masks or goggles or any kind of gear that any other worker in the world might have provided) and the expectations - the required goals - for prisoners is unrealistic. Most prisoners get about three hours of sleep at night because it's the only way to meet their daily goals. Pang gives us the in-depth story of this particular prisoner, his refusal to spout the Party religion, his punishment - pushed to near death, his ultimate release, and his harsh, brief life after. But she also gives us the broader story. We hear similar stories from other survivors (not surprisingly, it's all the same for women prisoners, plus continued gang rape) and even get a peek at the idea of selling body parts. This is not an easy book to read. It is horrifying. it is reminiscent of the stories we heard coming out of Nazi Germany after WWII, except that this is now. This is going on in our lifetime, and it is being encouraged by us! Although China hasn't gone to great lengths to hide these prison 'reform' camps acting as slave labor for industry, they have done just enough to make it difficult to track or prove and so, while most large corporations unofficially know that the Chinese labor making their products might be shopped out to these camps, they don't look too hard and can justify using Chinese labor. One of the things Pang reminds us is that it is our buying habits ... our need to have the newest thing, our need to have a different thing, our need to have fast and cheap ... that has created the need for this kind of labor. We are to blame for this. It's easy for us to blame the Chinese. It's easy for us to blame corporations that have their products manufactured this way. But as long as we buy these products, this practice will continue. Will it change anything? Unfortunately probably not. While shopping this Christmas there were times I picked up an item, saw the "Made in China" label and thought to myself, "I don't really need this stocking stuffer" and put it back. Did it make me feel better? A little. Did it make a difference? Probably not. But if enough people think the same way.... The book is an excellent bit of research and writing. It will make people uncomfortable and therefore many won't even read it, but for those who prefer to be informed, this is a must read. Looking for a good book? Made in China by Amelia Pang it is a tough, thorough look at Chinese slave labor and how we support it with our own shopping habits. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This was an eye opening read inside the forced labor camp detention centers that manufacture most of the world’s goods. The story begins with a woman in Oregon who while cleaning out her storage, finds a letter that falls out of a sealed package of Halloween decorations. The letter is written in Chinese and English, and explains that he and other prisoners are being forced to manufacture these items for 15+ hours a day. The woman takes the letter to the local newspaper, and the book then follows This was an eye opening read inside the forced labor camp detention centers that manufacture most of the world’s goods. The story begins with a woman in Oregon who while cleaning out her storage, finds a letter that falls out of a sealed package of Halloween decorations. The letter is written in Chinese and English, and explains that he and other prisoners are being forced to manufacture these items for 15+ hours a day. The woman takes the letter to the local newspaper, and the book then follows the life of the writer of the letter while also sharing detailed facts and histories of the forced re-education camps for political and religious prisoners that have become entangled in the manufacturing process. The book also discusses the persecution against the Uyghur people (a minority of Turkish peoples living in Eastern China.) I read the book God’s Double Agent by Bob Fu last year so I was a little familiar with the corruption present in China, however that book was focused more on Christian persecution and didn’t touch as much on forced labor camps that double as factories. I was driven to tears many times after reading the first hand accounts by survivors of the forced re-education camps mentioned in this book. The pain and pure evil these individuals experienced is astonishing. I am thankful that the author brought these issues further to light, and I hope many people read this book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Teri

    An important, intense and difficult to read book about the true cost of buying cheap goods made in China. Forced labor camps, abuse, false imprisonment, lack of food, no medical care. Just a few of the human rights violations suffered by those targeted and imporsoned. I highly recommend that everyone read " Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America's Cheap Goods." ** I received an electronic ARC in exchange for a fair and unbiased review of this book. An important, intense and difficult to read book about the true cost of buying cheap goods made in China. Forced labor camps, abuse, false imprisonment, lack of food, no medical care. Just a few of the human rights violations suffered by those targeted and imporsoned. I highly recommend that everyone read " Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America's Cheap Goods." ** I received an electronic ARC in exchange for a fair and unbiased review of this book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joann Im

    An harrowing account on the cheap goods produced in the cost of human lives and labor. The book opens with an American woman unboxing a Halloween decoration package when she discovered an SOS letter written by a political prisoner in China who had made and packaged the product. This opened the door in an effort to investigate the supply chain that allows a product to be manufactured by forced labor and the items being sold in stores such as Kmart, Target, Walmart and many more big and well known An harrowing account on the cheap goods produced in the cost of human lives and labor. The book opens with an American woman unboxing a Halloween decoration package when she discovered an SOS letter written by a political prisoner in China who had made and packaged the product. This opened the door in an effort to investigate the supply chain that allows a product to be manufactured by forced labor and the items being sold in stores such as Kmart, Target, Walmart and many more big and well known companies. High praise for Amelia Pang's excellence in writing and her thorough research in the effort to expose the corruption of products manufacturing in Chinese labor camps. Most importantly, what made this book stand out was her effort to not label these labor workers simply as a statistic but humanizing them. She mainly profiles one political prisoner Sun Li whom provides his personal anecdote on the inhumane living condition and the torture these workers have to endure on a daily basis. Amelia Pang writes with such respect and prioritizes in giving voice to some of the workers in the labor camp. As a gifted investigative journalist, she is determined to deliver factual historical, cultural and economic aspect in pointing out this is not solely an issue in China but a larger institutional narrative that created an incentive for China to continue this brutal labor practice. She seamlessly entwined factual reporting and empathetic perspective for an eye-opening and heartbreaking experience. A thought-provoking and educational piece, Amelia Pang outlines the horrendous manufacturing practice but goes further to provide steps in the role consumers can do to avoid being complicit in human rights violation. Vividly informative with moving cinematic narration illuminating the fearless workers, this is a powerful story about human resilience and portraying the essence of human being whom share similar dreams, hopes and love alike from us. Thank you to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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