The factory is run by a Chinese company and employs 1,500 workers.
But as the garment factory owner and a local garment worker face off over whether the Chinese government will allow workers to return to work, a look at the garment industry in China reveals a different story.
“The people who work in these factories, they work hard, they earn a living, they have families, they’re not forced into these jobs,” said Lisa Miller, a former senior labor adviser at the US Department of Labor who has researched garment production and distribution in China.
“But the garment factories are under tremendous pressure, under tremendous scrutiny,” Miller said.
“So, they can’t get their workers to come back.
And they can also’t get the labor market to develop in the way that it should.”
Miller said China’s garment workers are in the “middle” of a trade war between the United States and China over a proposed tariff hike.
While the United State has called for a 35 percent tariff on Chinese imports, Chinese President Xi Jinping wants the U.S. to slap a tariff of 20 percent on Chinese goods and services, including apparel, as part of a broader strategy to reduce trade barriers.
“I think the American workers who work here and the garment workers in China are actually in the middle of a battle, and they have been for a long time,” Miller told CBS News.
“And I think they’re seeing this as the beginning of a new period.”
The debate is taking place on the margins of the global economic crisis.
But there are parallels to the garment trade war that have played out before in the global South.
The fight over the garment tariff has pitted the United Nations against the World Trade Organization, and the U in particular.
It has also pitted workers in the Us. and China against each other, with the garment worker fighting for his or her right to a fair wage and benefits, and American workers for protection from the threat of a 25 percent tariff.
And it’s one that is set to intensify as China continues to ramp up its garment industry.
In recent years, there has been a rise in factory closures, with China’s economy contracting by about 10 percent last year, and a recent UN report found that 80 percent of factories are no longer operating.
Miller said that the fight over a tariff hike is the “most significant” part of the trade war, adding that the “resurgence” of the war has put the garment sector “at the center of a global economic issue.”
“It is a global problem,” Miller explained.
“But it is a trade problem, and this is a war in the garment world, so I think this is an issue that’s very significant to this country.”
Miller’s research focuses on the world’s top garment producers, from China to India, to find out how China’s factories work, how the United Sates and China compare and how their industries interact.
She said that she has been struck by the way the garment industrial sector in China is run from a high-level level of executive leadership.
“These companies are run from the top, they are run through very top-down, very high-powered structures that have a very, very clear view of the future of the business,” Miller, now a fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, said.
Miller and others have been calling on President Trump to push for a tariff increase on Chinese apparel imports, and she is hoping that Trump will make good on his promise.
“We need to send a message to the Chinese leadership that the United Kingdom and France and others are going to fight tooth and nail to prevent this from happening again,” Miller added.
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