An Examination of the Child Labor Laws in China

One question that a numerous amount of Americans ask these days is “Why is everything

in America made in China?” The answer is simple; it’s a compendium of low wages, labor laws, regulations, and unions that make it possible for companies in the United States to have their products be made all the way in China. Over the past ten years or so, China has been an appealing region for global corporations because of its labor laws that disallow independent trade unions and its low wage rates. China has nearly no limitations; which gives them an advantage over the U.S. when it comes to producing products at an efficient rate and yielding enough profit to pay the shareholders who invest in the company and the workers. China has only a few child labor laws, less regulation, and no minimum wage; minimum wage is a huge factor that forces many industries out of America.

Nevertheless, China does have one law regarding child labor that states that no child under the age of 16 can go to work. That being said, the government states that under “specific circumstances” those children will be able to be a part of the labor force. The government refers to the condition as “Educational Labor.” Some schools will enforce the idea of “Educational Labor,” but many will end up taking advantage of it and misusing the law. There have been a few cases of child labor being discovered throughout companies in China. One incident that happened was when Apple discovered that 74 children under the age of 16 were employed at one of its branches in China. Another scandal was when a supplier of Microsoft, which was also located in China, called KYE, was discovered to have children working for them as well; they allegedly pay their workers, including the children, $0.65 per hour if they were to work 16.5 hour days. Most of the time, the conditions that they work in are poor, and they are not given proper nourishment to be working such long days. Regardless of the countless scandals that have been discovered at factories in China, the few rules that China has

against child labor are simply disregarded. Furthermore, what little to no effect that the labor

laws in China had are presumed to have been abandoned because of the pressure that is inflicted

by economic necessity.

Due to China modernizing its economy, workers have begun to push more vigorously for higher wages, improved labor standards, and they also want to be a part of the decision making process when it comes to things regarding those matters. Additionally, according to the NYU School of Law’s article over the demands for reform from the Chinese labor force,

Workers’ growing bargaining power has led to significant public labor unrest prompting international headlines in recent years—including a string of employee suicides at Foxconn and widespread strikes at Honda factories. Thus far China has defied outside expectations by generating stunning economic growth and modernization without moving toward democracy, and without opening up significant space for independent labor

activism, which historically has been linked with democratization.

With the workers taking matters into their own hands, they are not alone in the matter. The China Labor Watch, founded in 2000, is on their side when it comes to the rights of Chinese workers. The China Labor Watch views “Chinese workers’ rights as inalienable human rights and is dedicated to workers’ fair share of economic development under globalization.” Moreover, the China Labor Watch “increases transparency of supply chains and factory labor conditions, advocates for workers’ rights, and supports the Chinese labor movement.” With more and more enforcement to better the labor conditions and labor laws in China, the future of Chinese workers may be a lot brighter.

Works Cited

  1. Garside, Juliette. “Child Labour Uncovered in Apple’s Supply Chain.” The Guardian. Guardian

    News and Media, 25 Jan. 2013. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.

  2. <>.

    Carlson, Nicholas. “Microsoft Supplier Uses Child Workers and Pays Them $0.65 Per Hour.”

  3. Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 15 Apr. 2010. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.



    “China Labor Watch-Who We Are.”

  4. China Labor Watch. CLW, 2000. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.


  5. Estlund, Cynthia. “The Chinese Labor Problem.” NYU Law. New York University School of

    Law, 28 Jan. 2015. Web. 2 Mar. 2016. <


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