China's unwanted World Cup

Chinese manufacturing prowess dominates the tournament in South Africa, but doesn't inspire patriotic pride

By Andrew Leonard
July 8, 2010 12:34AM (UTC)
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Fans blow their vuvuzelas as they cheer during the World Cup. Chinese media report that up to 90 percent of the vuvuzelas sold in South Africa during the World Cup were made in China.

Who says China is a no-show in the World Cup? ChinaSmack translates a Netease photo-essay detailing the many ways in which China is participating in South Africa's Cup. Chinese factories manufactured the controversial Jabulani soccer ball, the vuvuzelas so beloved by the fans, the stuffed Zakumi mascot, condoms distributed in the major cities, the crazy wigs donned by nutty spectators and even 50,000 seats installed in the major stadiums.

This evidence of industrial prowess does not appear to have assuaged the bruised feelings of some patriotic Chinese citizens, however. Displaying an Internet-enabled grouchiness that transcends national and cultural boundaries, their comments suggest that China's status as low-wage labor factory of the world isn't any more popular at home as it is with workers in the Western world.


"How many things were polluted to make these things, the income is not proportionate to the consumptio?. The true 'world factory' is not worth showing off, instead, we should deeply reflect and feel sad."

" Not a major manufacturing country, but the most low-end contract manufacturing country, a shanzhai country." (Shanzhai = imitation or pirated goods.)

"I only feel very ashamed. Many things we can make, but most of the money is earned by other countries. I really don't know what to say."

"China is very competitive in light industry products and in many fields. China's massive manufacturing exports is the collapse of factories in many countries --¦he unemployment of many foreign countries' people! It isn't that other countries do not want to do this business, but that they cannot outcompete China!"

And best of all:

"As the world's number one cheap labor market, should we sigh that the country has become rich and powerful or that the ordinary common people are cheap? Is this worth showing off? Our labor costs are even lower than India. All of the world's processing businesses are based in China. This is how we grow GDP, not through expanding domestic demand. Colluding with foreigners to exploit the ordinary common people instead of investing in the people, is GDP that important? What about the ordinary common people's happiness? It hasn't increased along with the GDP."

There you have it -- all the vuvuzela mass production in the world can't equal the joy that would have come from replacing Spain or the Netherlands in Sunday's World Cup Final.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

China Chinese Economy How The World Works World Cup