Fueling the Anti-Asian Outlook

In Lesotho, there exists a strong anti-Chinese sentiment.  This is due mainly to the poor working conditions of the workers employed at the Chinese-run factories.  At first I thought the anti-asian sentiment was just due to racism and misunderstanding.  However, the more I learned about the unjust business practices of the Chinese, the more I commiserated with the Basotho.  From my understanding there are extremely poor working conditions in the factories.  For example, there are Basotho who are suffering from severe respiratory problems and even dying because the factory owners are not providing protective masks in work areas where there large amounts of sediment particles in the air.  I have heard stories of people regularly coughing up blood from working under these conditions.  Moreover, at one point the Chinese had built a factory, but instead of employing the factory with Basotho who desperately need jobs (Lesotho’s unemployment rate is over 50%), they employed Chinese prisoners.  Then, after the work was finished, the businessmen just left the prisoners in Lesotho.  I found it surprising that the Lesotho government doesn’t enforce regulations on working conditions like we do in the U.S.  From my understanding, there is no minimum wage, no cap on the amount of hours worked, no safety regulations for the workers, no vacations, etc.  I remember talking to a Basotho college student who had heard that in China, people never sleep, but they always work…  Maybe the Lesotho government is afraid to enforce fair working condition regulations because they think it might scare the Chinese businessmen from investing into Lesotho- and undoubtedly, these factories are helping out Lesotho’s economy, especially by providing Basotho with jobs.  But something has to be done to ensure that workers are treated fairly.

To make things worse, the Chinese government is also not serving as a good example to the businessmen as is evident by their own business practices throughout Africa.  In a recent visit to the continent, President Hu of China had to cancel an excursion to Zambia’s copper-producing region because of the threat of demonstrations.  There too, China is highly unpopular due to poor working conditions and high mortality rates in its copper mines.  The Chinese government is also being criticized for selling weapons to the Sudanese government and fueling the Darfur genocide.  There are plenty of more cases of the Chinese government’s lack of consideration for humanitarian issues in the countries they are investing in in Africa….it’s simply shocking.  What apparently ‘protects’ China from censure on human rights is its sovereignty policy.  According to this policy, it is not any of China’s or any other country’s business how a government runs its affairs.  They seriously need to open their eyes. 

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