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Special Report: Who's to blame for Chinese deaths?

Published October 21, 2007 5:26 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

HUNTINGTON -- Genco Mine Service, a small company that sells trucks that transport miners deep underground, buys its vehicles from a factory in Beijing. The company's owners know the factory uses outdated machinery and unsafe production methods, but they accept those conditions as the normal course of doing business with China.

"China's equipment and machinery are like ours in the 1940s," Genco co-owner Glenn Sebring said. "They can't afford a forklift. If they have to move a truck, they stick four boards under the body and they walk it around."

As he sees it, it's up to China - not him - to figure out how to protect factory workers from occupational diseases and injuries.

So who is responsible?

Is it Chinese businesses or the nation's central or local governments? International trade and labor organizations? Consumers themselves who buy - and demand - cheap Chinese-made goods?

In the last of a four-part series, "American Imports, Chinese Deaths," The Tribune examines how the complexity of the global economy blurs the issue of who bears responsibility for the enforcement of basic occupational safety standards in Chinese factories.

Also, Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who has encouraged and supported trade with China, said Tuesday that Utah businesspeople have an obligation to protect Chinese workers who make their products from workplace injuries and fatal diseases by seeking "international standards" in the factories where they do business. To read more about that, visit this link: http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_7264708

Reporter Loretta Tofani visited more than 25 factories and observed first-hand how Chinese workers routinely lose their health and their lives making products for export to the United States and other countries.

The result is a multi-part package of stories, photos and graphics that you can read at http://www.sltrib.com/china. These stories are based on interviews with Chinese workers in hospitals, homes and outside their factories as well as with dozens of attorneys, business leaders, government officials and labor activists. She also reviewed medical and legal records, medical journal articles, government reports and other documents.






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