core@gundam.com
Wed, 18 Oct 2000 20:53:16 -0400 (EDT)


Wow! I am gone a couple wks and what a thread! Heh I am pleasantly
surprised that there's so much sense and intelligence in most of the
posts. But heh can't help but unlurk for a post or two... (and: Go HGUC
ZEONG!)

First let's get a fact straight. MSIA figures are not (N-O-T) made by
prison labors (or "political prisoners", as one poster so carefully
emphasized). Unlike their American counterparts, Chinese prison labors
are available only to stater-owned factories or pseudo-private factories
owned by relatives of Chinese officials. Chinese prison labors are not
available to foreign companies. The simple fact is that MSIA figures were
proposed, developed, and designed by Bandai HK, a company owned but not
operated by Bandai Japan. The designs were done in HK by HK artist/techs,
manufacture and packaging done in mainland, somewhere in Guandong.
Incidentally, most Bandai model kits are also pressed and packaged in
China, but designs (including sculpting) are done in Japan.

To digress a little. This explains a lot of differences between MSIAs and
HGUCs. MSiA runs on a faster release schedule that seems completely
un-coordinated with HGUC/MG release schedule. MSIA headed straight for
(almost) complete sets (0079, W, EW), While MG/HGUC darts around the
series chasing after some elusive profit-maximization scheme. It is
obvious that Bandai HK and Bandai Japan don't share sculpts and 3D
designs. E.g., MSIA and HGUC Gog came out about 2 months apart, but the
proportions are completely different (unfortunately for me, MSIA is better
in this case). Bandai HK also takes MSIA less seriously than Bandai Japan
takes models. That's why the MSIA Wing figures were designed and released
in less time than it took Bandai Japan to dig up the Wing model molds and
press new ones. That's also why MSIA are non-scaled and why you will
never see an HGUC Bigzam. Even more telling is the fact that the Banpesto
MS Factory sets (Gundam, Guncannon, Guntank, Zaku (red and green) Gouf and
Dom), despite being action figures of about the same scale, are also
completely different sculpts from MSIA.

Anyway, any talks of prison labors making MSIA figures came from one
individual poster (gundam@loop.com) who sometimes is known to make
flippant comments free of any restrains by facts and common sense.
Boycotting MSIA's would be... rather comical. Oh BTW, gundam@loop.com is
selling an MSIA Gundam Deathscythe Hell on eBay for US$19.80, which is
100% higher than the retail price in Toronto's Toys'R'Us. Maybe the
profit from his sales will be donated to fight for prisoner's rights in
China :)

see http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=468947059

ANYWAY. That's not even the real reason I am posting this. I am much
more interested in the bigger issues raised by other posters. At the same
time, I am saddened that a flippant comment could generate so much debate.
Evidently there is a huge amount of misconception about China out there.
Sometimes it seems that Americans are just as cut-off from the outside
world as the Mainland Chinese. But I have to say the GML is rather
special. I am very heartened that most of the discussions have been
well-intentioned towards the Chinese people. I will try to organize a few
thoughts of myself:

1. Prisoners doing productive work is an excellent idea. Forcing
criminals to be idle all day is cruel and unusual punishment and is
counterproductive to the society in general. What is bad is that someone
(anyone) other then the prisoners would benefit financially from prison
labors. Bottomline is that any time in history that prisoners produce any
significant amount of financial gain for a group of people (who are
typically feudal lords, industrialists, and you guessed it, communists),
the amount of social injustice increased. The Great War of China was
built (over many centuries) by prison labor, everytime the Emperor decided
that a new addition was needed in the Wall, huge number of people were
thrown in jail for minor charges. The character Jean Valjean in Les
Miserable is a good example.

Personally I think the answer is that prisoners should be given work, but
must be paid at salary at or above average level of unionized rate (of the
country in question of course). So that it won't be an incentive for the
industrialists, government, etc to directly or indirectly increase the
prison population. There needn't be any worry that union level wages
would make prison-life too comfortable. There are enough humane ways to
make prison-life unattractive to potential criminals.

2. There is no question that prison labors is one of the objectionable
human right abuse that the Chinese Communist (CCP) is guilty of. But to
focus on it is very cynical. There are deep and vast problems with the
Chinese justice system, yet in the West the only issue that get any
attention is prison labors. In my opinion, political and religious
freedoms, and equality between individuals and companies/state are far
more important. But if you watch the US media, the main problems are
prison labors and intellectual property (IP) rights, issues that have
almost no impact to the average Chinese, but means big bucks to MS,
Disney, Sony, Nike etc etc. The issue of prison labor is especially
cynical. WTO doesn't object to corruptions in the Chinese justice system,
it only object to the prisoners making Chinese goods "unfairly"
competitive against Western products. Unethical labor practice (prison
labor, child labor, bad labor safety and conditions) are only put in the
limelight when it's controlled by someone other then G-7
nations/companies. WTO never proposed any meaningful sanction against
Indonesia for their child labor, because that would cut into Nike's
profit. Same deal for Sierra Leon diamond. If G-7 companies are allowed
to employ Chinese prison labors, you bet your Perfect Grade Gundam that
you won't hear a thing about prison labors anymore. I realize that most
GMLer means well when you jump on the prison labor bandwagon. Living in
the US especially, it's very hard to see through the shenanigans put on by
the Congress, WTO and World Bank.

3. While I agree that most Americans mean well, but most of the public
opinion about China is easily swayed by the Authority. The opinion of
China in the US hit a definite low in 1989 with the massacre. But that
time, the general feeling was "CCP bad, Chinese good". The second low was
the "accidental" bombing of the Chinese embassy last year. CCP,
understandably, milked it for all it's worth. Of course, for both the
average Americans and Chinese, this set up the us vs. them mentality.
Now it's "China bad, Chinese bad". All the pundits who wanted to impeach
Clinton and all the consciracy theorists who belived the US Govt can do
nothing right, join hands in siding with CIA/Pentagon. Over in China (and
amongst oversea Chinese), CCP and freedom fighters put down their
differences temporarily and throw rotten eggs at the US Embassy. In
retaliation, the FBI produced a report that said, essentially, China stole
so much nuclear secrets from the US that WW3 can start any day now. When
that failed to generate any substained panic, they went for witch-hunting
and jailed the first yellow-skinned nuclear scientist they could fix.
Wen Ho Lee, a loyal American with Taiwanese (not mainland!) ties, should
count himself lucky for he suffered only 9+ months of solitary
confinement. (OTOH, the 2 Canadian and 1 British persons
falsely/mistakenly accused of espionage by Yugoslavia seems to have fared
better in Yugoslavian jail than Lee in American jail) Anyway, my point is
that right now in the US public, anti-CCP/China/Chinese feelings are very
high (see any dicussion on China in the CNN website for examples). And I
will certainly avoid entering US soil for a while.

4. A lot of people in the West thinks that we all want to share the
prosperity. That is simply unpractical. It is simply impossible for,
let's say, even 50% of the population to enjoy the N. American lifestyle.
Just take an example of the time. The current oil crisis started before
the military crisis in the Middle East. What do you think were the
reasons that oil just suddenly jumped? I am no economist, but I do notice
that it was a period of (relative) stability and econ. growth in the third
world, the financial crisis in East/South Eash Asia and South America was
over, everyone was doing just a little bit better than 5 yrs ago. And
that's major bad news, supply and demand, oil production can't catch up
and everyone has to pay more. The chaos in France and England (and soon
Canada) is something that we haven't seen for many years. This is result
of everyone doing ONLY a little better. Imagine the world when Chinese
are burning as much oil per capita as the West, there won't be enough
oxygen in the air to substain that! So let's just drop this "share the
prosperity" wetdream. Western democracies are only substainable as long
as there are poor totalitarian states ready to supply cheap labor, land,
and raw materials; nations that are too busy fighting wars (using Western
weapons) than to do their own manufacturing, so they export their raw
materials at third world prices, let the West make goods out of the
materials and re-import them at first world prices. For the West to
substain, the economic development of the third world must be kept in
check.

Put it another way, if hunger is eliminated from the whole world, by the
simple principle of supply and demand, the price of your afternoon
chocolate bar will have to go up, how many people are really willing to go
along with that?

5. I am completely sympathetic to JED's feeling of helplessness. The
post-Soviet era is both the freest and safest time; and the most
suffocating and most depressing time. Most of the Western population are
well-fed and well-clothed, but life's meaning seems to be getting sucked
out of us from about age 4 onward. I don't want to give any answers now
nor in fact do I have an Answer. I said it is impossible for everyone to
live the easy comfortable lives of the West, but it IS possible for
everyone to live peacefully and happily. To get there, we need to rework
the Western ideas of "progress", "success" and "fairness".

My only advice to JED and others who feel the same way: don't let
helplessness gets the better of you. Helplessness is _the_ weapon of
the bad guys (whoever they are). There are a lot of us out there who
don't buy into the "this is the way it is, there is no other way"
rhetorics. People can only be repressed if they allow themselves to be
repressed. Look at the Yugoslavians, they freed themselves of a dictator,
not with bombs or any hi-tech weaponry, or even much of any outside help
(yes I do agree the sanction was important). I absolutely abhor the "if
you can't beat them, join them" altitude. Every one of the Nazi SS guard
and KGB agent uses it as an justification for what they do.

Name: Core
Patient ID: #1
Room: http://side7.gundam.com/newtype_asylum/
Condition: Critical

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