[Reader-list] Perceptions on the street.

Jeebesh Bagchi jeebesh at sarai.net
Mon Sep 24 11:17:52 IST 2001

Yesterday an `autoriskshaw` driver talking about the recent events 
made two comments.
"Bandook, gola, barud aur paise to siyasat ke haath mein hi hote 
hai...ise baand karo to mahaul doosra ho" and " Aise mahaul mein 
samajh nahin aata paise kharch kare ya jamaye..bara mushkil ho jata 

[ Translation:  "Guns, bombs and money are in the hands of the 
rulers... only if these are taken away, will things change" and 
"Under the circumstances one does not know whether to consume or save 
for the future...it becomes difficult" ]

Television commentators have picked up a new jargon of `global 
network of terrorism with cells in different locations` (as if it was 
otherwise before!). It will be interesting to map the global network 
(and pathways) of armaments that runs parallel to this other network.

If people on reader-list could recount their conversations on the 
streets it may provide us an interesting entry point into the present 

On a different note I am enclosing an article that points to an 
interesting dimension of `globalisation`.

Chinese Working Overtime to Sew U.S. Flags
By John Pomfret
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, September 20, 2001; Page A14\

SHANGHAI -- As America wraps its wounds in red, white and blue, flag 
factories in China are running nonstop to feed the overwhelming 
demand in the United States for the Stars and Stripes.
At the Shanghai Mei Li Hua Flags Co., office director Wu Guomin has 
received orders for more than 500,000 flags from customers in the 
United States in the week since the terrorist attacks in New York and 
Washington. "I guess because we make so many of these things you 
could say we feel a little closer to the situation there," Wu said as 
he fingered an American flag. "We're working day and night."
The Jin Teng Flag Co. in neighboring Zhejiang province reported 
orders of 600,000. "It's crazy and very, very sad," said Jin Teng, 
the factory owner. "Everyone is on overtime trying to satisfy demand."
Jin and Wu said that even with China's National Day fast approaching 
on Oct. 1, they have stopped making Chinese flags so that they can 
fill U.S. orders.
"We've been presented with an opportunity to make a lot more money 
than we usually do making these flags," said Wu, whose factory sells 
medium-size flags to U.S. distributors for about $1 apiece. "But we 
won't take it. We really didn't want to make too much of a profit on 
other people's sadness."
At the Shanghai plant, Fei Xiaohua, a laborer, was sewing a 
6-by-9-foot flag. "This is my 50th so far today," she said, her 
fingers working nimbly. "Sometimes I don't like this job. But this 
time, what I'm doing seems worth it."
It is unclear what percentage of U.S. flags are made in China, but as 
with all textiles, the numbers have boomed in recent years. China 
produces more shoes and clothes for the U.S. market than any other 
country. In a few years, China will become the biggest producer of 
computer parts for the U.S. market as well.
The flag business illustrates the increasingly close trade ties 
between China and the United States, valued last year at more than 
$100 billion. Those ties are expected to expand with China's imminent 
accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). China moved a giant 
step forward toward that goal last weekend when the organization 
generally agreed on its conditions for entry.
"WTO should provide a great opportunity for us," said Wu, a suave 
44-year-old manager. "Right now, no one around the world can really 
compete with us flag makers. We have good machines and rock-bottom 
labor costs."
Wu and Jin said they hoped Americans would not mind that Chinese were 
making their flags. The manufacture of such patriotic symbols has 
caused trouble in the past. Following the April 1 collision of a U.S. 
Navy reconnaissance plane and a Chinese jet fighter off China's 
southern coast, the Pentagon canceled contracts to outfit Army 
soldiers with a "Made in China" black beret.
China, too, has used trade as a lever in relations with Washington, 
expressing occasional discontent with U.S. policies by cozying up to 
Europe's Airbus Industries instead of Boeing Co. But this time, in 
the days following the disaster, as the global airline market 
crashed, China repeated its commitment to buy 30 Boeing 737s, making 
it one of the world's bright spots for aviation firms.
"We are living in a really global world right now," said Wu. "It's 
natural that China manufactures simple things for the whole world. We 
have a manufacturing economy."
But Sun Zhenyu, a top trade official, warned today that China's 
export growth, a key element in China's economy, will likely face a 
serious threat for the remainder of the year, according to the 
official New China News Agency. Already, Chinese travel agents are 
reporting hundreds of cancellations.
"The U.S. economy is already bad, surely this will affect the global 
economy, including China," Sun said.
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