Ahead of Olympics, China Faces Charges of Child Labor – Kathleen E. McLaughlin

The Christian Science Monitor reports on in China, in the wake of allegations that factories used to make Olympics merchandise are employing 12 year olds:

Some observers say that the latest reports represent a weak point in China’s otherwise strong record of enforcing child labor laws – especially at a time when child labor is on the decline worldwide.

…In small towns across the vast Chinese countryside, kids age 13, 14, and 15 – below the legal working age of 16 – are entering the workforce as factory owners and other employers turn a blind eye, according to the report.

“Looking at the results of our on-site surveys, and reports in the Chinese media we do not believe that the child labor problem in China has been suppressed that effectively,” said the China Labour Bulletin’s report.

…Anita Chan, a China labor scholar at Australian National University, says quantifying the child-labor problem is difficult, particularly when the country is having a difficult time enforcing labor standards for adults. In any case, she says, the country should stay firm to its strict anti-child labor laws and enforce them. Certainly, she says, government officials must realize that in addition to giving a country political problems, child labor can have basic economic consequences. [Full text]

See also the websites of the International Labour Organization, China Labour Bulletin and PlayFair Alliance, all mentioned in this article. Chinese authorities have said they are looking into the reports of child labor.

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