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Editor’s Page: China: Game Over?

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Even before visitors to the 2008 Olympic games left Beijing and the athletes vacated the Olympic village last month, mainstream media and analysts were drawing parallels to an expected exodus of foreign participation in China’s manufacturing sector. In an entry on MSNBC’s World Blog (www.worldblog.msnbc.msn.com), NBC News correspondent, Ian Williams likened the nation’s next economic phase to a hangover after a big party. (And a Google search of that phrase brings up a surprisingly high number of very similar analogies.) Much of the conjecture is spawned by the fact that China’s "cheap" labor is quickly slipping away. Due to new, aggressive labor laws, which went into effect on January 1, it is not uncommon to see reports varying between a 10 and 20% increase in wages over the past year alone. While that is still a far cry from wages in the developed world, the news tends to drop like a lead-painted toy in a company that is keen on outsourcing. Another topic that clouds the picture is government-mandated plant closures. In a last-gasp effort to reach air-pollution reduction goals for the Olympics, Beijing asked local chemical plants to reduce emissions by about 30% for a two-month period and ordered…
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