February, 28 2006 |  Download PDF |  Share

New Balance Goes to China - A Rare Glimpse Inside the Emerging New Corporate World Order

A special joint report by

The National Labor Committee and China Labor Watch

Just 10 days after the National Labor Committee and China Labor Watch released a report critical of factory conditions at the Hongyuan shoe plant in the south of China—which is owned by the large Li Kai Company, a major supplier to New Balance—a team of New Balance executives were on the ground China.

When they arrived in China on January 16, 2006, the New Balance team was met by upwards of 4,000 cheering workers. In the days leading up to their arrival, the workers were required to practice twice daily, including getting up early, rehearsing how to assemble in huge color-coordinated blocks and rows according to their uniform colors.


Each factory had to write and practice its own chant welcoming New Balance to China. As the New Balance executives enthusiastically applauded, the workers from Plant #5—referred to by the workers as Di Chang or the "Last Factory"— shouted as loud as they could:

New Balance, New Balance is the number one brand; Li Kai, Li Kai is number one in the shoe industry; Di Chang, Di Chang has the most accomplished and meritorious manufacturing.
NB imspection

New Balance executives applaud Chinese workers


At the same time, hundreds of workers lining the balconies of nearby dorms wildly wave red balloons as if this were the day of liberation.

The truth is the workers were not pleased to have to participate in this canned dog and pony show. So the workers in Factory Number 5 made up their own chant, expressing what they actually felt.

This is how it went:

New Balance, New Balance is the number one hirer of prostitutes; Li Kai, Li Kai has the lowest wages!; Di Chang, Di Chang manufactures crap!


NB party


Download the full report