Is China’s export success built on slavery?

Source: Cafe Hayek
by Don Boudreaux

China’s workforce today is nearly 803 million — a number that, I’ll assume to make my argument here weaker than otherwise, does not include the 15.5 million slaves. Thus, even according to figures given by the ILO, percentage of Chinese workers who are slaves is ‘only’ 1.9. Again, if this number is correct, that’s 1.9 percent of workers too many. But this small percentage makes unbelievable the often-repeated assertion that China’s modern export success is built on slavery. Indeed, even if we make the overly ‘generous’ assumption that all 25 million slaves in Asia and the Pacific are Chinese workers, the percentage of the Chinese workforce who are slaves remains tiny; it’s 3.1 percent. Bottom line: Even on assumptions most generous to those who contend that modern China’s economic success generally, and its export success specifically, is the product of slavery in China, the numbers simply do not support the contention.” (09/19/17)