The Spacial Fix Problem

“… auto firms were establishing production units in new regions in response to both competition among local governments to attract auto-industry investment and (real or perceived) differences in the cost and docility of labor forces located in different areas of China.” – [1. Ho-fung Hung,China and the Transformation of Global Capitalism (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), 178.]

This entire section was extremely interesting to me. The idea of the spatial fix seems remarkably 1900s Industrial Revolution; a belief that workers hired in rural areas will not figure out that your paying them less because, haha, they are rural, and have no access to information. I understand that this is a variation off of the idea of outsourcing work to a cheaper part of the world; but in this model, you outsource to a different part of the country instead of an entirely different country. It is a model that, on a grand scale, seems to work well enough, but seems to inherently have problems. In fact, it seems to be a minor replication of China’s major problems as discussed in this chapter. In short, that workers inevitably rebel against being treated poorly, especially when compared to workers in different areas. This is sited within the spatial fix section; that workers from a small, country town where an automotive company built a second factory where they paid their workers less organized a strike for equal pay to the main plant (179).

On a related note, I was curious if this belief in the spatial fix might explain, in some way, why the Chinese government has been building major roads and airports and the like in rural towns. Is this a side effect of a fervent belief in the spatial fix? That if the government provides access to areas that are otherwise rural and un-industrialized, companies can build factories where they can hire cheap labor?


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