Unthinking Majority wrote:Yes that's true. Which makes it even worse, since these companies have little control of these factories. Chinese gov officials i'm sure can enter them for "inspection" any time they choose. Meanwhile, planting surveillance technology and whatever else. I would hope these western companies have their own people on the floor watching over operations.
Keep in mind, it was the west that wanted to open up China. It was the west that entered into all these agreements with China. Ultimately, we did it to ourselves.
I can speak from limited personal experience.
It always depends on the specific product being manufactured. But generally, you would not be allowed on the factory floor. They usually cite safety as the reason, which is legitimate (you don't know the factory well, and safety practices aren't good there), but I'm sure there's a bit of them just not wanting you to see what they are up to.
I was given a tour of the factory floor, but taken to a separate conference room. It was nice, lots of snacks and drinks and shit. Anyway, they brought the equipment I had to work on there rather than working on it on the factory floor (which would have been easier).
The safety is in fact bad. I remember seeing buckets full of broken glass just out in the middle of the hall. It didn't occur to them to put a cap on the fucking bucket.
As for IP theft, yes, I've seen it happen it's pretty rampant. Working in tech, you hear about all sorts of shady shit doing on. It's basically impossible to prevent it all.
One funny story. At a previous company, I worked with an older guy that previous worked for HP. While at HP he developed a product test specification, which he shared with HP's contract manufacturer in China. Fast forward 10-15 years later, he's working at the same company as me (not HP). I hear him cry out in a mad laughter. He called me over. He tells me about how 10-15 years earlier, he wrote that product test manual while at HP. Then he shows me an email between him and the contract manufacturer we were using (which wasn't the same as the one HP previously used). In the email chain he asks "Can you give me a high level explanation of your testing procedures. Bullet points in this email are fine." They just emailed him the specification he wrote while at HP. It said "HP" on it, and it had his name as the author.
They didn't even bother to remove that shit.
There is a cultural element here too though. In China, the notion of wanting privacy and confidentiality in your day to day life just isn't as strong in their culture. People's expectation of privacy is much lower than the west. I think some of that bleeds into how companies operate there. Basically, they don't really understand the importance of confidentiality in the business world. That said, they are secretive when it comes to foreigners. I'm sure the CCP likes it that way.
This is just some speculation of course.