Excerpt from Made in China by Amelia Pang, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Made in China

A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America's Cheap Goods

by Amelia Pang

Made in China by Amelia Pang X
Made in China by Amelia Pang
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2021, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 4, 2022, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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Print Excerpt


The first well-documented case had occurred in 1994, when a Chinese American human rights activist named Harry Wu got hold of a letter from a man trapped at a forced-labor quarry in the province of Guangdong. The man was Chen Pokong, a prominent pro-democracy organizer, and he had signed the letter with his real name. A flurry of international condemnation—including a US congressional hearing—ensued. The exposure eventually helped Chen leave the labor camp and immigrate to the United States.

But what could Julie, an ordinary American, do for a nameless Chinese prisoner?

As she cooked dinner for her family that night, she felt entirely alone. Then she heard the pull and thud of the door. The clunk of a dropped bag. The screech of chair legs. Chris was home from a hunting trip.

"You're never going to believe what I found in this box," Julie said, pointing toward the packaging that still littered the floor. "It's been sitting in our shed for years!"

Chris read the letter but remained quiet for some time.

"It's probably fake," he finally said.

"Well, I think it's real," she said. "I'm going to take it to work to have my coworker translate the Chinese parts to see if it says anything else. He's from China."

"Okay," he said gently. "You do that." Although Chris was worried that Julie was falling for a hoax, he did not want to start an argument.

The conversation shifted to concerns about the family data plan. But the words in the letter kept running in the back of Julie's mind: People who work here have to work fifteen hours a day ... Otherwise, they will suffer torture ...

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Adapted from Made in China by Amelia Pang ©2021 by Amelia Pang. Reprinted by permission of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. All rights reserved.

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