Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ryan Pyle Blog: China's Textile Slowdown


I just wanted to make you aware of some new work I've completed on China's battered textile industry. Above is a brief slide show of the work, follow THIS LINK to the NYTimes article by David Barboza.

The textile industry, like most other low end manufacturing in China is in a funk because of lessening demand from North America and Western Europe. David and I visited several factories in China's textile industry hub, the city of Shaoxing, Zhejiang province.

During the boom years it was often very difficult to gain access to factories and speak with industry leaders because no one wanted to talk about how much money they were making or how successful their company's were; for various fears and potential backlash. But during the visits on this recent trip, managers and owners were very candid with us about how orders have dropped and production numbers have fallen; resulting in massive layoffs. I even had someone from the textile industry government regulation agency ask me if I could call him sometime to discuss the distress in the industry even further, a rarity.

Often foreign journalists and photographers in China are not accepted amongst the Chinese business community as being honest and objective; but during this economic downturn I've noticed a real change in the attitudes of the business elite; they actually want to talk to us and share their stories of how the current downturn is affecting them. My hope is that this dialog and exchange continues when the boom years return.

As an outsider, or a non-Chinese person, documenting China it is important to me to be accepted amongst the business (and even political) community as being an honest and objective story teller. I hope this era of openness continues; it's a wonderful feeling being invited to several factories and getting to speak with the decision makers - instead of sneaking around and trying to piece together information by talking with employees on lunch break. Better pictures, and better journalism, better for everyone involved I reckon.

Ryan Pyle

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This is Ryan Pyle. I appreciate you adding a comment to my blog and I hope that this space has offered you something useful and interesting. I look forward to staying in touch and I'm glad you took the time to comment.

Ryan Pyle