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【纽约客】中资工厂在美境况不佳,原因几何? | 取经号


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“中国制造业的发展策略因低廉的工资与欠佳的工作环境而奏效,这条道路在新兴国家还行得通,可搬到发达经济体内就不行了。”对于中资工厂大举入美,纽约客的作者作出了这样的评价。而在“宁要中车,不要本田”的表面之下,究竟是哪国的制造业真正对美国产生了威胁?


正文


January 14, 2016

Why Chinese Factories Fare Poorly in the U.S.

中资工厂在美境况不佳,原因几何?

By Jeffrey Rothfeder


China’s manufacturing strategy, made possible by low wages and subpar conditions, can succeed in emerging nations, but it’s not feasible in developed economies.

中国制造业能够以低廉的工资和欠佳工作环境在新兴国家中站稳脚跟,但这条路在发达经济体内却行不通。


In September, on an abandoned forty-acre Westinghouse factory site in Springfield, Massachusetts, the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (C.R.R.C.) broke ground on a sixty-million-dollar plant to assemble subway cars for Boston’s Orange and Red lines. Although commentary on the Chinese-American trade relationship is often colored by suspicion and xenophobia, virtually no one in Massachusetts publicly opposed the arrival of C.R.R.C., a state-owned enterprise controlled by Beijing.

2015年9月4日在美国马萨诸塞州斯普林菲尔德市(Springfield,也译作春田市),中国中车股份有限公司(C.R.R.C.)在西屋电气厂40英亩的旧址上破土动工,设立一个投资达6000万美元的装配工厂,此举使得中车能为波士顿橙线和红线地铁线提供车厢。尽管针对中美间贸易合作关系的评论一向被涂上质疑和排外的色彩,但事实上在马萨诸塞州,并没有人公开反对中车这家受北京控制的国有企业来美投资建厂。


After all, Springfield is not a position to be picky about its economic partners. Once a dominant manufacturing city—the assembly line and the concept of interchangeable parts were invented there, in munitions factories that were centers of global innovation for much of the nineteenth century—Springfield has been spiralling downward for decades. Currently, unemployment there stands just above the national level, but the city depends on state government and municipal services, not the private sector, for much of its cash flow and jobs. In just the past five years, even as U.S. industrial employment has surged some 7.5 per cent, representing nearly a million new jobs, about two thousand additional manufacturing positions have disappeared from Springfield.

毕竟,斯普林菲尔德市并不是一个会对其经济上的合作伙伴进行刁难的地方。斯市曾一度在制造业上占据统治地位,历史上流水线及有关通用零件的概念皆出自此处的军工厂,这些军工厂在19世纪的大部分时间里是全球创新的中心。但近几十年来,斯普林菲尔德一直在走下坡路。现在该市的失业率只比全国水平好一点点,在财政收入和就业岗位上极度依赖州政府和市政府的服务机构,而非私营企业。仅就过去的5年而言,美国产业工人的就业率就跃升了7.5%,这意味着新增了100万个就业岗位,而在此期间斯普林菲尔德却又有2000个制造业岗位流失。


Curiously, though, no one has been complaining about the growth of Chinese manufacturing elsewhere in the U.S., either. For at least the past seven years China has been the fastest-growing source of non-domestic business expansion in the U.S. In fact, Chinese foreign direct investment here—that is, the amount of money used to acquire American companies or to build factories and other commercial facilities—reached record levels in 2014, about twelve billion dollars, up from five billion in 2009. Moreover, in the first six months of 2015, Chinese direct investment in the U.S. rose nearly fifty per cent compared with the same period the year before, according to the Rhodium Group, which tracks Asian economies.

但让人感到好奇的是,美国其它地区也并没有人对中国制造业在当地发展产生过抱怨。至少在过去的7年中,中国成为外来国家(地区)在美发展最快的企业来源国。根据一直追踪亚洲经济体的荣鼎集团(the Rhodium Group)的报告,事实上中国在美的直接对外投资(即用以收购美国企业或建造厂房和其它商业设施的资金)在2014年达到创记录的120亿美元,该数字在2009年仅为50亿美元。此外在2015年上半年,中国对美直接投资同上年同期相比上升了将近15%。


Lately, most of this investment has been in real estate (such as Anbang’s $1.95 billion purchase of the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan, from Hilton) and technology (such as Lenovo’s $2.9 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, from Google). But manufacturing has also been a frequent target, beginning as early as 2000, when the Qingdao-based appliance maker Haier made Camden, South Carolina, the site of the first Chinese factory in the U.S. Since then, Chinese manufacturers have acquired or built facilities to produce textiles, copper, steel, automobile supplies, renewable-energy equipment, and industrial machinery, among other items, in dozens of states.

近来中国的大部分投资流向了房地产市场和科技领域。比如安邦保险以19.5亿美元的价格从希尔顿购得位于曼哈顿的华尔道夫酒店;联想以29亿美元的价格从谷歌买入摩托罗拉的手机业务。但制造业仍然扮演主要投资领域的角色,这一切都源于2000年。当时,从中国青岛发家的海尔集团在美国南加州的卡姆登设立了第一家中资工厂。从那以后,中国的产业制造商们在其它数十个州的多种投资项目上或兼并或建立工厂,开始生产纺织品、铜、钢、汽车零部件及可再生能源设备等。


China’s emergence in the U.S. economy recalls another transplant frenzy some three decades ago, when Japanese companies entered the U.S. in droves, swallowing up iconic symbols, like Rockefeller Center and Pebble Beach Golf Club, and raising automobile and steel plants in the Rust Belt. Back then, the general response was anger and fear. After Honda Motors opened the first Japanese auto plant in the U.S., in Marysville, Ohio, in the early nineteen-eighties, followed by an engine factory in nearby Anna, Ohio, the company faced an onslaught of vicious anti-Japanese ads on TV and in print, often supported by American manufacturing trade and labor groups. In one memorable incident that grabbed headlines across the country, William Leitz, the mayor of Wapakoneta, Ohio, angrily resigned his position, saying that he could not work side by side with the Japanese. “I was on a destroyer [in the South Pacific] that was sunk,” he said. “I’m an American, and I love my country.”  

中国介入美国经济,让人回想起大概30年前的另一场投资热。当时日本企业成群结队进入美国,占领了像洛克菲勒中心和圆石滩高尔夫球场这样的标志性地带,并在陷入经济困境的老工业区(Rust Belt)设立汽车和钢铁厂。那时,普通大众对此的反应是愤怒和害怕。20世纪80年代早期,本田汽车在美国俄亥俄州马里斯维尔建立了第一家日本汽车制造厂,随后在邻近的、同样位于该州的安娜地区设立了引擎制造厂。但接着,本田就遭遇到了一系列充满敌意的反日电视广告和出版物的攻击,其背后通常有美国制造贸易商和工会团体的支持。俄亥俄州沃帕科内塔市市长威廉莱茨(William Leitz)在一起占据全国各大报纸头条的事件后愤然辞职。他表示,他本人不能同日本人共事。“我曾在南太平洋的一艘即将沉没的驱逐舰上待过,”他说,“我是美国人,我爱美国。”


The comparably subdued response to Chinese manufacturers speaks, on one hand, to changing circumstances, especially the broad acceptance of globalization in the United States and the desire, on the part of some politicians and business leaders, to create manufacturing jobs by whatever means necessary. But it also follows from a conclusion that American companies have reached about their Chinese counterparts: namely, that they are, thus far, relatively inconsequential rivals. Despite contracts like the one in Springfield, most U.S. producers don’t think Chinese manufacturing is good enough to pose nearly the same level of threat as Japanese companies did, decades ago.

现在中国制造商们所获得的相对低调地回应,一方面反映了不断变化的环境,特别是美国对全球化接受的广泛程度;此外还有政客、工商界领袖们渴望通过一切必要方式创造制造业岗位。另一方面这也遵循了美国企业对其中国竞争对手们的认识的结论:到目前为止,中国企业不足为惧。尽管美国各地都有着像斯普林菲尔德那样的投资合同,大多数美国企业并不认为中国的制造业有足够竞争力,能产生像几十年前的日本那样的类似威胁。


The arrival in the U.S. of Japanese manufacturing methods precipitated a radical transformation in the accepted ideology behind how assembly lines should operate and how the highest levels of industrial productivity are achieved. This new factory model, which the Japanese call lean manufacturing, offered a blueprint for continuous plant improvement and innovation, driven by workers who are encouraged to experiment with new ways to enhance quality and productivity, and to minimize waste and inefficiency. In a lean factory, employee creativity and coöperation between management and assemblers are paramount, even if plant output is temporarily slowed to, for example, fix defects before a product is finished or to implement an untried process.

日本制造业的生产方式来到美国后,加速了对于组装流水线应该如何运行、最高工业生产率应如何取得等背后的观念形态的彻底变化。这一被日本人称作的“精益化生产”(lean manufacturing)的模式为持续不断的设备改良创新绘制了蓝图。所有的一切源于工人们受到鼓励,勤于试验新方法,提升品质效率、减少浪费损耗的努力。在一个精益化生产的工厂内,从管理人员到装配工,职工的创新和协作能力至关重要,即使工厂产出暂时下降,比如,出现未能在产品完工前解决瑕疵或没有落实一项新工序(的问题),(也依然将职工的创新协作作为重中之重)。


Armed with this uncluttered but potent a set of ideas, Japanese factories were consistently more efficient and inexpensive to operate than their American counterparts, and their products were more reliable, durable, and attractive to consumers. Faced with these advantages, the initial disdain aimed at the Japanese companies was impossible to support for very long. In the early nineteen-nineties, Japanese manufacturing became the subject of an unlikely best-selling book, “The Machine That Changed the World,” and inspired a spate of analysis, implementation programs, educational programs, and self-help pamphlets. Today, no Western manufacturer can hope to compete on a global stage without adopting some version of lean production—an undertaking that remains difficult for many firms, because it can require altering not just assembly processes but a company’s culture, especially where worker roles, management, and methods of innovation are concerned.

日本企业将这一精简但有效的方法运用到位,公司运作始终比它的美国伙伴们更高效率、低成本,产品也更可靠、耐用、更能吸引消费者。面对着日本企业的这一系列的优点,原先针对它的一系列鄙夷也注定不能长久站住脚。20世纪90年代早期,日本制造业成了一本原先不曾料到的畅销书——《改变世界的机器》(The Machine That Changed the World)的主题,同时也促成了一连串的分析、贯彻、教育方案的实施和自我帮助小册子的印发。今天,没有一位西方的制造商奢望在不采取某种形式的精益化生产的方式而能在国际舞台上进行竞争——这一方式对许多企业来说仍然是挑战,因为这不仅仅意味着改变生产流程,还需要转变公司的文化,特别是在那些工人的角色、管理和创新方式息息相关的公司。


It’s in these areas, though, that Chinese manufacturers are weakest. The country’s factory boom was made possible, instead, by low wages, subpar conditions, and few benefits. That strategy can succeed in emerging nations, especially ones with large labor pools, but it is not feasible in developed economies. The shortcomings of Chinese factories are most apparent in the relationship between managers and employees, which is based on an anachronistic top-down view of a factory as a place where the authority of supervisors is paramount, and workers are expected to take directions, perform tasks, do their work, and go home. There have been multiple reports of Chinese employers in the U.S. complaining that American workers are too outspoken and independent and are unable to follow rules. An American former executive of a Chinese firm operating in the U.S. told me that Chinese managers would complain, for example, that factory workers would arrive at a job five minutes late and not feel inclined to apologize. Such insouciance at plants inside China would lead laborers to be punished, for example by being sent home for the day, losing pay, forfeiting benefits, or being reassigned to more menial tasks. In the U.S., this approach has typically led employees to become more defiant and less assiduous. At Haier’s factory in South Carolina, Chinese managers had to be sent back to Asia because they were alienating workers and threatening productivity.

虽然这些正是中国制造业劣势最为明显的领域,但中国制造业的蓬勃发展就是依赖低工资、欠佳的工作环境和匮乏的福利保障得以实现。这一策略能在新兴发展中国家中获得成功,特别是那些劳动力富余的国家,但在发达经济体中并不尽然。在管理者和劳工的关系中,这一策略的缺点体现地最为明显,因为它采取了过时的、自上而下的管理思路——在工厂中,监管者的权威至高无上,工人们只需要听从命令、完成任务、干好本职和下班回家即可。在美国已有报道刊文,许多中企的管理人员抱怨美国工人太直率和独立,不遵守规章。一位曾在美国运营的中国公司任职的前执行官告诉我,举例来说,中国的管理人员会抱怨工厂的美国员工在迟到五分钟后并没有感到有道歉的必要。在中国内地企业的工人身上,这样漫不经心的态度会导致惩罚措施,比如被勒令回家休息一天,因此失去一天工资、没收奖金、被调岗至枯燥的工作岗位。在美国这些方法只会让工人变得更加违抗、不那么敬业。在海尔南加州的工厂内,中国的管理者不得不被送回去因为他们的存在让工人变得疏远,并威胁到到了生产效率。


Perhaps the most extraordinary illustration of strained relations in Chinese factories occurred at the Golden Dragon copper-tube factory in Wilcox County, Alabama, last year, when workers voted to unionize the plant—an unlikely step in a right-to-work state where only about ten per cent of factory employees belong to organized labor, and in the face of a relentless and expensive “vote no” campaign led by Governor Robert Bentley. Golden Dragon workers complained that they received few benefits and that their wages, about eleven dollars an hour, were far below the pay for similar jobs in American copper plants in the South. Moreover, according to the union, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had found fourteen serious health and safety violations in the factory in the first few months after it opened, in May, 2014. The vote was an extraordinary step, and an indictment of the factory conditions that at least one Chinese manufacturer expected to be able to export.

也许在中国工厂内,关系紧张的最好例证可以在位于阿拉巴马州威尔科克斯县的金龙铜管厂(Golden Dragon copper-tube factory)一见端倪。去年,工人们投票成立工会——这在一个“适合工作的”州内并不常见,因为该州只有十分之一的产业工人属于一个劳工组织,并且是在州长罗伯特宾利(Robert Bentley)所领导的“投票说不”(vote no)的旷日持久的烧钱运动眼皮底下发生了。该公司工人们抱怨他们的奖金过低,并且他们约$11/时的工资远低于在美国南部的铜厂中干类似活儿的收入。此外,援引工会的说法,美国职业安全与卫生管理局(Occupational Safety and Health Administration)在2014年5月该企业开张后最初几个月内,就发现了14例严重的卫生和安全违规事件。这一投票是不同寻常的一步,也是对于至少一家中国出口企业的工作环境状况的控诉。


The perception that employees are interchangeable and replaceable has led turnover at factories in China to average an astounding thirty-five per cent a year among workers employed at least six months, according to Renaud Anjoran, an operations manager at China Manufacturing Consultants, in Shenzhen. “They’re seeing similar rates in their American operations. That’s a death sentence in the U.S., where employee skills, loyalty, continuity, job satisfaction and creativity—in other words, lean requirements—determine profitability,” he said. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, given these dynamics, Chinese factories are rapidly automating. Chinese companies now account for more than twenty-five per cent of global robotic-equipment sales, and it’s not unusual to come across a Chinese facility where as many as ninety per cent of the tasks are assigned to robots. Japanese manufacturers are among the least automated, by contrast, because, in their view, removing the human element eliminates the possibility of innovation.)

雷诺恩佐(Renaud Anjoran)供职于中国深圳的一家制造业咨询公司,担任运营经理。他表示,在中国内地企业中认为员工可被换岗和顶替的观点使得企业的人员流动率在一年内就达到了令人吃惊的35%的平均值,而纳入统计的员工已经在职至少半年时间。“在美中资企业这一数值达到了同样的水平,这在美国来说无异于判处死刑,因为员工的技能、忠诚度、入职时长、职业满意率和创造力——换言之,即对员工从事精细化生产的素质要求,决定着企业盈利能力。”(考虑到员工的流动率,中国企业内正在快速进行的生产自动化进程看起来就不那么奇怪了。现在,中国公司购入全世界超过1/4的自动化设备,在中国工厂内90%的工作由机器人完成也寻常可见。相较之下,日本的制造业的自动化程度却相对较低,因为他们认为去除了人工参与也就远离了创新。)


Moreover, some of the new facilities in the U.S., including the new C.R.R.C. plant in Springfield, are unlikely to be able to adapt their methods to the Japanese-inspired ones that predominate elsewhere here. C.R.R.C., like many other Chinese manufacturers in the U.S., is a state-owned enterprise, controlled by the Chinese government. State-owned enterprises accounted for about twenty-five per cent of Chinese investment in the U.S. this year, and since 2000 they have backed seventy per cent of China’s North American forays in the auto industry, according to the Rhodium Group. These companies do not enjoy a good reputation: recent research from C.E.I.C. Data found that they own forty per cent of the assets in China but deliver only twenty per cent of the country’s profits, and that their average return on assets is a meager two per cent, about fifty per cent below the private sector. But precisely because they lack the imperative to be profitable, productive, or competitive, state-owned enterprises like C.R.R.C. can underbid most other companies, winning contracts even when contract stipulations about quality, timeliness, worker treatment, salaries, and benefits are beyond their capabilities. Indeed, C.R.R.C.’s price for the Boston subway-cars job was two hundred million dollars lower than its nearest rival. Analysts contend that C.R.R.C. will almost certainly lose money on the deal, but that it was a strategic bid to gain a foothold in the U.S.       

此外,包括斯普林菲尔德市中车在内的来美新企业也不太可能采取曾让日本企业在美国其它地区横行一时的日式激励法。就像其它许多来美中国企业,中车是国企,由中国政府控制。今年,中国国企占据了约1/4的中企在美投资额。根据荣鼎集团的报告,从2000年起中国国企就占据了中国企业在北美汽车行业投资的70%的份额。但这些公司的名声并不那么好:香港环球数据有限公司(C.E.I.C.)的一项数据显示,这些国企在国内拥有40%的国有资产,却只贡献国家资产收益的20%,其资产回报率只有2%,仅是私营企业一半的水平。但正因为像中车这样的国有企业对盈利、产量、竞争性并没有迫切的需求,他们能以低于其它大多数竞争对手的叫价拿下合同,即使合同方要求的的产品、时限、工人待遇、薪资水平和福利方面的要求超出了其能力范围。事实上,中车对波士顿地铁线给出的价格要比其出价最接近的竞争对手低2亿美元。有分析机构认为,中车在这笔买卖上几乎确信是要赔钱的,但这是一项为了能在美国本土站住脚跟的战略性竞标。


Given the deficiencies of Chinese manufacturers, the ho-hum response from U.S. manufacturers to the influx of new rivals makes sense; the welcome mats laid out by cities like Springfield are another matter. New factories are generally viewed as a source of good jobs and long-term economic improvement, and for that reason communities frequently offer companies discounted land and substantial tax breaks to open them. Springfield is forgiving about fifty per cent of C.R.R.C’s property taxes for the first three years and thirty per cent over ten years. But if the manufacturers turn out to be nothing more than low-paying loss leaders, cities may find that they’ve given away more than they receive in return. This would, in fact, be something to complain about.

考虑到中国制造业商的劣势,美国制造业者们并没有对涌入的新竞争对手们进行激烈地回应,这一点也就说得通了;像斯普林菲尔德这样铺出红毯欢迎的城市需要另说。新建的工厂通常被认为会提供好的工作岗位、促进经济长期发展,因此当地政府会不断给于这些公司土地和税收优惠以招商开户。斯普林菲尔德给中车头三年50%以及接下来十年30%的税收上的优惠。但如果中车最后只是成为低价支付薪酬的“业界领袖”,斯市可能会发现自己得不偿失。事实上,这会成为吐槽的又一对象。



外媒简介




《纽约客》(The New Yorker),也译作《纽约人》,是一份美国知识、文艺类的综合杂志,内容覆盖新闻报道、文艺评论、散文、漫画、诗歌、小说,以及纽约文化生活动向等。《纽约客》现由康得纳斯出版公司出版。《纽约客》不是完全的新闻杂志,然而它对美国和国际政治、社会重大事件的深度报道是其特色之一。他一方面保持了轻松幽默的主题风格,另一方面它也很快成为严肃新闻报道和文学创作的一处显要出版窗口。


学习笔记


1.  fare (see title)

看到fare一词,也许你会想到它作名词时“费用”的意思。但fare在标题中用作动词是什么意思呢?这就要从“farewell(再见)”这个古老词语讲起。“fare”源自古英语,相当于我们今天所说的“go, travel”, farewell即为向远行人道别的“走好”。这个词经过演化,到现在则有了 “get along, succeed”之意。它的常见搭配如下:

fare well/better/poorly/badly

eg. The movie ~d poorly at the British box office.

Although Chicago has ~d better than some cities, unemployment remains a problem.

He wondered how Ed had ~d in the interview.

 

2. subpar (see under picture)

→ up to par  达到水平;达到标准;在常态

→ be on a par (with sth)  (水平,标准等)同等,与……不相上下

eg. The wages of clerks were on a par with those of manual workers.

→ par value  票面价值

→ par for the course  意料之中;司空见惯,家常便饭

eg. My brother is very clumsy so it was par for the course when he bumped into the table and broke the vase.

我弟弟总是笨手笨脚,所以他会撞到桌子并打破花瓶也是意料之中的事。

 

【Although commentary on the Chinese-American trade relationship is often colored by suspicion and xenophobia (Para 1)】

3. color

If something colors your opinion of something, it influences your opinion in a negative way [often passive] 影响;扭曲

eg. You must be aware that personal feelings may color judgement.

你该知道个人感情会影响你判断的正确性。

4. xenophobia

extreme dislike or fear of foreigners, their customs, their religions, etc. 仇外;恐外

 

5.Once a dominant manufacturing city (Para 2)

dominant

a dominant industry  主导产业;优势产业

a dominant theme  主题,主旋律

 

6. …the company faced an onslaught of vicious anti-Japanese ads on TV and in print (Para 5)

→ onslaught

~ (on /against) fierce attack 猛攻

They survived an onslaught by tribesmen.

他们承受住了部落人发起的一次猛攻。

* (fig 比喻) an onslaught on government housing policies 对政府住房政策的猛烈抨击

→ the onslaught of sth

the effect of something that is unpleasant and could cause damage

plants that will survive the onslaught of winter

 

7. … saying that he could not work side by side with the Japanese. (Para 5)

side by side  

① nearest in space or position; immediately adjoining without intervening space

② closely related or associated  肩并肩地;一起

 

8. But it also follows from a conclusion that American companies have reached about their Chinese counterparts (Para 6)

follow (from sth): to be the logical result of sth

(由…推断)结果当然是…

Just because he is poor, it does not ~ that he is unhappy.

只从他贫穷这一点,不能断定他就不快乐。

 

9. lean manufacturing (or lean production, often simply "lean") (Para 7)

精益生产;精益制造

lean 一词可以理解为“精瘦的、贫乏的”,此处指二战后由日本丰田采取的多品种小批量“精益生产”模式。详细解释可参照原文第七段。

 

10.  a spate of (Para 8)

“spate”的原义是a sudden forceful flow,而" a spate of" 指大批量事物(多为突然涌来)。同样形容“大批,大量“的词组有:

a batch of letters

a deal of trouble

a flock of sheep

a mass of spectators

a mint of money

a surge of shoppers

 

【The shortcomings of Chinese factories are most apparent in the relationship between managers and employees, which is based on an anachronistic top-down view of a factory as a place where the authority of supervisors is paramount … (Para 9)】

11. anachronistic

过时的,落伍的 [from Greek ana- 'back' + chronos 'time']

chronograph 计时器

12. top-down

①从总体到具体的;自上而下的  starting with a general idea to which details are added later

②(组织或机构中)自上而下的,与高层有关的  starting from or involving the people who have higher positions in an organization


翻译:毛燏

校对:田阳

笔记:王卓

策划:胡雅琳



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