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Map of Walmart in China

Map of Walmarts in China ©The Atlantic

JISHOU, HUNAN — The Atlantic Monthly has an interesting article about the surprising alliance between multinational corporation Walmart and China’s Communist government to improve product quality and foster environmental responsibility among the retailer’s estimated 1,000 Chinese suppliers.

China has been plagued by a series of food-safety scandals and environmental disasters in the last decade. Chinese shoppers no longer trust the products they buy are safe to eat. They trust foreign hypermarkets, like Walmart, Metro and Carrefour, more, and Walmart, for one, is playing that card to its advantage.

Walmart got all green and organic a few years ago, and has been trying to impose its more stringent requirements on its suppliers in China. Thought its prices may be higher for some products, concerned shoppers here are willing to pay extra for products labelled “green” and “organic,” because they trust Walmart is telling the truth.

Meanwhile, China’s central government, which has been woefully ineffective in monitoring regional and provincial food and environmental safety standards, benefits from Walmart’s quasi-governmental influence.

As the article infers, it’s a marriage of convenience that seems to benefit everyone concerned. I recommend reading the whole article. Walmart may treat its workers in the USA like crap, but in some respects it’s not entirely evil.

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