China making uniforms for UK soldiers

Interesting, and a tad ironic. Keep in mind, this is the conservative Telegraph, which may explain all the anti-China quotes.

British Army combat uniforms are to be made in China in a cash-saving exercise forced on the military by the latest round of defence cuts.

The Ministry of Defence has admitted that all combat clothes worn by soldiers will be made in Chinese factories, despite claims by human rights pressure groups that working conditions in them are appalling.

A five-year £50 million contract to supply two million items of combat gear a year has been awarded to a Northern Ireland-based company, Cooneen Watts and Stone, which will sub-contract the work to China.

No MoD officials have visited the factories which will make the uniforms to check on working conditions and practices, even though China is the subject of an European Union arms embargo because of its poor human rights record.

Lindsay Hoyle, the Labour MP for Chorley, Lancashire, who raised the issue in the House of Commons, said last week: “We don’t know whether British uniforms will be manufactured using child labour in sweat shops in terrible conditions.

“It seems a bit hypocritical to me that Britain will not supply weapons to China because of its human rights record but the Government is asking it, a communist country, to supply our Armed Forces with uniforms. It is absurd.”

A spokesman for Amnesty International said: “Poor conditions for Chinese workers are widespread, with low wages, mass lay-offs and corrupt management practices. Those attempting to form trade unions have been met by the authorities with intimidation, arrests and long prison sentences….”

There was no one available to comment from Coneen Watts and Stone, the company which was awarded the contract. A senior military officer said: “This is laughable. Apart from China’s appalling human rights record, it is also potentially the Western world’s most powerful enemy and we are paying them £50 million to make our uniforms.”

I think the officer is being somewhat outspoken, and I have mixed feelings on the topic myself. I want China to get the work and the money. If, however, it goes to encourage sweatshop conditions and child exploitation, I’ll be less enthusiastic. Right now we don’t know, and it sounds like some critics are jumping to the most extreme conclusions, with no meaningful evidence.

The Discussion: 17 Comments

Two million items a year? There’s only 100,000 soldiers in the British Army – are they expecting the uniforms to fall apart every couple of months?

Sound like every one is getting the second best option, apart of course from the companies.

July 31, 2004 @ 9:15 pm | Comment

” I want China to get the work and the money. ”

what a shame, you say this kind of words, i hope you say some poor people get these money ,not China?? what China???it is so abstract, normally means CCP China.

so shame on you

July 31, 2004 @ 11:14 pm | Comment

Ocean, please don’t jump to conclusions, and never put words in my mouth, ok?. I simply meant that I want people in China to have as many jobs and as much work as possible so they can make their lives better. If you knew anything about this blog or about me, you would know that the last thing I want is to see the CCP enriched.

July 31, 2004 @ 11:18 pm | Comment

A senior military officer said: “….. it is also potentially the Western world’s most powerful enemy …..”

Looks like the Cold War warriors are well and about.

If bloke is concerned, he should persuade his govt to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia, which is the Western world’s true and greatest threat!

August 1, 2004 @ 12:25 am | Comment

Deep Ocean, do you happen to be from Taiwan province or Japan?

August 1, 2004 @ 12:31 am | Comment

We’re talking about clothes here, right? I don’t really see the difference between clothes the UK government buys for her soldiers and clothes people buy on the high street. Maybe there’s an argument that the government should “buy British”, but that’s the only justification that I can see for complaints.

As for the “most powerful enemy bit” … is the guy worried that knowledge about the inside leg measurements of the UK army might be put to devestating effect by the Chinese?

August 1, 2004 @ 1:10 am | Comment

losers are always losers, because only losers always bear a negative attitude, complains and critisize all the time without good purpose, this attitude won’t help him successful anyway! becaue i met successful american too, they try to enjoy to good sides, also critisize the bed sides, but speak with good purpose, not like the losers here, complaining the CCP, complaining the chinese people, complaining the house they live, complaining the water they drink, complaining the food they eat here, complaining the taxi, complaining the hospital etc, complaining everything, i just don’t understand if there is nothing good here, why should they come to china??? they even laugh at the poor chinese here as if they were rich, all forgot how much debt they own to the credit card company in their own country, yes, many chinese live in shitty house, but remind losers here, you own nothing, besides, even so, most chinese treat you losers friendly enough, while they are not worth of getting you to laugh at them! losers! asshole!!!

August 1, 2004 @ 3:33 am | Comment

does that include the girlfriends of men living in china?

so, george, what do you think of the chinese diaspora, the ones that are incredibly successful in America, Australia, India, Malaysia, London, etc.?

Is it just the expatriates you hate, or just the white expatriates?

August 1, 2004 @ 5:26 am | Comment

sounds to me like george is the one that hates and doing most of the complaining. as far as the article goes concerning working conditions and pay – it’s true and georgie knows it. if world pressures can encourage if not force the ccp to do something for the people then hurrah. sounds like georgie doesn’t want the people to have improved lives. Hey, maybe georgie is blackie lau!

August 1, 2004 @ 7:43 am | Comment

i believe those who go to other countries and always keeping complaining are losers! whoever he is, because he can make him live nicely in a place while many other people can! i believe the only person can solve his problem is himself. complaining and negative attitude can not bring any help, whatever the reason is, so you are losers with obvious proved result! just look at yourself!!! losers!

August 1, 2004 @ 7:59 am | Comment

I’m with David. Go ahead, let the Chinese make the cheapo uniforms. I’d rather be in the country that can make billion dollar bombers.

August 1, 2004 @ 10:02 am | Comment


So you know, Japan doesn’t really hold a grudge against China, and is one of the largest investors in many areas of Chinese industry, the hatred is a one way.

Chinese labor, Malasian labor, Philipino labor, Mexican labor, its all the same, soldiers need uniforms, people need jeans and shirts and whatever happens they’re going to be made by cheap foreign labor. Its called globalisation

By investing in Chinese factories Britain will slowely push the living conditions of China up. It also gives them more money to spend on bullets and bayonetts to use in the middle east.

August 1, 2004 @ 7:16 pm | Comment

I see George is still at it. I wonder if he’s going to wake up to the fact that all he is accomplishing with his rants is to make Chinese people look stupid and ignorant. Fortunately most (all?) of the people who read and contribute to this blog know that China has plenty of good along with the bad, plenty of intelligent people, along with the stupid etc. I’m not sure how George comes to the conclusion that examining and publicising the things that are wrong with China is somehow a bad thing. How does he expect things to get better? By ignoring the problems and only praising China? That’s certainly a good way to encourage reform and improvement.

George sometimes has some good points that are unfortunately spoiled by his descent into abuse and emotionalism. I think that he does have a good point about expats … and the same applies to Chinese expats in western countries, equally as it applies to western expats in asian countries. Neither should expect the foreign country to provide them with a lifestyle identical to that which they enjoyed at home, and they shouldn’t spend all their time complaining about the place they have chosen to live. Unfortunately, George seems a bit oversensitive, and misinterprets a lot of the discussion here as somehow anti-China, instead of being something that all Chinese people should be talking about themselves.

George – do you know much / anything about Kang Youwei? Liang Qichao? Perhaps you’d like to think about their attitudes to talking about China’s problems, and compare it to the Qing officials etc, who opposed them. Now … which type of person would you like to be? Someone like Kang Youwei? Or someone who opposes and curses people like Kang?

Oh, and I’m with the reader who said (above) that there’s no difference between buying Chinese goods on the High Street, and this contract.

August 1, 2004 @ 10:59 pm | Comment

Clearly we’re dealing with someone who needs a better publicist, or a better doctor.

George, I’m not above arguing your point, to your credit. Of course there are assholes and complainers.

But they are like static, you turn your antennae until you get them out of the way, and then you focus on the bigger picture, the clear picture.

We can all have a good life if we work together.

Okay, I’m a bit of an idealist, but I literally moved to China to understand it, and to help my country understand it. I chose journalism precisely because we don’t do that good of a job in America of opening up doors to learning about China. Not that it’s all my responsibility.

I know that not even .0009% of the population of China has your horrible attitude.

Thankfully, i can talk to everyone else and avoid you.

August 2, 2004 @ 7:24 am | Comment

hkhas a good point. The west has, in general, a very limited and not too accurate view of Asian politics and culture. I, personally, have learned more from Asian blogs (this one, Conrad, Marmot – to name a few) than I have from Western media.

That said, if the conditions in the shops making the uniforms fall into the sweat shop or slave labor category, than the UK should not be contractling with them. I don’t believe the analogy to High Street holds up. People in the fashion industry are not expected to be aware of human rights and supportive of them than is a world leading government.

August 3, 2004 @ 2:59 pm | Comment

Dear Sir,

Please send me the detailed catalogue with price list and sample to:

164-11 89th Ave.
Jamaica, NY 11432

January 4, 2005 @ 7:58 pm | Comment

If you want to see workers exploited (in America and in China) rent the DVD “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices”.

June 20, 2006 @ 3:06 pm | Comment

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