Leslie T. Chang, a Chinese-American journalist and former China correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, gives an alternate take on the common narrative of poor working conditions in Chinese factories that make goods for western markets.

It’s taken for granted that Chinese factories are oppressive, and that it’s our desire for cheap goods that makes them so. So, this simple narrative equating Western demand and Chinese suffering is appealing, especially at a time when many of us already feel guilty about our impact on the world, but it’s also inaccurate and disrespectful. We must be peculiarly self-obsessed to imagine that we have the power to drive tens of millions of people on the other side of the world to migrate and suffer in such terrible ways.