The Chinese manufacturer who made the USA’s Olympics uniform has hit back over criticism at it being produced overseas, questioning whether America would be capable of anything comparable.
Li Guilian, who owns Dayang Trands, pointed to the cheaper cost of labor and materials in China, which allows the country to sell affordable clothes to the US.
She demanded credit for her workers, who earn between $6,300 to $9,500 a year and advised officials to ‘pay attention to the performances of the U.S. athletes and not their clothes’.
Ms Guilian worked her way up from sewing aprons to owning the $300 million company, which makes five million suits a day, including designs for all-American labels DKNY and Banana Republic.
Chinese President Hu Jintao and billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are customers at the 66-year-old’s firm, and former President George H.W. Bush was once seen in one of the company’s suits.
It has now manufactured the Olympic team’s Ralph Lauren blazers, berets and slacks, triggering a fierce debate over economic policy on how much manufacturing should be sent abroad.
Members of Congress were fuming over the matter earlier this month, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid demanding that the Olympic committee ‘burn them and start all over again.’
‘I have a simple question,’ Ms Guilian told the Los Angeles Times. ‘Can America really make the suits we make? We have cheaper costs here so you can have cheaper prices in America.’
‘Don’t you think we deserve credit?. We’ve made so many customers happy over the years.’
American labour legislation prevents employers from paying anything as low as just over $500 per month.
Currently, just about half of all American clothing is made in China.
Dayang Trands plays relaxing music of the factory floor in an effort to make working conditions more pleasant.
Technology companies like Apple – who rely heavily on Chinese manufacturing – have vowed to increase pressure for reforms, but concerns remain over human rights abuses in the Communist country.
Ms Guilian is now a member of an elite group of 3,000 within the National People’s Congress.