Don't blame buyers for illegal trade practices

Updated: 2016-04-26 07:42

By Tang Yinghong(China Daily)

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Don't blame buyers for illegal trade practices

The largest-ever gathering of Pulitzer Prize recipients gather for a celebration honoring the centennial of the Pulitzer Prize at the Newseum in Washington DC January 28, 2016.[Photo/Agencies]

Should a person feel ashamed for eating fish or wearing blue jeans?

Such a question would not have arisen had not the Pulitzer Prize for public service for this year been awarded to the Associated Press for an investigation into "severe labor abuses tied to the supply of seafood to American supermarkets and restaurants", which helped free more than 2,000 slave laborers.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning report was translated into Chinese and published with a social-network headline: "Every piece of fish on your dining plate might be tainted with someone's blood and tears". Not surprisingly, the news spread quickly via WeChat and micro blogs.

A 2012 German documentary, The Price of Blue Jeans, was also translated with the headline "Every pair of blue jeans you wear is ruining our common future".

While the two reports helped readers better understand the industrial chains behind seafood and blue jeans, some people gave up consuming seafood from Thailand or wearing blue jeans, because they felt that by doing so they would be promoting slave labor or ruining humankind's future.

Investigators and journalists in some developed countries have been known to dig out the dirty truth behind the production of some commodities, so as to curb their consumption and stop illegal trade, slave labor or environmental damage. For example, buying fur has been associated with the mass killing of wild animals.

Such findings instill a sense of shame among consumers, because they feel they have hurt some innocent people. And in most cases, their reaction is to correct their past "wrongs".

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