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Cablegate: American Companies in Guangdong Take Lead in Adopting

VZCZCXRO2811
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHGZ #0500/01 2310918
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 180918Z AUG 08
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7515
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GUANGZHOU 000500

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/CM
HHS PASS TO FIC/NIH
BANGKOK FOR RMO, CDC, USAID
BEIJING FOR HHS HEALTH ATTACHE AND RMO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO PGOV EAID SOCI CH
SUBJECT: American Companies in Guangdong Take Lead in Adopting
HIV/AIDS Workplace Awareness Programs

REF: Shenyang 0069

(U) This document is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (U) Summary: HIV/AIDS awareness training, especially its
transmission sexually, has increasingly become a priority for U.S.
firms - like New Balance, Nordstrom, Levi Strauss and Wal-Mart -
with suppliers and migrant workers in south China. Winning support
from factory management is often the key to the success of such
programs. Other challenges include high turnover rates and workers
who are not receptive to awareness training. International
organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and provincial
and local government have all played a role in these initial
efforts. End summary.

----------------------------------------
HIV/AIDS Training in Factories: Why Now?
----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Sexual transmission has been the dominant form of
transmission of HIV/AIDS in China since 2005, according to the
Ministry of Health. U.S. firms with suppliers in the Pearl River
Delta are taking notice, and their corporate social responsibility
priorities increasingly include HIV/AIDS awareness training.
Crystal Xiong, New Balance's footwear compliance manager, explained
that her firm realized that many of its suppliers' employees, almost
100 percent migrant workers, were engaging in risky sexual behavior
and lacked education and awareness about HIV/AIDS. New Balance -
along with Nordstrom, Levi Strauss and Wal-Mart - is taking a more
proactive approach to increase HIV/AIDS awareness among factory
workers. It is in discussions with Nike and Adidas about possible
cooperation on these efforts as well. Thomas Cai of AIDS Care
China, an unregistered Chinese NGO, commented that these initiatives
have also been spurred by the presence of HIV/AIDS awareness
programs sponsored by the Gates and Clinton Foundations in China.

----------------------------------------
Third-Party Coordinators Play a Key Role
----------------------------------------

3.(SBU) Organizations like the International Labor Organization
(ILO) and Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) have been working
closely with foreign companies to facilitate awareness training
programs in Guangdong factories. The ILO is working with 19 foreign
companies whose suppliers employ a combined total of 120,000
workers. Their efforts have focused mainly on male migrant workers
with the objectives of changing high-risk behavior, such as
frequenting commercial sex workers, and decreasing discrimination
against workers who are HIV positive. Liang Manguang, who was
appointed by the Guangdong Labor Department to help coordinate the
ILO project, stressed that these programs are necessary to educate
Guangdong's 20 million migrant workers who are mostly young, far
away from home and likely to engage in risky behavior.

4. (U) BSR, a non-profit membership organization that promotes
corporate social responsibility, is working with Nordstrom on a
program that focuses on women's reproductive health and HIV/AIDS
awareness. They have implemented a pilot project in the factories
of five Nordstrom suppliers located in Guangdong, which they hope to
make permanent by the end of this summer. BSR is recruiting other
brands for similar programs.

------------------------------------------
Supportive Local and Provincial Governments
------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Representatives from ILO, BSR, and AIDS Care China told
consulate officer that Guangdong's provincial and local governments
are relatively open to HIV/AIDS awareness initiatives. Richard
Howard, Chief Technical Advisor for the ILO's HIV/AIDS Workplace
Education Program in China, attributed this openness in part to
Guangdong's strong market orientation. BSR's China director, Zhou
Weidong, highlighted close cooperation with the Guangdong Family
Planning Commission (GD FPC) as a partner, noting its presence at
every level of government and even in factories. The GD FPC has
worked with BSR to incorporate HIV/AIDS education into an existing
reproductive health curriculum. The ILO has also offered to GD
FPC's large corps of trainers training on HIV/AIDS awareness
education.

----------------------------
Management is Key to Success

GUANGZHOU 00000500 002 OF 002


----------------------------

6. (SBU) BSR's Zhou underscored that whether HIV/AIDS awareness
programs are implemented and ultimately successful in a factory
really depends on management. He said that BSR was still having
trouble convincing factory managers because they could not tie it
directly to a factory's productivity and efficiency. Many managers
are reluctant to interrupt production to make time for training
programs. Nordstrom encouraged all 15 of its factories to
participate in its HIV/AIDS awareness program, but only five chose
to do so, and ultimately, only three factories said that they would
continue the program.

----------------
Other Challenges
----------------

7. (SBU) U.S. companies face other challenges in implementing
effective education and awareness programs. Most companies have high
turnover rates; this not only makes training difficult to implement,
but it also makes it difficult to assess the program's success. For
example, one firm that implemented HIV/AIDS awareness training has a
turnover rate of 9-10 percent per month. Another obstacle is
workers who are not receptive to awareness training. Huang
Dongming, Director of the Female Worker's Department of the
Guangdong Trade Union, commented that most migrant workers are not
enthusiastic about such training because they still think the
chances of contracting HIV/AIDS are very remote and would rather
spend their time in other ways - an observation shared by other
companies and organizations with which we spoke.

-------------------------------------------
Success Story: Yue Chen Shoes Manufacturers
-------------------------------------------

8. (SBU) According to Xiong, one of New Balance's biggest success
stories has been Yue Chen Shoe Manufacturers because its management
places a high premium on improving workers' lives. Yue Chen, with
the help of the ILO, has established an AIDS prevention team and
sets aside time for workers to receive basic training. In addition,
it includes HIV/AIDS prevention information in its internal business
magazine and incorporates HIV/AIDS prevention education into
unrelated activities, such as short educational videos which are
shown at the beginning of movie screenings offered as entertainment.
Yue Chen found that a lot of workers were initially afraid of AIDS
because they didn't understand the disease, and their fear fueled
discriminatory sentiments. However, a survey revealed that after
implementing awareness training, discriminatory attitudes towards
those infected with HIV/AIDS fell from 80.5 percent to 10.6 percent.
New Balance hopes that it can use success stories like Yue Chen to
entice other suppliers to adopt similar programs.

GOLDBERG

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