Chang explores this boom that's simultaneously emptying China's villages of young people and fueling its economic growth. To be sure, this mass migration is a big and well-told story. But Chang brings to it a personal touch: her own forebears were migrants, and she skillfully weaves through the narrative tales of their border crossings.
She also succeeds in grounding the trend in wider social context, suggesting that the aspirations of these factory girls signal a growing individualism in China's socialist culture. Chang is less interested in expose than in getting to know the young women of Dongguan's assembly lines. Chang, a former Beijing correspondent for "The Wall Street Journal," does more than describeharsh factory conditions.
She writes about the way the workers themselves see migration, bringing us views that are rarely heard. In the pages of this book, these factory girls come to life. Leslie T.
Factory Girls: Voices from the Heart of Modern China - Chang Leslie, Leslie T. Chang - Google книги
Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize , Jung Chang describes it as " the most authoritative and comprehensive study of the biggest and most lethal famine in history. A must-read. This is the first study to make sense in detail of events central to the Mao era, of which only the broad outlines have been known before now. It deserves to become fundamental to a better understanding of the forces that have shaped China today", Sunday Telegraph. Empress Dowager Cixi , Jung Chang A highly regarded reappraisal of life and legacy of the woman regarded as the mother of modern China.
A heart-breaking and moving story, beautifully told. Rare in the post-Tiananmen years, violence has recently become common in rural disputes, with both protesters and local security forces armed with clubs, guns and even bombs.
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Even the police, the pillar of any authoritarian state, have gone on strike in some provinces. In a now infamous riot in December , in the southern town of Dongzhou, local inhabitants, angry at plans to build a new power plant on land taken without compensation by local officials, marched through the town and faced down local security forces. For the first time since , the security forces opened fire with live ammunition, killing 20 people. Consumers stuck their money in the bank, or under the mattress, giving China one of the highest rates of household savings in the world.
This strategy was part of an implicit bargain with the US, in which China would essentially subsidise American consumption. According to Michael Pettis, an economist at Peking University,. Until recently, excess US demand and excess Chinese supply were in a temporarily stable balance. As part of running a trade surplus, China necessarily accumulated dollars, which had to be exported to invested in the US.
But China was too reliant on foreign investment in low-cost manufacturing. The country failed to build sophisticated domestic companies that could compete with multinationals and innovate in cutting-edge industries like green technology or mobile communications. Most Chinese firms, lacking skilled management or effective customer service, have failed to compete in developed world markets.
Instead, they tend to focus their energies in Africa, South-East Asia or Central Asia, where they often do not have to compete directly with Western and Japanese firms. In the early s, the government essentially strangled emerging private entrepreneurs, who had to compete both with massive state-owned enterprises and with giant multinationals.
By comparison, many other Asian governments supported entrepreneurs by providing incentives for citizens to buy their products and effectively barring foreign firms from many segments of the market. But in recent years, as the state has starved farmers of support, rural dynamism has withered and income inequality soared.
At global financial summits and meetings with Western leaders, senior officials claim they have the situation under control. Speaking to the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, assured delegates that his country would grow by the magical target of 8 per cent this year. Still, even Wen sees the danger. Thus far Beijing has stuck to its battle-tested strategy for controlling unrest, a mixture of co-option and crackdowns.
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Local officials have begun to buy off protesters, promising to cover unpaid wages and, sometimes, slipping cash to protest leaders to shut them up. Chinese leaders — especially Wen — have tried to appear sympathetic; in late February, he held an open internet chat session, as if he was an elected politician needing to win votes. Unlike previous government stimuli, the new package targets rural areas, and promises universal healthcare and cheaper housing.
Meanwhile, the State Council, the top policy-making body, is putting pressure on Chinese companies not to fire workers, and in February the central government reportedly convened marathon meetings of security organisations, aimed at discussing how to prevent protest spiralling out of control. Security forces have arrested signatories of Charter 08, tightened police control in restive regions such as Tibet and the Western province of Xinjiang, and dramatically increased monitoring of the internet.
Chinese journalists, who previously had been granted freedom to cover protests, now find that reporting demonstrations might get them fired. Yet all these measures may well fail. Chinese habits of saving, and the deep-rooted fear of economic collapse, will make it hard to kickstart the economy through domestic spending.
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Indeed, the opposite is likely to happen: in interviews with ordinary homeowners in major cities, I found that nearly all of them were trying to save more money, fearing they would lose their jobs over the next year. Nor will police measures be as effective at controlling protest as they once were. With the transition from state to private housing, many Chinese live beyond the reach of the party, which once possessed informants in nearly every public housing block.
Voices of workers' resistance in China
Demonstrators also have much more sophisticated tools to help them organise than they did in , and are better at avoiding surveillance. They can now organise rallies of thousands of people by sending text messages or emails from remote servers that are hard for security forces to penetrate; in the eastern city of Xiamen, residents successfully used a text message campaign to stop a chemical plant from being built.
All this effort has worked: even as the economy melts down, Hu Jintao last month embarked on a multi-country visit to Africa and the Middle East, where he was welcomed like a king. A brutal crackdown on unrest, with the kind of bloodshed seen in , would destroy all these gains.