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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wandering China pioneering log and China Blue.

"Close your eyes and it will come to you."

This pioneering entry marks the beginning of Bob's scratchpad on researching the imagination of China. Will greatly appreciate all comments, critiques and honest truths. So, here it is, the beginning of a trip over 18,000 words, dreams and schemes and difficult truths.

Attended a class on contemporary China at uni today, conducted by PhD student Alexander Lugg. The seminar involved an hour-long documentary by Independent Lens (I like the idea behind the name) called China Blue chronicling the journey of an 18 year-old Chinese girl from Sichuan province, which they described as Central China.

Geographically, and in today's context of the People's Republic of China, it is indeed Central-ish, but in the context of China proper, i.e. without the Tibet and Xinjiang Autonomous Regions, it's really south-west China. Sichuan is described as a friend (who's from Chengdu, the capital of the province) as the land of plenty, good food, good environment, and well, peace & love. But I digress. The protagonist in the doco had to leave Sichuan for Shenzhen (like 130 million other Chinese who're involved in the world's biggest human migration within a country or otherwise to date) , a predominantly Cantonese-speaking area in the South-east, which has been the catalyst (some argue) for China's prosperity (both economically and intellectually) for some time now.

Here's the blurp on the film -
"They live crowded together in cement factory dormitories where water has to be carried upstairs in buckets. Their meals and rent are deducted from their wages, which amount to less than a dollar a day. Most of the jeans they make in the factory are purchased by retailers in the U.S. and other countries. CHINA BLUE takes viewers inside a blue jeans factory in southern China, where teenage workers struggle to survive harsh working conditions. Providing perspectives from both the top and bottom levels of the factory’s hierarchy, the film looks at complex issues of globalization from the human level."

What was particularly engaging about the film was this simple premise - the poor conditions are really the result of a greedy mind - capitalist-minded Western big corps wanting the highest margins for their products as possible, and forcing ridiculous whole-sale prices from the Chinese. And how do the Chinese make their products cheaper? Make their workers work harder, and pay them less and less. And of course, profit driven bosses have little choice. If they don't beat the stick, they'll simply lose business to other companies more willing to whip their employees and pay them even less.

More to come!

This will be a regular feature.

The Significant Figure of this blog entry is - - -
130 million
economic migrants moving around in China