Globalization: China’s Brutal Sweatshops

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Apparently, the arrival of capitalism has led to the further exploitation of females, who already suffered from a lowly status in Chinese society, given the culture’s stated preference for boys. In fact, one of the subjects of this poignant picture talks about how she is working in order to subsidize her brother’s schooling, because her family could not afford to educate them both.

 

China Blue is a disturbing documentary expose of how young Chinese are impoverished through globalization.

How would you feel if you knew that the jeans you’re wearing were made by young Asian girls who got paid the equivalent of about six cents an hour? This might very well be the case, since the factory which is the focus of this expose’ is fairly typical of what you’ll find behind the Bamboo Curtain nowadays.

Apparently, the arrival of capitalism has led to the further exploitation of females, who already suffered from a lowly status in Chinese society, given the culture’s stated preference for boys. In fact, one of the subjects of this poignant picture talks about how she is working in order to subsidize her brother’s schooling, because her family could not afford to educate them both.

Most of this disturbing documentary was filmed in the city of Shaxi at a torture chamber owned by Guo Xi, the town’s former police chief. Mr. Xi gave director Micha X. Peled full access to the premises, because he had been duped into believing that the final presentation, when edited, would be positive. Boy was he wrong. In any case, he seemingly fully cooperated with any request, even appearing on camera himself to boast about how strict he is with his staff.

The girls he employs, some as young as 14, work everyday of the week and virtually round the clock. They are forced to live like sardines in fetid dormitories right on the site, and their bully of a boss seizes on any excuse to dock their pay. They only get about four hours sleep at night, which might help explain their tendency to doze off on the job. But the enterprising Mr. Xi demonstrates his remedy for such indiscretions, namely, stiff fines, and using clothespins to keep their eyelids open.

In much the way that Mardi Gras: Made in China did with the bead industry, and that Black Gold did with the coffee bean industry in Ethiopia, and The Empire in Africa did with the diamond trade in Sierra Leone, and The Devil’s Miner did with silver mines in Bolivia, and Darwin’s Nightmare did with the fishing trade in Tanzania, and Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death did with the rubber business in the Congo, China Blue is just the latest in an invaluable string of eye-opening documentaries.

These films make Westerners face the fact that their relatively high standard of living comes at the expense of the virtually-enslaved indigenous peoples of the developing world who are impoverished and living in squalor amidst pre-modern circumstances.

Six cents an hour? Is it any wonder that more and more manufacturing is outsourced overseas? Welcome to globalization.


Excellent (4 stars). Unrated. In Cantonese, Mandarin and English with subtitles.
Running time: 86 minutes.  Studio:


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