Wednesday, October 7, 2009

vanguards or victims...

There is no doubt that there is superiority in numbers. The Red Dragon of the East is indeed wide awake and roaring with the flames of progress and movement. China is a superpower which has thrived on its huge population and vast resources to lead the world economy into the future and grip financial powers-that-be in its hands. Foreign countries and people are scurrying to look for the vast opportunities that the nation has to offer. There is so much money in China that it is unbelievable as a friend of mine said.

Jasmine, a young girl from a province in central China has decided to set forth on a journey to Shaxi, Canton, Southern China to look for work there. She ends up as a thread-cutter in a factory that manufactures jeans which are sold in faraway Western countries. Because home is hundreds of miles away from work she is housed in the factory dormitory along with other Chinese workers like her. The conditions are utterly inhuman. There are 12 girls in one room, food and water is not free and the absence of many basic commodities is common.

The workplace itself is not that different. They start very early in the morning until 7 pm at night. Job orders that require them to work overtime may have them toiling away until 3 in the morning. They are not allowed to rest during work time. They have to sew or cut or zip X amount of jeans per day to meet a certain quota. Many times they are not paid on time. Salary administration is dependent on whether a client who decides to purchase their products in bulk pays on time or not. On more than one occasion their salary day has to be moved to a later date.
The workers are allowed only one holiday every two years. Not only do they not earn anything for the day when they call in absent for a reasonable excuse such as health problems and untoward incidences, their salary is also deducted. It is brutal beyond description.

Her story as well as that of her co-workers, is contained in a series of videos called CHINA BLUE which I have lifted off of somebody's blog (thank you BRYANBOY.COM), I was caught in a maelstrom of emotions which left me exhausted and depressed in the end. There is injustice, disparity, sorrow, hopelessness and a conundrum of negative experiences in the heart of the whole story. Questions plagued me for days after I digested the storyline.. It is more than eye-opening. Like a monkey which has clambered on my back, its has become sort of a burden in more ways than one - the reality that I am living comfortably when I see the situation they are in is disturbing beyond comprehension.

This is what China has become in the microcosmic and macrocosmic view of events taking place in its contemporary existence. It has become such a giant pool of cheap labor and a major player in world economy that it has neglected the individual needs of its people. The individual must be sacrificed for the greater good of the country and the world in ultimatum. Utilitarianism has taken over and what is beneficial for the forward movement of the country must be acquired and put to good use. The people push themselves for this common cause and set aside emotional, social, familial and other individualistic aspects of their lives for the propagation of this movement.

Jasmine seems happy in the end. She gets her salary after three months of working in the factory. She is joyous she can send money back home. It seems to be an unwarranted responsibility carried by many Chinese girls, who work themselves to exhaustion. Despite her youth, she is a tough girl without her knowing it. I would call her a heroine in a heartbeat. Her story is one among millions of Chinese girls who have decided to seek greener pastures in dark meadows. It is a story that is replicated in other Chinese women's lives. I guess in many ways they are trapped but who am I to say that? We all have our own little traps. Theirs is just one where the Establishment has the upper hand because it holds the locks to their traps.

But then again as I surmised in the beginning of this entry, there is power in numbers. Who knows what could happen? When there is a lot of dissatisfaction and unrest there are always minds who voice out their non-conformity. Women or men whose brilliance put them in a special class of people called leaders. They may initiate a Revolution. They may lead their disgraced fellowmen to rise in arms and plunder the Establishment. The balance of power could shift with great swiftness. And then perhaps we might see again history rewritten with a Chinese translation...

(NOTE: you can watch the 15 part-series of Jasmine and her friends' stories by watching the flick on youtube and then looking for the other parts in the side bar to the right. Hope you enjoy and learn a valuable lesson afterwards)


alan said...

It's a vicious world out there and this story reiterates the social injustice that plagues our planet. This is not an isolated case. It happens in most developing countries. We live in an age where "printing money" in the name of economic stability and growth is acceptable - but how much of that "new money" reaches the people who need that help??? Looking back on the economic crash of Sept 2008, who really has benefited from the fallout???

Dick Rick said...

The irony of this thing with China is that this is exactly how Mao Tse Tung took power in the '50s with the communist revolution.
Part of the problem is, there aren't enough people like you to stand up and say it's an outrage.

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