Micha X. Peled's China Blue (U.S. / 2005)

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Micha X. Peled's China Blue (U.S. / 2005)

Postby arsaib4 » Thu May 03, 2007 6:28 am

If youre familiar with Jia Zhang-kes socio-politically conscious efforts, then you probably wont be surprised to learn that the workers in China are on the move. What might astound, however, is the fact that just in the last few years, nearly 130 million, mostly young woman, have migrated from the countrys impoverished provincial areas to its rapidly developing cities. Their goal is to take advantage of Chinas swift economic growth in the global market, which has produced a variety of employment opportunities. Thematically similar to Jias The World (2004), which delineated the lives of migrant workers as they faced numerous personal and financial hardships in their new surroundings, Micha X. Peleds insightful and penetrating documentary, China Blue, portrays another victim of the corrupt and oppressive system.

After trekking from her small farm village in the south-central province of Sichuan, sixteen-year-old Jasmine finds work as a thread-cutter in Shaxi, a town known for its robust garment industry. Her grueling workday at the Lifeng denim factory begins early in the morning and, depending on the number of export orders, often ends around midnight. Overtime? While additional wages are promised, theyre often not delivered, and certainly not on time. Benefits? What? Through narration and hidden interviews, the film ably projects the despotic reality which strongly prohibits any independent labor organizations. Those who dare to protest the violations are sent to "re-education camps" without the due process of law. So its not surprising to hear Lifengs owner Guo Xi Lam -- a former police officer whos also taken a step up the ladder due to economic reforms -- describe his approach as "laissez-faire." His only major worry is to meet the shipping deadlines, which calls upon the management to keep at least a few of the better workers reasonably happy.

Clandestinely shot over a three-year period (Lams initial cooperation was conditional), China Blue also puts the onus on the major Western corporations who apply economic pressures on the factory owners to meet their own demands (which in turn makes the situation even worse for the measly-paid workers). After all, thanks to so-called "globalization," the buyers market has only strengthened: if its not Lifeng in China, then its perhaps another producer in Costa Rica or India willing to deliver the goods for even less. To Peleds credit, however, the film isnt bogged down by unnecessary rhetoric. Ample screen time is spent with Jasmine and her co-worker friend Li Ping in the dorm room they share with about a dozen others. Its remarkable to see the spirit and resolve of these young women, who in many cases happen to be the lone breadwinners. The female superhero Jasmine discusses at one point could simply be a wondrous reflection of her daily reality.


*CHINA BLUE is currently in limited release in the U.S.

Re: Micha X. Peled's China Blue (U.S. / 2005)

Postby trevor826 » Thu May 03, 2007 8:20 pm

Excellent review arsaib4, glad you've managed to see it, it isn't an easy watch considering in a way, we are all partly responsible.

Only recently it was announced that a very well known clothing manufacturer (Burberry) was relocating from Wales to China with the loss of 300 jobs, not happy with the 400% mark-up they were getting, they will now have a mark-up of 1375%.

At least thanks to China Blue, we know the working and living conditions of the workers and can make a choice accordingly. It reminded me of the work houses and factories that existed in the UK throughout most of the 19th Century.

The factory owners may bend to the Western buyers but they don't appear to suffer from their low manufacturing prices, it's the poor workers who are held as virtual slaves who take the brunt of the ultra cheap costs. A buyer from a UK company was shown haggling to get the cost as low as possible, unfortunately they didn't name the company but I'd love to know who it was, simply so I could ensure I didn't shop there.

I wish they would show this in schools and colleges to make people more aware of where many of their over-priced jeans etc come from.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Micha X. Peled's China Blue (U.S. / 2005)

Postby arsaib4 » Thu May 03, 2007 10:40 pm

Thanks, Trevor.

It's a complex situation. On one hand, whatever these people make, it's still much more than what they would earn from working in the fields. But, as you've stated, when you consider the profits margins of these multinationals, it's remarkable how little goes back to the grassroots.

I agree, this documentary deserves to become a part any school library system. It's sound enough structurally to withhold the interest of kids who decide to watch it.

A couple of days ago, I decided to pay a little more attention to the label on the shirt I was wearing. "Made in Vietnam." Fun!

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