In her reporting and writing, Leslie T. Chang explores the lives of workers in China, focusing on the experience of women.
Leslie T. Chang's book Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China traces the lives of Chunming and Min, two young women working in Dongguan, a factory city in South China. Leaving their home villages far behind in pursuit of work, Chunming and Min are part of an estimated 10 million young migrants (estimated to be 70 percent women) who work in China's booming factories. These migrants live in a "perpetual present," forging individual and nontraditional lives amid the breakneck pace of manufacturing.
As Chang gets to know these two women and others, she reveals the harsh realities of China's spectacular industrial growth, and also explores her family's own history of migration from mainland China.
Chang lived in China for a decade as a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. She is now based in Egypt.
“Chinese workers are not forced into factories because of our insatiable desire for iPods. They choose to leave their homes in order to earn money, to learn new skills and to see the world.”
“Just because a person spends her time making a piece of something does not mean that she becomes that — a piece of something.”
“[A] simple narrative equating Western demand and Chinese suffering is appealing … but it's also inaccurate and disrespectful.”