Why are those wonderful toys and clothes stamped ‘Made in China’ so delightfully cheap? Haolun Shu’s documentary Struggle explains why, in unsettling detail. He gets inside the secretive world of the ‘Special Economic Zone’ in Shenzhen, and shows what happens when machine meets flesh.
Migrant worker Chi Qi’s career came to an abrupt end when his hand was pulverized. He bears no grudge against the man who was operating the punch machine that severed his hand: they’d both been working seven-day weeks, 7am to 11.30pm shifts, with meal breaks cancelled. As Qi staggered away from his machine, blood gushing, his manager’s first response was ‘Don’t scream!’ At the hospital, the boss refused to pay the cost of surgery that would have saved his hand, so he ordered amputation. He then sacked Qi and locked him in the factory dorm. It was only by virtue of a smuggled letter and a cunning labour lawyer who arrived at the factory with a local TV crew in tow that Qi managed to escape.
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