“We, the beneficiaries of globalization seem to exploit these victims with every purchase we make and the injustice feels embedded in the products themselves,” Chang says. “This simple narrative equating Western demand and Chinese suffering is appealing … but it’s also inaccurate and disrespectful. We must be peculiarly self-obsessed to imagine that we have the power to drive tens of millions of people on the other side of the world to migrate and suffer in such terrible ways … By focusing so much on ourselves and our gadgets, we have rendered the individuals on the other ends into invisibility, as tiny and interchangeable as the parts of a mobile phone.”
China has 130 million migrant workers—the largest migration in human history. In Factory Girls, Leslie T. Chang, a former correspondent for the Wall Street Journal in Beijing, tells the story of these workers primarily through the lives of two young women, whom she follows over the course of three years as they attempt to rise from the assembly lines of Dongguan, an industrial city in China’s Pearl River Delta.