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Film / China Blue

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Jasmine (left) and Li Ping (right) taking a sneak break.

"The people we make jeans for are huge! they have waists this wide!"

China Blue is a Documentary directed by Micha X. Peled and released in 2005. It depicts the working conditions in China's textile industry.

The documentary was mostly shot in a single factory, Lifeng, in Shaxi, an industrial suburb of Guangzhou. Peled got the access by claiming he was actually doing a piece on the factory manager and suggesting, ostensibly for the sake of convenience, that his camera operator be allowed to stay in the workers' dormitory. Even then he was subjected to police harrassment and the shooting was interrupted on several occasions. However, the final result is a strikingly candid depiction of the economic exploitation of China's mingong, the 130 million migrant workers—most of them young women—who move from the countryside to the city in order to take up a job, any job, that will help them contribute to their families' income.


Peled focuses especially on 17-year-old Jasmine, a girl from rural Sichuan who has just moved to Guangdong hoping to find a factory job. The documentary follows her around for her first three months at Lifeng, and also shows two of her co-workers, 14-year-old Li Ping and 20-year-old Ah Lan.

Another documentary that depicts the plight of China's migrant workers is Last Train Home.

Contains examples of:

  • Break the Cutie: Jasmine.
  • Mean Boss: Mr. Lam, the factory manager. However, the documentary goes out of its way to show that his cynical and exploitative management methods aren't gratuitous; he has to cut as many corners as he can in order to keep the custom of the Western retail companies he works with.
  • Plucky Girl: When the workers go on a wildcat strike to protest their not being paid on time, Li Ping displays remarkable pluck in talking back to the manager.
  • Advertisement:
  • Take That!: At the end of the documentary, Peled shows a conversation between Mr. Lam and his marketing director, revealing that their next customer is WalMart, about which Peled has also done a documentary.
  • Voiceover Letter: Jasmine writes a self-introductory letter and sneaks it in a pocket of a pair of jeans about to be shipped off. It is read in voiceover as we follow the jeans to their final destination in a Western clothing shop.
    "My friends and I would like to know how you can get so big and fat..."
  • Wu Xia: During what little free time she has, Jasmine writes stories about a female knight errant with Supernatural Martial Arts.