Hsiao-Hung Pai

Hsiao-Hung Pai is a freelance journalist, whose report on the Morecambe Bay tragedy for the Guardian was made into the film Ghosts. Her book on undocumented Chinese immigrants in Britain, Chinese Whispers, was shortlisted for the Orwell Book Prize in 2009. She lives in London. 


  • Jungle Books: Calais migrant camp's newly opened library needs books!

    Verso London is sending books to Jungle Books (or Livres de la jungle in French), the makeshift library at the Calais migrant camp known as the Jungle. Mary Jones, who set up the library, wants to add more books in the native languages of the migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, and hopes that eventually, the camp inhabitants will run the library. Besides stocking around 200 books, the Guardian reports, “the library supports a school that offers classes to the refugees and asylum seekers that live in the camp.”

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  • Verso's books are shortlisted for the Bread and Roses award

    Two books by Verso have been shortlisted for the Bread and Roses award for Radical Publishing.

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  • Portraits of a constricting underground economy: Scattered Sand excerpted in Design Observer

    An abandoned factory in Shenzen [photo by dcmaster]

    In the aftermath of the Foxconn workers' riot earlier this month, the world's eyes are again cast to the worsening conditions for China's factory laborers. As recently as this week new data suggests international demand for Chinese goods is faltering, further constricting what have already been extremely limited options for workers in the country. As goods lie on production floors unused and factory owners continue to cut low-paying, high-risk jobs, it's likely the massive population of migrant laborers in China will be forced to work under even more perilous circumstances 

    Today in Design Observer is an excerpt from journalist Hsiao-Hung Pai's Scattered Sand, named after the Chinese term for the 200 million migrating across the country in search of just this kind of factory work. As the situation among these workers worsens, Pai's book provides a grim eyewitness account of the lives and regions impacted by the largest yearly migration in human history.

    Pai explores the architecture of Guangdong, a region claiming China's "largest provincial economy" and over 60,000 factories. Though the government once claimed the region as the first to reach a per capita income of $10,000, writes Pai, "it was later discovered that this figure had not factored in the estimated 3.7 million migrant workers living and working in the city at that time." Moving from the train station where migrants first arrive to the dormitories in which they, if lucky, may spend their limited breaks, Pai finds the troubling results of the stagnating economy:

    There are three to four million migrant workers living in Guangzhou, which has a total population of about ten million. Many of those I saw sleeping at the station, as well as those who might have left for their villages after a few homeless nights, were first-generation migrants who'd come to Guangzhou in the hope of higher wages and abundant opportunities. Guangzhou was meant to be a life-changing experience. As many of them told me, most had been working there for more than a decade; they had devoted their prime to this city.

    Visit Design Observer: Places to read the excerpt in full and view photographs from Guangdong.