Each year, 200 million workers from China’s vast rural interior travel between cities and provinces in search of employment: the largest human migration in history. This indispensable army of labour accounts for half of China’s GDP, but is an unorganized workforce—‘scattered sand’, in Chinese parlance—and the most marginalized and impoverished group of workers in the country.
For two years, the award-winning journalist Hsiao-Hung Pai travelled across China, visiting labourers on Olympic construction sites, in the coal mines and brick kilns of the Yellow River region, and at the factories of the Pearl River Delta. She witnessed the outcome of the 2009 riots in the Muslim province of Xinjiang; saw towns in rubble more than a year after the colossal earthquake in Sichuan; and was reunited with long-lost relatives, estranged since her mother’s family fled for Taiwan during the Civil War. Scattered Sand is the result of her travels: a finely wrought portrait of those left behind by China’s dramatic social and economic advances.
Red Rosa by Kate Evans has been shortlisted for the Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing 2016! Presented by the Alliance of Radical Booksellers for the fifth year, the prize celebrates excellence in radical political non-fiction. Previous winners include Hsiao-Hung Pai’s Scattered Sand: The Story of China’s Rural Migrants.
The winner will be announced by guest judges Natalie Bennett and Nina Power at the London Radical Bookfair on Saturday 7th May 2015. Also announced at this ceremony will be the ARB’s children’s prize, The Little Rebel’s Children’s Book Award.
Xu Lizhi was a worker at the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen who commited suicide in 2014. A prolific writer and contributor to the Foxconn workers' internal newspaper, Xu casts a light on the daily struggles faced by Chinese migrant workers through his incredible poetry.
The poems, translated by Nao and originally hosted on Libcom, are republished here as part of our week focusing on China on the Verso blog. To read more of Xu Lizhi's poetry in English translation, visit the China Labour Bulletin website.