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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. 

Blog

  • One Day Without Us—A Migrant Solidarity Reading List

    Today, the petition to rescind President Trump’s state visit to Britain signed by 1.8 million people will be debated in Parliament. Stop Trump demonstrations are planned for this evening across the country and are expected to draw more than 10,000 people to stand together in solidarity with migrants and against racism and Islamophobia.

    Trump’s racist, Islamophobic, anti-refugee and anti-immigrant politics are the same driving forces as those behind the Brexit vote to leave the EU. In the context of the rise of reactionary and xenophobic politics worldwide, the Stop Trump programme of opposition is a joint effort with the One Day Without Us movement, staging its first day of action today. Tens of thousands of migrants and their supporters are staging a walkout from workplaces and places of education to celebrate the contribution migrant workers make to British society. In particular, the action aims to highlight their importance to the British economy: withdrawing their labour for a day would cost the UK £328m – 4% of the country’s GDP.

    The British government is not just complicit with Trump's agenda: Theresa May has been a trailblazer in ramping up anti-migrant measures for years before her ascent to the premiership in her role as Home Secretary when she notoriously brought in 'go home' vans. While it debates the terms of Brexit, the government continues to run a brutal and inhumane detention system; demonise and deport migrants; refuse refugees, and extend the border regime deeper into British society, into our hospitals, schools and workplaces.

    Verso presents a reading list of books that challenge and expose right-wing narratives about migrant workers and refugees by contextualising crises rooted in the violence of capitalism, legacies of colonialism and war waged by the West. This selection includes books that provide us with histories of resistance from which we can draw strength and inspiration for the fightback ahead.

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  • In the Shadows of Olympians: Unorganized Workers in Beijing

    As China's economy stagnates and the New York Times and Strike Map report burgeoning labour movements, the lives of Chinese workers draw greater scrutiny. This extract from Scattered Sand by Hsiao-Hung Pai examines these lives; the 'scattered sand' of Pai's book refers to the migration of 200 million workers from rural provinces to urban centres that have been integral to China's economy. The extract evidences the precarity of these workers, who live without residency status and at the mercy of their employers, to quote Pai the picture painted 'picture bears little resemblance to that of the footloose globe-trotter moving around the world in a cocoon of global Chinese capitalism and culture'.



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  • China's Twentieth Century: A reading list on Chinese history, culture and politics

    The New York Times this week reported that labour struggles in China have multiplied over the past year since the countries economy started to slow down. While this may have been news to many in the western media, used to running stories reflecting on the "Chinese model" of development, and the staggering years of double-digit GDP growth, for the left this was less suprising. Organisations like the China Labour Bulletin have been charting and mapping the waves of labour unrest in China for years now. But, this does raise the spectre of how we see China and it's position in relation to global capitalism.

    This week on the Verso blog we'll be highlighting the Verso books in this reading list that cast a critical look at China's history, politics and culture.



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Books