CHINA BLUE takes viewers inside a blue jeans factory in southern China, where teenage workers struggle to survive harsh working conditions. Providing perspectives from both the top and bottom levels of the factory’s hierarchy, the film looks at complex issues of globalization from the human level.

After the book of Factory Girls, this movie is still interesting enough by looking into the life of not only the workers but also the factory owners. In the year of 2012, for just 5 years since the release of the book and movie, the change of China is breath taking. 

In the first half of 2008 about 67,000 small- and medium-size companies closed, including more than 10,000 textile firms, due to cash flow problems. More than 100,000 firms were expected to close by the end of 2008. The manufacturing centers in Guangdong Province and around Shanghai were particularly hard hit. In Guangdong more than 62,400 businesses closed in 2008, with more than 10,000 factories closing in the Dongguan area alone during a six week period at the end of 2008. Some factories were closed with shocking suddenness. They were humming one moment and closed down with owners skipping town the next, without warning. Not only were the owners, managers and workers hurt by the closures so too were the shops, restaurants and businesses that surrounded them.

In early November 2008, China announced a 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package worth 13 percent of GDP, over two years. The money was spent mostly on infrastructure and social welfare, particularly on railways, highways, low-cost housing, and rural infrastructure, and given to banks to provided low interest loans for home and car buyers and companies in need of financing.

After the economic stimulus packages was approved in early 2009, China built and expanded 35 airports, opened 557 kilometers of railways, including the world’s fastest high-speed train, paved 98,000 kilometers of highway and picked up the pace on subway projects from Shenyang in the north to Guangzhou in the south—all within a year.

In March 2009,the Chinese government announced that the economy was responding well to stimulus measures and that no other stimulus measures were necessary. The Shanghai Stock Market was up 85 percent in first eight months of 2009. Property sales jumped 75.5 percent to $645 billion in 2009 on coat tails of a record number of loans.

Of the 20 million migrant workers that lost their jobs as of early 2009 about 14 million had found work by June according to the National Bureau of Statistics, which said about two thirds found jobs in the eastern coastal areas and a third got jobs in the central and western China.

By autumn 2009, firms that had feared going bust were looking for migrant workers to fill their Christmas orders. Some in the Pearl Delta area around Guangzhou and Shenzhen were having a hard time finding workers because the stimulus package was creating more opportunities in the interior. At the port in Shanghai container ships lay idle and empty while bulk carriers laden with raw material were backed up because they couldn’t be unloaded fast enough—signs trade was still hurting but manufacturing was preparing for a rebound. By December 2009, orders were surging and production reached an all-time high.

China achieved 8.7 percent growth for 2009 despite the economic slump. Growth was 6.8 percent in the last quarter in of 2008, 6.3 percent growth first quarter of 2009, the lowest in a decade, 7.9 percent growth in second quarter, 9.1 percent in third quarter in 2009 and 10.7 percent in the 4th quarter.

In 2009, the worlds three largest global banks measured by market capitalization, were all Chinese. In 2006, China didn’t have a single bank in the world’s top 20.

China resilience to the economic crisis in 2008 and 2009 was so strong many wondered whether it could pull the world out its slump. According to the IMF China is likely to account for almost three quarters of global growth between 2008 and 2010.  Everyone want to know the same thing: Can China save the world?

There were worries that high stock prices and booming real estate would create a bubble. A lot of stimulus money flowed into assets markets for quick profits rather the real economy. By early 2010 there were worries that the economy might overheat. The central bank took measures to control the surge in bank lending by raising the amount of money that banks must keep in reserve, and the government raised interest rates and let the yuan appreciate to keep things from getting out of hand. Inflation also became a concern as rising prices accompanied the surge in orders.

Growth of China was 10.3 percent in 2010. GDP was $5.88 trillion, ahead of Japan’s $5.45 billion. Growth 9.7 percent in the first quarter of 2011 and 9.5 percent in the second quarter of 2011.

In 2012, China’s growth rate may fall to about 8.5 per cent if the EU crisis deteriorates into a global meltdown.  Serious concerns about overly rapid growth, China’s real estate market, and reduced manufacturing and exports could delay the super-sized economy imagined a few years ago.

There’s no present doubt, however, that when China sneezes, the world catches a chill.

Advertisements