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The Upside Of 'Factory Girl' Life In China

Oct 14, 2008 (Day to Day)

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China's booming economy means that factories are popping up all over the country. Makeshift cities emerge around these factories for the poor villagers that stream in looking for work.

"It's chaos," says author Leslie Chang, who explores life in these cities in Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China. "And the most striking thing is that everyone is young."

Time passes differently in these places, Chang tells Madeleine Brand. These are cities full of corruption as well as opportunity — and Chang hones in tales of upward mobility and freedom in her book.

One of her key characters, for example, talks her way off the assembly line into the purchasing department, where at age 21 she's suddenly making enough to help her family start a business.

"I didn't want to sugarcoat it. The conditions are really tough ... but over time the conditions generally improve," Chang says.

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