Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009

The Chinese Worker

In China they have a word for it. baoba means "protect eight," the 8% annual economic growth rate that officials believe is critical to ensuring social stability. A year ago, many thought hitting such a figure in 2009 was a pipe dream. But China has done it, and this year it remains the world's fastest-growing major economy — and an economic stimulus for everyone else. Who deserves the credit? Above all, the tens of millions of workers who have left their homes, and often their families, to find work in the factories of China's booming coastal cities — in plants like the Shenzhen Guangke Technology Co.'s, just outside Hong Kong, which sits amid a jumble of snack stands, cheap clothing stalls and old men dragging carts filled with candy to sell to workers on their day off. Near the factory we found some of the people who are leading the world to economic recovery: Chinese men and women, their struggles in the past, their thoughts on the present and their eyes on the future.

— with reporting by Jessie Jiang / Shenzhen