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Story: "Migrant sister" recalls move to Shenzhen

09-06-2010 15:14 BJT Special Report:30 Anniversary of Shenzhen SEZ |

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China's mass urbanization driven by migrant workers is a national social phenomenon. 30 years ago, very few people left their homes in rural areas for the city. The first influx of female workers, dubbed "migrant sisters", arrived at factories in south China's Guangdong Province. CCTV reporter Liu Yue tells the story of one migrant worker's triumph over hardship.

In 1982, Shenzhen was a city on the verge of great economic growth. The Sheko industrial district was the heartland for many factories, including the Hong Kong Kader Toys.

Thousands of female workers flocked to the city from the country's rural areas. Among them was 19-year-old Weng Chunxian, who left her hometown in Guangdong Province with her modest middle school education and a few precious belongings.

Weng Chunxian said, "We arrived in Shenzhen around 11pm. I was very happy on seeing the Kader factory. It was so big, I had never seen such a grand factory in all my life. Inside, all the lights were on. It felt like daytime."

But the enthusiasm quickly faded the next morning, when the girls saw their outdoor environment.

There were no flowers, nor trees, only yellow earth and grass taller than themselves. The desolate scene made many cry and long to return home.

Weng Chunxian said, "I told myself I wouldn't give up and go home. There were construction sites all around. I convinced myself life here was better than in my hometown of Shantou. Construction progressed at a rapid rate. Shenzhen was a city changing month-by-month."

Holding on to hope of a brighter future, Weng Chunxian and her colleagues worked day-in, day-out at the Kader factory. The work assembling toys was repetitive and boring and many employees were overworked.

In 1982, Shenzhen was a city on the verge of great economic growth. The
Sheko industrial district was the heartland for many factories, including
the Hong Kong Kader Toys. Thousands of female workers flocked to the city
from the country's rural areas.


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