The dominance of China in toy production is staggering. There are about 8,000 toy factories, employing three million workers, spread over six main areas, of which the Pearl River Delta is by far the largest. Virtually all the familiar American toy names are made there. These workers make 80 per cent of all America’s toys. Without this place, with its toxic rivers and thick, choking smog, the modern toy industry simply would not exist.
If it is almost impossible to comprehend the scale of the migrant movement, it is even more difficult for a Westerner to imagine the daily life of a migrant toy worker. Exact conditions obviously vary, from the acceptable to the unimaginably awful, but it is possible, from a host of reports and interviews conducted clandestinely well away from factory premises, to construct a composite of the life and working conditions of one of the mass of migrant workers in the country’s toy factories. [Full text]