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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars salting the earth, 22 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Scattered Sand: The Story of China's Rural Migrants (Hardcover)
Statistics is probably the tool most relied upon by economists and anthropologists in the study of emigration of people in search of work. "Scattered Sand", however, presents an enlightening study of the movement of large numbers of Chinese within China as well as the emigration of Chinese people to foreign countries, in search of work. This book's focus is not on the numbers (although estimates are given where official ones are unavailable). Pai scours China and befriends some of these people who were on the move. The stories are all personal and the reader will no longer study migration statistics without a face or two appearing. It may not be surprising if the image that comes to mind might be one from Pai's book. It might perhaps be that of Peng (the twenty-one-year old farmer from Liaoning who took a three-hour bus ride to Shenyang in search of work) eating his daily ration of four meat buns.

Rural people who ended up in urban cities were almost no different from having ended up in a foreign country. One can compare the emigrant Chinese in Britain and Europe (whose accounts were vividly documented by Pai in her interviews with them) with rural Chinese who migrated to Chinese cities for work. People from different provinces from Fujian to Shandong, and from Guangdong to Xinjiang, were interviewed; and the diversity of the dialect and cultural profiles of the interviewees were matched only by the diversity of their problems. The Uighurs is ethnically Muslim and rarely moves inland because of the prejudice by Han Chinese against the Uighurs looking for work in Han territory. The lot of the emigrant/migrant Chinese in both situations seemed essentially the same.

The migrant workers were often exploited either by unscrupulous employers who cheat them of their wages, trick them into giving up their identification passes and make them virtually slaves, or overwork them in unbearable and unsafe work places. The coal mines are examples of the latter. In 2007, there were 3,800 deaths in the mines - that was just the official figure (Pai believes that the real figure is much higher). The brick kilns in Beihuaiding contain illustrious examples of "socialism with Chinese characteristics", according to Pai, for here, one can see why and how "half of China's wealth has gone to the top fifth of the population, while the bottom fifth receives just 4.7 percent". If this economic gap is not closed, unhappiness will spread across the band of the poor. What they might do in their frustration will have an impact everywhere in the world where there is a fine top of the super-rich and a thick base of the super-poor. This will be the concern of the politicians. The humanitarians will be concerned about the plight of people like Peng - and there are millions like him in China, many of them making the bits that go into iPhones and other modern gadgets. Pai wrote, "Foxconn announced profits of $5.04 billion for May 2010." She also reminded us that 2010 was the year 14 Foxconn employees committed suicide.

There are, however, some warm moments in the book such as the author's narration of her trip home to Gaolu in Shandong where she met her relatives and learnt the proper ways of addressing her cousins and aunts. Finally, the reader who is not familiar with Chinese names and places will have found an index helpful; but there isn't one in the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A voice for the ghosts, 13 Jan 2014
Hsiao-Hung Hai continues her investigative trail of undocumented. migrants with Scattered Sands. China's internal migration is one of the biggest movements of human beings in the last century, yet the people who power this. economic revolution remain unknown, even in their own country. Hai interviews dozen s, following their footsteps, hearing their stories and listening to their hopes and fears. This book is a must for anyone wanting to understand the lifeblood of an awakening giant.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this was interesting fromthe start to the finish, 23 Jan 2013
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if you are interested in what is going on in the world then this book is for you. As China is now in the news almost every day it is extremely interesting to find out exactly how they treat millions of ther own people. Highly recommeded.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scattered Sand- Chna's Rural Migrants, 18 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Scattered Sand: The Story of China's Rural Migrants (Hardcover)
Scattered Sand
Well written and researched at "source" by a person familiar with both Chinese culture and language, being Chinese herself. Chilling and dehumanising results of over-governing a country.
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Scattered Sand: The Story of China's Rural Migrants
Scattered Sand: The Story of China's Rural Migrants by Hsiao-Hung Pai (Hardcover - 3 Sep 2012)
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