Chinese Whispers: The True Story Behind Britain's Hidden Army of Labour Paperback – 23 Apr 2008
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From the Back Cover
`Hsiao-Hung Pai takes you on a haunting journey into the heart of migrants' lives in Britain and you cannot help but be gripped, moved and shamed' Felicity Lawrence
`A book that really needed to be written. Utterly gripping, deeply moving' Marina Lewycka
`An incredibly moving book that in turn angers and saddens and above all makes you want to change things' Nick Broomfield
About the Author
Hsiao-Hung Pai was born in Taiwan and came to Britain in 1991. She first started writing for Chinese publications and later for the Guardian, specialising in stories about the Chinese community. She covered the Morecambe cockle picking tragedy for The Guardian and in order to understand the plight of other Chinese migrants, she went undercover, and is the only journalist working in Britain who has truly penetrated the world of undocumented Chinese migrants.
Hsiao-Hung now works as a freelance journalist, writing for the Guardian, the New Statesman, and others. Nick Broomfield’s recent film GHOSTS was based on her work. CHINESE WHISPERS is her first book. Hsiao-Hung lives in London with her partner.
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Top customer reviews
The common view about human rights in China has always been that when the American's talk about human rights they are using it against China but when the Europeans (especially the British) talk about human rights with China they mean it. But I am a bit disillusioned now. What I see here is that we have double standands. We only respect the basic human rights if the people in question have proper documents.
Why does it take 5 or even 10 years to consider someone's asylum seeking case? Is the government conveniently slowing down the process to ensure Britain having a steady pool of cheap labour whose lives are cheaper than ours and whose rights can be ignored. The thought of this is frightening!
If you have ever bought a pack of salad at supermarket then you owe these people to read this book. If you care about justice and lives of others you need to read this book. You will get angry about what you are about to discover and you might even want to do something. You definitely will from now on look at these odd and peasant-behaved people on the street in the shops with different eyes.
A big thank you to the author Hsiao-Hung Pai.
This book is timely antidote to the depressing hysteria over illegal immigrantion and thoughtfully humanises the victims of our demand for ever cheaper goods and services and the Westminster consensus on the need for an ever more 'flexible' labour force. The moving life stories and experiences Hsiao-Hung Pai retells for us of illegal chinese migrant workers, illuminate some the dark recesses of British life: from the nightmarish salad picking in Sussex to a terrifying trip to the seaside in Morcambe Bay in search of cockles. The people are revealed with warmth but without mawkishness or sentimentality, the villains and heroes are not always predictable and no one escapes complicity as these people have become an important but shamefully ignored part of our modern economy. The author also brings us personal accounts of the real costs of the huge social upheaval and human catastrophe that underpins the Chinese economic miracle.
This is a great piece of investigative research and a good read.
I had previously thought that such exploitation was confined to western companies- our Nestles and Mars bars etc- going abroad for cheap slave labour- which is of course an abomination. Before reading this book I hadn't given a thought to the exploitative work that goes on just out of eyesight- in kitchens and industrial estates we drive past to get to our office jobs. It seems staggering after reading this- did I ever really believe that our food/clothes/electronics/*everything* just came from nowhere? I can't help but look at the country and New Labour differently- and I also can't help but feel that if there was a God, we'd have been Great Flooded by now.
Fantastically effective. I'd recommend to anyone, this isn't a preaching to the choir book for Marxists. It's for everyone- should be required reading in school! All you wanting legitimate reasons to hate New Labour- right here (not that the Tories or the Libs are at all different)!
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Most recent customer reviews
Hsaio-Hung Pai has written an incredibly compelling and important book.
I hope some change in government legislation can become of this.Read more