Chinese migrant workers are a community beyond the bottom of the economic pyramid, forced to seek employment day-by-day with no guarantees. The foundation of most migrant workers' sustenance is their relationship to a laoban.
Without much fanfare, in 2009 China overtook the U.S. as the world's leading papermaker. They did it in much the same way they became the world's premiere manufacturing beast: innovative engineering, a smart game plan, cheap labor, and massive government subsidies.
In China, artificial flowers, bricks, Christmas decorations, coal, cotton, electronics, fireworks, footwear, garments, nails and toys are all known to be produced by forced labor. And China is far from being the only country on the list.
In June 2010, a nonviolent eight-day strike of 1,700 workers at the Honda factory in Zhongshan attracted international attention. Within three weeks, it was the third Honda auto parts factory in Guangdong province to suffer a work stoppage, along with plants in Shenzhen and Foshan.
Though China has earned a reputation as the world's preeminent sweatshop, young workers are starting to understand that they deserve equitable pay for the "cheap" labor that foreign capital readily exploits.