Profile: Singing from Factory

In a room at the in-patients’ department of Longhua People’s hospital in Shenzhen, a young couple was taking care of their child, an 18-month old boy who suffers from asthma. Zhang Feng, father of the child, is the founder of Wujiaoxing, a punk band composed of migrant workers from Shenzhen industrial park. They are now working on their first album.

Migrant workers, often unskilled and coming from the less prosperous hinterlands, have been called the backbone of China’s economic engine. Zhang Feng became one of this 277 million floating population in May 2012, when he was a 23-year-old university senior. He got a job as an industrial engineer in Shenzhen, in a factory owned by Foxconn, which produced iPads and Macs for Apple but became known in 2010 and 2011 for a suicide spate. Since then, workers’ difficult living conditions have drawn public attention.

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Op-ed: Do Responsible Journalism

If you search “left-behind children” on Google, the world’s most popular search engine, you get 62.4 million results, which number is close to 61 million – the population of left-behind children in China. Then you click on the first piece of news, by the South China Morning Post, and find three sentences emphasized – “China’s ‘left-behind children’ at higher risk of life of crime,” “Tragic accidents just part of a hard life for China’s 60 million ‘left-behind children’,” and “‘Left-behind children’ found stabbed to death in southern China.” Under the spotlight put by media in this way, these children are being stigmatized, stereotyped and discriminated against.

“Life of crime,” “tragic accidents,” “stabbed to death,” these words are what most people come up with when they think about “left-behind children” in China. Although these incidents happen, we have to admit that not every child whose parents are working in urban areas away from their rural hometown is suffering from “tragic accidents” or committing criminal acts.

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My students in Sandui

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Location: Sandui Junior High School, Guangyuan, Sichuan Province
Date: April 22, 2016
Camera: Ricoh GR

Sandui is a small town in Guangyuan, Sichuan Province. I lived there for two months to shoot for my graduation project – a documentary film about the left-behind children. Photo was taken by one of my students there.