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Christian AlsAn empty shoe factory in the once thriving Longgang District in the Pearl River Delta region of Guangdong in South China.
China's Factory Blues
The days of ultra-cheap labor and little regulation in China are gone. The Pearl River Delta, a former rice-growing region remade by 1980ís capitalist reforms into a world-beating export platform for textiles, sporting goods and toys. Twenty years ago Guangdong Province was the place most manufacturers in Asia flocked to, making it China's top exporting province and a magnet for migrant labor from the hinterland. But since 2005, wages have risen 14 percent a year, the trend has reversed. Tougher labor, tax and environmental rules implemented this year, combined with spiraling energy and material costs, have driven thousands of factories to quit the delta, who used to employ an estimated 17 million migrant workers from other provinces. Economic experts estimates that more than a third of Guangdong's export factories could be shuttered within a few years.
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