Shot clandestinely in China, under difficult conditions, this is a deep-access account of what both China and the international retail companies don’t want us to see – how the clothes we buy are actually made.
China Blue takes us inside a blue-jeans factory, where two teenage girls, Jasmine and Orchid, are trying to survive the harsh working environment. Their lives intersect that of the film's other protagonist and factory owner, Mr. Lam. Providing perspectives from both the top and bottom levels of the factory’s hierarchy, this film brings complex issues of globalization to the human level.
Like millions before her, Jasmine leaves her home village for a far-away factory job. Her initial excitement to be able to help her family quickly melts away as she is overwhelmed by the long work hours and the delays in pay. Her only solace is the strong friendships she forms with her co-workers.
To get new orders from Western buyers, Lam must agree to extremely low prices and a very tight delivery schedule. For the deal to work, he cuts the workers' pay and requires Jasmine and her friends to work around the clock. Anxious to avoid getting fined for falling asleep on the job, workers resort to keeping their eyes open by clipping clothespins on their eyelids. When the workers’ endurance reaches a breaking point, their only recourse may be a strike, which is illegal in China.
China Blue paints a nuanced, tender and ultimately moving portrait of the daily lives of the young workers who make our clothes. It also brings an updated and alarming report on the economic pressures applied by Western companies and their human consequences.