In the trenches, sorting scrap.

Sheepishly, I concede that this is the second or third post in which I’ve promised to get back to regular blogging shortly. But, you know, Chinese New Year leads into a new year of work, and now I’m bogged down in a couple of projects that require my fixed attention. In the case of one project, it feels a bit like sorting scrap – fines, to be precise, the exceedingly small pieces of mixed metals that come off metal shredders and are exported to China and other low-cost labor countries for hand-sorting. Below, an image taken at a facility devoted to this kind of recycling in Guangdong Province.

In the interest of dispelling some stereotypes: being able to identify, by sight and feel, various metals, is a skill, and the women who do this work – and they are mostly women – are highly sought by Guangdong’s recyclers, and highly compensated (by Chinese labor standards). For example, the woman in this photo is paid between RMB 2000 (US$291)and RMB 2500 (US$365) per month, for a forty-hour week, and she would have no problem finding another job, tomorrow, for similar wages, at a similar facility. Entry-level white collar workers in the same town would have a very hard time finding similar pay.

In any case, I’m sorting facts and figures (though I’m hardly as adept as a good south China metal sorter), sentences and paragraphs, and hoping to be free and clear in a day or two.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll join me in wishing the China Beat – one of the truly great China blogs – a happy third birthday. Even if you don’t visit China blogs on a regular basis, the anniversary post is worth reading as a quality guide for how and why to blog as a group. Very impressive.