Her husband, Chen Guilin works in the factory too. His job is in the shipping department. As we talk with his wife, she pays a visit to Guifang carrying with him their prized image on the cell phone they share. It is a picture of their son, Chen Xinglong. He's only 9-years-old, but as so many parents do here, they left him behind to be cared for by his grandparents. When we ask if it is hard to be apart from their son, the father answers no and explains to us they are able to get home to him once a year for the Chinese New Year.
With China's growing economy we notice something else here. There are empty stations among the rows and rows of machines that produce the socks. The head of the factory, Zhejiang Qingyi Knitting Company, tells us that if they could, they would hire 200 more workers today. He tells us that there is now more competition for workers. Some estimate it will take another 45 million workers from rural China within the next five years just to keep up with the demand for product. Here in Datang, Lu Xinmiao has given his employees 20 percent raises to make sure they stay. Cheng now makes 2,500 yuan a month, equal to $357.
"The young people who come to factories the first wave of them came, they came with a sense of destiny, it's for my family, it's for my country," said Fishman. "Now when Chinese workers arrive in factories or find themselves in factories over a number of years they say, 'We have toiled so hard. Our wages are going up, but they are not going up enough to stay pace with the cost of living or our expectations. When do we start getting our bigger share of this miracle?'"
On our journey further south, we discover cargo trucks, parked right in the middle of the highway – stretching as far as the eye can see. They are parked there waiting to pick up their goods. At the central markeplace in the city of Yiwu, we are told 1.7 million different products are shipped from this region. We discover endless vendors with buttons, zippers, and Christmas toys that will be sent to the United States.
The workers were eager to show us their talking babies, and their life-size versions of Santa Claus that will likely land in American front yards.
In this economy, Christmas has come early with millions of goods headed to the United States.
Among them, those umbrellas we discovered along the way. More than 300 more were sewn by Chang Yuna today, as the sun sets on another shift at the factory.