"Last Train Home" - The Video Documentary Of The Human Cost Behind China's Stunning Growth Story

Tyler Durden's picture

We all know that China has the biggest skyscrapers, the fastest growing economy, and the emptiest cities in the world. We also know that there is no such thing as a free lunch. And with every economic success story, no matter how engineered, manipulated, or contrived, comes a human cost. The 2009 documentary by Lixin Fan, "The Last Train Home", is just one such attempt to capture the "human element" behind the glitzy headlines and the 9% GDP growth. The quite synopsis: "Every spring, China's cities are plunged into chaos as 130 million migrant workers travel back to their home villages for the New Year's holiday. This mass exodus is the world's largest human migration, an epic spectacle that exposes a nation tragically caught between its rural past and industrial future. Working over several years in classic cinéma vérité style, director Lixin Fan traveled with one couple who have embarked on this annual trek for almost two decades. Like many of China's rural poor, the Zhangs have left their native village of Huilong in Sichuan province and their newborn daughter to find work in Guangzhou in a garment factory for 16 years and see her only once a year during the Spring Festival. Their daughter Qin, now a restless and rebellious teenager- bitterly resents her parents' absence and longs for her own freedom away from school and her rural hometown, much to the dismay of her parents. She eventually leaves school, against the wishes of her parents, to work in the city. Emotionally charged and starkly beautiful, Last Train Home examines one fractured family to shed light on the human cost of China's ascendance as an economic superpower." We bring the documentary in 6 parts to our readers in hopes of a greater understanding of the dynamics behind the world's biggest economic dynamo.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

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Sudden Debt's picture

Tyler, can you put in the hyperlinks to the movies? My firewall blocks them all.


sqz's picture

You only really need the first one since its a series (also a playlist in this case) from the same Youtube uploader: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=J2Nmk8ZmLqY

Harlequin001's picture

'Why don't people line up?"

That has to be THE classic line of the whole series...

Harlequin001's picture

Ok, here's my advice on how to deal with an unruly teenage daughter.

The next time she says 'fuck', and you take her to task, when she throws a right hook, simply move your left arm firmly across your body and connect gently with her upper right arm, pushing it in turn across her own body. Then, swiftly bring the flat of your open right hand firmly up the side of her now half turned torso and connect firmly with the right side of her jaw. She won't say 'fuck' again, ever.

She might say 'uggermawhooftehuff', but she certainly won't say 'fuck'.

narapoiddyslexia's picture

Straightforward YouTube, isn't it? Not sure, but try this -


Find the others along the right margin.

Bananamerican's picture

Part 4 was pretty harrowing..made me think that all the nazi's had to do to get the jews scrambling for the trains to auschwitz was to invent globalization...(& for the "thick" junkers and sinophiles among you, I'm on the People's side)


New_Meat's picture

I'm thick, just a stupid little piglet.   Who are these "People" you are talking about? - Ned

Bananamerican's picture

two legs, some soul, no snout

Temporalist's picture

If you mouse over the title inside the movie window you can right click and copy the links.

Gully Foyle's picture

Wait I saw this movie. I think it starred Anthony Wong and Maggie Cheung.


Lord Welligton's picture

And that's 130 million people who have to be kept in jobs at the lowest possible wage making goods for export.

Zero Govt's picture

Beats over 30 million starved to death and the complete impoverishment of the biggest population on the planet under the alternative (Big Govt) system (happened twice in China under Ming then Mao)

the miracle of China is the socialist scum of the Chinese Govt got out of the way and let the private sector breath again

I couldn't give a crap for Mings daughter resenting her parents working away from home.. she's lucky to have food on the table and clothes and some (private sector) opportunity in her life to get ahead instead of terrible poverty and zero chances but what some Communist cunt behind a desk decrees for her 

Could these whining tedious anti-progress morons take a loooong walk off a short pier and naturally de-select themselves?

..the Great Depression we're about to see take another leg down will teach you what Govt intervention gets you (ie. 1 promised step forward, then 2 back into a sewer) 

Lord Welligton's picture

Was there anything I said that was anti-enterprise?

Was there anything I said that was pro-Mao?

Was there anything I said that was pro-big-government?


Glad you had the opportunity to get that off your chest.

Zero Govt's picture

you made 2 posts when i got here... one on 130 million peoples wages having to be "kept down" and the other on "pollution" ...the usual socialist-eco causes

nobody keeps wages lower than Govt wether it be socialists impoverishing everybody or fascists (Govt + Corporates).. China has an unhealthy mix of both fuking up the private sectors progress (wealth creation)

regards pollution there is always a cost (or emission) from any progress or energy expelled... Europe and america both also went through the pollution/emissions problems in order to reach 1st World status.. bleating about Chinas is rather hypocritical don't you think?

The most industrially advanced country on the planet, Germany, is also paradoxically the cleanest. The exact opposite of the Eco-loons hysterical rantings on Western civilisation and Africa and Asia's industrial rise

Lord Welligton's picture

I did not say that wages had to be "kept down".

I said they had to be kept as low as possible.

Pollution is neither capitalist, socialist, eco, or anger. It is pollution.

And I think we can agree that pollution has been exported along with the jobs.

nobody keeps wages lower than Govt wether it be socialists impoverishing everybody or fascists (Govt + Corporates)..

Were the people in the film working for the government?


Bananamerican's picture

"I couldn't give a crap for Mings daughter resenting her parents working away from home.. she's lucky to have food on the table"

Dear Zero,

fuck you.


Zero Govt's picture

your country (like here in Europe) is being impoverished by the creep of the big creeps of Big Govt ... strangely that's exactly the same process as the USSR and China (twice) went through ...State intervention in society and the economy (inc agriculture) leads to the destruction of both (simple stuff to folllow this, strange it's not taught in State schools!!)

Mings daughter is indeed lucky to have food on the table. Because it was private sector wealth production that put it there, produced since the Commie Govt of China released State controls over the dead as a DoDo private sector. Had Communist China stayed red, she'd probably be starved or not even born!

Regards the "fuck you" comment Mr Banana i'd return the compliment but far easier i just sit back and let the (your) US Govt do it 

Bananamerican's picture

"Mings daughter is indeed lucky to have food on the table"

"and weren't the darkies gay

when all they did was play

and eat their watermelons

in that old Kentucky home..."

Zero Govt's picture

i'd like a discourse without you putting racist poetry in my mouth ...maybe you could just represent your own argument (properly rather than piss poorly) without the usual ignorant leftie cunt attitude of mis-representing other peoples arguments with extreme hysteria  

you think it gives you the moral high ground but actually it proves what a bunch of weak-minded idiots your worthless socialist religion promotes that they cannot have a solid exchange of points without hysterical arm waving and whaling

I repeat Mings daughter is lucky to have food on the table because under the previous Communist totalitarian regime that ALL socialist Govts head at ramming speed toward she would be lucky to have food on the table, indeed she'd be lucky to be alive under any extreme socialist regime 

if you'd like to counter my argument with your own argument and not yet another fantasy land wild mis-representation of my opinions i'd appreciate it... but i won't hold my breath as you zombie hummers of socialism (in actual fact brainless supports of the Socialist State) fire nothing but idealistic blanks and have been running on empty (ignorant) for Centuries

Cabreado's picture

If only you could send your "govt intervention" message,


give a shit about all the "Ming's daughters" in the world...

Zero Govt's picture

these scumbag documentary makers could have taken Zao's daughter, Chings daughter or any other Chinese daughter to 'represent' their downtrodden hard-done-by cliche person to then spin their lying political point

the actual person (daughter) is irrelevant, their name is simply taken in vein, a tennis ball for these toe-rags to play with to make their politicised point-scoring statements

Oh look at poor *insert anyones name here* ...if only we had regulation, laws, human rights, Govt intervention wouldn't the world be put to rights.... no actually retards check your history books of ALL intervention in society or the economy... we'd have precisely where that's got every country in history: bankruptcy, oppression of all freedoms both social and economic and non-stop lying, cheating and self-promotion by the bent authorities applying said rights/principles

the road to hell is paved with good intentions ...worth mentioning that road is rammed with little Hitlers behind institutional and Govt desks    

Imminent Crucible's picture

"I couldn't give a crap for Mings daughter resenting her parents working away from home"

Okay, but if you ever have a daughter I think you'll feel differently. I have two, now a nurse and an attorney, and I feel extremely fortunate to have been there every day as they took their first steps and grew into young women.

Governments and their collusive antics are not the solution. Everywhere you look, government is the problem. Our government is a horribly corrupt and destructive entity (just look into Pelosi's dead eyes for confirmation) but the Chinese suffer under a monstrous government. Tienanmen, One-Child Policy, the oppression of Tibet and the coddling of North Korea--what's not to like?

I hope it all falls to pieces, and soon.

Harlequin001's picture

Man. they are so fucked. To have worked so hard in such conditions and then find out that what you've worked so hard for is suddenly worth jack shit, the riots will be phenomenal, and by that I mean all over the world.

Keep liquid, keep gold and be ready to move at short notice...

dolly madison's picture

As a mother I do give a crap about the daughter.  I was frankly horrified at the notion of living my whole life away from my children.  We can't want to compete with them.  Better to charge tariffs, so that we can manufacture our own things for ourselves again.  Even if a trade war happened, we'd still be better off than bringing ourselves down to their level to compete.

Harlequin001's picture

I ran a small manufacturing business at one time and despite cheaper imported products we did quite well. Obviously severely undercut by Chinese and Indonesian goods we sold our products on quality and unique but swift design and delivery. I still shut the business down to do other things in part due to the hefty administrative burden placed upon me by government, but it's difficult to compete on any platform when the only basis for a very impersonal sale at Walmart is to bang the stuff on a shelf at cheaper prices.

At least when you went into a small shop you could happily be sold something with a service that made you feel good, if even for a short while.

You cannot compete with this.  If there's one thing manufacturing did teach me it is that somewhere, there is always someone without capital willing to work cheaper than you. Obviously they can do nothing other. It takes either a strong government to protect you from that or a gold standard, which is the only way that these people cannot raise cheap capital with which to undercut everyone else on the planet. The world needs a gold standard again, badly...

Zero Govt's picture

Harlequin  -  at least you tried which is more than 99% of armchair moaners here have done... first you are quite correct big corporates like Wall Mart competes with stocking their shelves with cheap products. They've emptied small shops from town centres.... but the small shops and small manufacturers should have competed on a different strategy/level and found your niche/s

look at Apple... while all the cheapos are falling on each other to get ahead Apple are above it all... ok they manufacture in China but their software etc (brains) are American. 

What i don't understand is a robot costs the same in the West as it does in the East. Labour costs are barely 3% of most companies cost structure so where do people get the idea the west is so much more expensive to make a mass produced product?

There's so much zombied blinkered thinking and blind acceptance of 'norms' ...there's plenty of room and levels for Western companies to compete with and beat their Eastern counterparts.. we're our own worst enemies  

Harlequin001's picture

Well Zero, we did try and I honestly believe I would still be there today since my business was personal and didn't rely on credit. Whether it would survive now is a different matter; I don't believe it would since markets are imploding and consumers must inevitably go with it.

The reason I shut it down is government interference. Too many overheads what with minimum wages, sky rocketing health and safety costs and other such employment 'benefits' all paid for by me. Hell, I even had to absorb the cost of collecting taxes for the government and administering personal pensions for grown ups who should be capable of doing it themselves. We won't even look at increasing redundancy benefits.

I got out whilst I thought the going was good ten years ago and will not go back or put my capital at risk anywhere until the environment is more friendly to us 'entrepreneurs'. Till then it stays in gold and silver and by that I mean until democracy is dead, and until I have some defence against a system in which two redundant employees without capital can vote themselves all my money through electing bent politicians.

Which is going to be quite some time I'm afraid...

Zero Govt's picture

Dolly -  you've had the opportunity (in your lifetime) to live in a country that put up tariffs and made all their own gear ...you could have jumped over the Berlin Wall anytime you liked and lived in uncompetitive, self-sancitfied, in-bred ignorant Nirvana ...you could have had the delightful opportunity of being on 5 year waiting list for the tragic pile of junk on wheels Trabbant while the more open (nearly) free markets of the West produced cars of infinite variety, performance and hundreds of times better quality and more advanced

Why did you spurn such an opportunity honey, Eastern Europe was calling to you all those years???

DormRoom's picture

Watching this is inspiring. To see how ppl will suffer, and endure for family.


  I think about how half of the dudes in my dorm spend 8 hrs a day playing ps3, the remaining 4 hrs drinking.  And when they are in trouble, phone mom & dad for help.  It's like my generation doesn't ever have to grow up, because our parents will always take care of us.  We have it so good.  Thanks mom & dad.

New_Meat's picture

DormRoom: U must be far away from any "Occupy <Your City Here>" crowds if the folks who are hangin around are doing as you say.

Of course, they could complete their 4 or 5 year "course" of study, then bitch about the debt that they incurred while, well, behaving as you say.

Then, they will realize that the debt incurred is  not dischargable in BK, they, they b on the streetz too.

If you are seeing this and actually are in college, then, bless you and your folks.  The crash is a'commin' towards you and yours because, in part, the behaviors of your dorm-matez  and their "parents."

- Ned

{and a greenie on ya.}

Paul E. Math's picture

The cake is a lie.

They were suffering and enduring for an idea.  That idea was family.  But did they get it?  Not even close.  Their suffering was utterly in vain.

I watch this and think 'there, but for the grace of God, go I'.  Our global economic system screws these people every day of their lives. 

Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein pay these people very little, not because that's what their labor is worth.  The fact that we pay so much for designer jeans is testament to the fact that their labor is worth much more than they are paid.

Why do Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein pay these people so little?

Answer: because they can.

It is the system that promotes this modern-day slavery, enriching the .1% at the sacrifice of workers' lives.

Don't kid yourself, no one is free while others are oppressed.  We are living in a dystopian nightmare.  We are living in Plato's cave.  We are living in the matrix.

The cake is a lie.

Lord Welligton's picture

You've probably seen this before.

One of the other "costs" of the Chinese export boom.


Zero Govt's picture

Hello Lord Wellington,

in your Video collection have you a film on the "costs" of an import led boom? Do you have the costs of a service based economy hollowed out of manufacturing??

Have you known any country on the planet that has got rich on services and a trade imbalance???

You must be an academic or crone of the State-banking cartel because you sound like a complete moron M'Lord

Lord Welligton's picture

I think you will find that the link provides pictures not video.


I am happy you were able to get that off your chest.

Have you considered anger management?

Zero Govt's picture

Yes I already have an Anger Management plan in place Lord Wellington...it's called the 'Getting Things Off My Chest' Course where if I see something dumb, stupid, or corrupt i express myself on the spot

It's brilliant, you ought to try it some time in between gibbering Western ideological pompous crap about pollution and wage suppression in China

Lord Welligton's picture


You might go for a post graduate in "Recognising Dumb Stupid & Corrupt or Take Your Pills before You Shoot Your Mouth Off".

I'm led to believe they are offering PHDs in it.



Zero Govt's picture

Lord Wellington  -  I'm not into PHD's myself and nor are you from the looks of it. You keep reaching conclusions before the debate has started and giving lofty advise before you've demonstrated any knowledge of the course work. Before another of your hollow quips from that pea shooter of yours would you like to demonstrate where your snotty obnoxious advise is coming from regards Chinas pollution and suppressed wages if you'd be so kind?? 

ForTheWorld's picture

Hi Zero Govt, I've got a phone call for you. It's the Pot, and he wants to talk to the Kettle about something that's black.

Zero Govt's picture

Hi FortheWorld, I've got a peanut on the line and it wants to talk down to someone intellectually inferior (a socialist) with the memory of a Goldfish (a socialist) ....i suggested you fit the bill nicely, will you accept the collect call ?

ForTheWorld's picture

Haha man you're hilarious. I needed a good laugh.

Zero Govt's picture

if you need a good laugh get a mirror and look at the stupid clown in it

Lord Welligton's picture

You keep reaching conclusions before the debate has started

What debate?

You are an idiot.

You spout "ZeroGovernment".

You don't do debate.

You excel in self contradiction.

Zero Govt's picture

It's hard to debate with a retard but here goes, i'll try to point you toward the talking points you yourself raised :

what's the problem with China making pollution? ...pollution is a small cost to pay for industrial advancement that leads to ever cleaner lifestyles and ever less environmental side-effects?? Have you an alternative path that's realistic or do you moan daily about people having a crap in the toilet too?

Point 2 which you raised was about wage suppression. Again who do you think suppresses wages more

a). the private sector who creates (all) wealth in society and enriches people or

b). the public sector who destroys wealth in society and systematically bankrupts countries and their peoples (see your history books, read present day newspapers for current affairs examples) 

when you're ready Einstein????

Lord Welligton's picture

You are one sad fuck.

I do hope you get help soon.

New_Meat's picture

Let's see: Yep--that's on Page 54 of Alinsky's book.  When you don't know what you are talking about, then make a) personal accusations about the other individuals' situations, then b) be really condescending about those folks' situations.

Makes the discussion go so very well.  Happening all over the world these past few days.  Ain't improving shit, in your case nor in the world's case.

Don't cha' know.

- Ned

Lord Welligton's picture


Ned. You did see the conversation?

Bye the bye.

Who's Alinsky?

Zero Govt's picture

Alinsky is the Marxist toe-rag that taught President Obumma all he knows... which ain't alot as can be seen in the 'results' of his $1 Trillion spending programs

So your current affairs is piss poor as well as your historical knowledge ..i've mentioned you're behind the curve, i've tried debating points regards your debating issues and yet you still come up with blanks and sit your fat worthless arse on the high ground calling others names like they know jack shit

another fuking ignorant socialist bites the dust (haven't they all?)

ForTheWorld's picture

When people think "yeah, this is really awesome that I get this huge television for only $300" or contractors exclaim "shit yeah! super cheap steel to use in my hundred storey building!", they neglect to think that the cost of manufacturing those items, and everything else that's made in China, has a hidden cost applied to it, and not necessarily monetary in nature (at first glance).

Zero Govt's picture

FortheWorld  -  you're very welcome to set up your own business and pay 20-40% more for your supplies ...you will of course go out of business following your idealogical, as apposed practical, path in life 

...so until you set up your own business and show us all how it's done, why don't you mind your own business uh?

Lord Welligton's picture

Take a chill pill and go have a lie down.

If you get more angry than you are you'll do yourself a mischief.