Since 1979, when Deng Xiaoping unleashed capitalism on his vast but introverted nation, the Financial Times noted recently, China has conquered the world not with its armies but with its factories. A legion of low-cost workers is driving the countrys staggering economic growth and transforming the global economy.
Hong Kong-based photographer Michael Wolf has spent the last 10 years documenting mainland China and its workers. Wolf aims to show the human presence behind the masses of Barbies, bobbleheads, and other made-in-China bric-a-brac that the world consumes each day--and to shine a light on the practices of the countrys industrial workplaces. Those factories are notorious for Dickensian conditions. But Wolfs photos expose Chinas other secrets of productivity, such as the heavy regimentation that marches employees onto the factory floor like an invading army with each new shift.