I followed Prof. Pun Ngai and her students to visit a printing factory in the wintry rain outside Buenos Aires. The factory only has eight workers. From the outside, it looks like any normal printing factory. After we learned a bit of its history, I realised that this is one of the ‘recovered factories’. Right after the financial crackdown in 2001, the factory was abandoned by its owner in 2002. The boss left all the machines behind. However, the factory workers didn’t go along with the boss; on the contrary, they took over the factory and started to run the business by themselves. From April to October 2002, policemen were constantly stationed outside the factory and required the workers to leave, but the workers ignored this intimidation. They started to run businesses, started to do management work; they transformed themselves from workers into managers. So far, this factory has been run by the workers for more than a decade, one worker told us, and the business is not bad.
Despite all the difficulties that recovered factories have faced. I thought of implanting the Argentine model of recovered factories into China, and I’m sure in the group of visitors to that printing factory, I wasn’t the only one to have this thought. When I met with Ruggeri later for more exchanges, I realised that my naïve thought might not be practical. The most significant difference between recovered factories in Argentina and most factories in China is workers’ residences. In Argentina, most workers are local people, therefore when they are fired, they have family and friendship networks to support them to build up a solitary network. Whereas in China, most factories are in coastal areas and workers are migrants from the hinterland. Those migrant workers have much less kinship or friendship in the cities to support them in taking over the factories, not to mention that the Chinese hukou system deprives migrant workers of basic living needs in the cities. Therefore, by their nature, Chinese workers in industrial areas have much less power than their Argentine counterparts. Secondly, the essence of production is also different. In China, most abandoned factories are in the business of processing trade for assembling. The processing trade requires lots of cheap labour, therefore most Chinese SME factories have averagely fifty to one hundred workers. This number also impeded workers from uniting together to occupy the abandoned factories; at least it is much more difficult to reach a decision than it is among ten or fifteen workers.
Small factory with only eight workers, who have run this factory by themselves since 2004.
 The Argentine financial crisis lasted from 1999 to 2002. The blame for this crisis fell mainly on the government’s bad decisions on financial policies, especially on the currency’s exchange rate with the U.S. dollar, and also the failure of the neo-liberal experiment. Augusto de la Torre et al., ‘Argentina’s Financial Crisis: Floating Money, Sinking Banking’, http://www.econ.umn.edu/~tkehoe/classes/Schmukler.pdf accessed on 30/08/2012.
 Andrés Ruggeri, PhD (Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Buenos Aires), ‘The Worker-Recovered Enterprises in Argentina: The Political and Socio-economic Challenges of Self-Management’, translated by Marcelo Vieta.
 The hukou system is also known as the household registration system, which means that migrant workers don’t have citizenship in the cities where they work, they are less likely to be covered by medical insurance and certainly they face greater exposure to hazardous working environments: Rachel Murphy, ‘Introduction: Labour Migration and Social Development in China’, in Rachel Murphy, ed. (2009), Labour Migration and Social Development in Contemporary China, London: Routledge, p. 5.