Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin: Diary of a Chinese Garment Factory Girl on Saipan

Book chronicles the experience of a garment factory worker on the US commonwealth island of Saipan
By: Walt Goodridge
Feb. 24, 2009 - PRLog -- Revealing book chronicles secret world, as last garment factory closes on Saipan, CNMI

Saipan, CNMI—Almost twenty-six years after the first one opened in October, 1983, the last garment factory on the US territory of Saipan closed its doors January 31, 2009, ending a controversy-plagued era on this island in the Western Pacific.

   Saipan was home to a once-thriving garment industry which, at its height, hosted 36 factories which employed over 15,000 contract workers (mostly women from China, and many from Thailand, Philippines and other Pacific Islands), generated (taxes) of $40 million/year for the CNMI government, and $994 million in annual exports to the world.   
        “It’s a fascinating story, but much remains hidden about what things were really like here,” says Walt Goodridge, columnist for the Saipan Tribune, and editor of Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin: Diary of a Chinese Factory Girl, the only known first-hand account of the (9-year) experience of a Chinese garment factory worker on Saipan. “Opinions vary, but most workers feel it was a benefit to earn the money they did. Uno Moda factory's closure marks a significant turning point for the island’s now primarily tourist-based economy,” Goodridge added.

         Saipan’s unique relationship with the US allowed manufacturers to have “made in the USA” labels on garments sewn there, while benefiting from lower costs and a non-US regulated working wage paid to a mostly female, non-resident workforce. As the trade tarrifs lifted, conditions became less profitable, and factories began leaving Saipan for other profit-friendly regions.

 Visit for a 25-year industry timeline, income statistics, important milestones, dates of closures and a free excerpt from Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin.

            Diary of a Chinese Garment Factory Girl on Saipan
AUTHOR: Chun Yu Wang
ISBN-13: 978-0-9745313-4--2;
PAGES: 196 pages;
RETAIL: $14.95


It took a lot of courage for a 25-year-old girl from Wu Xi City in Jiang Shu province, China, who had never flown on a plane, and who had never left home before, to travel 2,000 miles to a foreign country in search of work. It took even more courage to stay once she discovered what life was really like for a factory girl on the island of Saipan in the US Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).

Did she make the greatest mistake of her life? Like many girls, she came with dreams of a better future. Yes, the pay was better than in China, but at what price? Would the high pressure of 15-hour quota-driven days of tedious, mind and finger-numbing work get to her? Or would the greedy floor monitors, and scam-artists preying on lonely, naive women rob her not just of her income, but of her innocence as well? At every turn, there were wolves ahead and tigers behind that threatened her dreams of happiness. Could she learn Saipan's secret factory system and get ahead before she lost it all? Could she save money, save face, and return to China better off? Would she even want to, given the real reason she left China in the first place?

Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin is Chun Yu Wang’s eight-year journey. It is an inspiring and enlightening tale of determination, disappointment, justice, and triumph, and the only known first-hand account of a Saipan factory girl’s life.

Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin is told in her own words—simple, yet full of profound insights, and from an entirely untainted perspective. It is a directly transcribed account, told without the bias of reporters, journalists, case workers, human rights activists or western worldviews. Chun Yu’s words reveal a natural storyteller’s love of the art, and an attention to detail that makes Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin a rare, emotional, memorable experience you’ll want to share again and again.

Also available on and Barnes & Noble in Kindle and Nook formats respectively.

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Tags:Saipan, Cnmi, Garment Industry, China, Factory Worker
Industry:Society, Books, Apparel
Location:United States
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Page Updated Last on: Jan 23, 2012
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