As a nanny and domestic helper for five decades, Ouyang Huanyan has cleaned up after some pretty big hitters. Lying in a wooden chair and watching a soap opera in her South China village is a far cry from her days in Singapore taking care of the prime minister’s children. “The work was not too hard and we were like part of the same family,” she said, displaying photos taken with the family of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore.
Zhang Xiaoliang, a vendor of sewing machines for the garment industry, is downsizing to the minimum. From a staff of 12, he has trimmed all the fat and muscle to the bare bones, keeping just one employee who doubles as delivery, maintenance and salesman. He started his company in December 2007 to bank on the strong garment manufacturing in Guangdong province, but after just a year, he found himself in the eye of the storm of the economic downturn.