Made in China, Wholesale markets, Eminonu, Istanbul
Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is surrounded by wholesale markets where retailers and consumers from all over Turkey come to buy. We found ourselves speaking with a textile salesman called Ekrem. He works for a company, Zumrut Tekstil, that owns a factory near Beijing, China. We were hoping to make a personal connection between Istanbul and Guangzhou, a city we visited earlier in our project. He pointed us in the direction of the Sark Han wholesale market, where the products, and some of the workers, were from China. “Made in China” boxes dominated Sark Han’s five story building. Every stall displayed products from the boxes, and when empty they are sent to the basement to be torn up for disposal. We found some migrant workers who were in Turkey to help smooth the supply chain from one culture to another, though none wanted to speak to us. A Turkish wholesaler, who visits China four times a year for 15 days at a time, suggested the Chinese were not talking to us for fear of being found out. “It’s more than likely they are working here illegally. They enter on a 3-month tourist visa, some overstay, some leave and re-enter Turkey to get a new tourist visa”.