That ambition drove Li Hong, 36, to take over a clothing factory last year in Haizhu. Since arriving from Hubei 16 years ago, Ms. Li had worked her way from the factory floor to management, and she was hungry to keep advancing and betting on herself. She knew the economy was shaky, but with so many factories going under, she could get one at a good price.
“Opportunities come to those who are prepared, but even if there aren’t opportunities, we want to go find them,” she said this summer in her small back office, where she kept a couch for naps during long shifts.
But this spring’s lockdown in Shanghai cut off orders from a major client there. Then came the Guangzhou outbreak. Factories in Haizhu were ordered to close. Ms. Li tested positive and was sent to a makeshift hospital.
After being released two weeks later, she returned to Hubei because her home in Guangzhou home was sealed off, she said by phone. Her factory lease expires in January; she did not know if she would renew.
She had always considered herself a go getter, especially in a world where female factory bosses are rare. But she knew that individual drive went only so far. Even after Guangzhou eased restrictions after the protests, she worried that local officials were merely trying to avoid more bad publicity, not listening to people’s demands.