AbuseMigrants - Chinese Economy's Underside: Abuse of...

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Chinese Economy's Underside: Abuse of Migrants Page 1 of 4 nytimes.com August 26, 2003 THE WORLD'S SWEATSHOP: MIGRANT DESPAIR Chinese Economy's Underside: Abuse of Migrants By JOSEPH KAHN H ANGZHOU, China - From his precarious perch 60 feet above morning rush hour, Wang Fulin watched the restless crowd below. Arms were drawing arches in air, he recalled. They wanted a swan dive. People were chanting, "Jump, jump!" Enraged and afraid, Mr. Wang had scaled the metal frame of a billboard to call attention to his grievances. It was his first day in this bustling east coast city, his first trip outside his home province in southwest China. He had been neglected, robbed and abused. Now they wanted blood. In the end he does not remember how he slipped. He recalls only waking up in a hospital bed with three cracked ribs, a broken hip and a shattered ego. "I told those people that I'm a good man, not a bad man, that I just needed help," he said. "But I could not believe in anybody, and nobody believed in me." The six-story plunge was the coda of a two-day cross-country odyssey, a personal tale of desperation emblematic of the gamble every Chinese migrant worker takes, leaving family behind to live on the fringes of urban society with limited access to housing, education, medical care and the courts. Migrant workers are China's untouchables. They are assumed to be behind every unsolved crime. They are the yokels on the street corners of every city, barely able to speak Mandarin Chinese, wide-eyed with fascination or fear. They are also the dark underside of China's economic success, which has been marked by annual growth of 8 percent for more than a decade and exports to the United States growing so fast that they have surpassed Japan's. In general these people are vulnerable, pliable, cheap to employ and easy to suppress. The migrant workers number well over 100 million, staffing the factories of Asia's export powerhouse. They work long hours in dangerous jobs for low salaries and no benefits. They are barred from forming unions the Communist Party allows just one union, its own - and liable to be fired on a boss's whim. They would not come to the cities if the opportunities did not outweigh the dangers, and the government has taken steps to stop systematic abuses. Beijing recently abolished a law that allowed the authorities to detain rural workers and send them home without legal proceedings. Yet even the official news media offer regular examples of their extreme distress. There are migrants
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This note was uploaded on 04/09/2008 for the course POLYSCI 255 taught by Professor Diamant during the Spring '08 term at Dickinson.

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AbuseMigrants - Chinese Economy's Underside: Abuse of...

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