New Report Redefines China’s Massive Migrant Workforce

Posted October 11th, 2011 at 12:20 pm (UTC-5)
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A new Hong Kong study says young people in China’s 200 million-strong migrant workforce are better educated, more knowledgeable than ever and willing to strike for better pay.

The report Tuesday by the non-governmental China Labor Bulletin, which advocates for strengthening worker rights, also said that tens of millions of young rural Chinese migrants are increasingly adept at using the Internet as a tool to organize labor protests.

Bulletin spokesman Geoffrey Crothall tells Reuters television that China’s new generation of migrants is increasingly trying to build lives in Chinese cities and is less likely than ever to return to the countryside.

Analysts say more than 100 million rural Chinese will settle in towns and cities in the next decade. Experts identify many of them as migrants who lack medical and retirement insurance who are seeking work in China’s growing manufacturing sector.

The English-language China Daily newspaper quotes a report from the National Population and Family Planning Commission that defines the new generation of migrants as those born after 1980, and says they account for nearly half of the country’s 200 million itinerant population. The report says more than 5 percent of the young migrants are college-educated, and says illiteracy has almost been eliminated in the young grouping.

The reports are the latest in a series of analyses prompted in part by a series of migrant disturbances that rocked several Chinese cities earlier this year. In June, thousands of Chinese security forces were deployed in eastern Zhejiang province, after a village chief was reportedly beaten while trying to negotiate an increase in land compensation fees. Riot police in southern Guangdong province were deployed in Zengcheng to restore order after the alleged mistreatment of a pregnant migrant worker by security officials.