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  • 1. 两亿甚至更多的中国出外打工人员这个周末回家过年,他们面临着一场前所未有的危机:失业和不健全的社会保障网。 每年一度的春节假日是家庭团聚、回顾过去、展望未来的日子。对中国的农民来说,新年还是为来年去哪里工作制定具体计划的时候。过去这些年,很 多人每年从遥远的外地带着打工挣来的大把钞票回家,年后又和新的打工者一起出发。 但是今年,很多人年前回家的时候并没指望年后再回去。中国媒体报导说,由于工厂关闭,工人被解雇,1,000 多万在外务工人员几周前就回到农村老家 了。例 如,在中国中部的正阳县,25,000 名打工者去年 12 月份丢掉工厂的工作后就回家了,占该地区出外务工人员的 60%以上。 这种情况已经 开始令人感受到痛苦了。现年 35 岁的蔡琴来自中国西南部贫穷的贵州省某村庄,是一家工厂的工人。自从七年前她跟随丈夫到沿海地区 打工以来,每年的春节都是 全家快乐的时刻。她们两个人每个月的工资加起来已经涨到 2,000 元(合 292 美元),两口子用存款盖了房子,还负担这蔡 琴小叔子上高中的学费。 但今年他们回家的心情却是喜忧参半。蔡琴和丈夫工作的玩具工厂毗邻香港,去年 11 月份关门,他们俩只好提前回家。以前过年他们总会带着衣服和其 他礼物回家,这次却两手空空。蔡琴说,不知道年后怎么办,想起来就头疼。 这 种情况引起人们对中国社会稳定的严重担忧,农村人口仍然占中国人口的大部分。根据中国官方数据,自 1990 年以来,农民收入已经增长了六倍。 非农业收入对 农村家庭的重要性与日俱增。根据中国国家统计局(National Bureau of Statistics of China)的数据,中国农村家庭 2007 年人均年收入中有 1,596 元为工资收入,占总收入的比例为 39%,高于 1990 年的 20%。 加州大学尔湾分校(University of California in Irvine)研究中国国内人口流动的教授多萝西•梭林格(Dorothy Solinger)表示,过去几年,不论打工者处境多么 艰难,他们都是向上流动的,而现在可能变成向下流动的趋势。 这 给中国共产党提出了挑战,共产党通过维持 30 年的经济高速增长巩固了其地位的合法性。政府正在推出各项措施,给失业的打工者找事做。中国南 部的广东省是出 口大省,已经有几千家工厂停业,省劳动局去年 12 月份公布相关规章,鼓励当地政府机构要求下级政府部门为失业的农民工创造就业 机会或提供必要帮助。劳动局 也开始向失业人员提供免费的就业服务和培训课程,向打算自主创业的人给予资金援助。 不过专家认为出现大规模骚乱的可能性不大。中国农民具 有很强的忍耐力;他们也有非正式互助网络,例如大家庭,以及村里约束力很强的富帮穷非正 式义务。中国社会科学院(Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)人口流动专家王春光表示,这段时间会很艰难,但他认为社会稳定不会出现严重问题。 周三在北京西站候车准 备回家过年的农民工心态乐观,虽然他们估计下个月回来后新工作要难找得多。河南省裴村店村农民翟远辉说,“我肯定能找到 事情做”。他已经在北京呆了三年, 做零工,挣钱贴补家用。他说,“我在北京只是到处打散工,每个月就能挣 1,000 元左右;没来北京的时候,我一年 挣上 2,000 元就算是幸运了。 翟远辉坐在一条叠着的毯子(他随身携带的少量财产之一)上说,“我知道回来以后工作不好找,僧多粥少。不过需要的话我什么都能做,只要有活儿, 不论大小我都接;我有盼头。”翟远辉和他的朋友说,如果形势糟糕透顶,他们随时都可以回农村老家种地,家里种的粮食足够吃了。 As some 200 million or more migrant laborers head home this weekend to celebrate the Lunar New Year, they are facing an unprecedented crisis: unemployment and a fraying safety net. The annual holiday is a time for far-flung families to gather together, look back over the past year and plan for the future. For rural Chinese it is something more: a time to make concrete plans about where they will work next year. In years' past, many have returned home flush with cash from their distant adventures, and set out after the holiday with new migrants in tow. But this year, many are heading home with no prospect of returning to their jobs. Chinese media report that upwards of 10 million former migrant workers have been back on the farm already for weeks, as factories have shuttered and summarily fired their employees. In central China's Zhenyang County, for example, 25,000 migrants returned home in December -- more than 60% of the migrant labor force in the area -- after losing their factory jobs. The impact is already painful. For Cai Qin, a 35-year-old factory worker from a village in China's impoverished southwestern province of Guizhou, Spring Festival has been a joyous family occasion ever since she set out with her husband for the coast seven years ago. The couple's combined wages have risen to 2,000 yuan, or $292, a month, and they have used their savings to build a house and pay for high school tuition for Ms. Cai's brother-in-law. But this year, their homecoming has been bittersweet. The toy factory near Hong Kong where Ms. Cai and her husband worked closed in November, sending the couple home early. In previous years, they would return with clothes and other gifts, but this time they arrived empty-handed. 'We don't know what to do after the holidays,' Ms. Cai said. 'Our heads hurt just to think about it.' Cases like this are causing serious concerns about social stability in China, where rural residents still make up most of the population. Rural incomes have risen sixfold since 1990, according to official
  • 2. Chinese data. Income from work off the farm has become increasingly important to most rural households. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, 1,596 yuan, or 39%, of per capita annual income of the nation's rural households, came from wages in 2007, up from 20% in 1990. 'In past years, regardless of how miserable their situation was, migrants had upward mobility,' says Dorothy Solinger, a professor at the University of California in Irvine, who studies China's internal migration. 'Now it's potentially downward mobility.' That poses a challenge to the Communist Party, which has staked its legitimacy on delivering three decades of high-speed growth. Already, concerned governments are responding with programs to keep unemployed migrants busy. In southern Guangdong province, China's export engine where thousands of manufacturers have gone out of business, the provincial labor bureau released regulations in December encouraging local government agencies to require local governments to create jobs or provide necessary assistance to laid-off migrant workers. The bureau also started providing free job services and training courses for the unemployed, and financial assistance for those who want to start their own businesses. Experts warn, however, against predicting massive unrest. Chinese peasants are resilient and have an informal network of help, ranging from extended families to strong informal obligations in villages for the wealthy to help out the poor. 'It will be a very difficult time,' says Wang Chunguang, an expert on migration at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 'but I don't expect serious problems with social instability.' At the Beijing West Railway Station on Wednesday, migrant workers waiting for trains to go home for the New Year were optimistic, even though they anticipate having much more difficulty finding new jobs when they return next month. 'I'm sure I will find something here,' said Zhai Yuanhui, a farmer from Peicundian village in Henan province who has spent three years in Beijing doing odd jobs to earn more money for his family. 'I can make about 1,000 yuan per month in Beijing just doing small jobs here and there. . . . Before coming here I was lucky to earn 2,000 yuan in a whole year.' Sitting atop a folded blanket -- one of the few possessions he carries around -- he said, 'I know it will be difficult to find a job when I come back. There are more people looking for work, and fewer openings. But I'll do whatever I have to -- wherever a small thing can be done, I will do it. I have hope.' And in the worst-case scenario, Mr. Zhai and his friends say they can always return to their farm, where there is plenty of home-grown food to eat.