Cultural IQ In this Issue
1) China’s Migrant Workers
2) Guangdong manufacturing
clusters face big labor shortage
Fostering Connections, Illuminating Insights 3) Upcoming Event – “China
Issue # 10, March, 2010
China’s Migrant Workers
Zhang and his wife left their hometown, a small village in
Sichuan Province in the early 1990s to work in a garment
factory in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. When they left
home, their first baby daughter was only one year old. Zhang’s
wife has tears in her eyes when she talks about the hard
decision she had to make between staying at home with her
child and leaving home to come to work in Guangzhou with her
husband to make money.
The couple left their young daughter to her grandma and some
years later, their second child, a son. Working hard in
Guangzhou since early 1990s, Zhang and his wife only go back
home once a year during the Chinese new year holiday to visit
their home and two children.
Although their circumstances have improved much over the years, the emotional gap and connection between
the couple and their teenage daughter is widening. Torn between expectations of their daughter to study hard
and live a different life from theirs, and their regret at not being at her side over the years, the story of Zhang
and his family is a true reflection of the 130 million migrant workers in China.
This award‐winning documentary – Last Train Home, casts an emotionally wrenching portrait of migrant
workers in China. It has already become one of the most acclaimed Canadian documentaries in recent years.
For view of trailer, follow this link http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/movies/article/770425‐‐last‐train‐
The term “Migrant Workers” refers to the 130 million farm workers who leave their farms and country side
home and seek jobs in cities. They take jobs in all industrial sectors without whom the prosperity or even the
normal lives of those living in cities is becoming impossible. From construction and infrastructure, to
manufacturing and export‐oriented production, transportation and commodities are just few of the
necessities of which farm workers have become the backbone.
During the Chinese New Year holiday, migrant workers return home to reunite with their families. This is the
only time of year when they go back to their home in the countryside. Due to the massive numbers, this has
become a national phenomenon and is now called “Spring Festival Transportation”.
Guangdong manufacturing clusters face big
With the ending of Chinese new year holidays, news about
labor shortage in export oriented manufacturing clusters
in Guangdong, Zhejiang area has become the headline of
major news media. It is said that these manufacturing
clusters are having great difficulties recruiting workers at
One reason could be that there has been an obvious
improvement in economic recovery after an increase in
manufacturing orders. This is good news compared with the massive reduction at this time last year.
However, according to a report, there is approx. 6‐8% decline of migrant workers coming back to their original
employers after the holidays. This is mainly because the migrant workers are no longer attracted by the salary
and benefit packages offered. There are equally attractive opportunities in their hometown following the
government’s stimulus package.
A third reason is the shortage of skilled workers in the coastal areas. With the improvement of technology and
manufacturing processes, export oriented factories need more skilled workers than laborers. The structural
balance of labor force in China is facing more and more challenges with the government’s commitment to
improve technology and industrial structure.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had an online dialogue with internet users on Feb. 27th, during which he
exchanged views with virtual internet users for 2 hours. The topics discussed covered real estate prices,
educational reform and battles against corruption.
Premier Wen showed great concern over the issue of unemployment. According to him, there will be 6.3
million college/university graduates in 2010. Unemployment in the cities is estimated at around 24 million.
Unemployed graduates, farm workers and middle‐low income residents are one of the prime concerns.
Inability to tackle this problem may be the reason for major social upheaval, enlarging the gap between rich
A Webinar series bringing you and your business closer to China
Paul Evans, Professor of Political Science and China expert at the University
of British Columbia, spoke at a conference on Canada‐China relations last
May in Toronto. He described China as “the good, the bad, the ugly, and
With closer ties, cultural and economic co‐operation, a deepening of
globalization and the rise of Asia, particularly China and India, the
dynamics of global change require not only an open and curious mind, but ongoing communication and
“China Update” is a program which aims at providing the most current news and insight into what’s happening,
why it’s happening, and how it’s affecting the social and business dynamics of global and local communities
and the environment we live in. Its mission is to inform, share, discuss, learn, appreciate and build better
The Webinars, which are presented once every two weeks, will cover a wide range of topics, including history,
social change, educational systems, media, burning issues, people’s stories, business practices, sector analysis,
important trade shows and current trends.
Some of the features which distinguish the “China Update” program include:
Sector analysis – aimed at providing market and business information for specific industries and sectors
Guest speakers – bringing people with a wealth of experience and expertise to share insights and best
Upcoming opportunities – highlighting conferences, trade shows, and finding business opportunities
Survival Business Chinese (Mandarin) – acquiring basics of the language will boost your confidence when
conducting business in China
We invite your feedback to the “China Update” program. Please pass it on to anyone you feel might be
interested in this information.
The first 4 sessions will be complimentary. Thereafter, it will become a minimal fee membership program,
whose benefits will include access to a virtual worldwide community with unlimited resources and recordings.
When: The first Webinar will start on Wednesday, March 24th, 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Host: Christine Gao, President of Cultural IQ.
Contact me early to reserve your seat.
Christine Gao, M.Ed, PCC
Cultural IQ, Fostering Connections, Embracing Diversity