Financial Turmoil Leads to Reverse Migration in China

As more and more of China's "floating population" return from their city jobs to their farms, officials brace for backlash from the recently unemployed.
December 3, 2008, 2pm PST | Judy Chang
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"Fast-rising unemployment has led to an unusual series of strikes and protests. Normally cautious government officials have offered quick concessions and talk openly of their worries about social unrest. Laid-off factory workers in Dongguan overturned patrol cars and clashed with police last Tuesday, and hundreds of taxis parked in front of a government office in nearby Chaozhou over the weekend, one of a series of driver protests.

On Wednesday, workers let go from a liquor factory in northern China mounted a protest in Beijing, at the parent company's headquarters. In the latest sign of economic stress, China's currency fell Monday by its single largest margin on record against the dollar, on expectations the central bank might devalue it to prop up sagging growth.

As the government tries to calm tensions in the cities, it also fears that newly unemployed migrants returning home could upend the already-strained social system in the countryside."

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Published on Tuesday, December 2, 2008 in The Wall Street Journal
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