China's Urban-to-Rural Migration

The global economic downturn is hitting China's urban factories. Millions of migrant workers who had left their farms for factory work are now facing the possibility of making an urban-to-rural migration.
February 24, 2009, 6am PST | Michael Dudley
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"Call it the Long Ride, a modernized and peaceful version of the Long March retreat staged by Mao Zedong's Communist army 75 years ago. Only the current retreat is being staged by China's army of suddenly jobless migrant workers - an estimated 20 million of them and counting.

In addition to the estimated 20 million, another 5 or 6 million migrant workers could lose their jobs in the month to come. Some argue that even those numbers underestimate the scope of what is happening.

While the overall numbers don't look bad when stacked up against the gloom in Western economies - the Chinese economy is expected to grow between 6 and 8 per cent this year - they still represent a significant slowdown for a country used to double-digit growth.

Worse news may be yet to come: Exports, the country's economic lifeblood, plunged 17.5 per cent in January. The crisis puts in peril the government's efforts to lift hundreds of millions of peasants out of poverty and to close the staggering gap between the country's urban rich and rural poor."

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Published on Saturday, February 21, 2009 in The Globe and Mail
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