Headline News


3 rural migrant workers enter top legislature

Source: null | 03-02-2008 08:42

Special Report:   2008 NPC & CPPCC sessions

BEIJING -- China's National People's Congress (NPC) confirmed on Thursday the qualification of three rural migrant workers as newly-elected deputies, making them the first batch of "spokespersons" for about 200 million migrant laborers in the top legislature.

They were approved for a five-year term as deputies to the 11th NPC at the 32nd session of the 10th NPC Standing Committee, which concluded on Thursday, and they will attend the upcoming first annual session of the 11th NPC.

All the three were elected in major migrant-worker destinations, including Shanghai, Guangdong and Chongqing.

The trio, who were in a list of 2,987 new deputies to the 11th NPC unveiled on Thursday, are:

-- Zhu Xueqin, 31, formerly a villager in east China's Jiangsu Province. With only a high school diploma, she went to Shanghai in 1995 to seek better job opportunities. Now she is vice chairwoman for the trade union of a noted Shanghai-based fashion company.

-- Hu Xiaoyan, 34, a native of southwestern Sichuan Province. Hu has worked at a building ceramics company in Foshan City in the southern Guangdong Province for five years. She had been promoted to deputy workshop chief.

-- Hei Xinwen, a native of central Henan Province. She is a deputy workshop director in a computer company in southwest Chongqing Municipality.

China's migrant laborers from rural areas power the country's fast-growing economy by working, often far from home, as construction and factory workers, restaurant staff, domestic servants and drivers.

The huge, but usually disadvantaged group, however, face various problems, including pay arrears, workplace injury compensation, health care and their children's schooling.

Fang Ning, deputy head with the Institute of Political Science under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said "Admitting rural migrant workers to the national legislature signifies the government's acknowledgement that they are an important part of the country's industry."

Han Dayuan, professor with Beijing-based Renmin University of China, said "The election will facilitate immediate, direct expression of migrant workers' appeals in national legislation so as to enable them have more say in policy-making."

"Migrant workers themselves most clearly know their hardships and more accurately present problems," Han explained.

"I am very excited. My colleagues and friends used to turn to me for help when they were in trouble. Now I have had a very good opportunity to help more migrant workers," said Hu Xiaoyan after being elected an NPC deputy.

She said education would be her top priority as she worried most about her two daughters studying in her hometown of Sichuan.

"I think the government should attach more importance to dealing with the schooling of the children of migrant workers," she added.

Migrant workers have previously held positions in provincial and city-level legislative bodies. They have become more involved in the development of the regions where they work.

Last year's 10th NPC annual session approved a resolution on deputy election for the 11th NPC, stipulating that provinces and municipalities with a large population of rural migrant workers should have an NPC deputy quota for them.

It, however, did not specify the minimum number of deputies to be elected from migrant workers.

The resolution also proposed an increase of lawmakers from farmers and workers, saying that the NPC deputy number from these groups is dropping in recent years.

According to the newly-confirmed name list, deputies to the 11th NPC from workers have doubled the number of the previous term, while the number of deputies from farmers increased by more than 70 percent.

The proportion of deputies of provincial officials, however, was cut by one third.

With the changes in social structure, it has become a common aspiration for optimizing NPC deputy structure to enable each social strata, especially the grassroots groups, to have its own "political mouthpieces" to represent their rights and interests, Fang said.

The First Session of the 11th NPC is slated for March 5.