From The China Blog, Time:
If China’s boom has a group of unrecognized heroes it must surely be the 120 million or so migrant workers whose labor is the force that keeps the huge dynamo turning. Migrants do all the grunt work that no one else wants to take on, toiling in mines, constructions sites and factories, usually in unspeakable conditions and often facing severe danger. Estimates vary but even taking officials figures at their face value (a silly thing to do admittedly), there were more than 8000 workplace deaths last year in China. Labor activists say that the real figure is much higher. In mines alone, for example, some 6000 deaths have reported annually in recent years (they dropped somewhat last year) but the good people at the Hong Kong based China Labor Bulletin believe the real figure is several times that.
Many of these workers endure these appalling conditions to improve their own lives. But from my experience, the desire to see their children have better lives is an even stronger drive. I recall sitting with Xie Daibing in the tiny room he called home in the windblasted, arid northern province of Shanxi. Originally from Gansu. Xie, who worked in a nearby coal mine, had invited me into the space his company had alloted him, barely big enough to hold the traditional kang, a heated stone platform that served as bed, play area, study and dining table for Xie, his wife, their two daughters and a couple of sleepy chickens.[Full Text]