China Fears Restive Migrants As Jobs Disappear in Cities

By Shai Oster, via the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Fan is among hundreds of thousands of China’s 130 million — known as the “floating population” — being cast out of urban jobs in factories and at construction sites.

China’s roaring industrial economy has been abruptly quieted by the effects of the global financial crisis. Rural provinces that supplied much of China’s factory manpower are watching the beginnings of a wave of reverse migration that has the potential to shake the stability of the world’s most populous nation.

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.

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