Sunday, February 1, 2009

China's Newest Export

This is an interesting twist on the economic crisis.

From McClatchy Newspapers:

Cheap labor has helped China become the world's top producer of a variety of consumer goods, including televisions and DVD players and apple juice and clothing. So it seemed only a matter of time before China would come up with a new export: the laborers themselves.

Recruiters come to hamlets around counties like this one in Sichuan Province in southwest China and offer salaries double or triple what workers can make at home.

"They said, 'If you go abroad, you can earn a lot more,' " said Yang Mingxian, whose husband traveled to Saudi Arabia to work on a construction project late last year. "He just did it for the money."

However, Beijing is discovering pitfalls in looking after workers overseas. A scattered few are getting killed in terrorist attacks. Others have been kidnapped or encountered peril in their host countries. Still others say they've been cheated by the companies that hired them and faced sudden deportation back to China after they lodged complaints.

Read On
Theoretically, going abroad to work as a Chinese migrant could be a good idea. Making money in a more valuable currency and having the opportunity to sent that money back home would be great for migrants struggling to find work.

But like a lot of get-rich schemes, this one is not as great as it sounds.

The problems that your average Chinese person could encounter abroad in the Middle East or Africa are mind-boggling. As the Chinese guy says at the end of the article:
"We don't want to go back to the (Persian) Gulf area. If something happens, they show guns," he said as more than a dozen villagers gathered around.

"If you steal things, they cut off your fingers," Feng said, making a reference to Islamic law that drew astonishment from his listeners. "If you look at a woman for longer than three seconds, they can call the police to take you away."

Of course, the way things are going at the moment for rural migrants in China, there are probably going to be a lot more downtrodden and frustrated farmers getting suckered into taking the bait on these trips abroad.

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