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Cablegate: New Zhejiang Migrant Policy Focuses On Maintaining

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RR RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHGH #0374/01 2400903
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 280903Z AUG 09
FM AMCONSUL SHANGHAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8243
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 3039
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 2179
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 0637
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 2344
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 2170
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 1973
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0057
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0538
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0749
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHINGTON DC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0105
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 8894

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SHANGHAI 000374

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/CM, DRL
NSC FOR BUSBY
STATE PASS USTR FOR STRATFORD/WINTER
DOC FOR ITA/MAC
TREASURY FOR OASIA - DOHNER/WINSHIP/YANG
TREASURY FOR SED - LOEVINGER/OWENS/VAN HEUVELEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON ELAB PHUM CH
SUBJECT: NEW ZHEJIANG MIGRANT POLICY FOCUSES ON MAINTAINING
"STABILITY"

REF: A. (A) SHANGHAI 66
B. (B) SHANGHAI 57
C. (C) GUANGZHOU 510
D. (D) GUANGZHOU 498

(U) This message is sensitive but unclassified. Not for
distribution outside USG channels.

1. (SBU) Summary: Zhejiang's new residency policy focuses on
maintaining social stability in the midst of an economic
downturn, as the Provincial Public Security Bureau aims to keep
closer track of migrant workers in and out of one of China's
wealthiest provinces. The officials avoided specifically
discussing migrants from Xinjiang, but they blamed migrant
workers in general for being the primary source of crime and
social instability. End summary.

Zhejiang Residency Policy: Less Reform Than Advertised

--------------------------------------------- ---------

2. (SBU) Caijing magazine, arguably China's most popular and
provocative economic monthly, reported in May on Zhejiang
Province's proposed plan to "abolish" its residency registration
requirement for migrant workers from other provinces and allow
them to obtain "permanent resident status." Under the new
regulations, according to the report, a person would qualify for
"permanent residence" if he or she lived in Zhejiang for three
consecutive years and had a stable job. (Note: Zhejiang's
official population is 52 million. It is estimated, however,
that between 10 and 12 million individuals living there are not
permanent residents of the province, including 6.4 million
migrant workers and 800,000 students. End Note.)

3. (SBU) Zhejiang government officials, however, provided a
different explanation of the new law during meetings August 13
in the provincial capital Hangzhou. According to Provincial
Labor and Social Security Bureau Deputy Division Director Cao
Jianguo, the regulations, which were passed by the Provincial
People's Congress in the spring and will be implemented in
October, requires migrant workers to have a resident permit if
they work in Zhejiang. (Note: A resident permit is not the same
as a local hukou registration. Resident permits are for
temporary residents and provide only limited access to social
services.) According to Zhejiang Provincial Development and
Reform Commission (ZPDRC) Economic Reform Division Deputy
Director Ye Ke, Zhejiang's new residency policy is in line with
direction from Beijing to "improve the management of and service
for migrant workers." Migrants must apply for a resident permit
within 30 days of moving to Zhejiang under the new regulations,
Ye said.

Keeping Track of Migrants in a Tough Economy

--------------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Zhejiang officials said the new policy would offer
greater "stability" for families, as children of migrant workers
with resident permits can study in local schools. They also

SHANGHAI 00000374 002 OF 003


cited the benefits of remaining in the province for more than
three years, which would qualify a worker for a "long-term"
residency card and enhanced social service benefits. According
to Labor and Social Security Bureau official Cao, the primary
impetus for the new residency permit structure, however, is the
desire of the Public Security Bureau to obtain a better estimate
on numbers of migrant workers moving in and out of the province.

5. (SBU) Zhejiang's export-oriented small- and medium-sized
enterprises (SMEs) have been hit hard by a drop in global demand
(Refs A and B). In a struggling economy, migration to and from
Zheijang has been more unsettled. When export-oriented
businesses shut their doors in late 2008, approximately seven
percent of Zhejiang's migrant workers returned home early
according to a labor survey, said Cao. Most of these migrants
have since returned to find work in Zhejiang, he added.
However, the labor situation is "complicated" because of a
mismatch between company needs and laborers' skills, leaving
some migrants without work and some industries (particularly in
southwestern Zhejiang's Wenzhou Municipality) short of skilled
labor. The bright side, Cao asserted, is Zhejiang has generated
400,000 new jobs in the first half of 2009, ahead of the 2008
pace when 600,000 were created during the entire year.

Economy: Not Out of the Woods Yet

---------------------------------

6. (SBU) Despite the improved job figures, provincial officials
warned the economy still faces "uncertainty," a theme echoed by
Premier Wen Jiabao when he visited Zhejiang August 22-24.
Zhejiang, as one of China's wealthiest provinces, has received
little support from the Central Government's stimulus package.
The province's electronics industry is in particularly bad
shape, warned Huang Dong, an official at the ZPDRC.
State-controlled media gave extensive coverage to Premier Wen's
three-day inspection tour when he visited SMEs in Wenzhou and
Lishui to offer encouragement.

7. (SBU) Officials were heartened by 2nd quarter statistics. In
particular, fixed-asset investment increased by 14 percent in
the first half of 2009. Despite good news in the short term, an
indicator of the long-term challenge ahead, however, is the
province's aim to restructure its economy to emphasize services,
which currently account for only 40 percent of the province's
output, Huang said. He stressed Zhejiang needs to increase its
investments in transportation, logistics, and finance, as well
as consumer services in restaurants, hotels, and tourism.

Blaming the Bad Elements

------------------------

8. (SBU) Continued concern about the economy -- and its impact
on social stability -- was the impetus for the new residency
law, officials said. Cao Jianguo said the top priority of the
Labor and Social Security Bureau is to prevent layoffs.
Companies are not permitted to shut their doors or lay off

SHANGHAI 00000374 003 OF 003


workers in large numbers. Cao said companies could offer
additional leave or training programs in order to keep employees
on the rolls and maintain social stability.

9. (SBU) Requiring migrants to register for resident permits
will help maintain stability, the officials said. They avoided
specifically discussing migrants from Xinjiang or the recent
unrest in Guangdong Province (Refs C and D), but they blamed
migrant workers in general for being the primary source of crime
and social instability. Ye Ke from the ZPDRC claimed 84 percent
of criminals in Zhejiang are migrant workers. Eliminating the
hukou residency registration requirement in the near-term would
be impossible, Ye said. In fact, the new residency policy
reflects a need for more stringent requirements in the midst of
an economic downturn.

Comment

-------

10. (SBU) Although initially pitched to the media as a means to
better serve the migrant worker population in Zhejiang, the
province's new residency regulations are more focused on
"managing" migrants in order to maintain social stability.
Zhejiang provincial officials were open and frank when
discussing the regulations and the provincial government's
motivations for implementing them. Post will continue to
monitor revisions to labor regulations in East China and their
implications for migrants and impacts on labor mobility.

CAMP

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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