Rural

Delivery workers drive their tricycles along a street in Beijing, China, on 5 January 2022. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

Plight of China's new generation of young migrant workers highlights pitfalls of labour reforms

Over the past three decades, China has implemented and revised its labour regulations in an effort to progress its market economy. Despite the strengthening of labour protection, young migrant workers have fallen through the cracks. Chinese economics professor Li Jingkui believes that the labour reforms have led to the social phenomenon of “Sanhe legends” — youths who are caught in an employment cycle characterised by poor working conditions, low wages and a lack of stability.
Men in China's rural areas find themselves in a tough situation when it comes to marriage. (Noel Celis/AFP)

When millions of rural Chinese men are desperate for a wife

In China’s rural areas, despite traditional pressures to get married, young men are finding themselves in a difficult position as the high gender imbalance has led to a short supply of marriageable women. Furthermore, men who are not well-off cannot find wives, with many of the women looking to marry men with better prospects in other towns and cities as a means of upward social mobility. These social problems have led to the abduction and trafficking of women in rural China. Zaobao correspondent Wong Siew Fong visits some villages to find out more about these crimes.
A farmer tends to his rice field in the village of Yangchao in Liping County, Guizhou province, China, 11 June 2021. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Governing modern Chinese villages is a big challenge

Chinese academic Hu Ying notes that rural governance in China is facing new and diverse sets of challenges. While traditional rural governance looks after people's need for money, food and to protect their livelihoods, current rural issues could include the provision of public services, targeted poverty alleviation, land management and ecological protection. Not only that, traditional value systems are now a thing of the past as villagers gain an increased awareness of individual rights. The authorities would need different skills, and to be supported by new social structures in order to do their job well.
A woman rests on the steps of an underpass in Beijing, China, on 28 February 2022. (Noel Celis/AFP)

A Singaporean in China: Can there be justice for trafficked women sold as wives?

Former journalist Jessie Tan has generally felt safe living and moving around Beijing in the last one and a half years. However, the recent news of human trafficking in China’s rural counties has shed light on a parallel world that puts women’s safety at risk. The case of the Feng county chained mother of eight has led to some actions from the authorities. However, more can be done and the Chinese public wants harsher punishments for perpetrators and more resources allocated to help prevent such crimes from happening again.
Based on the photo in this marriage certificate, the appearance and age of the woman the authorities initially identified as 'surnamed Yang' did not match the footage of the chained woman circulated online. (Weibo)

‘The world has abandoned me’: Chinese women married into slavery?

Chinese academic Lorna Wei says that the authorities’ determination to root out human trafficking may waver, but netizens’ voices speaking up for the victims — often women married off into other counties — will not be silenced. This may be the only comfort that countless women suffering alone can take solace in.
After making some comparisons, netizens believe that the chained woman (left) resembles Li Ying, a missing woman from Sichuan. (Internet)

Chained mother of eight brings attention to abduction and sale of women in rural China

The viral posts of a woman chained by the neck in Feng county, Jiangsu province, have ignited public outcry. It is not just the plight of the mother of eight that has enraged netizens, but also the abhorrent handling of the case by local authorities and communities. Zaobao correspondent Chen Jing uncovers the hidden layers of injustice, gender imbalance and messy governance the incident has brought to light.
People walk through an alley decorated with traditional lanterns near Houhai lake in Beijing, China, on 2 February 2022. (Noel Celis/AFP)

US academic: Equality is a myth, whether in the US or China

Wu Guo notes that equality is very much a mirage, whether in the socialist or liberal democracy conception of the term. The sum total of one’s head start in life is often tied to his or her family background. And often, no amount of levelling up can change that. But this does not mean that equality is of no relevance or should not be aspired to. Adopting an attitude of equality can help ensure that people’s rights are protected, even if the ideal of equality may never be achieved.
A barber cuts a man's hair along a road in Beijing, China, on 7 December 2021. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

How being a good Samaritan can ‘spoil the market’

While some businessmen have good intentions in offering goods and services at lower prices, they could also be “spoiling the market” and making it harder for others to make a living. Such actions may invite backlash, whether in village scuffles, or writ large, protests and anti-dumping measures between countries. China, the world’s factory, has borne the brunt of such pushback. Industries in other countries are affected, as capital moves freely between borders but labour stays in place. Those who feel they are losing out may hold grudges and end up dealing a big blow to society.
People dressed in Hanfu, or Han clothing, walk at a theme park on Chinese National Costume Day in Changsha, Hunan province, China, 26 March 2020. (CNS photo via Reuters)

Was the Tang dynasty the golden era of women's rights in China?

Just as women in China today, especially rural women, have to contend with male favouritism and diminished rights, women in the Tang dynasty were also restricted by rules and social practices, even if the era in which female emperor Wu Zetian ruled was thought to be the golden era of women’s rights.