Beijing seeks to reduce its low-end workforce


The Beijing News, August 3, 2010

Beijing has released a plan for fostering an outstanding workforce, aiming to be a home to twelve categories of talented workers by 2020. The Beijing News ran the news under a headline that reflected how the changes would effect the city’s population of migrant workers:

Municipal People’s Congress Recommends Shrinking the Low-End Labor Force

Small enterprises and stores that attract large transient populations will be forced out; high-end talent can choose freely between Beijing and Tianjin

An investigation team tasked by the MPC with studying Beijing’s transient population, which numbers 7.6 million people, and over 10 million when military personnel and unregistered short-term visitors are taken into account, issued a report in late July that made the following recommendations:

Improve withdrawal mechanisms, decisively eliminate a number of low-end and labor-intensive industries, force the withdrawal of the “five small enterprises” and “six small venues,” and increase the barriers to entry to all markets. Increase government support for reorganizing the traditional service industry and social-oriented service industry to modernize its organizational system, centralize management, and increase efficiency through staff reductions. On the urban outskirts and in rural areas, push for the development of supermarkets, convenience stores, and specialty stores. Plan a unified, city-wide, improved recycling system and offer support to a number of leading enterprises in the recycling sector.

There are a number of different lists of “small enterprises” and “small venues” in circulation; the government website of Beijing’s Daxing District, which has been cleaning up small-scale industry for several years, lists the following: “Small-scale chemical, garment, furniture, processing, and manufacturing enterprises, and small KTVs, web cafés, bath houses, markets, restaurants, and guest houses.”

The newspaper interviewed Li Xiaojuan, head of the Judicial Affairs Office of Beijing Municipal People’s Congress, who brought up the example of Shunyi District, whose efforts to control population were the focus of the investigation team’s study. The district managed to reduce the workforce at a refuse and recycling village from more than 3,000 people to just 832.

Li concludes, “In sum, Shunyi’s methods are pretty good. What Shunyi can do, Beijing can do too. We arrived at a consensus: economic development does not mean uncontrollable population. As the capital, Beijing must control its population.”

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