Indeed, Dolven relates that some Chinese urban migrants have improved their lives by working in cities. It provided them money to furnish their basic needs and allow for certain luxuries that would not have been accessible if they did not work in city. However, Anhui is just one of the many provinces vying for jobs in booming cities and all of them have a large surplus work force which implies that the competition is tough. According to Dolven, this could mean lower salaries and employers having little incentive to improve working conditions. However, migrants find that they are better off being employed than trying to farm unfertile land.
The large surplus of rural workers is already manifesting its effects on the workers thru unfair labor practices. Employees, particularly in cleaning and construction jobs, must make do with low salaries or face termination. Employees sometimes withheld wages due so as to ensure that the workers return after the holidays. As Dolven relates, some of them even threatened to commit suicide because they were not given their wages and were prevented from going to their rural homes. Yet, Chinese officials and the migrants alike support the scheme because it provided them and their family prosperity that was not available in their rural home.
For my first impression, the article seems to ask the reader whether the availability of urban jobs is indeed beneficial for the rural surplus workers but upon deeper contemplation, I came to recognize that the article was trying to question whether the success of China in the global market is being felt and enjoyed by all sectors of society particularly the rural poor. For my analysis, I would like to first present what caused the boom in Chinese cities. Since 1978 with the efforts of Deng Xiaoping, China has encouraged free trade and abolished trade restrictions step by step. The government has changed its policy from the administration of foreign trade by the central government to giving much greater autonomy to provincial governments and allowing private enterprises to directly engage in foreign trade. Chinese and foreign investors have aggressively poured in money in the country leading to a boom in many industries since China presents such a large labor and consumer market. This created the employment opportunities for rural workers. When China was reformed, it was able to reduce to 24 million from 256 million Chinese living below the poverty line (Jintao, 2005). This alone could attest that the developments are indeed beneficial for the Chinese people. Undeniably, the availability of jobs does bring about social improvement.
Nonetheless, Dolven's article would show that while the Chinese people are benefitting from their employment now, they would suffer in the future. They would be open to exploitation and other unfair labor practices such as low wages. They may not even be granted health insurances, retirement plans and other benefits because these