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Migrant Uygurs assemble success

[ 2009-07-20 11:19]     字号 [] [] []  
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Stories of success encouraged Ayizemuguli Maimaiti to leave her home in Xinjiang's Shufu county to join the army of migrant workers heading to China's east coast in May.

"Many people took money home and told us interesting stories, which we only saw on TV. I was curious so I decided to try my luck," said the 21-year-old Uygur woman, who works in a toy factory in Shaoguan in south China's Guangdong province.

She said she traveled four days by train to Shaoguan and she tries to learn one new sentence in Mandarin every day.

Maimaiti is one of 775 people from her hometown working in Shaoguan, said Aihaiti Shayiti, county head of Shufu.

"One third of them are women, and there are 70 couples among them," said Aihaiti, denying a report in the Washington Post on July 15 that Uygur women were forced to go east to avoid their families receiving hefty fines as part of an alleged "labor export program" organized by local governments in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

"It is ridiculous to say the workers were forced to do the migrant work, since many of them go with their husbands," he said.

Amutijiang Yiliyasi came to the Xuri Toy Factory with his wife. He said most Uygur migrant workers cannot speak Mandarin, so they rely on local governments for job opportunities.

"We need the government's help to get job offers and training. Otherwise, we have no choice but to stay home and farm."

According to local officials in Shufu, the average per-capita yearly income in the agricultural county is 2,500 yuan ($360), which is about two months' salary for a migrant worker.

A massive brawl in the toy factory, where the Uygur migrant workers work in Shaoguan, left two Uygur employees dead and more than 100 injured on June 26.

The brawl allegedly sparked the bloody July 5 riot in the Xinjiang regional capital of Urumqi, in which 197 people died and more than 1,700 were injured. According to police, an unsubstantiated posting on the Internet saying six Xinjiang boys raped two girls at the factory caused the brawl. Two people have been detained on charges of fabricating and spreading the rumors.

Coastal cities like Shaoguan are seeing more ethnic arrivals from inland regions. About 1.5 million migrant workers of different ethnic groups work in Guangdong, according to the provincial government.

"About 100,000 people of different ethnic groups leave Xinjiang for city jobs every year”, Nur Bekri, chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region government, said.

Many local governments organize free technology and language training courses to prepare minority people for migrant jobs, he said. But worker's skills face challenges in a market economy, Bekri added.

"People in Xinjiang need to improve their skills to get accustomed to market changes," he said.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Migrant Uygurs assemble success

About the broadcaster:

Migrant Uygurs assemble success

Nancy Matos is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Nancy is a graduate of the Broadcast Journalism and Media program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Her journalism career in broadcast and print has taken her around the world from New York to Portugal and now Beijing. Nancy is happy to make the move to China and join the China Daily team.