Migrant workers return home for better job prospects

Updated: 2015-06-20 11:05


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CHONGQING - While millions of migrant workers struggle to make ends meet in China's cities, many people are bucking the trend and returning to their rural hometowns to start their own businesses thanks to government initiatives.

Zhang Haifei, 35, used to work nights at a factory in Tianjin Municipality in north China, earning little more than 2,000 yuan a month. Fast forward three years, and he now runs a tea farm in rural Chongqing, southwest China. Last year, his harvest made him about 400,000 yuan (#64,440).

"I had to eat vegetables every day when I was in Tianjin because I could not afford meat," Zhang said. "These days, life is much easier."

Zhang was able to change his life thanks to the support for rural startups from the Chongqing government.

Nowadays more migrant workers like Zhang could bid farewell to their migrant lives and start their own businesses in the countryside, as the central government is encouraging people to set up rural startups.

Last week, Xin Changxing, vice minister of human resources and social security, said that the ministry would continue to implement a new employment policy from the State Council, China's cabinet.

In April, the State Council issued a directive instructing local governments to make financing more accessible and reduce business taxes and fees in order to encourage local startups.

Local-level authorities are already implementing the policies, in a bid to attract talent to return home and boost the local economy.

"Life in big cities is not all it is cracked up to be: the weather was bad, transportation was terrible, and it was hard to lead a good life," said Ma Dawu, who is from Donxiang County in Gansu.

Favorable policies have brought investment as well as projects to places like Gansu, in China's rural west, which has injected vitality into the local economy, said Zhang Jianjun, an economist with the Party School of the Gansu Provincial Communist Party Committee.

About two million migrant workers have returned home as a result, including Ma, who plans to build a sheep farm after years of leading a transient life.

Many people are motivated to return home by the connections they have there.

"When you are in your hometown, you have acquaintances, and acquaintances mean business," said Gao Mingjun, a migrant worker who returned to Dingxi City of Gansu.

Wu Zhaohui, a business official in Tongren City, in the southwestern Guizhou Province, said government policies, the Internet and e-commerce in rural China all help to make returning home an attractive idea.

"When you do businesses at home, you have your family members around, which offers a strong support system," Wu said. "This is what migrant workers usually don't have in big cities."