Voice of Poverty China

It is quieter in Guangzhou these days because of the ban on motorcycles and Scooters. I feel a bit better now knowing that some “清兵“ Qing Bing Rider–this is the Cantonese equivalent of a Kami Kaze meaning “Qing Warrior” as they were the ones who were first to rush into battle and die–is not going to dart in front of me. And I am delighted that some thieves (thousands were jailed last year) no longer have a mechanized horse to facilitate their crimes. But, I admit to a great sense of compassion and concern for the tens of thousands of passenger-carriers who lost their jobs. Some of them were making extremely good money for an unskilled worker in Guangzhou. Income for some reached $450-500 USD a month. Now, many of them will be withdrawing children from college and worrying about how they will pay their rent.

China motorcycle rider

The government gave these guys a year to locate alternative work, but not much is available, especially at that level of income, in Guangzhou. The Chinese government has not thought out very well the consequences of moving to full developed status in the world’s economic caste system. Such is the case with the thousands of “Barefoot Teachers” who were recently displaced. The Washington Post did a moving article on the plight of the many left in the wake of a fast changing educational system: WP One Professor interviewed by the Post said: “It’s just like the laid-off workers in the state-owned enterprises,” said Hong Jun, at Northeast Normal University’s Institute of Rural Education. “China is a populous country with surplus labor forces.” What has happened to barefoot teachers, he said, is “the price of reform.” Hundreds of teachers, cast aside long past mid-career, found such an attitude a bit callous at best. These were people who were part and parcel of the communist party’s rural education initiatives are now obstacles on the road to industrialization. The teachers were given opportunities to test their way back into the good graces of the Education Ministry, but with no financial or training support. Many barefoot teachers, some with 20-30 years of dedication to their work, failed the exams by only one or two points and were forced to take on migrant work or blue collar jobs, like rickshaw driving, to make up for an already modest salary. The rub came when the barefoot teachers learned that many “professional” teachers had bought, or been awarded, their credentials through corrupt government officials. The barefoots staged sit-ins and petition campaigns that to date have had no effect in large part due to attitudes like that expressed by Hong above. Too, dismissal of so many barefoots left rural areas with an even larger shortage of educators. In their place are substitutes and aides with even less qualifications to teach than those removed earlier. In America the political rallying cry of “no child left behind’ may have been a failed initiative, but in China such rhetoric doesn’t even exist. The gap between rich and poor, and rural and cosmopolitan is fast becoming wide enough to swallow the domestic tranquility needed for the harmonious society China endeavors to promote. China Voice of Poverty

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