Xi Jinping's dream fails as coronavirus impoverishes migrant workers

Losses for migrants are estimated at around US5 billion. Overtime will not make up the difference. Rural annual income average around US,665. The authorities use fake data on the reopening of activities. Reduced staff are forced to lie to government inspectors.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Migrant workers will lose 800 billion yuan (US5 billion) in earnings due to the epidemic crisis in China, this according to the Beijing-based Gavekal Dragonomics research and consultancy firm.

Some 300 million Chinese rural residents are employed in urban and industrial areas. At the end of February only 30 per cent had returned to work.

Analysts believe that even if employees put in longer hours after businesses reopen, it will be impossible to recoup losses. The sectors most affected are manufacturing, construction, urban services and retail.

Lost revenue for rural workers will not allow President Xi Jinping to achieve one of his main economic policy objectives: to get every Chinese out of absolute poverty by 2020.

According to the Research Centre for Rural Economy, a think tank under China’s Ministry of Agriculture, migrant workers will earn 5 per cent less this year. Per capita disposable income in the most backward areas of the country was around 11,500 yuan (US,665) in 2019, according to official data.

Authorities say that 90 per cent of businesses in the richest provinces have reopened their doors. But many doubt the figure.

Caixin, for example, found that in the Beijing metropolitan area and in Zhejiang, local leaders and employers are inflating the figures to meet the goals set by the central government.

To show that production has restarted, companies leave the lights on in empty offices, leave machines idling, fake staff rosters and even instruct the skeleton staff to lie to government inspectors.