No more hard goodbyes after New Year reunion, as some choose to stay home for good

By Xinhua - Global Times Source:Xinhua-Global Times Published: 2016-2-14 21:13:01

Photo: Li Hao/GT

The end of the Spring Festival holidays often means bidding farewell to hometown and getting back to work in faraway cities. But for many Chinese, this year's holiday marks the beginning of a new life with a job at home.

"No matter how fantastic the outside world is, home is home and there is no place better than home," said Wu Longqing, 36, a villager in Liping county, Southwest China's Guizhou Province.

Wu, who has been working at a factory in East China's Zhejiang Province for the past 10 years, decided to stay home and open a small supermarket after this Spring Festival.

"I was forced to stay outside since I could see no opportunity at home. However, I saw big changes here recently," he said.

"We now have cement roads linking each household. The village also has a new kindergarten and some public toilets are under construction."

During the past few weeks, Wu and his wife have been preparing for the opening of the store. They plan to apply for a business license after the New Year holiday.

The couple have a 13-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son. The children have been left at home, looked after by Wu's 70-year-old mother.

"We owe them too much. It is time for us to come back home to take care of them," Wu said. Wu is not alone.

New opportunities

Hu Xing, 27, went to work in South China's Guangdong Province after graduating from high schools. At the end of last year, he made up his mind to return to his hometown in Central China's Henan Province.

Hu and his family also opened a small supermarket in the town. "In the past, all my family members were working outside the village, but we all came back since the improved transportation and living situation in our hometown have offered us business opportunities."

"Though my income is lower than what I earned working in Guangdong, staying with my family is much happier than drifting outside alone," he said.

During the past three decades, many rural people left their hometowns for employment in the nation's rapidly expanding cities, leaving the elderly and children in the countryside.

According to official data, there are currently 270 million migrant workers in China now, 60 percent of whom work outside their hometowns.

The trend is being reversed in recent years, partially thanks to the shift of labor-intensive industries from urban to rural areas and the rise of rural entrepreneurship.

In 2014, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang highlighted the urbanization of around 100 million people in the country's central and western regions in an annual government work report, in which migrant workers were encouraged to find a job without traveling across the country.

More than 1.72 million migrant workers have returned home to Chongqing since 2010, the Economic Daily reported in 2015.

Left behind no more

The population of "left behind children," whose parents have left their hometowns for work in the city, has been reduced by some 180,000 during the past three years in Chongqing, according to the municipal women's federation.

Primary school student Tao Xingyue said in the past she could only see her parents during holidays. She would get worried and upset when saying goodbye.

"Now I can be with them every weekend since they are working in a factory not far away," she said.

Experts believe the homecoming rural people will bring development to the countryside and improve the livelihood of the rural children and elderly. However, more government support is called for.

Dang Guoying, a researcher on rural development with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said rural entrepreneurs face great challenges in terms of capital and skills and local governments should come up with more preferential policies to improve countryside entrepreneurial environment.

The new trend has also emerged during this year's Spring Festival, when more migrant workers from the country's less developed inland areas preferred to find jobs in adjacent provinces rather than to travel to megacities like Beijing and Shanghai. Experts have also attributed this to the rising cost of living in the country's first-tier cities and the growing demand for labor in central and western China.

Newspaper headline: Hometown heroes

Posted in: Society

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