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Amid high fashion, some National People’s Congress delegates show concern for the less privileged
While the popular focus of this year’s annual gathering of parliament in Beijing has been an obsessive analysis of the Hermes belts, Dior handbags and Emilio Pucci suits exhibited by well-off delegates, quite a few delegates have also voiced concern over the country’s hardworking, yet for the most part, underprivileged migrant workers.

Businessman and National People’s Congress (NPC) delegate, Li Dongsheng, encouraged his more than 2.7 million followers on Weibo to share their thoughts on the unequal allocation of education resources between urban and rural areas, and the institutional obstacles facing migrant students taking the national college entrance exam.
Kang Houming, a construction foreman and NPC delegate, proposed on his Weibo to incorporate disabled migrant workers into social security system. “Construction is a highly dangerous job and often involves a great number of work injuries. But due to complicated claims procedures, most workers find it difficult to get proper medical treatment and compensation,” he said.

Career development and the family lives of the new generation migrant workers are the main concerns for Zhu Xueqin, a Shanghai-based clothing factory worker and NPC delegate, who advocated measures to better integrate migrant workers, and the new generation migrant workers in particular, into the cities. Huang Jianzhong, a delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and a former deputy director of the Zhejiang Water Bureau, suggested however it would be easier for migrant workers to integrate into cities if they could improve their self-quality and enhance their legal awareness. 

Hu Xiaoyan, a former ceramics worker in Foshan and NPC delegate, hoped the government could set up institutions to take care of migrant children, and proposed measures to address the summer study and living problems facing left-behind children. “The issue of left-behind children always brings pain to my heart,” she said.

Originally from Sichuan, Hu, together with Kang and Zhu, was among the first batch of migrant workers delegates to the NPC. Although she has now obtained urban residency in the factory town of Foshan, she and her husband still consider themselves migrant workers. Her elder daughter is attending school in Foshan, while her younger daughter is back in their hometown, a typical left-behind child.

Hu Chengzhong, a CPPCC delegate and chairman of a privately-owned manufacturing business in Wenzhou, proposed giving migrant workers the right to apply for public housing, and called on companies to improve the living conditions of their workers. “Migrant workers cannot enjoy the fruits of social development if the institutional obstacles that prevent them from becoming urban residents still exist,” he said.