Premier Wen says Japan companies' wages too low

08:47, August 30, 2010      

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Chinese premier Wen Jiabao told a visiting Japanese delegation Sunday that Japanese companies operating in China should address workers' grievances over low wages, the Associated Press reported.

Wen's comment comes after Japanese Foreign Miniter Katsuya Okada called for "transparent policies" governing workers in China, saying the labor disputes involving some Japanese auto makers in Guangdong Province were troubling to Japanese companies.

Okada brought up the issue at a high-level economic meeting between China and Japan — held this year in Beijing to discuss ways to recover from the global economic crisis and foster regional cooperation. Wen met the Japanese delegation on Sunday.

"Labor disputes are occurring at some foreign companies, where there is a problem of relatively low wages. We would like (Japan) to address this issue," Wen told Japanese officials, according to a news release by Japan's foreign ministry.

Okada said Saturday that the sides discussed ensuring transparent policies during talks on how to improve the business environment in China. "As to the recent frequent labor dispute issue, the Japanese side expressed willingness to strengthen discussion."

The widespread strikes were rare for China but Beijing permitted them, apparently trying to put more money in workers' pockets as part of efforts to improve Chinese worker’s livelihood and also boost consumer spending.

The Chinese delegation at the meeting said the strikes were to be expected because wages had been frozen for two years to help companies ride out the economic crisis, Japan Foreign Ministry spokesman Satoru Sato told reporters Saturday.

The Japanese were "not so satisfied with this explanation, we still think this is very important to Japanese companies operating here," he said.

Vice Premier Wang Qishan, who led the Chinese delegation for the talks, said the economies of the two counties are interdependent and China has "huge market potential."

"The economies of both countries highly rely on each other. Economic and trade cooperation have been improved in a firm manner. Bilateral trade has recovered rapidly and has exceeded levels from before the financial crisis," Wang said.

This was the third high-level economic dialogue between the two sides, following talks in June last year in Tokyo and a first round in December 2007 in Beijing.

Source: People's Daily Online / Agencies


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