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Migrant workers striving for better life as Hu vows to tackle widening income gap
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For more than ten years since Xie Gen and his wife Chen Longfeng came to Beijing from their rural home in central China, they have been enjoying the "privilege" of living in dozens of brand-new apartments.

But the couple, in their 40s, are only decorators who stayed in roughcast houses and left one or two months later after finishing tiling, painting and plastering.

They are now working in a newly-built residential area in southern part of the capital, where there is a fountain, a rockwork and a golf practice court.

China has scored glaring economic gains since the reform and opening drive launched three decades ago, but urban and rural wealth gap are also getting wider over the years.

While many well-off local Beijingers have moved into high-rise apartments, some of the 2.8 million rural laborers in the Chinese capital still strive to make ends meet.

China has more than 120 million migrant workers, mostly farmers from central and western China seeking work in eastern boom towns and cities. They mainly work in construction, mining, cleaning and catering industries, or the kind of jobs usually labeled "dirty", "hard" and "low-paid."

Wealth gap is also one of the key issues for Chinese leaders to address at the National Congress of the Communist Party of China. In his keynote speech to the Congress, Hu Jintao vowed to "reverse growing income disparity".

"Vigorous efforts will be made to raise the income of low-income groups, gradually increase poverty-alleviation aid and the minimum wage, and set up a mechanism of regular pay increases for enterprise employees," Hu said.

Accompanying the Xie couple when they move from one make-shift home to another are their unemployed elderly daughter and minimum daily necessities: an electric cooker, covers and some color-fading clothes. They left their little daughter in rural home with her grandparents.

"Living in Beijing, we save every penny we can," Xie said.

Employed by an interior decoration firm, the couple are able to get work to do through much time of the year and have a stable income. But Wang Xiaomin, another migrant worker from central China, is not as lucky.

With a set of tools in his backpack, Wang spends much of the time wandering in the streets of Beijing, looking for part-time jobs that make "quick money".

"Everyday, I just walk around and around to see if I can get some work to do," Wang said.

Neither Xie nor Wang watched Hu's Monday speech, but they paid much attention to the Congress as "it all concerns common people's daily life and also touches upon equal rights of the rural migrant workers," said Xie.

In his speech, Hu said a basic system of social security will cover both urban and rural residents so that everyone is assured of basic living standards.

"I think government policies are getting tilting towards us migrant workers," said Xie.

Source: Xinhua

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