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Migrant workers return as entrepreneurs

By Jiao Meng  (

11:02, October 27, 2011

30-year-old Zhou Shuqing is examining the quality of shoes in a Baolilong shoe factory in Zhugao Town of Jintang County. She once worked in Guangdong for three years and returned home in 2008 to take care of her young child. (CnDG by Jiao Meng)

Tang Fajun was once a typical Jintang County farmer in Chengdu City of southwest China's Sichuan Province. He made 15 cents a day in the fields and could hardly feed himself. In 1979, he joined 30 other villagers and left for Xichang City.

"I was eager to go out and change my destiny," Tang said.

Most of the first generation migrant workers in China had little education – Tang left school after junior high to help out his parents and six siblings. But they had the determination to escape poverty and were willing to take on tough physical labor, and many of them became construction workers.

Tang's salary jumped 10 folds, and in 1981, he moved again to Qiaojia County in Yunnan Province and put together a construction team to contract entire projects. The team gave out lower prices and worked more efficiently than its competitors, and the business flourished.

By 1990, Tang had saved up 100,000 yuan (US$22,321 in 1990). Because his son had reached school age, he decided to go back to Jintang, making him the county's first returning migrant worker.

He took out a loan, started a brick factory and hired 80 workers aged 45-55. "Because all of the young farmers had migrated to cities, I wanted to solve employment problems for those in their middle ages," he said.

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