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English>>China Society

Free dinners battle bias against migrants

By He Dan (China Daily)

09:00, July 31, 2012

Socializing around food at mealtimes is important for Chinese people. And the people who started a campaign asking urbanites to treat migrant workers to dinner understand that very well.

Three scholars in cooperation with Sohu Weibo, one of China's major micro-blogging websites, on May 18 started a charity project called Treat Migrant Workers to Dinner. The campaign aims to organize 10,000 dinner parties in 100 cities nationwide in a year.

Urban Web users and migrant workers who sign up online for the events will have dinner together with the former footing the bill.

The campaign also encourages urban residents to invite migrant workers in their communities to dinner.

"It's not just dinner, it's a social movement to fight against discrimination," said Sun Liping, a professor of sociology at Tsinghua University and one of the people who started the campaign.

Yang Tuan, a researcher specializing in social policy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and another of the campaign founders, said she believes that the dinners offer a self-teaching opportunity for people to learn about social justice and to respect manual workers.

China has more than 250 million migrant workers, who left their hometowns in rural areas to contribute to the country's economic miracle and urbanization, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The people who started the campaign are calling for more respect and less discrimination toward migrant workers, which they believe is needed after some recent media reports.

In Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, a male passenger on a bus asked two migrant workers to get off because he said they smelled of sweat. The bus driver and other passengers intervened and the migrant workers stayed, a report said on Sunday.

About 20 dinner parties have already been held across the country, Xie Jian, a publicity officer for Sohu, told China Daily on Monday.

Many enthusiastic netizens, including celebrities, artists and officials, attended the events.

Chen Li — deputy director of the Shaanxi provincial public security department and a user of Sohu Weibo — caught the attention of thousands of netizens after he posted an online invitation on May 25 saying: "I want to treat several migrant worker brothers to dinner."

Two days later, Chen treated eight migrant workers and some of their family members to dinner at a restaurant in Xi'an, the provincial capital, the Huashang Daily reported.
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