Industries moving inland bring migrant worker mothers back home

Xinhua
As industries in more prosperous coastal regions are facing the pressure of rising labor cost, the transform and upgrade has forced many labor-intensive businesses to move inland.
Xinhua

Chen Jiangling couldn't be happier these days. The 35-year-old mother of two has secured a stable job near her home and can now look after her children after work.

Chen comes from Sanmenzhai village in Jianghua Yao Autonomous County, central China's Hunan Province. Jianghua, located in the mountainous region of Nanling, is one of the country's poorest counties.

For years, Chen and her husband had to travel away from home as migrant workers, leaving their two children behind under their grandparents' care.

Chen's story is not uncommon. In 2016, there were over 9 million left-behind children across the country and 90 percent of them lived in the less-developed central and western regions. Hunan now has about 700,000 left-behind children.

As industries in more prosperous coastal regions are facing the pressure of rising labor cost in recent years, the transform and upgrade has forced many labor-intensive businesses to move inland, bringing vast numbers of jobs and creating chances for migrant worker mothers to return home.

Two years ago, after learning that Jianghua was soliciting businesses from the coastal areas, Chen decided to return home from Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong. She finally got a job as a quality inspector at a factory in Jianghua Jiuheng Industrial Park, and her husband also found a job at the same company.

"Working near home feels so much different, I can spend time with my children while still earning money," she said.

The industrial park now employs over 10,000 people, with an annual per capita income of 30,000 yuan (US$4,473). Another 400 companies in the county have also provided 9,000 jobs for local residents.

Pan Jinying is another mother who has returned home to work in Jianghua. In February, she found a job in a clothing factory and earns about 1,000 yuan a month.

The 39-year-old has two children, a 17-year-old son, and an eight-year-old daughter. Pan said she hopes her son can enter her factory to work there as a technician, and she will have more time taking care of her daughter who is still in elementary school.

In 2012, Dongliang Wood Industry moved its manufacturing base from Guangdong to Jianghua's Mashi Township, creating more than 100 jobs. "The favorable policies and great investment environment have made the inland areas more appealing," said Yang Yangfang, CTO of the company.

Yang is originally from Shaoyang of Hunan. She started the timber business with her husband in Guangdong in the 1990s and now she is bringing the business back to her hometown.

"I love my hometown, and I enjoy my life here," Yang said. "My children were born in Guangzhou, and when they grow older I think I will stay in Hunan."

In Jianghua, across Hunan and other inland areas of China, more and more working mothers are now able to return home.

Chen says the best moments of her life are watching her children grow each day.

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