China's hundreds of millions of rural migrant workers will have
their own representatives seated in the national parliament if a
draft resolution on lawmaker election for next year's National
People's Congress (NPC) is approved by legislators at the ongoing
10th NPC annual session.
The draft resolution on deputy election for the 11th NPC was
submitted to lawmakers for deliberation on Thursday, stipulating
that provinces and municipalities with a large population of rural
migrant workers should have an NPC deputy quota for them.
"China's migrant laborer population has become larger and is
growing into one of the mainstays of the country's working force.
They should have a number of lawmakers to represent their rights
and interests," said Sheng Huaren, vice chairman of the NPC
Standing Committee when making an explanation on the draft
resolution to about 3,000 legislators.
Sources with the NPC Standing Committee said in the current NPC
or the previous terms, no deputy was elected as a migrant
The draft resolution also proposed an increase of lawmakers from
farmers and industrial workers, saying that the NPC deputy number
from these groups is dropping in recent years.
"NPC deputies must have a wide representation which is a
fundamental requirement of the NPC system and an aspect of the
socialist democracy," Sheng said.
China has about 200 million migrant workers, of which more than
120 million work in cities and the remainder work in towns.
Official figures show 13 million farmers will become migrant
workers each year if China reaches the urbanization target of 56
Sun Heng, a migrant from central Henan Province, said the draft resolution is
"good news" to migrant workers. Sun funded a band of migrant
workers in Beijing in 2002, which performs exclusively for the
migrant community. "Each social group should have its own
representatives to voice their own say," said Sun, adding that the
NPC, however, should define migrant worker candidates'
"Only a clear definition can ensure deputies elected are real
representatives of migrant workers. It's very important to us," Sun
He also worries about the feasibility of the election of migrant
Where migrant workers can vote and be elected remains a problem,
Sun said, as the farmers-turned-workers have no "hukou" or urban
residence registration, which means they do not belong to a
precinct in cities, nor are they willing to return to their rural
hometown for an election because of travel expenses and troubles
and the fear of losing jobs.
The national legislature's plan to give seats to migrant workers
was applauded by some experts and current NPC deputies.
"It's a milestone of China's political and democratic
development and marks a significant change of the country's
election mechanism," Han Dayuan, an expert on the studies of the
Constitution with the Renmin University of China, told
"The move means migrant workers, an indispensable contributor to
urban development but usually disadvantaged without access to
medicare, pension and other social securities, will finally have
their mouthpieces in the highest legislature. This is conducive to
the immediate, direct expression of their appeals in national
legislation, which can better protect their rights and interests,"
said NPC deputy Peng Zhenqiu from Shanghai.
The lawmaker said migrant workers' wage arrears, their
children's schooling and other issues are attracting more social
attention on the marginalized social class though discrimination
against them still remains.
According to the draft resolution, the election of the 11th NPC
deputies should conclude by the end of next January.
(Xinhua News Agency March 8, 2007)