Despite the news that all Chinese employees have seen their salaries increase in double digits on average annually in the past few years, most of them don't feel they've had a rise in salary at all.
The People's Daily said in a report on Tuesday that Chinese workers' average wages increased to 21,001 yuan in 2006 from 12,422 yuan in 2002. The salary increase had an annual growth rate of 12 percent, which was the fastest-growing period of time since China's reform and open-up 30 years ago.
This report was followed by more than 6,000 comments on a Chinese portal website a few hours after it was published. Most of the netizens were skeptical about the credibility of the figures, saying they were "true lies"; others complained the numbers don't tell the real situation.
Their comments were similar to a survey conducted last month by a magazine run by People's Daily, in which 96.5 percent of respondents felt "discontent with their current incomes".
A report in China Economic Times last week may explain the disparity in opinions. It said 8.33 million staff working in electricity, telecommunication, petroleum, finance, insurance and other major State-controlled industries, or eight percent of all the employed in China, earned 55 percent of the total salaries paid in 2005. The rest, 92 percent of employees must be those who disagree that their salary rose, Xinhua news agency columnist Guo Songmin said.
Guo says there is an increasing income gap between management and their employees in corporations and factories, even in the above monopoly companies. Media have reported telephone technicians with Beijing Telecom were paid 700 or 800 yuan per month, approaching the bottom salary in 2006 in Beijing which was 640 yuan per month, while their managers made 15 times that amount, or even 30-fold.
Guo said it was an open secret that quite a few private-owned enterprises pay the lowest salary according to local regulations as the highest pay in their factories.
He added that the alleged salary hike, which hasn't benefited most ordinary people, doesn't help build a fair and harmonious society.
"That news only makes the wealth gap in society more distinct, which is still growing quickly," a web user claimed in a posting.
Another complained that even though salaries were increasing, they did not catch up to the even higher cost of living in Chinese big cities. The consumer price index in the country hit a two-year high of 3.4 percent in May, with food prices including pork skyrocketing, and buoyant property prices in large cities have become further out of areach in terms of affordability for the average Chinese.
(China Daily July 5, 2007)