Salaries paid by urban industries to rural migrant workers are becoming a major source of income for Chinese farmers, according to the latest government statistics released in Beijing on Monday.
Statistics show that in 2001, per capita net income for rural residents across China had reached 2,366.4 yuan (US$285), 2.9 times the 1989 figure.
However, the surge in farmers' income should be attributed to the increase in the salaries of the large force of rural migrant workers rather than to increased profits from traditional agricultural activities, such as cultivation and livestock breeding.
During the period from 1989 to 2001, profits from agricultural activities expressed as a percentage of farmers' total per capita net income had dropped 10.5 percentage points, to 61.7 percent, while migrant workers' salary earnings expressed as a percentage of farmers' total income had risen by nearly 10 percentage points to 32.6 percent over the same period.
According to government statistics, China currently has a migrant population of over 100 million, most of whom are surplus rural laborers flocking to towns and cities in search of a better life. Unofficial estimates put the figure much higher.
Statistics indicate that rural workers now account for some 30 percent of the urban industrial workforce.
(Xinhua News Agency January 13, 2003)