By John Sexton and WANG Ke
China.org.cn staff reporters
On New Years Day 2009, in the bleak suburb of Picun (Leather Town) near Beijing Capital Airport, a remarkable event took place – China's first migrant workers festival kicked off. Despite the freezing weather, several hundred people turned up to the opening ceremony of a three-day program of song, drama and dance.
The festival isn't just about entertainment. It is about restoring pride in labor, in honest work, in being working class. Pride that was eroded over 30 years of economic reforms in which the doctrine preached was "to get rich is glorious." The festival anthem, penned by singer-songwriter and former migrant worker, Sun Heng, is the direct riposte - "to work is glorious"
"This year, there have been events all over China to celebrate 30 years of reform and opening up but almost none have mentioned or included migrant workers. Our festival today is specifically organized for migrant workers. The performers are all working people from different parts of China. We hope that by getting our message across using art and performance we can win society's respect and recognition," Sun told China.org.cn.