Strikes in China signal end to era of low-cost labour and cheap exports
China's rulers make statements supporting workers rights as series of high-profile strikes suggest economic turning point
Jonathan Watts in Beijing
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 17 June 2010 18.50 BST
The Chinese Communist party called on employers to raise salaries and improve training for workers today, as Toyota became the latest foreign firm to be hit by a wave of high-profile strikes.
The People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling party, warned that the country's manufacturing model faced a turning point as demographic and social changes slowed the influx of low-cost labour from the countryside.
Coming a day after the premier, Wen Jiabao, made similar comments, the editorial suggests the authorities may be encouraging businesses to restructure the economy by putting less emphasis on cheap exports and more on higher-value goods and domestic consumption.
For most of the past 30 years, China's economic growth has been fuelled by low-cost migrant labour. This has helped raise national competitiveness, attract foreign investors and keep consumer prices lower across the world. But members of a new generation of migrants are less willing to endure hardship and many have successfully gone on strike to demand better conditions. more