China has made huge strides in becoming one of the largest economic and cultural hubs of the world over the past several years. However, child labor is one of the biggest contributors and problems of the Chinese economy. The following are the top 10 facts about child labor in China.
Top 10 Facts About Child Labor in China
- Child labor is a growing concern. About 7.74 percent of children between the ages of 10-15 are laborers although the legal working age in China is 16.
- There is a positive correlation between child labor and school drop out rates. One study found that on average, a child who works 6.75 hours a day has 6.42 fewer hours to study. While about 90 percent of underage workers attend school, many of them will eventually drop out.
- China’s less developed regions have more prevalent rates of child labor. For example, the Northwest and Qinghai-Tibetan regions (which make up the Western part of the country) are the least developed and have the highest rates of child labor. While in the more advanced Eastern and Central regions it is less of a problem.
- China’s incredibly competitive economy makes companies take any opportunity they can to get a leg up over their competitors, even illegally. For instance, factors such as worker shortages, high inflation and a rising currency reduce profit margins, resulting in underage labor. The Chinese government has acknowledged that child labor is a problem that is at the heart of its export economy.
- The Chinese government is working to stop child labor. In 2008 authorities in China’s southern province of Guangdong (near Hong Kong) broke up a massive child labor ring. The resulting arrests broke up a child labor apparatus in one of China’s biggest manufacturing cities. As a result, more than 100 children were freed.
- Many of these children are from poor families and are often between the ages of 13 through 15. Employment agencies will either trick or kidnap them and send them to work in any part of the country for up to 300 hours a month.
- China has signed many laws into effect to prevent child labor. These include international treaties like the U.N.’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the International Labor Organization’s Minimum Age Convention. The Chinese government is also trying to solve the problem at a national level. For example, regulations and provisions aiming at child labor include the Chinese Labour Law, the Law on the Protection of Women’s Rights and Interests, the Law on the Protection of Minors, Regulations on the Prohibition of Child Labour and the Notice on the Prohibition of Child Labor.
- Quantities of migrant labor have caused increases in the exploitation of child labor in China. There is a very clear link between the lack of education for migrant workers and the rise of underage workers in urban areas.
- Child labor in China is minimal in comparison to other industrialized nations. China’s protective laws and heightened importance of education have helped reduce child labor. More families recognize the value of education, leading to adherence to labor law in more parts of the country.
- Several solutions to China’s labor problem have been proposed. These include new economic policies that would reduce poverty in rural areas. Empowering poor, rural families is critical to eliminating child labor. The formation of independent trade unions would give more power to the workers and protect their rights. As a result, reducing child labor. Finally, a greater effort by Chinese authorities is crucial. Child labor will continue to be a problem if enforcement of laws is not kept to.
– Henry Burkert