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More Deputy Seats Called for Migrant Workers

Wang Yuancheng, deputy to the National People's Congress, or China's parliament, said more deputy seats should be reserved for the nation's rapid growing migrant workers.

He noted that currently, every 960,000 rural residents can have one NPC deputy, but the same number of urban population can have four NPC deputies.

Wang, a migrant-worker-turned principal of a vocational training school in Taian in eastern Shandong Province, said his motion this year is vital to ensure social equality.
"More deputies from migrant workers means their expectations can be better voiced and the quality of panel discussions be improved," Wang said.

He added that the deputies like him, in relatively small numbers, often feel hesitated to publicize their true hopes with the large number of officials including provincial governors and mayors sitting along with them.

China has 200 million migrant workers, of which more than 120 million work in cities and the remainder work in towns. Official figures show 13 million farmers will become migrant workers each year if China reaches the urbanization target of 56 percent.

The Chinese government and NPC deputies have given top priority to the problems of migrant workers and worked out measures to help them get back wages and provide their children with opportunities to attend public schools in the cities where they work.

"The migrant workers should improve themselves first before being elected NPC deputies and the local people's congresses," said Wang. He has submitted several other motions on promoting equal education and employment opportunities, and providing affordable medicare for migrant workers since 2003.

The Fifth Session of the Tenth NPC will start on March 5 in the Great Hall of the People to the west of Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing.

(Xinhua News Agency March 4, 2007)

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