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Government to Better Protect Migrant Workers Legal Rights

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said on Thursday that the Chinese government is working on effective measures to protect migrant workers' legal rights.

"Migrant workers have made and are making a great contribution to China's economic growth and construction, and the Chinese government at all levels and Chinese people have high respect for their labor," Qin said.

China's urbanization and industrialization process has seen an estimated 200 million migrant workers flow into cities looking for jobs, according to Qin.

Amnesty International on Thursday released a report, saying China's migrant workers are becoming an "urban underclass", unable to get proper health care, often living in cramped conditions and having few labor rights.

"China's so-called economic miracle comes at a terrible human cost," the report said.

"Amnesty's claim is biased and groundless," Qin said, noting that China's economic achievements can be attributed to a sensible path of development, the country's reforms and opening-up drive and Chinese people's hard work and wisdom.

Acknowledging that workers' rights had been abused "in some places and sectors in China", Qin said the government is working to eradicate abuses.

The Chinese government publicly admits that migrant workers face problems and has initiated a number of measures to improve their working and living conditions.

Employers will be forced this year to put money into a special fund to ensure migrant workers are paid their wages, and a nationwide network of lawyers will be set up to give them free legal advice.

(Xinhua News Agency March 2, 2007)

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