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China

World bank, 2016
Poverty headcount ratio at $5.50 a day (2011 PPP) (% of population)
24%
Population below international poverty line

Set by law, varies by skill and education level

variable
National minimum wage

The Global Living Wage Coalition has developed 6 regional living wage benchmarks for urban China.

variable
Urban living wage
World bank, 2019
Employment in agriculture (% of total employment) (modeled ILO estimate)
25%
Agricultural workforce
World bank, 2019
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing, value added (% of GDP)
7%
Agriculture share of GDP

ITUC Global Rights Index, 2020
No guarantee of rights

5
very high
Risk to workers' rights

Context

China has the largest population of any nation at 1.4 billion people,[1] out of which 40%[2] reside in rural areas. Agriculture employs 25%[3] of the working population and accounts for 7%[4] of the nation’s GDP.

China has experienced remarkable rural to urban migration since the late 1970s. This process of urbanization transformed China’s agricultural sector from a collectivised sector to a highly commercial, modern, and efficient one. Smallholder farmers in China typically work between 2-3 hectares of land and make up a significant amount of the population, between 230-250 million people, a large majority of which are considered poor or “close-to-poor”.[5] Although China only has 10% of the world’s arable land, it is responsible for feeding one fifth of the world’s population and for producing a quarter of the global grain production.[6]

The top produced commodities in China are maize, rice, fresh vegetables, wheat and milled rice.[7] Similarly, China’s top export commodities in terms of value are crude materials, tea, preserved vegetables, garlic and chigarettes.[8]

Footnotes
  1. ^ World Bank. (2019). https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL?locations=CN
  2. ^ World Bank. (2019). https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.RUR.TOTL.ZS?locations=CN
  3. ^ World Bank. (2019). https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.AGR.EMPL.ZS?locations=CN
  4. ^ World Bank. (2019). https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NV.AGR.TOTL.ZS?locations=CN
  5. ^ Marchisio, M. (2020). The impact of COVID-19 on smallholders in China. https://www.ifad.org/en/web/latest/blog/asset/41949073
  6. ^ FAO. (2016). http://www.fao.org/china/fao-in-china/china-at-a-glance/en/
  7. ^ FAOSTAT (2019). http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#rankings/commodities_by_country
  8. ^ FAOSTAT (2019). http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#rankings/commodities_by_country_exports

Wages

Minimum wage

There is no national minimum wage in China, however local and provincial governments are required to set their own minimum wage for formal and informal sectors.[1] Withholding and non-payment of wages is a remaining and severe problem in China as companies informally hire low-wage migrant workers. Overtime work is widespread in the country, with 72-hours work weeks being common practice for many workers. Additionally, companies often close on short notice or relocate without paying previous employees their due compensation. Workers in the informal sector typically work longer hours and get paid even less than their counterparts in the formal sector. [2]

Living wage

The Global Living Wage Coalition has developed 6 regional living wage benchmarks exclusively for urban China.

The living wage for urban Zhengzhou is 3,036 Chinese yuan (379 EUR) per month and is based on a family of 3.5 with 1.78 full-time workers. Zhengzhou is an important industrial city and accordingly, this living wage estimate focusses on workers in the manufacturing industry.[3]

The living wage for urban Hangzhou is 4,159 Chinese yuan (519 EUR) per month and is based on a family of 3.5 with 1.78 full-time workers. The living wage estimate is provided with a focus on manufacturing industry parks.[4]

The living wage for urban Shenzhen is 3,004 Chinese yuan (375 EUR) per month and is based on a family of 3.5 with 1.78 full-time workers. The living wage estimate is for areas of Shenzhen with concentrations of manufacturing industrial parks.[5]

The living wage for urban Chengdu is 2,597 Chinese yuan (375 EUR) per month and is based on a family of 3.5 with 1.78 full-time workers. Chengdu is considered a hi-tech development zone and this living wage estimate focuses on employment in high-tech manufacturing.[6]

The living wage for urban Shanghai is 4,502 Chinese yuan (562 EUR) per month and is based on a family of 3.5 with 1.78 full-time workers. The living wage estimate for Shanghai is focused on workers employed in manufacturing industry parks.[7]

The living wage for urban Suzhou is 3,875 Chinese yuan (484 EUR) per month and is based on a family of 3.5 with 1.78 full-time workers. The living wage estimate for Suzhou focusses on workers employed in manufacturing industry parks.[8]

Footnotes
  1. ^ U.S. Department of State. (2019). https://www.state.gov/reports/2019-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/china/
  2. ^ U.S. Department of State. (2019). https://www.state.gov/reports/2019-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/china/
  3. ^ Global Living Wage Coalition. (2019). https://www.globallivingwage.org/living-wage-benchmarks/living-wage-for-zhengzhou-china/
  4. ^ Global Living Wage Coalition. (2019). https://www.globallivingwage.org/living-wage-benchmarks/urban-hangzhou-china/
  5. ^ Global Living Wage Coalition. (2019). https://www.globallivingwage.org/living-wage-benchmarks/urban-shenzhen-china/
  6. ^ Global Living Wage Coalition. (2019). https://www.globallivingwage.org/living-wage-benchmarks/urban-chengdu-china/
  7. ^ Global Living Wage Coalition. (2019). https://www.globallivingwage.org/living-wage-benchmarks/urban-shanghai-china/
  8. ^ Global Living Wage Coalition. (2019). https://www.globallivingwage.org/living-wage-benchmarks/urban-suzhou-china/

What's happening

initiative

Ethical Tea Partnership in China

The Ethical Tea Partnership runs a full range of programmes to help tea farmers improve their economic standing.

resource

Paying living wages in the electronics supply chain

A case study on how Fairphone is paying a living wage bonus at a first-tier supplier in China.

initiative

Fair Wear Foundation in China

Fair Wear supports garment industry workers in realising their rights to safe, dignified and properly paid employment. 

resource

Living Wage Benchmark, Urban Chengdu, China

Living wage estimate with a focus on high-tech factory workers in urban Chengdu, China.

resource

Living Wage Benchmark, Urban Zhengzhou, China

Living Wage estimate with a focus on the manufacturing industry in urban Zhengzhou, China.

resource

Living Wage Benchmark, Urban Shenzhen, China

Living wage estimate with a focus on the manufacturing industry in urban Shenzhen, China.

resource

Living Wage Benchmark, Urban Shanghai, China

Living wage estimate with a focus on high-tech manufacturing in urban Shanghai, China.

resource

Living Wage Benchmark, Urban Suzhou, China

Living wage estimate with a focus on high-tech manufacturing in urban Suzhou, China.

resource

Living Wage Benchmark for Urban Hangzhou, China

Living Wage estimate with a focus on high-tech manufacturing in urban Hangzhou, China.

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