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Voices from modern China

Fu Ansi (not his real name), 46, is a migrant worker currently working in Panyu, a small town in Guangdong province. Forced to leave home to support his family, he has been on the road for the last nine years.

"My current job is to watch a warehouse at a garden furniture factory, 24 hours a day, seven days a week Ė no weekends and no holidays.

I live in the empty warehouse, where the factory parks the van. I eat here as well Ė I have to be here all the time.

I donít have any special skills, so I am only good for being a security guard. I earn about 400-500 yuan ($49-61 a month).

Do I like my job? Do I have a choice? What else can I do?

No option

My hometown is a small poor village in Jiangxi province, where my wife and our three teenage children Ė two boys and a girl - still live.

My wife is not working much, except to occasionally help on the farm. Well, we were all born as peasants Ė thatís all we know.

Her main responsibility is to look after the kids. With me working in Guangdong, the children are all fortunate enough to be able to go to school, even the girl.

I left home, because all I could do there was work on the farm and so I wouldnít have been able to afford to raise my family.

What would happen if I went home now? No, I canít really imagine what it would be like now. That is simply too much of a luxury for me to think about.

Educating the children

I have to look for work outside, I have to make money. At least by doing that the family are able to live a life which is far better than that of the others back home.

There, often families have to make the difficult decision of choosing which of their kids they will send to school.

Girls donít usually get the opportunity to go to school, but in my family I treat all the kids equally. I think my children are very average at school, but I hope they get a good education so they donít have to end up like me.

So for now, I have to continue to work. The kidsí schooling costs a lot. I hope I can at least fulfil the responsibility of being a father, and support them until they finish high school. I feel thatís all I can do, and the least I can do too.

No security

I donít know much about politics, but I feel that over recent years, there have been more work opportunities around.

All I know is that I am earning more than I used to, and my familyís life has improved.

But there are no social benefits Ė all I get is my salary. Hands stop, mouth stops. If I get sick I just have to keep my eyes open and sit here.

Normally I find my jobs through people who came to Guangdong to work from my village. But as far as the government is concerned, there is zero assistance. Sometimes, I am not even sure if they know we exist.

I always try to go home twice a year Ė at Chinese New Year and one other time. I guess thatís the only thing that will keep my kids remembering me. Sometimes, I am afraid they are forgetting me.

As for the upcoming Party Congress meeting, I do try to keep up with things by watching television for a couple of hours every night. But what happens in Beijing is simply too far away for me Ė it is not really relevant for me."

"Sometimes I am afraid my children are forgetting me"



Some of the places where Fu Ansi has worked in the last nine years


"I am not even sure the government knows we exist"


An elderly man pulls a trolley full of twigs in Beijing

"There are no social benefits - hands stop, mouth stops"

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