Tuesday, February 03, 2009

20 million idle Hans challenge Red Party

John Garnaut reporting for the SMH: China warns of upheaval, calls for discipline
Chinese officials yesterday warned of social instability as they raised their estimate of newly unemployed migrant workers to 20 million - triple the number they gave a month ago.

the number of newly unemployed rural migrant workers was likely to rise to about 25 million

Chen Xiwen, a top rural planning official, told reporters yesterday: "Due to the economic downturn, about 20 million rural migrant workers have either lost their jobs or have not yet found employment and have gone home to the countryside.

"After returning to their village what do they do about revenue? About their lives? This is a new factor impacting this year's social stability."

"We must make sure the army will follow the instruction of the [Central Military Commission] and the Communist Party at any time, under any circumstances," the commission said after a meeting chaired by Mr Hu. "We must always be sure of the army's stability and its unity," the commission said, in a statement read out on China Central Television's prime time news on Sunday night.

A senior military leader separately warned yesterday that China would "accelerate the building of our nuclear and conventional combat strength". This marks a sharp break from a three decades-old policy of maintaining a stable and relatively small nuclear arsenal while rapidly building its conventional forces.

Experts say Mr Hu's comments reveal the party's acute anxiety about potential uprisings rather than any immediate call to arms.

But Sunday's military commission statement was unusual in its strident language and its prominent broadcast.

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