by MONITOR
IF president Wen Jiabao of China were a politician in Britain he would be pilloried for his remark that the harsh economic winter will soon be gone in much the same way that Gordon Brown is being pilloried for saying “British jobs for British workers”. In most experts' opinions Mr Wen was over-optimistic in his sense that an economic spring is not far away. The return of Chinese city workers to the countryside from where they were encouraged to move to industrial centres is taking place on a huge scale. The latest figures suggest that one in seven of the 130 million who left their villages only a few years ago have already returned and that many more will have to follow them because there is no work for them in the city factories making goods for export any longer. The effect on rural communities is double-edged. Not only do they have to accommodate and sustain these large numbers but the money that these workers were sending back to their villages has dried up. China is predicting a six per cent growth rate this year - a figure that most Western countries would be only too pleased to achieve - but it represents a considerable fall from double-figure growth of recent years and Mr Wen has admitted during his European tour which ended in Britain on Monday that the resultant unemployment may threaten his country's social stability.