State journal admits China faces civil unrest


CHINA FACES a wave of civil disturbances this year as rising unemployment foments discontent among migrant graduates and university graduates, an official state magazine has warned.

The ruling Chinese Communist Party is fighting to contain widening social unrest caused by weaker economic growth as a result of the global financial crisis.

The unusually frank warning on strikes and riots came in a survey of leading Chinese economists, which also said the economy looked set to reach its annual growth target of 8 per cent, despite international fears that growth in the world's largest economy could decelerate sharply.

"Unemployment among university graduates and migrant workers, caused by the global economic downturn and the shrinking of export industries, will put much stress on Chinese society in 2009, even social risks," said Han Kang, vice-president of the National School of Administration in Beijing.

His comments were published as part of a survey by Outlook Weekly magazine, which is published by the Xinhua news agency.

"The four-trillion-yuan stimulus plan, intended to boost the economy and ensure the 8 per cent growth rate, may not create as many steady jobs as expected," he said. Mr Han was one of 13 leading economists who predicted economic growth would fall in the first half of 2009, but surge back above 8 per cent later in the year.

The booming economy has led to rising expectations and economists believe the biggest threats to the social fabric will come from graduating university students who have become used to easily finding work, and from the millions of migrant workers forced to return home to their countryside homes after factories shut.

President Hu Jintao has repeated his calls for a "harmonious society", but this message has been undermined by widening social unrest as local governments deal with smaller budgets, factories in the booming south close and unemployment increases.

There are signs of rising bankruptcies in the capital Beijing. This is also a sensitive year in China, as 2009 marks 60 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China in 1949, and 20 years since the June 4th armed crackdown on pro-democracy protests at Tiananmen Square.