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New Worker Class (1:46) Excerpt from film "To Have and Have Not" July 2002
Dwanzhi She, a "gold-collar" worker in Beijing, shows his new apartment.

Country: China
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    Guiding Questions
    1. How does this film clip represent the impact of globalization?

    2. Cite three details from the film clip that would support the view that Dwanzhi She represents the emergence of a new elite in China.

    3. Does the existence of "gold collar" workers represent a betrayal of the principles of Mao's revolution?

    Background Essay
    Well-paid managers of foreign-owned companies represent a new class of worker in China. Dwanzhi She is considered a "gold-collar" worker in Beijing. In this clip he shows off the modern amenities available in his new apartment complex.

    Since the late 1970s, China has shifted from a centrally planned economy that was largely closed to international trade to a more market-oriented economy that has a rapidly growing private sector and is a major player in the global economy. Reforms began in the agricultural, industrial, and financial sectors, and labor regulations were relaxed. The government also focused on foreign trade as a major vehicle for economic growth, and to encourage foreign investment, China created special economic zones in coastal cities.

    As the result of adopting economic reforms and joining the World Trade Organization in December 2001, China's per capita income has grown at an average annual rate of more than 8% over the last three decades. While poverty has been drastically reduced, this rapid growth has been accompanied by rising income inequalities, especially between rural and urban areas.

    One specific change China has been forced to embrace as a result of joining the WTO is to liberalize the movement of labor within the country. During the Maoist era of the 1950s, China instituted an inherited residency permit system that defined where its citizens could work. This system, or "hukou," made it extremely difficult for rural residents to leave their hometowns and move to cities to work. Restructuring the hukou system has been a very controversial topic even though many Community Party leaders recognize it is an impediment to economic progress. The system still exists, but enforcement of the residency permits has been relaxed in recent years. By the early 21st century an estimated 200 million Chinese lived outside their officially-registered areas. While it is easier for these migrants to work in cities than ever before, they are still unofficial residents of the cities and as a result have very limited access to education and government services. Many are forced to live a precarious existence in company dormitories or shanty towns, and in several respects occupy a social and economic status similar to illegal immigrants.

    The Wide Angle film TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT explores the human side of China's newly liberalized market economy. In the film, the increasing income gap between rich and poor is highlighted in vivid detail. The gated communities, luxury vehicles, and seemingly boundless consumption of China's newly rich is seen in stark contrast to the plight of migrant workers, who struggle to eke out a living and to educate their children at the margins of urban society.

    Well-paid managers of foreign owned companies represent a new class of worker. Dwanzhi She earns sixty thousand dollars a year. So he's not a blue-collar worker and he's not a white-collar worker...

    In China, I'm being considered a gold collar worker. Which is, which means that people are who earn um much more than ah, even the white collar worker. We're on our way to where my new apartment's gonna be at.

    So this, this is the building for my new apartment. It's supposed to be one of the, the new generation housing projects with a lot of modern amenities like broadband access, like remote security systems. This is the living room, this section here. You can see it's very spacious. It's quite different from older styles of housing projects. One of the most attractive elements of this new project to us is that we will be able to watch international satellite TV programs, like CNN, HBO. But the Chinese law does not permit Chinese housing projects to have this kind of ah, satellite access. So this is like, by special arrangement. Somehow they negotiated a deal with the municipal government so that they give them a license to operate this kind of international TV.

    This is actually the main bedroom -- new designs, new concepts. A change in taste and also a change in affordability of people.

    As Beijing gets down to the 2008 Olympics and as China just join WTO, there will be more people um who will be able to make it like me.

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