In China, out-of-work migrants destabilizing

Friday, January 23, 2009 – San Francisco Chronicle

Anna Mehler Paperny

SHANGHAI

On a recent Sunday morning, the scene on the K290 train heading west from Shanghai to China’s rural heartland was one of chaos.

The hard-seat cars teemed with passengers, many of them migrant workers fighting to place their baggage in overhead compartments or find space to sit in the aisles.

Chun yun, or spring festival transport, is the world’s largest human migration, involving hundreds of millions of people annually traveling home before the Lunar New Year. But this year, migrants returning home before the Year of the Ox begins Monday got an early start after hundreds of thousands of workers lost their city jobs.

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