(laid off)
Social concept
This neologism literally translates as ‘off the post’, which means ‘laid off’. It is a euphemism for urban unemployment (shiye). The concept used to be that unemployment was a feature of capitalism and was non-existent under socialism. Therefore, a neologism daiye (waiting for a job) was coined in the late 1970s. Since 1994, the concept has been changed, but there is still a difference between being ‘laid off’ and unemployment. ‘Laid-off’ workers still retain their relationship with their state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and receive a minimum subsidy for two years.
The government, however, does not count them in the unemployment statistics for two years, not to mention the hundreds of millions of unemployed rural Chinese. According to Cai Rifang’s Green Paper on Population and Labour (Laodongyü renkou lupishu, 2002), published by the Academy of Social Sciences Archive Press, the actual unemployment rate in urban areas already had reached the 7 per cent warning line (at which social unrest is considered probable), much higher than the 4.5 per cent that the government hoped to have achieved by 2002. In 2001, in fact, the government only admitted to an unemployment rate of 3.6 per cent. With the dissolution of most SOEs, tens of millions of more workers, especially women, have been and are being victimized. WTO membership may force farmers to join the already large ‘floating population’, who now compete with the urban poor for limited jobs. Some ‘laid-off’ workers have or will xiahai (go entrepreneurial), but most of them are unskilled, and unreported protests occur often. The state is now trying to address the status of ‘laid-off’ workers and establish sound social security measures.
Chan, Anita (2001). China’s Workers Under Assault: The Exploitation of Labor in a Globalizing Economy. New York: M.E.Sharpe.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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