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China to allow Filipino household workers, high pay stirs controversy – China’s latest society and culture news

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summary of the top news in Chinese society and culture for July 31, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.
3 months ago
Jiayun Feng

China is planning to allow the employment of Filipino household service workers (HSWs) and provide them with decent salaries, the Philippines’ Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported on July 30. According to the Philippine Star, five major cities will first open their doors to Filipino HSWs, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Xiamen. A monthly salary of 13,000 yuan ($1,930) — which is a high wage for household work in China — is expected to be offered.

Dominador Say, the undersecretary of DOLE, said that Chinese embassy officials had discussed the issue with the labor department, and a delegation from China is scheduled to visit the Philippines in September for further negotiations. Say also noted that China’s burgeoning demand for Filipino helpers comes partly from the desire to hire domestic workers with English proficiency and international training; he added, “Filipinos are also peaceful compared to other nationalities.”

Moreover, the Philippine Star says that improving bilateral relations between China and the Philippines contributed to the Chinese decision to hire Filipino domestic workers instead of other nationals. However, in some ways the new rules simply legalize an existing practice: The South China Morning Post reported last year that an estimated 200,000 Filipino domestic helpers were serving in China without proper work permits.  

On the social media platform Weibo, many internet users were incensed by the anticipated wage for Filipino maids. “Why can domestic workers from the Philippines obtain such a high salary while we normal Chinese only earn little per month?” one commenter wrote (in Chinese). “Isn’t the country supposed to raise salaries for its citizens first and then import foreign workers?”


By Jiayun Feng
Jiayun is a Chinese native and was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allows her to pursue a journalistic career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.
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