China Free to Quit

New options for workers

Li Xuling enjoys a right that is basic in the capitalist world but is still a rarity in China. The 21-year-old spindle operator is free to quit her job at the No. 10 cotton mill in the northeastern coastal city of Qingdao. Reason: she has a five-year labor contract with the government that allows her to seek work elsewhere when the agreement expires in 1988.

Li is among the first beneficiaries of the newest and potentially most sweeping economic reform launched so far by China's leader, Deng Xiaoping. Beginning this week, all state-owned enterprises will be allowed to hire some workers...

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