Migrant Workers In Tears, Happy to Go Home for Chinese New Year

A Chinese migrant worker with tears in his eyes.

A Chinese migrant worker in tears overcome with emotion at the prospect of being able to go home for Chinese New Years.

The following video was featured on popular Chinese video sharing website Youku’s home page, having accumulated over 560k views after just 7 hours of being uploaded, featuring several migrant workers overcome with emotion at the prospect of returning home to celebrate the Chinese New Year with their families…

From Youku:

Migrant workers overcome with emotion and shedding tears after getting their train tickets, happily going home to celebrate the new year!

Several migrant workers are interviewed in the 5 minute long video. Several migrant workers express happiness and are thankful that they received their wages in time for the Chinese New Year, perhaps allowing them to go home to celebrate with their families. Some thank their employers for paying on time, the government, and the media for helping bring public attention to their lives and hardships.

The second pair of migrant workers talk about their train trip, that it will take 2 days and 1 night in order to get home, requiring a one day stopover as well, and their train tickets are for standing room only, without seats for the entire ride. When asked by the interviewer how they can endure not having seats, they explain that they are in a rush to get home and there were out of options. It was only until they got their wages that they were able to go home at all.

They also share about who they are looking forward to see at home, such as their wives, children, and parents. When asked what he wants to say to his family at home on camera, the crying migrant worker says he’s bringing home the money he’s earned through blood and sweat, that he’s about to come home, and they can be reunited.

A Chinese migrant worker in tears overcome with emotion at the prospect of being able to go home for Chinese New Years.

At time of translation, there were over 5000 comments by Chinese netizens in reaction to this video. Many of the comments reveal not only the attitudes of many Chinese people towards migrant workers, the government, and Spring Festival (aka Chinese New Year) but also various phenomenon common to the Chinese internet and the internet as a whole…

Comments from Youku:


Train tickets are indeed really hard to purchase. When booking ticket, I called for half an hour and nearly a thousand calls before I booked them, and they’re not even to my hometown. Sigh.

lvzifeng765: (responding to above)

Amazing, over a thousand, half an hour, what planet is your home on?


Everyone is equal… so where is the equality? Sigh… hope everyone can pay more attention to these people on the bottom levels of society and not discriminate against them nor treat them with indifference!


This year, I’m again unable to go home to celebrate the [Chinese] new year. It’s been 3 years now that I haven’t been able to go home for new years…


I wish the best for those who go out to make a living, may you guys be safe and healthy!


Fuck, even thanking the government [referring to the first interviewed migrant worker].


This is what China’s most simple, down-to-earth ordinary common people are like, so easily satisfied [happy to just be able to go home for new year’s].


Money, is the life’s hope of migrant workers. We can’t say money is vulgar. It is hope. It is a necessity for the growth of the next generation.


I wish migrant workers the best. Those of you who were fighting for the sofa [there were a number of early comments simply posting “沙发”, “SF”, etc.], was it that hard to add a bit more wishing them well…?


[I’m a] manly Shandong man, I’m not going to cry.


The so-called government leadership all say they want to care for workers of society’s lowest level, but it’s all just pretense. At least I haven’t felt it.


China, if there weren’t migrant workers, then all of society would come to a standstill. You guys are the best.


May every one of them have a safe trip home…


In the Heavenly Kingdom, going home for [Chinese] New Year’s has become a kind of extravagant wish.


Simple and honest migrant workers, those wages are what you guys should get and you not getting them would be a failure of the government. You guys getting your wages should not be thanking the government, and instead you should thank those back home.


Thank you all for your contributions to the country. My brothers and sisters, it is your guys who are the main reason for the past 30 years of this country’s fast growth.


Online ticket booking was truly such a ball ache for those men who work on construction sites and don’t go online.

[Online train ticket booking was made available this year, but while it helped many, many migrant workers could not take advantage of it because they do not typically own computers or use the internet.


I’m also a migrant worker. Those of us who come out to work basically only go home once a year. In the cities, the reason we scrimp and save is specifically so our family members in the rural countryside can live better, so I’m really moved. Migrant workers like us have very hard lives, truly using our own tears and sweat to make money, so I guess we can only wish ourselves luck.

19帝少: (responding to above)

It’s so nice that I’m not a migrant worker, everyday eating my mother’s food.


Heart breaking. You guys saying thanks to the government, sigh, the government is laughing.


This is the tragedy of the government, where something as small as simply getting a train ticket can make them feel so blessed. China’s ordinary common people are too kind.


There are actually people downvoting this video??? [At time of translation, this video had over 18k upvotes and over 300 downvotes]


Every year there is Chun Yun [the annual rush of Chinese people to return home to celebrate Chinese New Year’s, often called the world’s largest annual human migration], every year there are people who aren’t able to go home, every year there is constant news about these things, is [the government, the country] really unable to come up with effective measures to solve this problem? We are all taxpayers, so just what exactly has all our taxes been used on????


This world is so sad, those who can’t get train tickets want so much to go home, whereas I who can get train tickets don’t even want to go home.


I don’t know why it was so irritating to hear that uncle say “thanks to the government”.


Back in the day, my parents took the train to go home for the new year. Mom said that from Harbin to Fuyang, it wasn’t until Tianjin before there was a seat, and at that time my mother was pregnant with me too. My dad stood from Harbin all the way to Fuyang. Going home was really very tough.


Don’t they know how to go book tickets? These people are so cheap, just drink one less drink of alcohol and smoke one less cigarette. If it were me, you could beat me to death and I still wouldn’t take the train during the Spring Festival [Chinese New Year] season, or at least it’d have to be one of the faster trains.

zwx199: (responding to above)

f you

霓宏灯: (responding to Etudos)

That’s because you have money, rich guy!! Have you thought about those people who have to work hard every day to make money? If there are cheaper trains, do you think they would spend their hard-earned blood and sweat money [on more expensive trains]?


Always talking about migrant workers, don’t people know the income of migrant workers is higher than university graduates?

五百万得主: (responding to above)

How much more hardship do migrant workers suffer compared to university graduates? However much more they earn is still deserved. What kind of work do university graduates do? What kind of work do migrant workers do?

绿宝石小明 (responding to goarago)

The work they do, do university graduates do? There are university graduates like you who do, so why don’t you go do it?


The 10 people who downvoted [the video] are beasts, may you be worse than pigs and dogs in your next life.

178297563: (responding to above)

Maybe those who downvoted were all downvoting the Railway Ministry.

[China’s Ministry of Railways is widely reviled for all manner of ills. In addition to causing headaches and frustration for Chinese travelers during Chun Yun each year due to the difficulty of getting train tickets, often exacerbated by scalpers and corruption, the Railway Ministry has also recently been in headlines for horrific train crashes like 2011 July’s Wenzhou train accident.]


Fuck, having to say thanks even for getting the money one is owed…


Satisfying them is that easy… For us, it would just be getting something that is ours. I hate those unscrupulous evil businessmen/companies [who withhold wages from their migrant worker employees].


Those who cheat migrant workers of their money these days, most of them are the contractors. These contractors are the real ones who are inhuman.


Look at those country people, all bumpkins, sigh.


The more I watch, the more I despise them. Country people, still wearing clothes from the 1980s, is it because they can’t afford new clothes?

梦幻大魔王: (responding to above)

It’s you again, you stupid cunt. You’re fucking about to be human flesh searched. Sooner or later you won’t even know how you died.

@水水900: (responding to above)

May those who look down on migrant workers die a violent death on the street on [Chinese] New Year’s Eve…

Your thoughts?

A group of Chinese migrant workers who have gotten their train tickets and are on their way home to celebrate Chinese New Years with their families.

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Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

  • mr. weiner

    good for them. happy and safe chinese new year Gongxi fa chai!

    • Feces Masticator

      You spelled cai wrong, idiot.

      • mr. weiner

        Sorry, Wade-giles system in Taiwan, my pinying ain’t up to it I know. Hope you get some nice shite to eat during the holidays.

        • gatesofbabylon

          It’s not even spelt like that in Wade-Giles, it would be Kung Hsi Fa Ts’ai.

          Also, it’s spelt pinyin, not pinying.

        • gatesofbabylon

          I second your sentiment, my pedantry notwithstanding.

          Hope they can recharge their batteries and have some measure of happiness from being at home, their lives must be very hard.

          • mr. weiner

            Agreed, and happy chinese new year to you also GOB.

          • gatesofbabylon

            Happy Chinese new year to you sir.

      • PeterScriabin

        Forgive my impertinent curiosity, but do you swallow them as well, or spit them out after? And are they yours, or would anyone’s do?

  • Edward


    • Edward

      I wish them well in their journey back home. May the next year be prosperous.

      • Barry Halls

        Very nice Edward. I second your statements.

  • hail

    They always have the biggest hearts these type of folk. And they always blow snot rockets into their hands and wipe them off on any object near them. YOU’VE ALL SEEN IT BEFORE

    • coala banana

      not just “them”. I live in an estate where just higher income folks live, we have a golf course, swimming pools, gyms, dance studios, saunas and spring water fontains . But the behavior of the “rich” folks is not much different from immigrant workers. Spitting, nose drilling, sitting like monkeys on stones in the various parks we have, throwing their garbage in the lake and let there children pee right in the middle of the walkway, not to mention that even some of the older males have no problem to pee next to a bush instead of using one of the many clean toilettes we have everywhere. 50k people live here and the cheapest apartments start at 1.6m RMB.

      While i am not impressed by the propaganda video with the emotional music, and the guy thanking the government, I am sure that some of this guys in the video have more class then my rich neighbors and their spoiled fat ass out of control children.

  • Choonage

    I think this is proof that in the future the migrant labor force in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing will decrease over the next 5-10 years. They don’t like being there and will go back to their home towns if given the right economic circumstances. So the many Shanghainese and Beijingers who have been enjoying the services of countryside ayis will have to bite the bullet and do more work for themselves.

    • Young Man

      No, they want to move their families to Beijing, Shanghai etc. They can’t because their Houkou (or however you spell it- citizenship card) isn’t from the big cities so they can’t get their kids into a school there.

      Given complete freedom these people would move their whole families to the big city.

  • All they want to do is see their family. It’s nice to see some actually finally made it through the system.

    Not only that, but the perspective of the citizen journalism brought here is quite amazing, and moved me despite that fact that I hardly speak chinese at all, it goes to show you any person can be a journalist.

    • gatesofbabylon

      I don’t know what you mean by citizen journalist? Wasn’t this just some emotionally manipulative fluff piece for a TV station (corny music and production values)? I can’t verify if this was on TV or a video that some “citizen journalist” made. Can you?

      • anon

        No, Youku’s Paike (拍客) videos are usually shot by amateurs which I guess you could sometimes call citizen journalists. I wouldn’t be so quick to suspect this video as being “some emotionally manipulative fluff piece” because if you’re familiar with the Chinese online video scene, these videos are particularly common during Spring Festival, when a lot of people start feeling sentimental over the holidays and family reunions. As much as a lot of Chinese urbanites are rather prejudiced against non-locals, most are actually quite rational when it comes to acknowledging that migrant workers have not only contributed a lot to the country’s development but also have it rough.

        • gatesofbabylon

          I guess I spoke too soon. It is emotionally manipulative fluff in any case, but more understandable if created by an amateur as in this case.

          Although I lived in mainland China for a number of years (currently in HK) I wasn’t familiar with Paike. However you probably agree that this sort of wishy-washy sentimentality is exactly the sort of thing that could easily have been shown on a major TV channel in mainland China.

          • anon

            Yeah, I wouldn’t expect most people to know about Youku Paike unless they’re familiar with Youku in general.

            I’d say calling it manipulative fluff is being unreasonably prejudiced or at least unreasonably harsh. Everyone, including media, tends to approach holidays with certain angles. While I understand the eagerness to assume something like this may be government propaganda, I know that this sort of sentimentality around this time of the year wouldn’t actually be that unusual on a major TV channel or in the news. Sometimes its just a heart-warming human interest story.

  • Gay Azn Boi

    The irony here is that Chinese society in general despise and look down on the very people that form the backbone of the Chinese economy and have given China its prosperity.

    While the video seemed like propaganda (e.g. “thanking the government” comment and the tearjerker music), I believe the reactions from the interviewed migrant workers were genuine. I wish them a safe trip home.

    This is Gay Azn Boi from Toronto, and I wish everyone a happy Chinese new year! xD

    • hail


  • Song of the Article

    Mama am coming home
    -Ozzy Osborne


    say no to the sofa!

  • Foreign Devil

    You know you’ve been downtrodden too long when you praise the government and your bosses for actually paying you. Especially when CHinese workers only get paid once a month and probably only once or twice a year for migrant workers. Really not much more than slaves. “Sank you massa! You be very kind to ol’ poor Tom!”

  • gungun

    My respect to all the migrant workers and other peoples hardship getting home!
    Im trying to buy a train ticket too, not easy at all these days.
    And I cant imagine how it is to stand the whole way..
    Yi lu ping an pengyou men! Guo nian hao!

  • rjay

    Hmm, I wonder if this video went up as a response to the recent letter to the railway ministry, where a migrant worker could not get tickets due to the new booking system…



  • We, throughout the world, should be thanking these migrant workers. They are the backbone of China that allows the world to buy our “Made in China” cheap goods. They lead bitter lives and are often cheated.

    I wish them a safe trip back. Standing in trains for a couple of days is a really terrible way to go, but there is no choice. To thank the government for getting wages is really disturbing. Migrant workers are so downtrodden.

    To my migrant worker relatives in China, a big hug!

    • coala banana

      you guys really crack me up: “standing rooms with no seats” ?

      does that indicate that they are really STANDING the whole time ? or could it be that they just sit and lay on their own language, which would make more sense ? Knowing chinese BS seats, makes sitting and laying on my own language a luxury.

      You people should stop making up all this irrational myths. NO ONE in a chinese train standing wagon is in fact really standing all the time. The only time they are standing is when their butts start to hurt sitting on their own language after hours. Or do you guys think that the conductor is walking around the standing wagon taking care that no one sits, an force people to keep standing ?

      Please get real, will you ?

      • Just John

        You of course realize you cannot sit or lay on a language, right?
        Since it is nothing but words, it is pretty impossible to do so.

        Perhaps you mean luggage?

        Also, your response, other than making no sense because of word confusion, also makes me begin to doubt that you have actually spent much time in China, especially traveling in China during the holidays.

        While I may disagree with the “Standing for two days” concept, I have personally had to stand during an entire train ride. With the crowding, even sitting on your “luggage” is not always possible. But, I guess you sit on your words, so heavy do they drip from the tongue, rolling about on the floor, in their own self sufficiency, with “run” bounding along like the mad hatter, while “stay” maintains is juxtaposition with “rock” on the plane of material form.

        • Dat Ankle

          I think hes trying to say the kneeling thing… either way that whole post he typed up was just riddled with confusion and stupidness

        • coala banana

          hey stalker, still not found a life ? threatening other members, using racial slurs, belittling chinese people, look down on other cultures, seem you didn’t learn from the past mistakes ? English is not my native lugagge <(just did it again), but if thats all you seems to have problems with, I am fine with that. But we both know, that YOUR real problems hurt and from what i can see, you still suffer from them….now go back and try to get a real life:-))

          I am sorry that you had to stand during a train ride. If that was really the case, why not try to find a real job, or better paid job so you can afford a plane ticket next time ? China has enough poor on its own and i don't think that foreign poor should come over here. You are a bad example !

          • Just John

            You sure seem to know alot about my income level.
            So please do tell me, where I work, what I do, how much I make, etc. And please, do not go with the whole “Your an English teacher”, because you would be dead wrong.

            Also, again you incorrectly label me with the actions that you repeatedly do.
            Want me to quote you?

            coala banana
            Sunday, January 8, 2012 at 11:34 am
            “not just “them”. I live in an estate where just higher income folks live, we have a golf course, swimming pools, gyms, dance studios, saunas and spring water fontains . But the behavior of the “rich” folks is not much different from immigrant workers. Spitting, nose drilling, sitting like monkeys on stones in the various parks we have, throwing their garbage in the lake and let there children pee right in the middle of the walkway, not to mention that even some of the older males have no problem to pee next to a bush instead of using one of the many clean toilettes we have everywhere.”

            If you want, I can go back to my old post where I quoted all the racist, sexist, morally questionable comments you made and post it again for all your fans out there. O wait, you have no fans because your an idiot.

            Feel free to provide evidence of me belittling Chinese, or any of my “racial” slights. Go on, quote some for me. We can prove you wrong yet again.

            You really should go with arguments that are not so easily disproved.

          • coala banana

            just john,

            it might be a surprise to you, but this forum isn’t about you. Same for the subject of this thread. Probably you don’t get enough attention in your life ? More then once you already explained where you live, what your job is, and that includes your threads against other members and this forum to track them back and so on….is that really necessary ?

            Why not just be peaceful hook up with gayasianboy, hooots and the other looser with his mami from the state department, and have some fun at what you guys do best ?

            Stop being such a crybaby, and act according to you family and work status. And i thought that the last beating you received would be enough, but i guess some people just don’t get it.

            Be cool, be calm, keep the personal crap and your racism to yourself and keep on trying to locate other members over your contacts in the IT scene. Get a life looser ! :-))) (thats me laughing at you ! )

      • I once stood 3/4 of the very long trip from Guangzhou to Beijing. Believe you me it was very uncomfortable. Part of the trip was standing between two cars, which was very drafty. One of the cars was the toilet car. I finally got a hard seat, which felt velvety soft after standing up.

        From your post you obviously have not traveled much on Chinese trains, especially the hard seat class, and you really have no concept of how crowded a Chinese train can become.

        You should expand your China experience by taking more train trips, especially at Chun Jie. The real China awaits you.

        • Alan

          You should expand your China experience by taking more train trips, especially at Chun Jie. The real China awaits you.

          Interesting points. The farthest I ever went in hard seat was from Hangzhou to Shenzhen, and that wasn’t too pleasant at all.

          • GodsHammer

            Oh, that’s plenty far enough friend…very far.

          • bloomingbouquet

            You know what, your comment covered everything that I ever wanted to express in regards to the nouveau rich chinese from the mainland. Even though they have money, they are able to somehow buy a ton of designer/luxury products and still be able to cheapen these brands by the way they wear them/overuse them. Mind you, I am not jealous, I have my own money to buy whatever it is that I want, this is just an observation that I have. :) thanks for reading.

      • DRaY

        @coala banana
        I had a friend who had to stand for 13hours on a train once in China. there was no space to sit on the floor and all the seats were filled. He said the only time he go to sit was if someone went to the bathroom and he would have to stand once they returned to their seat. Go to a train station around the start of the NEW Year and see for yourself the amount of people.. it isn’t hard to imagine.

  • Rick in China

    Glad to see these guys go home. It’s a reminder of what is really important in life – those who have the least are often the best reminders.

    That being said, the douchebags who make fun of the migrant workers for their clothes or relative poverty…that’s pretty bad. Those are the diseases that need cleansing from society, not the migrant workers who basically support the ability for the rich of china to be rich at all. The hundreds of millions working slavish jobs – the real backbone of the Chinese economy. It’s sad that they can never rise above where they are, or the economic model breaks…so I guess it’s seen as sufficient to let them go home once in a while.

    • I wholly agree.

  • Joey

    Does anyone know the name of the song that’s played in the video? thanks.

  • moop

    don’t care if they are poor or not, get the fukc outta beijing. the less people here the better.

  • Phranky

    Watching this video made me shed a tear and also made me realise how fortunate i am ! May God take them home to their families safely and soundly!

  • eddyshu

    I have to say sorry to them who sacrified most of time with their families working in the city,and make great contribution to the cities,then even can not get a home ticket,which reminded of the poetry i learned in primary school that is describing a silkgrower man went to the city seeing so many rich people wearing silk clothes,but himself who is a silkgrower man could not afford it,so he shedded tears.It’s really heart broken sadness!

  • Sam

    I rather feel these folks lucky. They still carry that old time emotion, where going home and meeting family is the goal of whole year’s hard work. There is a wife counting days to meet; where there is a kid waiting for toys; where there a mother/father heeding for that clatter of foot steps.

    Unlike many from internet generation, where family becomes liability rather than joy, these folks are lucky.

    Good luck guys and happy Chinese new year!

  • dave

    well for certain this time of year is rough on many people here in china. the infrastructure for transportation has a long way to go in order to support this type of travel.

    I one time went to the Beijing station just to see what it is like during chun jie. UHH sorry I will never travel during SF(Spring Festival)
    for those migrant workers, yea going home is great. im happy for them but it doesn’t change a damn thing.

    those men require ample training programs and substantial raise in their pay. not to mention adequate grounds for living and access to all they need.

  • typingfromwork

    Spring festival time is mad as hell for all transport hubs. You think those train stations look huge at a distance- then you see just how crammed they are during this time and think about how luxurious it would be to live in a sardine can.

    Hope everyone gets back home safely to be able to watch the god awful Spring Festival show with their families!

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  • JD

    This is so touching that I cried. May I ask from which province were they from? Just curious.