Iron rice bowl

"Iron rice bowl" (zh-stp|s=铁饭碗|t=鐵飯碗|p=tiě fàn wǎn) is a Chinese term used to refer to an occupation with guaranteed job security, as well as steady income and benefits.cite web | url = | title = rice bowl | work = Double-Tongued Dictionary | accessdate = 2007-01-02 ] Traditionally, people considered to have iron rice bowls include military personnel, members of the civil service, as well as employees of various state run enterprises (through the mechanism of the work unit). [cite web | url = | title = China's communist revolution: a glossary | date = 6 October, 1999 | work = The People's Republic at 50: Special report | publisher = BBC News ]

Origin of term

The metaphoric usage is applied to the act of dropping a traditionally clay or porcelain rice bowl and shattering, thereby rendering the bowl useless. When one has an iron rice bowl, the bowl may be dropped repeatedly (i.e. the employee may make multiple mistakes) without the bowl itself being damaged.

Recent moves at cutting benefits and privatization of various state run businesses in Taiwan such as the Taiwan Railway Administration and China Airlines have led many in those industries to believe that their iron rice bowls are in jeopardy, and has led to strikes (and threats thereof), as well as being the subject of much political debate.

When Deng Xiaoping began his labor reforms in the People's Republic of China in the 1980s, the government iron rice bowl jobs were some of the first to go. Almost overnight, fully one third of China's workforce was unemployed.Fact|date=February 2007 A large majority of these people became migratory workers, moving from job to job in great masses. Factory and construction work were, and continue to be, standard employment.The effects of this change are still felt today in modern China. [cite news | url = | publisher = Dissident Voice | title = The Broken Iron Rice Bowl | author = Kim Petersen | date = August 18, 2003] [cite news | title = China breaks the iron rice bowl | author = Martine Bulard | date = January 2006 | publisher = Le Monde diplomatique]

Other uses

In Western Society, the term enjoys similar usage. It has been popularized by Richard Lindzen in reference to Government funded scientists and labs that use their research results to justify continued government funding. Lindzen's thesis is that the intrinsic link between reporting and funding provides incentives to report research results in such a way as to ensure continued funding. [cite web | url = | title = Climate Alarm- Where Does It Come From? (remarks to the George C. Marshall Institute) | date = December 1, 2004 | author = Richard S. Lindzen ] The related term "rice bowl" often refers to a military project which is being protected in the interests of a particular department rather than wider needs.


External links

* [ 'Iron Rice Bowl' returns in China] — by Venkatesan Vembu, Daily News & Analysis, November 27, 2007.

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