“His wife hardly makes any money, so the family really depends on Zhixin financially,” Li Luxin said. “City living is costly with the children going to school.”
Construction workers in Chinese cities typically earn the equivalent of US$700 to US$800 a month, but tantalizing stories of much better pay in foreign countries where low-skilled laborers are lacking drive hundreds of thousands to leave their families behind and go abroad each year.
At the end of last year, about 853,000 Chinese were working overseas, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.
On Flight 370, eight men from the Dingzhou municipal region of 1 million that includes Ziwei were returning from contract work in Singapore.
Li Zhixin only informed his family he was going on his first trip abroad to Singapore after making all the arrangements, which included borrowing about US$3,000 to pay an agent who lined up a construction job in the city-state, Li Luxin said.
“He was told he could make as much as 300 yuan [US$50] a day,” but was soon disappointed because there was not enough work, Li Luxin said.
“He regretted going there and told his wife’s brother over the phone that he was often idle with no work and no income,” Li Luxin said. “Before he came back this time, he said he would never go abroad again because he had made no money this time.”
Li Zhixin’s father traveled to Beijing with his eldest brother, Li Jingxin, the day after the plane went missing, but they were frustrated by the lack of information provided by airline officials and Li Zhou’er returned home a few days later.
“Pigs cherish their piglets, dogs cherish their puppies and we humans cherish our children,” Li Zhou’er said. “There has not been a day that I do not miss my child.”