The Chinese Communist Party has sunk all of its legitimacy, understandably, into the continued growth of the Chinese economy and a steady increase in their citizens’ standard of living.

One of the “nightmare” scenarios for China watchers is that, faced with an inability to generate enough jobs to satisfy domestic needs, the party turns to aggressive nationalism as an alternative means of staying in power. But with thawing relations between Taiwan and China, the party’s targets are more limited than they once were.

So what to do? How about force companies to continue employing workers?

Companies in two Chinese provinces, Shandong and Hubei, have been told they must seek official consent if they want to lay off more than 40 people.

The order highlights the Chinese authorities’ concern over mounting job losses.

As China’s main external markets plunge into recession and export orders shrink, layoffs have multiplied in the country’s big manufacturing regions.

In Shandong alone, nearly 700,000 people have lost their jobs this year.

In southern Guangdong, tens of thousands of firms have closed, sparking off reverse migration to the countryside by redundant workers.

China’s economic growth has slowed sharply this year to around 8 percent – high by world standards, but much less than the double-digit figures seen for years.

If the one-off boost from the Olympics is factored in, even that number may be further reduced.

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