BEIJING, April 12 -- A new office trend has sprung up this year among Chinese white-collar workers involving the posting of photos of former Miss Hong Kong Li Jiaxin in their offices and making her picture their computer desktop image.
It is not that they are necessarily infatuated with her beauty. Rather, it is a humorous way of reminding their bosses about salary increases because the pronunciation of Jiaxin is the same as the Chinese phrase for pay rise.
There are also millions of teacups on sale imprinted with the slogan "I need a salary increase" at Taobao.com, Chinese largest e-shopping site. Many white-collar workers have placed them prominently on their desks or take them to meetings with their bosses.
Song Xi, a 27-year-old analyst working in Shanghai, said: "Of course, it is just a way that young Chinese - including me - are entertaining themselves. Most bosses still retain a distant look.
"I have been working at this consultancy for four years. In 2009, for the first time, I didn't get any salary increase. It used to be a 10 to 15 percent rise every year."
According to a recent survey by Zhaopin.com, a human resource service firm based in Beijing, around 66.3 percent of 6,000 respondents didn't get any increase in their salary in 2009.
The financial crisis placed a big burden on Chinese white-collar workers. About 41.1 percent of the survey respondents felt very unsatisfied with their salary in 2009 and 21.7 percent of them said that a pay rise was their top expectation this year.
Wang Haoshu is a 26-year-old magazine editor based in Xiamen, Fujian province. He said: "A 7,000 yuan monthly salary seems to be fair for people with only three years of working experience. But I feel compelled to complain about my salary, which hasn't risen over the past year, because of the rocketing house prices. I hope my salary catches up with the growth of house prices. I'm willing to work overtime or burn the midnight oil for a better salary."
The results of an investigation by All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) showed that based on analysis of the annual reports of listed companies, at 208 State-owned enterprises, incomes of front-line employees are 18 times lower than top executives. More than 23 percent of employees didn't get any increase in their salary in the past five years.
Wang Wei, 29, has been working for a State-owned manufacturing enterprise in Beijing for five years. "Fortunately, we routinely get salary increases that basically depend on length of service," he said. "Every year I get hundreds of yuan more, but it is really little better than nothing."
According to official statistics, China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an annual rate of 10.13 percent from 2002 to 2009. However, the inflation-adjusted income of Chinese employees only grew 8.18 percent annually over the same period.
Zhang Shiping, an ACFTU official and a member of the National Comm