Released by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (hereafter MHRSS) of the People’s Republic of China (hereafter China) in 2003, the Minimum Wage Regulation requires labour security administrative departments of all provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities to review and adjust minimum wage levels at least once every two years. The Regulation has since become the backbone in protecting the livelihoods of the vast labour population in China. In Guangdong, cities are categorized into four ‘wage districts’ based on their level of economic development. Each of the four wage districts adopts different minimum wage levels. While the minimum wage level of Type A districts is the highest, the minimum wage level of Type D districts is the lowest in the province. The Human Resources and Social Security Department of Guangdong Province (hereafter GDHRSS) is responsible for regularly adjusting the four different minimum wage levels. But Shenzhen, despite being a city in Guangdong, independently set its own minimum wage level until the middle of 2018, when the city was included in the minimum wage system of Guangdong. Shenzhen, like Guangzhou, is categorized as a Type A city, but Shenzhen still had its own minimum wage level by August 2018.
In 2018, the minimum wage level of all regions in Guangdong was adjusted for the first time after since 2015. Shenzhen also experienced its first raise in the minimum wage under the principle of biennial adjustment. We have been closely following the issue of minimum wage in Guangdong. Through long-term investigation and research, we try to find out whether the wage levels of workers in Guangdong can catch up with the level of economic developments in the province. We have documented the changes in minimum wage levels in different cities in Guangdong province, and in this paper, we will examine whether the Minimum Wage Regulation remains effective in protecting the livelihood of grassroots workers.