Category Archives: Migration

Dust and sweat

dust and sweatIn 2012, Liu Xinwu’s novel Chén yǔ hàn (尘与汗, in English Dust and sweat) was translated into French and I recently read it with great interest. Liu Xinwu (刘心武), one of contemporary China’s most gifted writers, wrote this novel in 1998, and gave us an insight into a migrant’s life in the late ‘90s. In this book we discover how Lao He (the main character) and his companions adapt to their urban life. As suggested by the novel’s title, this life is tough. We discover the hard living conditions of migrant workers, and their strategies for “muddling through”.
These ex-farmers are searching for new opportunities, new ways of earning their living. They are led down very different paths: in this novel, they encounter a triad member, a man who rents trampolines and a Daoist soothsayer.
For some of Lao He’s colleagues, buying lottery tickets is another way to transform their lives, and sometimes it works…

This novel also reveals the gap between the older generation of migrants, who do not fit in this new China (to the point of losing their mind), and the younger generation, who already feel urban.
This book can be seen as a snapshot of the late ‘90s in China, like Lao She (another great Chinese writer)’s novels in their time .

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE – Nottingham Trent University)

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City Versus Countryside in Mao’s China: Negotiating the Divide

 

Jeremy Brown (2012). City Versus Countryside in Mao’s China: 
Negotiating the Divide. Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 9781107424548.

The gap between those living in the city and those in the countryside remains one of China’s most intractable problems. As this powerful work of grassroots history argues, the origins of China’s rural-urban divide can be traced back to the Mao Zedong era. While Mao pledged to remove the gap between the city worker and the peasant, his revolutionary policies misfired and ended up provoking still greater discrepancies between town and country, usually to the disadvantage of villagers. Through archival sources, personal diaries, untapped government dossiers, and interviews with people from cities and villages in northern China, the book recounts their personal experiences, showing how they retaliated against the daily restrictions imposed on their activities while traversing between the city and the countryside. Vivid and harrowing accounts of forced and illicit migration, the staggering inequity of the Great Leap Famine, and political exile and deportation during the Cultural Revolution reveal how Chinese people fought back against policies that pitted city dwellers against villagers.

For more information about this book: http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/history/east-asian-history/city-versus-countryside-in-maos-china-negotiating-divide?format=PB?format=PB

Link to book review by Yixin Chen (2013) at The China Quarterly, Volume 214, June 2013 pp 479-480: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?aid=8944098

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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The end of the hukou system?

Goodburn, Charlotte (2014). The end of the hukou system? Not yet. China Policy Institute Policy Paper, 2. 7 p. Retrieved 9 September 2014 from: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/cpi/documents/policy-papers/cpi-policy-paper-2014-no-2-goodburn.pdf?utm_content=bufferd01fe&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

The July 2014 Chinese State Council circular on the “end of the hukou (household registration) system” has been greeted by a mixture of jubilation and scepticism in the press. The abolition of the distinction between rural and urban Chinese citizens, which has existed since the 1950s, is historic, and may be of symbolic importance, but much of the rest of the policy announcement is neither new nor likely to benefit most current and prospective rural-urban migrants. Real hukou reform will be difficult and costly, and remains a long way off.

Read full text (PDF)

 Related

Hukou reform: Beijing abolishes “agricultural” residence class, but rural-urban split remains. China Economic Review, 8 September 2014. Retrieved 9 Sptember 2014 from: http://www.chinaeconomicreview.com/hukou-reform-beijing-abolishes-agricultural-residence-class-rural-urban-split-remains

When China’s State Council announced in late July that it would end the official division of Chinese residents into rural and urban, it ended a practice that for almost six decades represented the worst of the country’s oft-decried residence permit, or hukou, system. When introduced in the late 50’s the restrictive policy bifurcated Chinese into an urban minority with government-provided benefits and a rural majority expected to feed both cities and itself.

Today over half of China’s population already lives in the cities. A blueprint for the country’s urbanization announced in March plans for 60% of the population to be urban by 2020, meaning another 100 million Chinese will move to cities. The plan also calls for 45% of the population to have urban hukou, meaning another 250 million once-rural residents will need to be registered in cities. This would theoretically entitle them to better benefits in areas such as health care and education.

The State Council provided general guidelines in its recent announcement on how the central government wants urbanization to proceed: few to no residency rules for those migrating to smaller cities, and increasingly stringent requirements as urban populations pass the 1 and 3 million marks. Cities with over 5 million people can use a “points” system to decide who is accorded residence, a practice already used by larger cities like Beijing that weeds out the vast majority of hukou hopefuls in favor of high-earning or highly educated applicants.

Read full story

 

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Pickle Index of China’s urbanisation

榨菜The Pickle index was founded in 2013 by an official of the National Development and Reform Commission. The creator of this index indicated that measuring and observing the sale number of pickles in different provinces can help understand the moving trends of migrant workers. The Pickle index then became an unofficial way to observe population movements in China.

That official found that from 2007 through 2011, the number of pickle sales in Southern China declined from around 50% to 30%. This showed the fast population outflow in Southern China. It was also observed that the sale number increased in Central China by 8%, in the Central Plain region by 3% and in the Northwest region by 2%. These numbers fit with the 2012 annual monitoring report on the observation of migrant workers, which was released by the National Bureau of Statistics of the People’s Republic of China in May 2013.

The Pickle index is an intriguing way to decipher the movements of the migrant worker population. Its findings were discussed widely in China.

Chi-Han Ai

Ph.D. candidate of EHESS ( École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris) focusing on regional economic development in China and Taiwan.

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Managing Migrant Contestation. Land appropriation, intermediate agency, and regulated space in Shenzhen

Edmund W. Cheng. Managing Migrant Contestation. Land appropriation, intermediate agency, and regulated space in Shenzhen. Published in China Perspectives 2014/2: P.27.

This study considers the conditions under which China’s massive internal migration and urbanisation have resulted in relatively governed, less contentious, and yet fragile migrant enclaves. Shenzhen, the hub for rural-urban migration and a pioneer of market reform, is chosen to illustrate the dynamics of spatial contestation in China’s sunbelt. This paper first correlates the socialist land appropriation mechanisms to the making of the factory dormitory and urban village as dominant forms of migrant accommodation. It then explains how and why overt contention has been managed by certain intermediate agencies in the urban villages that have not only provided public goods but also regulated social order. It ends with an evaluation of the fragility of urban villages, which tend to facilitate urban redevelopment at the expense of migrants’ living space. The interplay between socialist institutions and market forces has thus ensured that migrant enclaves are regulated and integrated into the formal city.

 

 

 

 

 

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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The hukou and land tenure systems as two middle income traps: the case of modern China

Wen, Guangzhong James and Xiong, Jinwu (2014). The hukou and land tenure systems as two middle income traps : the case of modern China. Author’s post-print. Final version published in Frontiers of Economics in China 2014, 9(3): 438-459. DOI: 10.3868/s060-003-014-0021-1.

China’s prevailing hukou (household registration) system and land tenure system seem to be very different in their applications. In fact, they both function to deny the exit right of rural residents from a rural community. Under these systems, rural residents are not allowed to freely exit from collectives if they do not want to lose their entitlements, such as their rights to using collectively owned land and their land-based properties. Farmers are neither allowed to sell their houses to outsiders, nor allowed to sell to outsiders their rights to contracting a piece of land from the collective where their households are registered. For migrant workers from rural areas, it is extremely difficult for them to obtain an urban hukou with all its associated entitlements at an urban locality where they currently work and live. The combined effect of the two systems leads to serious distortions in labor and land markets, resulting in discrimination against migrant workers, sprawling yet exclusive urbanization, housing bubbles, and depressed domestic demand. These distortions further entrench the existing and much widened urban/rural divide. Unless these two systems are thoroughly reformed, the rural residents in Chinese mainland will be trapped in their comparatively much lower income and remain unable to share the gains from the agglomeration effects of urbanization.

Related

  • Wen, Guangzhong James and Xiong, Jinwu (2013). Which type of urbanization better matches China’s factor endowment: a comparison of population-intensive Old Puxi and land-capital-intensive New Pudong. Frontiers of Economics in China, 2013, 8(4): 516-534.
    Full text available at publisher’s website.

 

 

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Policy actors and policy making for better migrant health in China from a policy network perspective

Yapeng Zhu, Kinglun Ngok and Wenmin Li (2014), Policy actors and policy making for better migrant health in China from a policy network perspective, Migration and Health in China. A joint project of United Nations Research Institute for Social Development Sun Yat-sen Center for Migrant Health Policy, Working Paper 2014–12 July.

Various policy actors are now involved in the development of migrant health policy. However, little is known about who the main policy actors are, what roles they play, how they interact with each other, and how they might improve their collaboration for better migrant health. This paper aims to identify the main policy actors and explore their roles in migrant health policy making. Applying a “polic network” approach, it finds that the marginalization of migrants in terms of health benefits is mainly attributed to a closed policy network resulting from the peculiar political structure and specific institutional arrangements. Based on these findings, the authors argue that an inclusive policy network is needed to overcome the major institutional barriers and better satisfy migrants’ health needs.

Full text of the paper

  • Yapeng Zhu is Research Fellow at the Sun Yat-sen Center for Migrant Health Policy and Associate Director at the Center for Chinese Public Administration Research, and Professor at the School of Government, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China.
  • Kinglun Ngok is Associate Director at Sun Yat-sen Center for Migrant Health Policy and Associate Director at the Center for Public Administration Research, China.
  • Wenmin Li is a doctoral student at the School of Government, Sun Yat-sen University

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Megacities of Asia

Collingridge, Vanessa (2014). Megacities of Asia, part I-III. South China Morning Post. Post Magazine. 15, 22, 29 June. Retrieved from: http://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/ (accessed 30 June 2014)

  • Megacities of Asia Part I: The rise and rise of the Asian megacity (and why ‘metacities’ are the next big thing)

Asia’s rapid urbanisation is changing the very shape and nature of what we think of as a city.

Read more at: http://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/article/1530748/larger-life-rise-and-rise-asian-megacity

  • Megacities of Asia Part II: Perils of the concrete jungle

Unprecedented levels of migration from rural areas have led to a host of logistical and environmental problems.

Read more at: Carticle/1536089/perils-concrete-jungle

  • Megacities of Asia Part III: The rise of the ‘Megaregion’

Urbanisation is changing the face of Asia but what’s next for the continent’s city dwellers?

Read more at: http://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/article/1540813/megacities-asia-part-iii-grey-areas

 

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Reform of the hukou: Not a liberalisation of the rural land market

Captura de pantalla 2014-07-30 a las 16.32.49

This news piece concerns the  hukou reform announced on Wednesday (guowuyuan guanyu jinyibu tuijin huji zhidu gaige de yijian – 院关于一步推籍制度改革的意), which plans to eliminate the anachronistic distinction between agricultural  and non-agricultural registration. From now on, citizens will be classified simply as residents. The report explains that the reform won’t affect a liberalisation of rural land rights that would allow urban residents moving towards rural areas and acquire rural land-use rights, which is illegal up to now. The report explains that the reform won’t affect the “bidirectional flow of people” (shuangxiang liudong – 双向流动), in contrast to the existing legal framework that only permits the “one-way circulation of rural residents towards the city”.

Please click here to watch the report on chinanews.com: http://www.chinanews.com/shipin/2014/06-21/news447205.shtml

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Holly Ming’s book on Chinese migrant children’s education

 

MingBookEarlier this year, Holly H. Ming (senior researcher at the Youth Foundation, Hong Kong) published an interesting book on migrant children’s education in China.
This book is actually adapted from her PhD dissertation that she prepared at the Harvard Kennedy School.
This book is structured in four parts. Each of them starts with a migrant’s story and educational aspiration. The author has chosen to adopt an empathic tone; it is clear she cares about these people and their issues. It would be misguided to think that her approach is not academic enough. Actually, Holly Ming’s demonstration is backed with strong references, and she conducted numerous interviews to prepare this book.
She first introduces readers to the status of migrants and their children in cities, and then in a second part, described migrant children’s quest for identity. Most migrant children do not remember their early life in their mother province, but still need to find their own place in their host city.
In a third part, the author studies the career decisions of migrant students and the obstacles they face in pursuing their professional ambitions.
According to her findings, some progress has been made toward the integration of migrant children in public schools (although migrant schools – private schools for migrants delivering low quality courses – still exist in several cities). Several host municipalities reduced paperwork and so more migrant children can attend these schools. But the persistence of the hukou system still prevents many of them from taking the senior high school entry examination. Most migrant children have to choose between taking this exam in their home province, where the syllabus is different from the one followed in their host cities, or leaving school and searching for low-wage jobs, repeating their parents’ fate.
She ultimately presents several policies that could help second-generation migrants to get the education they deserve.
After reading this book, written with heart, we can argue that China does not properly nurture talent. This second generation of migrants faces too many obstacles to succeed. Without proper policies, they will suffer from the same social exclusion their parents experienced.
These children and their families show an incredible thirst for education; they know education is the key to social advancement. More funds and programmes need to be allocated to migrant children to reduce social inequalities and insure a real meritocracy where second-generation migrants and fuerdai (富二代) (the second generation of the upper class) will receive the same education and compete for high social status.

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE – Nottingham Trent University)

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The musician who became a champion of migrant workers

Chan, Bernice. The musician who became a champion of migrant workers. South China Morning Post, 1 July 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014 from: http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/article/1543617/musician-who-became-champion-migrant-workers

Like many young people on the mainland, Sun Heng left his hometown to pursue his dreams. He loved music and had vague ideas about travelling across the country to sample different ethnic sounds and becoming a performer. He achieved that goal, forming the New Worker Art Troupe, a band which gave a voice to the country’s millions of migrant workers.

In the process of making music, Sun, now 39, became their champion: he set up a school in Beijing for the children of migrant workers who were not allowed to attend public institutions, a community centre, a museum and, in 2009, a centre where workers can go to pick up skills that could lead to better paying jobs.

Particularly concerned about second-generation migrants who were born in cities but stuck in low-paying jobs because they had little education, Sun and his friends figured one solution was to provide practical courses in areas such as computer literacy and graphic design.

“Once they begin working in a factory, they rarely have a chance to retrain in new skills, so we founded this training centre. It is not a formal academic university, but rather a social knowledge platform,” says Sun.

Founder of NGO the Beijing Migrant Workers’ Home, Sun was invited to Hong Kong in May by Oxfam to help raise awareness about the plight of the estimated 263 million mainland migrant workers whose contribution to China’s remarkable growth in the past 20 years is rarely acknowledged.

It wasn’t quite the role Sun envisaged when he arrived in Beijing about 15 years ago.

Read the full story on the South China Morning Post 

 

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Emerging markets and migration policy: China

Pieke, Frank N. (2014). Emerging markets and migration policy : China. (Note de l’IFRI). Paris : IFRI, Center of Migration and Citizenship.

China is known for its large pool of labour force as well as for having the largest diaspora in the world. Nevertheless, China’s economic growth is at the source of a new demographic trend: following a 2010 census, there are more than 1 million foreigners in China, as many as in a mid-sized European country. Migrants of Chinese origin, students, high-skilled migrants, low-skilled migrants from adjacent countries: the profiles of these new residents are diverse.

To respond to these new immigration flows, a law on Entry and Exit has been adopted in 2012. Does this new law solve the three main issues posed by immigration to China: the adequacy of China’s migration policy with regards to its economic needs; the clarification of procedures and the integration of foreigners?

Frank N. Pieke, chair professor in Modern China Studies at Leiden University, opens a discussion on these questions in a dynamic E-Note highlighting the issues facing China as it develops its migration policy.

Dowload full text on IFRI website

 

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Migration in China and Europe

In a paper published last January Cheng Jianquan, Craig Young, Zhang Xiaonan and Kofi Owusu attempted to compare internal migrations in the EU and in China1.

The authors acknowledge that comparing migrations in China and in Europe is problematic because of the different nature of both regions (a single country vs. a group of states), and because of their political and socio-economic diversity. This explains why few scholars have adopted this comparative approach. The authors justify their comparison with the size of both entities, and the restrictions and absence of restrictions (hukou, Schenghen area) on movement in both regions.

In spite of these limitations, through means of a solid review of modelling used in previous studies, the authors list several key variables that could be used to compare internal migrations in Europe and China, namely: population size, distance (for example, their first results found that European migrants are more affected by cultural distance, language, history, than Chinese migrants), contiguity, GDP per capita, income difference, unemployment rate, migration network, and migration restriction.

The authors argue that comparing migration patterns in China and Europe could be a useful exercise, but they found that data sets need to be harmonised on the European side, and that there needs to be more cooperation between both regions to study this phenomenon.

  1. Cheng Jianquan, Young Craig, Zhang Xiaonan & Owusu Kofi (2014). Comparing inter-migration within the European Union and China: an initial exploration. Migration studies, January 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2014 from http://migration.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/01/06/migration.mnt029.full []

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE – Nottingham Trent University)

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China’s urbanization 2020: a new blueprint and direction

eurasian geographyProf Chan recently published a preliminary evolution of China’s new national urbanisation plan.

 

 

China released its first national urbanization plan in March 2014. The plan outlines a bold move to grant urban hukou (household registration) to 100 million people, mostly migrants, in the next six years. If successfully implemented, the plan will help China to achieve genuine urbanization and alleviate some major social and economic problems. It has also brought forth a new vision of urbanization with an emphasis on the human aspects. This article presents a preliminary evaluation of the new plan.

Full text available online

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE – Nottingham Trent University)

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The hukou converters

Deng, Quheng and Bjorn Gustafsson (2014). The hukou converters : China’s lesser known rural to urban migrants. Journal of Contemporary China, 23 (88), 657-679. DOI: 10.1080/10670564.2013.861147.

This article studies people born in rural China who now live in urban areas of China and possess a residence permit, an urban hukou; these are the hukou converters and they are examined using large datasets covering substantial parts of China in 2002. According to our estimates, there are 107 million hukou converters constituting 20% of the registered population of China’s urban areas. Presence of a high employment rate in the city, that the city is small or medium-sized, and that the city is located in the middle or western part of China are factors which cause the ratio of hukou converters in the registered city population to be comparatively high. The probability of becoming a hukou converter is strongly linked to having parents with relatively high human and social capital and belonging to the ethnic majority. Compared to their rural-born peers left behind, as well as to migrants who have kept their rural hukou, the hukou converters have much higher per capita household incomes. Years of schooling and CPC membership contribute to this difference but most of the difference remains unexplained in a statistical sense, signalling large incentives to urbanise as well as to receive an urban hukou. While living a very different life from their peers left behind, the economic circumstances of China’s hukou converters at the destination are, on average, similar to the urban-born population. Hukou converters who receive an urban hukou before age 25 do well in the labour market and we have reported indications that they actually overtake urban-born peers regarding earnings. In contrast, hukou migrants who receive an urban hukou after age 25 do not catch up with their urban-born counterparts in terms of earnings.

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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