China’s linguistic and geographic diversity leads many Chinese individuals to identify themselves and others not simply as Chinese, but rather by their native place and provincial origin. Negative personality traits are often attributed to people from specific areas. People from Henan, in particular, appear to be singled out as possessing a host of negative traits.Such prejudice does not necessarily lead to wage discrimination. Whether or not it does depends on the nature of the local labor markets. This chapter uses data from the 2008 and 2009 migrant surveys of the Rural-Urban Migration in China Project (RUMiC) to explorewhether native-place wage discrimination affects migrant workers in China’s urban labormarkets. We analyze the question of wage discrimination among migrants by estimatingwage equations for men andwomen, controlling for human capital characteristics, province oforigin, and destination city. Of key interest here are the variables representing provinces oforigin. We find no systemic differences by province of origin in the hourly wages of male andfemale migrants. However, in a few specific cases, we find that migrants from a particularprovince earn significantly less than those from local areas. Male migrants from Henan inShanghai are paid much less than their fellow migrants from Anhui. In the Jiangsu cities ofNanjing and Jiangsu migrants.
Huang, Youqin, Yi Chengdong. (2014) Invisible migrant enclaves in Chinese cities : Underground living in Beijing, China. Urban Studies. Pre-published online, December 22, 2014. DOI: 10.1177/0042098014564535
China is experiencing an urban revolution, powered in part by hundreds of millions of migrant workers. Faced with institutionalised discrimination in the housing system and the lack of housing affordability, migrants have turned to virtually uninhabitable spaces such as basements and civil air defence shelters for housing. With hundreds of thousands of people living in crowded and dark basements, an invisible migrant enclave exists underneath the modern city of Beijing. We argue that in Chinese cities, housing has been adopted as an institution to exclude and marginalise migrants, through: (a) defining migrants as an inferior social class through the Hukou system and denying their rights to entitlements including housing; (b) abnormalising migrants through various derogatory naming and categorisations to legitimise exclusion; and (c) purifying and controlling migrant spaces to achieve exclusion and marginalisation. The forced popularity of basement renting reflects the reality that housing has become an institution of exclusion and marginalisation. It embodies vertical spatial marginalisation, with exacerbated contrasts between basement tenants and urban residents, heightened fear of the ‘other’, even more derogatory naming, and the government’s more aggressive clean-up of their spaces. We call for reforms and policy changes to ensure decent and affordable housing for basement tenants and migrants in general.
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Wen, Guanzhong James and Jinwu Xiong. (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, 8(4), pp. 516-534. URL: http://journal.hep.com.cn/fec/EN/10.3868/s060-002-013-0026-2 (Retrieved 10 December 2014)
Based on a comparative study of New-Pudong (East Shanghai) and Old-Puxi (West Shanghai) in their respective ability to absorb rural migrants, the very essence of urbanization, this paper finds that, constrained by the current hukou (household registration) system and land tenure system, although New-Pudong has emerged as one of the most modernized urban areas in the world, it did so under an urbanization model that is government-dominant and characterized by high land-intensity and capital-intensity. This model represents a serious mismatch in terms of China’s factor endowment that is characterized with a large but relatively poor rural population. In sharp contrast, guided by the market mechanism under private land ownership and free migration, Old-Puxi emerged as an urbanization model that was very adaptable to China’s factor endowment and stage of development. Therefore, as a model of endogenous urbanization, Old-Puxi is more efficient and inclusive, at the same time more sustainable economically and environmentally, and for this reason more applicable to China at a time when China needs to urbanize most of its rural population urgently to avoid the further worsening of the rural/urban divide and income disparity.
Éric Florence, « Chloé Froissart, La Chine et ses migrants. La conquête d’une citoyenneté (China and its migrants: the conquest of a citizenship), », China Perspectives, 2014/4 | 2014, URL : http://chinaperspectives.revues.org/6596
La Chine et ses migrants. La conquête d’une citoyenneté (China and its migrants: the conquest of a citizenship) is a major work, and along with Dorothy Solinger’s Contesting Citizenship in Urban China (1999) constitutes the most complete and solidly documented scientific study of rural migrants in the People’s Republic of China, of public policies concerning them, and of the dynamics of their relations with the Party-state. Based on a doctoral thesis, the book examines to what extent the enduring presence of migrant workers in post-Maoist China’s urban areas, and the increasingly important role they play there, have led to a redefinition of criteria for social and political affiliations. In other words, how has the Party-State transformed itself so as to preserve the basis of its power while allowing the partial integration of a social group whose politico-institutional domination is increasingly reflected in rising social, ideological, and economic contradictions? The perspective adopted is resolutely dynamic, perceiving social change as the result of interactions and conflicts between the state and society. The author, a senior lecturer at the University of Rennes 2, documents in detail not only the process of transformation of public policies relating to the management and integration of migrant populations in cities, but also migrants’ practices, norms, and representations vis-à-vis the state and Chinese society.
The work is structured in five parts. In the first, Chloé Froissart offers a genealogy of the concept of citizenship and its mobilisation in the Chinese context. She contrasts the universalist conception inherited from the Enlightenment, by which “the citizen is an abstract subject of laws, implying civic, political, and legal equality of individuals,” with the Maoist one brimming with the notion of a special political and socio-economic determination of individuals’ rights and duties (p. 45). As a framework for interpreting society-state relations, the author offers the dialectic of this dual vision of citizenship that continues to inform the Communist Party’s actions. While Chapter 1 shows that Maoist era ideology and political struggles constitute an inescapable presupposition for interpreting the reach of the constitution and laws of the People’s Republic of China, Chapter 2 documents the role and effects of the “residency permit” (hukou) administrative system that has defined individual-state relations since the 1950s, establishing a system of statuses linked to one’s position in the productive system, local inscription, and political status, and invalidating “the apparent universality of Chinese laws” (pp. 45-46).
Li Hao, Daniel Houser, Lei Mao, Marie Claire Villeval (2014), A field study of Chinese migrant workers’ attitudes toward risks, strategic uncertainty, and competitiveness,
Using a field experiment in China, we study whether migration status is correlated with attitudes toward risk, ambiguity, and competitiveness. Our subjects include migrants and non-migrants. We find that, migrants exhibit no differences from non-migrants in risk and ambiguity preferences elicited using pairs of lotteries ; however, migrants are significantly more likely to enter competition in the presence of strategic uncertainty when they expect competitive entries from others. Our results suggest that migration may be driven more by a stronger belief in one’s ability to succeed in an uncertain and competitive environment than by risk attitudes under state uncertainty.
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
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.
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.
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The process of reconfiguration of Chinese cities […] includes not only a physical restructuring of urban spaces but also a challenge to established configurations of land ownership and control, space-based consumption, and entitlements on the part of urban citizens. Thus Chinese cities, and the spaces that constitute them, have become arenas of heightened contestation, from both within and without the city itself. China Perspectives 2014/2. Issue edited by Bettina Gransow.
Edmund W. ChengLand appropriation, intermediate agency, and regulated space in Shenzhen
Two weeks ago, I published a review of a Ph.D dissertation written by Guo Lin on migrants and left-behind children that suggested that inequalities were greater between rural and urban children than between left-behind children and children with their parents. Although this study looked at the education, the health and the workload of left-behind children, the author did not analyse – as it was not the purpose of the paper – the emotional and behavioural consequences on being left behind by parents. In 2009, the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin released a paper on children and migrations in China looking at both left-behind children and those migrating with their parents to cities1. Even though this article was published five years ago, its findings are still current. According to a recent research, at least 61 million Chinese children are left behind2.
This report highlights the distress of these left-behind children, who can spend years without seeing their parents.
In addition to the issues they face at school and at home because of missing parents, many of them are also victims of sexual assault or harassment. They are also more likely to have accidents at home because of poor adult supervision. The authors argue that many of these left-behind children also suffer from emotional disorders.
Authorities are well aware of this issue and have launched several programmes to improve left-behind children’s wellbeing. One of these policies is the promotion of “stand-in parents” that will look after these left-behind children. Another is the creation of boarding schools that can host these children and provide them with proper supervision from responsible adults, but many of these boarding schools are poorly financed by local governments, and, consequently, do not offer adequate living conditions. The authors rightfully argue that all these measures do not address the underlying cause of the left-behind children problem, which is the challenge migrant parents face in bringing their children to the city because of the strict hukou policy. If this issue is not addressed properly, China will pay the price in the future with a poorly educated workforce and adults suffering from social disorders.
- Aris Chan (2009), Paying the price for economic development: the children of migrant workers in China, China Labour Bulletin, 2009, November. Reteived March 20 from http://www.clb.org.hk/en/files/share/File/research_reports/Children_of_Migrant_Workers.pdf
- April Ma (2014), China raises a generation of ‘left-behind’ children, CNN, February 5. Retrieved March 20 from http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/04/world/asia/china-children-left-behind/
The government plans to move 215 millions people from rural areas to cities by the year 2025. One of the results awaited by the Chinese government by sustaining urbanisation is the creation of a consumer culture driving Chinese economy and raising standard living. But this plan will generate side effects concerning the integration of farmers moved into cities such as the lack of infrastructures (transports, houses, schools, hospitals) and the restricted access to public services for the people who are still registered as rural residents while they live since many years in the city.
“Currently, nearly 54 percent of Chinese live in cities, but only 36 percent are registered as urban residents (…). The plan calls for integrating 100 million of these second-class citizens, so that by 2020, 60 percent of Chinese should be living in cities, with 45 percent enjoying full urban status, the plan states”.
According to urban planners, to make this plan effective, the government will have to carry out two complementaries reforms which are taxe reform, in order to give more financial capacity to local authorities for investing into infrastructures, and farmers’ land rights reform, in order to give them the choice to keep or live their land. Two major reforms still however in the planning phase, according to Tao Ran, the acting director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy
For more information, read the full article: Johnson, Ian. China Releases Plan to Incorporate Farmers Into Cities. The New York Times, March 17, 2014. [Retrieved March 19, 2014].
A homeless person resting in a building waiting to be demolished around Tongyuanju (铜元局). Photo taken during a field trip to Chongqing in November 2013. Although the low-income allowance (dibao － 低保) covers the whole territory of Chongqing now, the amount given very low. In 2013, the allowance for urban residents was 300 yuan per month (185 yuan/month in rural areas), but it can be lower depending on the family income. In order to get this subsidy, the applicant must meet some requirements such as an income lower than 1450 yuan per month. There is growing social discontent because of the lack of affordable housing. The importance of the real estate industry to the economy is such that the government still has not properly addressed the housing issues faced by the most desperate. The city of Chongqing announced an ambitious plan for social housing in 2010. However, this housing plan is mostly intended for workers with stable jobs and income.
Li, Yan (2010), Constraints on health and health services access of rural-to-urban migrants in China: a case of Dengcun village of Beijing. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham. (accessed 28 October 2013)
China is experiencing a dramatically increasing process of rural-urban migration, which is almost parallel with the phenomenal economic growth and development in China in the last decades. Given the massive scale of rural-urban migration in China, the health services access and health constraints not only matter to rural-urban migrants but also have important implications for broad public health concerns. However, this issue has not been paid enough attention in academic research.
This study focuses on the multifaceted reality of health constraints and health services access among migrants by originally exploring the social strata, social networks, and the understanding of health and health services among migrants. The research questions are stated as follows: What constraints and difficulties do migrants face with respect to their health and health services access? Is there a hierarchical structure in health services access and medical treatment access among migrants? When there is a shortage of financial resources, do they resort to informal social support (such as informal social networks/ guanxi) to obtain help and why? What are their understanding and experience of health and why?
Furthermore, this study investigates the health constraints and health services access of rural-urban migrants in the absence of equal social protection by the government. By conducting 36 qualitative interviews in Dengcun Village, a migrant community in Beijing, China, this paper:
- Investigates issues concerning environmental health risks of migrants, their health seeking behaviours, and the constraints they encountered in accessing health services with respect to the social strata among migrants. It argues that the main obstacles to access health services are not only the shortage of financial resources among rural-urban migrants, but also lie in the institutional blindness regarding health security provision, rural-urban dualism and the household registration system in China.
- Highlights the key function that social networks play in health and health services access among migrants in China, which has rarely been discussed in previous studies. Examines the range of social networks among migrants, from which they can acquire support, including financial and spiritual, when they are dealing with health problems. The study argues that social networks resemble a double-edged sword to rural-urban migrants in terms of health care access. The fact that migrants lack savings may not be the sole and essential reason for their extreme vulnerability in times of illness. Some migrants, who are in financial difficulties though, may have some assistance, including financial support and emotional support from their social networks. However, on the other hand, the assistance from social networks on their health and heath care access is limited, not only because their social networks is limited, but because the social networks should not bear the responsibility to support health services access of migrants, similar to or more than the state and migrants’ employers.
- Discusses the understanding of health among migrants, and further analyses that although many migrants have not formed proper understanding of the connotation of health and have limited knowledge of health, prime responsibility should not be put on the migrants because their poor understanding of health mainly results from their rural perspective while health and health services access depend on the social-economic environment in which they live and work.
Full text available on line : http://etheses.nottingham.ac.uk/3135/1/537813.pdf
Other publication by Li, Yan
“Understanding Health Constraints Among Rural-to-Urban Migrants in China.” Qualitative health research 23.11 (2013): 1459-1469.
Chloé Froissart (2013) China and its migrants. Presses universitaires de Rennes. coll. Res Publica.
China’s economic reforms have triggered the greatest rural exodus in world history, which now presents one of the major challenges the Chinese regime must face. While binding the Party to exercise the rule of law, the opening up of the market has also created a new social class, migrant workers, seemingly second-class citizens in the cities of their own country.
This book shows how the role of migrants in society has evolved and how this evolution has redefined Chinese citizenship, without calling into question the principals which support the Party’s dominance. By combining an analysis of public politics to a social and political approach focused on society’s resistance, Froissart brings to light the dynamics and tensions which underlie the Chinese regime’s transformation.
Based on five years of field studies, this book offers an unprecedented insight into the manner in which the Party has been able to adapt itself to the changes arising since the launch of the reforms and find its own way to modernity.
This book was developed from Chloé Froissart’s prize winning doctoral thesis.
Chloé Froissart will be presenting her book at several venues in November. She will make an appearance:
- at the Librairie Le Phénix in Paris, Friday 22 November, 2013 at 6 p.m.
- at the Film Festival in Pessac, Sunday 24 November, 2013 at 3 p.m.
- at the CERI, Wednesday 27 November, 2013. at 5 p.m.
She has also given an interview, in French, to the radio station RCF in two parts, aired November 12 and 13, which will be available on podcast on their website.
Built on mountains and crossed by the Yangtze and Jialing rivers, Chongqing is known as the “mountain city” (shancheng – 山城), and “bridge capital” (qiaodu – 桥都). Streets are often steep and arduous to walk along, with many stairs. This particular orography was a catalyst for the emergence of the bangbangjun (棒棒军), a legion of incredibly tough porters who are always ready to help Chongqingers carry their loads through the streets of the city. Equipped only with one-meter-long bamboo poles and thick nylon ropes, they can carry loads of more than 60 kilos, containing different items such as materials for construction, shopping bags, or luggage.
The presence of the bangbangjun in the city has been traced back to the time of the opening of the ports to commerce. Fluvial transport boomed and labour was needed to carry goods from the docks. However, it was during the 90s, when the urbanization process started to accelerate that their numbers peaked. Thousands of migrants flocked to the city looking for better job prospects. Some were farmers dispossessed of their land as a consequence of the expropriation frenzy, while others simply wanted to leave the farming life behind. Because of their lack of higher education or the fact that they were too old to be employed, many joined the porters because it was their only opportunity to earn a livelihood. At the time, farmers did not have access to social benefits such as the subsistence allowance (zuidi shenghuo baozhang, aka dibao – 低保) or old-age insurance (yanglao baoxian – 养老保险), which is indeed still rare in the countryside. Some estimates have put the number of bangbangjun at more than 400 thousand at their apogee. They epitomize the mingong struggle for life and highlight the contrast between the two Chinas, urban and rural.
The sight of the once ubiquitous porters is becoming rarer nowadays. In his quest to find ways to make life easier, man has created cars, department stores, parking lots and the like. Urbanization and a higher standard of living have brought all this to Chongqing. Nowadays, entire neighbourhoods have been razed, the city has expanded, and citizens can drive up to department stores and conveniently load the trunk of the car right at the doorstep of the shop. In addition, living standards in the countryside are improving. Social benefits are at last available for farmers, which is something to celebrate.
One may therefore assume that the bangbangjun will soon be gone for good. In the meantime, a visit to the city today will allow the visitor to witness the transition between two generations: the generation that has known hardship and planted trees, the one this horde of braves belongs to, and the generation that has known comfort sitting in the shade of those trees.
 The dibao is available almost nationwide now. The yanglao baoxian covered just 10% of the territory in 2009.