Internal Migration In China

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Migration is the movement of people across different spaces, be it temporary or permanent (National Geographic Society, 2005). Of the numerous types of migration that are prevalent, especially in this globalised world, this essay will focus on internal migration in China; in particular, rural-urban migration between Guangzhou and rural areas within China. Guangzhou is the largest city of the Guangdong province and has an urbanisation rate of 83.8% (Yuan, 2013). This urbanisation rate has been fuelled by the growing number of rural migrant workers, who make up “40 percent of the city’s total population” (, 2008). Large proportions of rural migrants in Guangzhou and in other big cities like Shenzhen have posed numerous problems…show more content…
The hukou system also made it difficult for rural migrants (and their children) to change their hukou status (The Economist, 2014), especially in the 1960s, before there was any reformation of the hukou. Moreover, even though it was possible for rural migrants to obtain urban residential permits to work in the city for either six months (short term permit) or three years (long term permit) (Zhao and Fu, 2010, p.4), Kam Wing Chan pointed out that approvals for urban residential permits were rarely granted (Joseph, 2010). This was especially so for Guangzhou, which is a very large city with a population of 12.7 million as of 2010 (Wang, Wu, Cheng, 2012), proving the need to minimise the inflow of migrants from the rural areas and other small cities to prevent the worsening implications of overpopulation. Like many large cities such as Shenzhen, even though there was the overpopulation issue, it was necessary to allow the inflow of a number of migrants into Guangzhou annually, so as to ensure the development of the city. Guangzhou’s local government regulates the inflow of these migrants such that Guangzhou will continue to develop and yet, at the same time, be able to “deal with the pressure and tension over limited infrastructure and resources” (Tao,…show more content…
In the late 1970s, there was a demand for temporary low-income jobs in Guangzhou’s factories, resulting in the withdrawal of certain migratory controls (Joseph, 2010). Even so, at this stage, the migrants still had rural hukou statuses and were deemed as the ‘floating population’, which clearly worsened rural-urban disparity, because those rural migrants who took up the surplus of cheap labour in Guangzhou were not entitled to any social welfare benefits (Chao, 2012, p.2).
The hukou has led to some degree of subjectification and in hopes to tackle the rural-urban divide, the Guangzhou government announced in 2013 that they were abolishing the rural hukou so that rural migrants (mainly farmers) can enjoy “better employment rights, education and other legal interests” (Zheng, 2013). However, this did not indicate that the farmers were entitled to the other kinds of social welfare that the local residents have, which meant that discrimination towards the migrants were relatively still

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