China’s massive rural-urban migration: the dark side

According to the National Bureau of Statistics in China, the Chinese urban population consists of more than 50% of the total population now. A brief overview of this issue is here.

This topic has been going on in China for quite some time. When People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949, urban residents made up a mere 20% of the aggregate population. That was bounded to the poor economic conditions. During these years, however, the cities boosted while rural areas stay poor, in every way. The rural population flood into cities to find better-paid jobs and better education for their children.

Accompanying the drastically increasing migration are the intensifying social conflicts and lack of infrastructure for the poor in cities. The Chinese government has constructed “public housing” to relieve the migrants’ pressure to buy property, but those low-price housing has been controlled by the upper class who have relationships with officials. The poor are still living in shattered areas in cities. Migrant workers face difficulties even in terms of income. Very few of the migrant workers can get their wages on time.

Education for the youth is another problem. Although schools admit children of migrant workers’, they have to pay much more tuition fees. In some cities, schools specially catering to migrated children are set up. But they often cannot compare to other schools in terms of resources and teaching.

The migrants are finding their ways in the cities, but many are not successful. Mr. Han Zheng, mayor of Shanghai, promised to “encourage and guide the migrant population’s involvement in community affairs, enrich their cultural life and show our genuine care to them.” But this is hardly achievable without guarantee of basic living standards.


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