population and hukou update, 2012

The decision to further loosen hukou requirements is once again front page news in Shenzhen (南方都市报). Interestingly, however, the municipal hukou system is only one reform target. Yesterday, the Municipality released its 2012 Reform Targets, which like hukou reform seem to be about rationalizing public administration, and include centralizing the City’s pension, philanthropy, credit, and prison systems. Nevertheless, hukou reform captured the headlines. Why?

Simple answer: Despite the fact that the children of both early migrants and Baoan locals, as well as the children of long-term residents now claim Shenzhen identity, nevertheless, the majority of the population does not have a legal claim to the Municipality, let alone an emotional sense of belonging. Indeed, the City’s statistics noticeably do not mention uncounted members of the floating population.

According to recent statistics, Shenzhen’s official population is now 15.1 million, of whom only 2.3 million have Shenzhen hukou. The Municipality’s other 12.8 million are in various states of limbo, which range from those who have overstayed a temporary residence permit through workers who have enough points to apply for a hukou to graduate students at Shenzhen’s University Town, who will be given hukou along with their diploma.

Nevertheless, even if we don’t know how many inhabitants actually identify themselves as Shenzheners, we do know that the Municipality is vigorously promoting the slogan, “If you come, you’re a Shenzhener”. To give a sense of how the Municipality strains to graft a sense of place onto deterritorialized bodies, I offer a loose translation of a recent bit of musical propaganda, the song, “If you come, you’re a Shenzhener (来了就是深圳人)” sung by Xu Qianya.

If You Come You’re a Shenzhener

(chorus) Wherever you’re from, you’ll hear your hometown language; It’s hard to distinguish between elsewhere and hometown; Wherever you’re from, this city opens its doors to you; If you come, you’re a Shenzhener; The earth has dreams to be harvested; The heart expands; Shennan Road is like a production line; Producing Spring after Spring; Clouds search for green mountains, mountains search for clouds; People seek opportunities, opportunities seek people; Heroes populate this world; You and I have the same heart; repeat chorus

Rap: There’s an immigrant town; Inhabited by youth and their dreams; Our latitute is 22 degrees north; Here a handshake means something; Here smiles last a little longer; Every day is young; The heart expands; Shennan Road is like a production line; Producing Spring after Spring; Clouds search for green mountains, mountains search for clouds; People seek opportunities, opportunities seek people; Heroes populate this world; You and I have the same heart; repeat chorus ad nauseum.

Lyrics:

不论你从哪里来 都能听到乡音,异乡和故乡很难分,不论你从哪里来 这座城敞开门,来了就是深圳人,土壤有梦多收获,胸襟开放多风云,深南路像一条流水线,流过青春又青春,云找青山山找云,人找机缘缘找人,天地间苍茫千万里,你我相知一颗心,不论你从哪里来 都能听到乡音,异乡和故乡很难分, 不论你从哪里来 这座城敞开门,来了就是深圳人

RAP:有一座移民之城,住满着青春和梦,这里刮着北纬22度季候风,这里的握手比较有力,这里的微笑比较持久,这里的每天都年轻,土壤有梦多收获,胸襟开放多风云,深南路像一条流水线,流过青春又青春,云找青山山找云,人找机缘缘找人,天地间苍茫千万里,你我相知一颗心,不论你从哪里来 都能听到乡音,异乡和故乡很难分,不论你从哪里来 这座城敞开门,来了就是深圳人 (Repeat)

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