reverse migration from shanghai?

According to viral social media, reverse migration is the latest Shanghai initiative to achieve ‘zero-Covid.’ In turn, the government has explicitly denied that migrant workers are being forced to leave the city, calling these posts disinformation. That said, migrant workers can apply to return to their registered hometown, specifically their hukou residence. A TikTok video (below) includes the following data (translated from above image), suggesting that 8,630,500 people (roughly the population of NYC) could be directly impacted if migrant workers leave:

Shanghai is about to Release the Flood Gates!

Anhui:         2,602,000          Guangdong:     79,000
Jiangsu:      1,504,000          Yunnan:             70,000
Henan:            783,000          Hebei:                67,000
Sichuan:         624,000          Liaoning:           63,000
Jiangxi:           487,000          Jilin:                    59,000
Zhejiang:        451,000          Guangxi:            49,000
Hubei:             408,000          Shandong:        45,000
Shandong:     370,000          Xinjiang:            29,000
Fujian:             264,000          In. Mongolia:    24,000
Hunan:            229,000          Beijing:               23,000
Chongqing:    228,000         Tianjin:                13,500
Guizhou:         148,000          Qinghai:              11,000
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shenzhen book of changes 2.1

More on the complexities of the situation of Chinese migrant labor and its similarities to the situation of illegal immigrants in the United States.

be in but not of: hard practice

Hope takes work in the moment and grows through deep time. It is not over until all of us (including the screamers) are free from suffering; just as there is not one America, there is not one Hell, and certainly there is not just one apocalypse. If we look attentively we see how many lives in how many places are destroyed time and time again. The question facing each of us is: where can I work? What relationships, what changes allow me to help end suffering? And then we work, trusting that other bodhisattvas are also doing their hard practice in fields where we cannot, because (and this I believe) just as there is not one world, there is not one Paradise, and certainly there is not only one savior.  Continue reading

thoughts on the spatial distribution of shenzhen’s population

How many people actually live in Shenzhen? The numbers vary. Current Shenzhen Party Secretary Ma Xingrui says 20 million. However, the administrative population supposedly hovers at 18 million, while the city itself has never admitted to more than 15 million. Rough estimates suggest only 4 million people have Shenzhen hukou, another 8 million have permanent residency, and another 5-8 million “float” unofficially within the city

These statistics obscure how Shenzhen’s urban villages spatially organize these three administrative classes. For example, Shi’ao (石凹) Villagehas a local population of 4 to 500 people and a renter population of 20,000, making the ratio of local to renters residents 1:40. The ratio of local to renter populations in Baishizhou is an astonishing 1:77. Moreover, it is clear that renters–even floaters–aren’t actually leaving the city. Instead, they are finding newer (and often) narrower niches within the village.

Much like US American suburbs which manage inequality through distance, Shenzhen’s urban villages do the hard (and socially productive) work of managing inequality within the city. The majority of floaters and a large percentage of permanent residents live in the villages and tend to work in service and the semi- and informal economies, while hukou residents and wealthier permanent residents occupy “official” housing estates and tend to work in the formal economy.

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shenzhen population, 2015

It’s official, at least 20 million people live in Shenzhen. According to Shenzhen Secreatary, Ma Xingrui, the city’s population (as of December 2015) stats were: population with Shenzhen hukou =3.67 million; population with long-term residency = 10.77 million, and; administrative population = 20 million.

 

handshake with the future

Handshake 302’s latest project is moving along. This past weekend we met with middle school students (on Saturday) and Guangdong Xin’an Polytechnic students (on Sunday) to think about how their experiences and acquired knowledge about Baishizhou might be put to the interesting work of making art.  Continue reading

identity card politics

So today a return to a theme near and dear to my heart: satirical text messages, or as we have now stopped texting and use WeChat, satirical blog posts that are forwarded via WeChat. This time, the Op-Ed piece, “We were never Chinese citizens, just Chinese people who live on the Mainland (原来我们都不是中国国民!只是居住在大陆的中国人!) has caught my attention. Inquiring minds want to know, what’s up with that? Continue reading

gentrification with shenzhen characteristics

So hukou remains an ongoing problem. According to Dec 2012 Sanitation Bureau statistics, Shenzhen has a long term resident population of over 10 million and resident (hukou) population of 3.05 million. In order to bring some balance to the demographic, a 2014 regulation has dropped the education requirement from college graduate to associate’s degree. Apparently, they’ve also simplified the process.

The measures come about as both the rates of population growth AND turnover has slowed. It used to be that every Chinese New Year millions left, while after New Year a different batch of more millions returned. Now more and more temporary residents are making Shenzhen their primary home. These new migrants are different from earlier migrants in that they tend to be better educated, and have come to participate in Shenzhen’s new core industries–finance, logistics, culture, and high-tech, as well as the city’s strategic industries–bio-tech, internet, and alternative energy. So they are settling in and raising families without hukou.

In addition, the City’s second generation is starting to participate in Shenzhen society, and many are not actually legal residents. Along with new migrants, they are giving birth to the City’s third generation. In fact, there are so many children in the SEZ, the ongoing Shenzhen baby boom has become something of a marketing niche, despite the fact that young parents must return to their legal residence in order to receive subsidized neonatal care. In fact, Shenzhen has the highest birth rate in the country. The biggest economic beneficiaries of the boom are owners of homes with seats (学位) in the top schools. And real estate websites happily speculate (all puns intended) on the price of those houses over the next decade.

Inquiring minds want to know–what about the illegal floating population? And this is one of the interesting aspects of Shenzhen’s shifting demographic. As factory jobs have been moved elsewhere, we see a corresponding social restructuring–more white collar technocrats, fewer blue collar workers. At the same time, the City seems willing to formally claim these new migrants, even as requirements continue to exclude manual laborers, sanitation workers, and other low-end migrants from transferring their hukou to Shenzhen. Importantly, the social eugenics of this process dovetail with and reinforce the gentrification that the demolition of centrally located urban villages has brought about (Laying Siege to the Villages).

Dongguan is passing similar laws to manage its disproportionately large floating population, and one assumes its highly visible sex industry.

the right to depend on one’s son

In Xintang, Baishizhou, this 60-year old gentleman has been protesting for a month. His demand? He wants the right to depend on his son for his old age care.

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In Shenzhen, parents can transfer their hukou from hometowns to the SEZ based on their children’s hukou status. Once they have this hukou, they can take advantage of subsidized medical care from their 65th birthday. The problem? This gentleman’s son does not have a Shenzhen hukou. In addition, he does not own a house and is facing eviction upon the completion of negotiations to raze Baishizhou (admittedly at least two or three years in the future). At such time, he will loose his shop, and without equity in the building, will not receive compensation. So he is facing a perilous retirement.

The wording of the protest is of interest. 投靠 (tóu kào) literally means “throw oneself to depend upon”. It can also be translated as “become a retainer of”. Within the rhetoric of this protest, this gentleman is demanding the right to become his son’s retainer.

The form of his demand is similarly coached in feudal language; indeed his banners function as petitions to leaders rather than as social demands. He asks Xi Jinping, for example, if the General Secretary realizes that although in Beijing old people have welfare, the old people in Shenzhen have a different situation. He then asks Xi Jinping to visit Shenzhen and see the situation. Likewise, he asks Shenzhen Secretary Wang Rong and Shenzhen Mayor Xu Qin where the Communist Party is.

The moral economy of noblesse oblige gives these questions their oppositional force. The question put to Xi Jinping implies that if the General Secretary understood the true situation in Shenzhen, he would rectify it. The question put to Wang Rong is even more pointed: has the Communist Party abandoned its responsibility to take care of the people?

In order to make this moral claim, the gentleman also demonstrates that he has upheld his end of the moral contract between government and the future. First, he followed the one child policy and only gave birth to a son. Second, he came to Shenzhen twenty-three years ago to make a better life for himself and his family. During that time, his son was back in his hometown to go to school. Third, he never broke any other laws.

Shenzhen has been at the forefront of reforming its pension system. In practice, this has been the commodification of services. For those with Shenzhen hukou, there are still some benefits. However, as this gentleman reminds us, in the present real security comes through family ties and home ownership.

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shenzhen and china’s left behind children

The Foreign Policy series “China’s Left Behind Children,” by freelance journalists Deborah Jian Lee and Sushma Subramanian followed the migrant worker Huang Dongyan, who left her daughter back home to work in Shenzhen. Her relationship with her daughter remains fraught and teeming with unsatisfied yearnings. In response, Huang, decided to raise her son in Shenzhen instead of leaving him in the countryside with his grandmother. The two articles are well worth reading, here and here. Of note is the continued relevance of hukou in the lives of migrant workers, especially with respect to receiving an education.